Friday, August 8, 2014

Grand Tour of California: A Boy and his love for Cliffs....

It didn't take us 25 hours, maybe 13?

We started off the day the same way we start most days on road trips.... a deluxe breakfast with hot cakes from McDonalds.  For $3.99 (only in the state of CA for some reason, elsewhere it's more expensive) you get 3 hot cakes, English muffin, eggs, bacon, sausage, and a hash brown.  Enough food to feed both of us. (And give us a heart attack someday)
I don't know exactly what I expected from Yosemite.... because I guess I really haven't thought a lot about it.  You see I feel like in the west there are two types of people.  Yellowstone people and Yosemite people.  Clearly with my roots in Eastern Idaho we have always been Yellowstone people.  My dad has probably made the 9 hour drive into Yellowstone at least once if not twice a year in the 25 years we've lived in southern Utah.  Not once in his entire life has he entered Yosemite even though it is only 8 hours away. So like I said.  We are not Yosemite people.  

So I guess I expected a similar experience in Yosemite as you experience in your typical day trip on Yellowstone.  I expected lots of clear distinct points of destination, lots of "bear" jams as my dad would call them... although these days most of the traffic in Yellowstone I've experienced is over buffalo, and I guess I just expected a day long travel driving through the park.  Like I said, Yosemite was nothing like I expected.

Maybe part of the unexpected was because there were two fires in/around Yosemite when we entered and California is in the biggest drought in like 50 or 100 years so there probably wasn't the waterfalls that normally are experienced in Yosemite.  But it was crazy.  There was no one there!  Not one traffic jam (even when someone actually spotted a bear!), no hoards of people, no hours of driving and waiting and driving and stopping. AND no construction! (Yellowstone is notorious for terribly long waits through construction areas.)  AND it has a two lane road through the "loop" so no getting stuck behind a Winnebago going 15 mph!   That being said and because Jason had a bum knee so we didn't hike very far and I was going through my normal monthly "migraine" ......... we only spent a couple of hours or so in Yosemite.

Since Jason was a teenager he'd dreamed about El Capitan.  He'd never seen it.  But he's dreamed of climbing it and at one time he dreamed of jumping it....  One of the highlights for me from the whole trip was when we turned around a corner and there she was.  Jason just started laughing.  He laughed and laughed.  It was like he was as giddy as I get when I walk through the tunnel with the music playing and the smell of churros and I see the castle... It was exactly like that.  He just couldn't stop laughing.  And then he parked the car and just sat and starred at it.  

 Jason has dreamed of climbing it.  And seeing it I think helped him see that his dream could actually come true.  Although possibly a little more daunting.... you see climbing the nose of El Cap is not an easy thing.... It is a 3-4 day rock climb.... sleeping on cliffs.... hauling up enough water and food and sleeping gear as well as climbing gear to make it up and down.  It's the most famous rock climb in the world.  It's like climbing Mt. Everest for rock climbers..... I sure hope he gets to do it soon.

Anyway Yosemite was beautiful.  Even when filled with smoke.  (I tried my hardest to take pictures avoiding or editing out the smoke... I probably should have gotten at least one picture of how bad the smoke was.  It was pretty dang terrible.

 I can't believe I did it.  I took a picture of a squirrel.  But it was the craziest thing, all the squirrels had white collars or rings around there neck.  I had never seen that before!

The deer practically let Jason pet her.
 So Jason really wanted to just feel El Cap.  I know that sounds a bit silly to you and me but I kind of understand.  He wanted to get right at the base and see where it all starts.  So we did a short little hike to the base of the nose of El Cap.  It was probably around noon and still there were parties of people starting up the climb.  (A smart climber would have started the climb at dawn to beat the heat)  We could hear the climbers yelling out in French and another group in German.  You can barely see them starting the climb.

 So of course Jason had to climb a little.

I really do hope he gets to climb.

So we had planned on spending the night in Yosemite but all of the camp grounds were full in Yosemite Valley and I was in so much miserable pain that Jason figured he'd just keep driving.  We drove across the state of Nevada.  I took quite a few pictures because I love teaching my students about rainshadows.  I think they are the coolest thing.  And the majority of the state of Nevada is the best example of a rainshadow ever.  So without further ado.... the state of Nevada.

We went a sold 40 miles on one road without seeing a single car and zero reception.  That kinda sketched me out.


 And all I wanted when we got back to St. George..................
 And the aftermath.

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