Sunday, July 12, 2009

Yosemite - July 11

Jerry here...Beverly has already told you about this morning. Here is my perspective. I had the van checked before the trip, told the Honda people to look it over, told them we were taking a trip, had them check the brakes because of a previous trip problem, and in general tried to be responsible. We bought a Honda because we didn't want problems like this. Never-the-less, there we were getting a jump start to get out of Yosemite last night.

I left the van at a service place recommended by the lady whose Jeep we used to jump start the van. Unfortunately, when I walked back today I discovered that the place doesn't open on Saturdays.  I called the Honda people in Maryland for suggestions - no help. I then threw some stuff and said a few bad words. That didn't help either. So I took a walk down the hill and discovered a lube and oil place that also sold batteries. Nice people. I drifted the van down the hill, had them replace the battery (it had a bad cell), had them replace the cables (eaten away by battery acid - I think the Honda people should have caught that) and had them change the oil because it was going to need to be changed at some point on the trip and they had earned my business. $200 later I was back at the hotel ready to see Yosemite.
Yosemite is a funny name. Apparently it has something to do with a white misinterpretation of a local native word. I may mean that the Indians in the Yosemite valley were killers, or killers of bears, or none of the above. 

We drove on a very curvy road into the park. After going through a half mile tunnel we came out near the top of Yosemite Valley. From there we could see El Capitan, the Bridal Veil Falls, Half Dome, and the Cathedral. All of these are enormous pieces of granite. Words fail to do it justice, and really, pictures don't do it justice either. That is the thing about what we see out here - Giant Sequoias, the Grand Canyon, 3500 foot walls of granite. It is all about scale, and scale doesn't come across in pictures the way it does when you see it for yourself. Beverly's picture of the girls at the roots of a fallen Giant Sequoia is about the best we can do to describe the place.
Much of what we have seen out west is interesting, but not beautiful. Yosemite Valley is beautiful. We saw a nice film of the park at the visitors center, walked to the bottom of Yosemite Falls, and took a park ranger guided tour. During the tour (we were on something like a hay wagon, except that it was larger and had seats but no side or roof for better viewing) the park ranger would give us a little talk about whatever we were seeing (you can imagine how it goes). While we were looking at El Capitan somebody spotted a climber on it. The climber was just a speck on the side of this enormous piece of rock. It was amazing seeing somebody try to climb it. The climb usually takes 3 to 6 days, although the record is just under 3 hours. Twenty-eight people have died climbing different things in the park. 
Near the end of our tour we saw some mule deer grazing. One buck had seven or eight points. The guide told us about black bears in the park, which are seen regularly. The last grizzly was killed in the early 1920s. They also have coyotes (we saw one last night - a first for us), but no wolves. When we were done with the tour Beverly said this was the first park she had seen out west that would be nice to come back and visit again. It is a beautiful place. 

Today's total milage - 84 miles (which were more work than driving 200 miles in Kansas).

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