California: Yosemite National Park

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View of half dome from Glacier Point

A few weeks ago, while we were on the West Coast, we decided to rent a car and drive to Yosemite. It’s been awhile since we did a road trip in North America. We used to drive all the time to Canada, but due to the time constraints and cheap airfares, we end up flying for the most part now. I love road trips because I get to be the navigator. It’s very satisfying when you can figure out how to get from point A to point B. Mind you, it’s not too hard to do that here, but in a foreign country without a GPS, it’s a lot more fun.

Yosemite different from any park I’ve been to. For one thing, it’s massive, driving from one gate to another can take up to two hours. The scenery is breathtaking, from the majestic redwoods to the sheer cliffs at Taft’s point. Everywhere we looked, we were reminded that nature is magnificent and beautiful and we are a small speck in the grand scheme of things.

Here are a few random things I learned from this trip:

Driving – Driving on the West coast is a completely different experience. The roads are spacious, stretching out 6-8 lanes on each side, something we don’t see on the East coast. The highways are also lined with these massive wind mills that look like tall giants guarding the road.

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Giant windmills along the highway

Fast Food – Every time I go on a road trip, I start craving McDs. It must the golden arches peppered along the road sending subliminal messages. This trip was no different; we went out of our way to find a McDonald before their breakfast menu ended at 11am. The euphoric feeling you get when you take the first bite into something you’ve been craving is indescribable. Then five minutes later that heavy feeling in the bottom of your stomach where the greasy food sits reminds me why I rarely eat fast food.

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Mouthwatering McSausage

Temperature – I did not expect temperature to fluctuate so wildly on the West Coast, going from stifling hot during the day to freezing cold at night. We started off in the Bay area with temperature hovering around 65°F (18°C) and about 100 km (60 mi) later it went up to 84°F (29°C). Range of temperature in Yosemite is 56°F – 93°F (13°C – 34°C) depending on the time of day. In the East Coast, temperature seems more consistent and doesn’t vary by much as you drive from state to state. Make sure you bring a sweater and layer well.

Sequoias – One of the first things we saw in Yosemite were the redwood trees. I’ve never seen a sequoia before and it doesn’t disappoint. Hiking through the Mariposa Grove, we got to see the tunnel tree, the fallen giant and the Grizzly amongst others. Some of these trees are over 2,000 years old. How’s that for perspective? The barks on the trees are fire retardant, which help them survive through the ages when the surrounding trees are burned to a crisp. Another interesting fact about sequoia, fire is required for the germination process of sequoia seedlings. The fire triggers the release of the seeds and clears all accumulation on the ground so that the seeds can reach the mineral soil as it falls from the tree. When forest fires stopped, the reproduction process of the redwoods also slowed down.

View album

 

Heights – I am terrified of heights, so the thought of standing on the edge of a cliff with a steep drop makes my legs turn to jello. I also wanted a picture on the cliff. What’s a girl to do? I decided that it’s time to face my fear, at least come close to the edge of my fear. Besides, you only die once right? We hiked for about half an hour to Taft point, at this time, the sun was starting to set and the temperature was dropping. We soldiered on, determined to see this look out. As we hiked downhill, the trees cleared and we saw the vista, it was breath-taking. We made it to the top of Taft point overlooking the Yosemite Valley. As I got closer to the edge, I could feel my pulse quicken as I inched along on my butt, no longer trusting my legs to move. Taft point is great because it is one of the few areas not crowded by the tourists being bused in. As I sat on the precipice, with nothing to hold me back, I felt like I was on top of the world.

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Sitting on the edge at Taft Point

Cellphone – Forget your cellphone because it won’t work here.  When you enter the park, you get to go back to a more simpler time, a time before selfies. The reception is spotty at best and there are no wi-fi. It’s a chance for you to leave all the noise behind and immerse yourself in the great outdoors. Although, the problem with going back in time is, you need a paper map (remember those?) to navigate yourself back to civilization.

Road rage – Having lingered in the park to see the sunset, we ended up driving our little rental car down the side of the mountain full of switchbacks, fighting with the setting sun. I found out that I am prone to have serious case of backseat driver road rage. It was 9 pm (midnight east coast time), we had not had any food since the McSausage earlier for breakfast, and we were both exhausted, hungry, dirty, cold, and stuck behind a really slow driver on a one lane road. Daylight was rapidly fading, and since there were no cell phone signals in the park, it also meant that we couldn’t call to let the B&B know that we’d be late. So looming on my mind was the fact that by the time we got to civilization it would be late, and all the restaurants would be closed, and we were not even sure where exactly our bed and breakfast was and if they would be waiting for us.

Bed and Breakfast – This brings us to the beautiful cabin nestled in the wood. This is the first time we’d stayed at a place other than a hotel and we’re not sure what to expect. What we got was a friendly proprietor who was very accommodating with our late arrival; delicious food waiting for us in the morning to get us ready for the second day of our hike. We also got to meet a family of deer that drops by to meet the visitors in the morning.

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Hungry herd of deer waiting for breakfast

Overall, it was a great weekend. Full of long exhausting days hiking and discovering nature, very different from what we are used to. It’s always great when you can go outside of your comfort zone, that’s when you learn and grow as a person. I love any opportunities for me to pull out my camera. I also found out that I quite like hiking. It’s like walking, just on rougher terrain. I find that I like the wilderness, but only in small doses. I don’t think I can live life in the woods. If you want to see more pictures from our trip, come check out our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/LifeAfter9to5.

Information Round-up:

Car: AVIS, $180 for 2 days, pick up and drop off at SFO

Hotel: Cub Inn B&B, $150 per night

Length of Stay: 2 days

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One thought on “California: Yosemite National Park

  1. Pingback: Year in Review – 2014 | life after 9to5

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