Saturday, September 22, 2012

Yellowstone Road Trip - Day 24

“Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”
~Ansel Adams, photographer who rose to fame with his black and white photos of Yosemite.

“Yosemite's natural beauty can be found in things big and small, from towering granite cliffs and giant sequoias to diminutive wildflowers. Varied conditions in four geographic areas – HIGH SIERRA, GRANITE CLIFFS, SEQUOIA GROVES and VALLEY – make such diversity possible. Explore Yosemite's many facets, take in its many moods, and enjoy its views, sounds and smells. It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter."
~John Muir, naturalist and early explorer in Yosemite

We had breakfast in the Virginia Creek Settlement restaurant before taking off for a drive through Yosemite National Park. Our lodging at Virginia Creek was 6 miles south of Bridgeport, California and we left at 8:18am on Highway 395 headed south. Right after Lee Vining, we turned west (right) onto Highway 120 which took us to the park and all the way through the park. Way before the Tioga Pass entrance there was a terrible traffic jam on our side of the road for about 30 minutes. But it seemed like a lifetime since we were moving about an inch every few seconds. We thought maybe rocks were being cleared off the road or that there was a wreck ahead. It turned out to be the one lane entry station. Aaaarrrrrggghh! We hadn't expected that kind of seemingly senseless delay. Then we realized that even though it is not their peak season, it is Saturday and almost the last weekend  that some parts of the park will be open until spring. Seems like they need to add a second entry station up at Tioga Pass. And make it an entry station for passes only. Heck, everybody has one.

Our route kept us on Highway 120 all through the park which is in the upper part of Yosemite where we had never been during our numerous other trips to the park. Since Morgan Hill is actually pretty close to Yosemite, how many times have you been before, you ask? Well, actually only one trip, which seems pretty amazing since we have lived in California 33 and one-half years. So, even though it is a wonderful scenic treasure, of which we are very proud, it seems that we enjoy going on the roads less traveled (a la Carl Sandburg) when possible. Yosemite is so popular it doesn't feel "user friendly" to John.

Leaving Yosemite at the Big Oak Flat entrance, we stayed on Highway 120 until we got past Groveland and after winding around for a while and coming down, down, down in elevation we got onto Highway 49 at Moccasin and arrived in Sonora at 12:23. It's a drop in elevation from over 9,900 ft to about 2,000 ft from Tioga Pass to Sonora. That's about a mile-and-a-half. Our room was not ready yet at The Gold Lodge so we drove around town to see what had changed since we were last here six years ago. We saw a few new businesses and lots of our old favorites. John thinks it is finally safe to let Linda near an antique store since we are in the home stretch so the buzzards may go exploring tomorrow.

There are 26 pictures in today's photo gallery which you can view by clicking here.

Tonight we headed for one of our old favorites from other visits – The Pine Tree Restaurant. Linda had salad bar, green beans, grilled salmon and bread pudding. John had salad bar, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans and tapioca pudding. We were forced to order dessert. It came with our senior meal. That's our story and we are stickin' to it. We had great service and really good food. This place has a great senior menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner and really seems to cater to the older folks. We appreciate that!

And so, it's time to turn on the smiley face nightlight, take Fannie out for a walk around the block and turn in for the night.

Happy trails!

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