(This Yosemite travel diary was written on the road with my
crappy laptop. For sentimental reasons, I am keeping the page
formatting and graphics that I originally made on the laptop.)
Before I start rambling about my trip, I feel obliged to mention
the preparations I made before I even left home. A little
less than two months before my trip, I made reservations at Yosemite.
I should have called earlier. There were only a few rooms available,
here and there, and the various Yosemite lodgings (Yosemite Lodge,
Wawona, Curry Village, etc). I didn't get my first choice in where
to stay, but that's the price I paid for not calling sooner. And
May isn't even "peak" season yet! It gets much harder to
get reservations when you want to visit in the Summer. So, be
warned! Reserve months in advance! Well, now on to the
actual road trip...
I left the Los Angeles area (my starting point) at about 11:30 a.m. I recommend leaving earlier (as early as possible, really) but on this day, I was lazy! I stopped at the Ralph's Market in Sunland for some last-minute supplies - this delayed me somewhat. At about 11:50 a.m. I was on the 5 freeway, headed north towards Yosemite!
60 miles later, at 12:55 pm, I stopped at the little town of Gorman,
off of the 5 freeway. Some late-season California Poppies
were blooming, and I just couldn't resist stopping for about 15
minutes to take some pictures! (I'll post the pictures I
took as soon as I can. All the photos I have up now are taken
from previous trips, since I obviously cannot get my film developed,
scanned and uploaded while I am still on the road!) Gorman's
hillsides are usually a saturated bright orange from all the poppies
during the height of wildflower season. This late in the
season, there is more of a peppering of orange (with a bit of
purple lupins as well). Still worth a look. Apparently other travelers
thought so too, because I was not the only one who was lingering
by the poppies!
After I left Gorman, I got to "The Grapevine" on the 5 freeway. Beware if your car is older, has bad brakes, or doesn't like going up steep hills. This section of the 5 can be a bit tricky. (Though I have to admit, my crappy old car always survived it..). It has a very steep incline, and the large commercial trucks that travel through the Grapevine sometimes run into trouble. When you travel this stretch of road, there will always be lots of trucks around! Some of them will be crawling along in the slow lane.
At about 4:12 pm, I stopped for gas at the Texaco station outside of Coarsegold, CA. I traveled 250 miles since I left the L.A. area. I took the 5 freeway until I hit the 99 (right after I survived the Grapevine) and then near Fresno, I took the 41 towards Yosemite. The signs for Yosemite are pretty well marked, but pay attention!
At about 5 pm, I went through the south gate of Yosemite. It's
$20 to get in, so make sure you have the cash ready! Maybe 5-10
minutes past the Yosemite gates, you will pass the Wawona Hotel.
Also, you will pass your last chance to get gas. There are no
gas stations in Yosemite Valley - so if you haven't filled up
your tank yet, do it at Wawona's gas station! It takes about
30-45 minutes to get to Yosemite Valley from the South gate. I
am a little more familiar with all the twists and turns on this
road, so I am comfortable going a little faster. (Please
note: if you are more comfortable driving a little slower on these
twisty mountain roads, by all means, drive slow! However...please
use the convenient turnouts all along the road, so that any traffic
that is trailing behind you can pass by). I have been known
to pull into a turnout when I get a tail of cars behind me. It's
no big deal. Just pull over when there is a clearly safe turnout
- they are usually marked. I know I seem to be making a big deal
of this, but nothing is more irritating than going at a snail's
pace behind some hesitant, oblivious driver who cannot seem to
notice that there are 20 cars trailing behind him. He'll
ignore turnout after turnout, all the while the rest of us are
cursing his/her name!
I arrived at Curry Village at about 5:40 pm. I had traveled a little over 300 miles since the morning. It was still light out, but I was rather tired. I dragged all my luggage into my tent cabin, and put the food I brought with me in one of the bear-proof containers that are near Curry Village's parking lot. Yosemite is serious about the bear problem - the bears have become shameless, and will tear apart any car that even looks like it might have food. They can even sniff out food in a trunk of a car. It's just not worth a ruined car, to risk leaving anything that might interest a bear! (And believe it or not, this includes scented items, like lotions and such).
I then ate at the Buffet at Curry Village. $12 for all you can eat! I still think it's too expensive, but I guess the food was OK. At least they had some decent vegetarian dishes (and when asked, one of the food servers seemed to know exactly which dishes were veggie, and which weren't).
Curry Village seems very loud - lots and LOTS of kids.
It might be just a fluke, some event may be going on where
lots of teen and preteen kids are all congregating at the Park
at the same time. I am staying in the tent cabins, so everyone
can hear everyone else! Perhaps that's what makes the kids seem
I got some more stuff at the Curry Village Grocery and Gift store, including a small flashlight. I had forgotten to bring one, and it's very important to have one when you go out of your cabin in the middle of the night (to go to the bathroom, or whatever). Good thing Yosemite's stores stock this kind of stuff!
I now am going to call it a night. I am typing up the day's events on my crappy laptop, but now it's time to just relax!
End of Day One.
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