Yosemite National Park

John A. Travels to California

Day 13 – Thursday, September 20, 2007 – San Francisco to Yosemite

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Day 01- Leave Ontario
Day 02 - Chicago
Day 03 - Mt. Rushmore
Day 04 - Yellowstone
Day 05 - Yellowstone
Day 06 - Up to Alberta
Day 07 - Banff & Lake Louise
Day 08 - Whistler, BC
Day 09 - Vancouver & Seattle
Day 10 - Mt. St. Helens
Day 11 - Coastal Hwy 1
Day 12 - San Fransico
Day 13 - Yosemite Park
Day 14 - Giant Redwoods
Day 15 - Hearst Castle
Day 16 - Los Angelos & COD
Day 17 - Hollywood
Day 18 - Thru the Bible & Vegas
Day 19 - Death Valley
Day 20 - Hoover Dam & Skywalk
Day 21 - Caverns & Grand Canyon
Day 22 - Grand Canyon - Hike
Day 23 - Grand C. - Hermit's Rest
Day 24 - Petrified Forest
Day 25 - Meteor Crater
Day 26 - Carlsbad Caverns
Day 27 - Dallas, Texas
Day 28 - Mississippi River
Day 29 - St. Loius
Day 30 - Detroit
Day 31 - Home to Woodstock

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Quaint town houses are throughout San Fransisco

We awoke in our comfy hotel in downtown San Francisco, and headed for breakfast around 7:00.  The front desk clerk told us about a quaint café two blocks up the street, called Cafe Lombard.  It turned out to be lovely.  The waiter was very attentive, and I got the impression that you have to know how to hustle in order to make it in San Francisco.  There were lots of tourists everywhere.  I also noticed that the bus boy looked like he was fresh from the Mexican border.  While he was very diligent at his work, he seemed to be trying too hard.
Today we have to try to find a better reading magnifying glass for Ronald, so I started working the phone book.  We eventually found a low-vision specialty centre about 15 minutes away, so I punched it into the GPS and we were off by 9:30.

Political murals graced the Hispanic neighbourhood

Driving through a city can be quite interesting.  None of the buildings, except for the downtown area, were high rises.  In fact, many of the buildings were just like you see in the postcards, very picturesque.  They have little overhanging balconies or windows, and seem to be well taken care of.  The closer we got to our destination, the more Mexican everything became.  We started noticing a few boarded-up buildings, and a lot of wrought iron work on the windows.  However, we didn’t see many bums, or any of the weird people that Ronald had warned me about.  I kept asking Ronald, “Where are all the really weird people?”
I dropped Ronald off in front of the store, and drove two blocks further to the underground parking.  I walked back and found Ronald waiting to see the doctor.  To pass the time, I took a stroll around the vibrant downtown area for about 20 minutes.   Along the way, there was every kind of small

Huge mural on senior's building

shop.  About a third of the signs were in Spanish only.  I took a photo of one of the murals depicting “Saying NO to violence.”  It showed a hand stopping a bunch of gun barrels, with a schoolboy in the background.  There were several more of these around town, and they were done very artistically.
I saw a poster indicating that people must stand up against the new immigration laws which are targeting immigrants.  On the way back, I walked down a residential street, and found a lot of quaint apartments along the way.  Construction was going on here and there, and it seemed everyone had a role to fill. Around one corner, I saw an apartment building wall painted with a huge mural. I had to take a picture, as it was four stories tall. I asked a worker what that building was.  He said that it was a seniors’ building where they lived very comfortably.
When I got back to the low-vision centre, Ronald was just walking out of the door.  He had purchased a glass which magnified things 3-½ times.  Ronald was quite pleased.  Mission accomplished! 
A couple of minutes later, we were out on the Oakland Bay Bridge, heading out of San Francisco.  While this bridge is larger than the Golden Gate Bridge, you have no view whatsoever.  There are metal railings which block your view.  Since it is a double-decker bridge, and we were on the lower level, it was like going through a big metal tunnel.  At the other end there was a tunnel!  Oh well, we had gotten a good view while on

Zero Emission electric articulated buses

the other bridge.  We were soon sailing at high speed out of the San Francisco area.
My daughter Rebekah called while I was on the road, and needed some computer assistance.  (I seem to do a lot of tech support for a whole lot of different people, even while I’m away on holidays!)  It was good to hear from her.
I phoned Bob Kern at Thru the Bible, and he said he was not sure exactly what time we would be meeting on Monday.  He would call me back.  I told him I was flexible.  About a half-hour later we set up a 10:30 meeting for Tuesday with the president of Thru the Bible.  After a tour, he wants to take me out to lunch.  I was so excited!  He also said he would work on making sure I saw Steve Shwetz, the announcer.  I was glad to have these arrangements made.
As we left the built-up section, I noticed the entire area was very dry.  However, there was mile after mile of orchards which apparently were irrigated.  They ran

