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Yosemite Road Trip Day 3

Yosemite Road Trip: May 2001

Day Three


Half Dome as seen from Curry VillageI have decided that I don't like the Curry Village tent cabins. As you may recall me mentioning on Day One, I waited too long to make reservations. (If you can call a little less than two months "waiting too long", and in Yosemite's case, you can..). So I had to settle for what they had available. Which was Wawona, and the Curry Village tent cabins. I see now I should have gone with Wawona. (I initially decided against it because I stayed there last time).

So, what follows is a semiserious rant: What is it with the tent cabins? What? They only have torn sheets, no fitted sheets (so the bottom sheet always slips off during the night) and tattered blankets? (At least they're warm..). And all the noise. I don't know if it's just this week that it's noisy, but I admit, it's beginning to get on my nerves. I guess it comes with the territory. But I weary of hearing people yell out for each other from different sides of the camp. (And to the young man who was yelling for "Nathan", over and over again tonight...could you shut up now?) Sorry, I guess I am just a bit cranky at the moment. I think that's what happens when you don't get enough sleep. I am tired because even though I set my alarm for 8 a.m., I am always awakened at 6 a.m. I suppose it's all the people who feel compelled to yell out to each other from opposite sides of the camp. I don't know. But I concede defeat. 6 a.m. it is.

I vow never to stay at the tent cabins again unless I am really desperate. Your mileage may vary with them, and heaven knows, they are inexpensive. ($50 a night is cheap by Yosemite standards). But you have been warned!

Well, now that I have finished griping, I will continue with Day Three. It was a pretty good day, for the most part. I got up a little earlier than yesterday. After having a brunch, I decided to just head up the road. I saw that Hwy 120 was open, but I didn't know how far. Hwy 120 leads to (among other things) Tuolumne Meadows. But I didn't suppose that I would have such good fortune as to be able to get up there. Mid-May seems a bit early for the High Country to be open! But I thought I'd check it out, and see how far I could get. I got to the gas station at Crane Flat, and sure enough, there was a sign stating that Hwy 120 was open! I filled my tank with gas - since Yosemite Valley has no gas station, this was a smart thing to do. I couldn't count on the gas station in Tuolumne being open yet. (It wasn't).

I hadn't been checking the time or mileage before I got to Crane Flat, but I did take a note of it then. I left Crane Flat at 11:42, and at 12:45 p.m. I arrived in Tuolumne Meadows. It took about an hour, and 36 miles to get from Crane Flat to Tuolumne.

It looks like they have just opened Tuolumne for the season. It was still rather damp - patches of the meadow were still filled with small pools (or even what you might call lakes) that I presume were the result of melted snow. The grass had not grown at all - it looked rather dead, brown and barren in spots. But, beautiful nonetheless. The high mountains were white with snow, the air was clear, and it was really stunning. I took many photos. I also sat down to do a small watercolor. The air was cool, but the sun was hot. I even started to get a sunburn, until I put a light jacket on to cover my arms. I enjoyed doing the watercolor, which turned out to be just passable (as usual). It took me approximately an hour to paint, and I was shocked at how much the lighting and clouds could change in that short a time.

I then went down the road a bit to paint Tenaya Lake. I have such a soft spot for Tenaya. It is so beautiful, and I love the sound of the lapping waves on Tenaya's shore. I found a spot on a log and sat down to paint. Tenaya's main picnic area was closed off (I suppose it's still too early in the season) so I had to park my car on a scenic turnout and then walk to another part of Tenaya's shore. It was chilly, and a bit breezy at times. A hungry, loud and blatantly obnoxious mooch of a gull was eyeing the snack I brought with me, but I didn't share anything with him. (The gulls at Tenaya are shameless). I struggled with my painting, and watched the lighting and clouds change before my eyes. It also got a bit windy and cold at times. I was able to finish up (another passable effort) and be on my way within an hour. It's still early in the season for the High Country, and it was starting to get cold! As I went back down the 120, I stopped briefly to take photos of Half Dome from Olmstead Point. The lighting was excellent, and I feel I got some really stunning pictures!

I left Tenaya Lake at 3:07 p.m. (Tuolumne is only about 6-8 miles past Tenaya). It took me one and a half hours and 50 miles to return to Yosemite Valley from the High Country. And I wasn't even driving as fast as I might have - I got caught behind some slower cars who ignored the turnouts along the way. Hey, you - the white truck with government plates, who rode your brakes all the way from Tenaya to the Valley - have you ever grasped the concept of pulling onto a turnout to let faster traffic pass? Argh! Well, there I go getting cranky again - blame it on the tent cabins at Curry Village!

When I got down to the Valley, I decided it was time for a real meal. So I ate at Yosemite Lodge's Garden Terrace. I must say, I prefer it over Curry Village's Buffet. (Garden Terrace is also a buffet). $9 for an adult dinner, not including drink. (Cheaper than Curry's Buffet). It had lots of salad bar ingredients, and just a better atmosphere. I had a huge salad, and it really hit the spot! Of course, the Garden Terrace has other main dishes too, and I highly recommend it.

I puttered about a bit more in the Valley, stopping whenever I found a good photo opportunity. Then I retired to my humble little tent cabin, where I am now. This is my last night here. I am sad to go, but not sad that it is my last night in the tent cabin! Next time I visit Yosemite (hopefully in a year or less) it'll be Wawona, Yosemite Lodge, or Curry Village's wooden cabins. No more tent cabins!

End of Day Three.

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