Miles of fruit grooves everywhere in California

a little hose to the base of each tree.  I’m not sure if they were lime trees or not.  It also appeared that many of the field workers were Mexican.  We saw a few irrigation ditches along the way.  Ronald said there is a huge irrigation canal that comes into this area to supply all of the scorched land.  The land was very fertile, and good for growing, as long as it received water.
As we got off of I-20, the road became very windy and up-and-down hill as we approached Yosemite Park.  I’m starting to get used to these never ending turns as we enter a scenic area somewhere.  In this case, we were climbing over a mountain pass, and we zigzagged up the hills and around and up another hill.  At some point we had a look behind us at the hills, and saw the zigzag road we had just traveled.  I also noticed a couple of huge pipelines coming over one of the hills.

Water pipelines provide essential irragation

We finally got to the gate of Yosemite Park around 3:00 pm.  My first impression was that we had gone back a few years in time.  The girl at the information counter gave us our first bit of bad news. The drive-through tree had blown down in 1969!  Two days ago, we had been near another drive-thru tree on the Washington coast, but hadn’t bothered looking it up as we had hoped to see this one.  However, she assured us there was a walk-thru tree at the bottom of the park.  Apparently it was an hour further south in this huge park.
The next thing to do was to set up accommodation for the evening, as we’ve come to realize that this can sometimes be difficult in these huge national parks.  After a few phone calls, we found accommodation at Wawona

Welcome to Yosemite Redwood park

Hotel.  We were warned that the bathroom would be down the hall and not in the room.  While it was a bit expensive, it was within the park, and only six miles from a grove of redwood trees.  And so it was off again through the winding roadways, heading towards the giant trees!
As we drove along, we started seeing huge mountains that we’d only seen on calendars and brochures.  We stopped at a few vista points and shot lots of pictures.  I must say, these mountains are indeed beautiful.  The sun was just right, and I think we got some excellent shots.
Another thing I noticed was that there were burn marks at the bottom of half of the trees.  It appeared that a forest fire had gone through earlier, but it had not reached the tops of the trees, and they were alive and well.  Seeing scorch marks at the base of so many trees was rather strange.  We later learned that they had been doing controlled

El Capitan mountains in Yosemite

burns within the park to cut down on the amount of potential fuel that has built up over the years on the forest floor.  Too much underbrush could result in disastrous fires that would reach the crowns of the trees, and kill the entire forest.  While it is a rather strange situation, controlled burns are essential in a redwood forest.
Another thing we learned is that fires make it possible for the redwood seeds to germinate.  Misguided fire suppression over the previous hundred years has resulted in few, if any, young redwood trees germinating. This was finally understood in the 1960s, and they introduced the controlled burns at that time.  The redwoods like to germinate along the roadsides where there is more direct sunlight.
We arrived at our hotel around 4:30.   I asked the clerk if there was an Internet connection.  He said no, they didn’t have the Internet when they built this building.  I told him I wasn’t buying that excuse, as they

Tunnels through the mountains in Yosemite

also didn’t have cars back then! 
The hotel was built in the 1890s, and the annex which we stayed in was built in 1930.  My cell phone also got no signal, so I was in a bit of a bind to get hold of mom later on in order to find out how her surgery had gone.  With all this electronic silence, I noticed some of the clerks actually reading books.  Strange business indeed!
Everything in our room was antique, including the two pronged outlets in the walls.  I have a three-pronged power bar, and so could not recharge the batteries on my camera, cell phone, or laptop.  After we were set up in our room, we went to supper at 5:30.  One of the nicest features was the roaring fireplace in the front lobby.  They also had a gentleman playing the piano next to the fireplace during the supper hour and afterwards.  
The grounds of the Wawona Hotel consisted of a main lodge, a huge annex where we were located, and about three

Historic Wawona Hotel in Yosemite National Park

other smaller buildings.  There were also several medium-size redwoods on the property, and a golf course out back. 
While the service was slow in the restaurant, the food was exquisite.  Ronald and I ordered the turkey roast, and found it succulent!  It had a light batter on it, some type of noodles and spinach all mixed in a cheese sauce.  It was well after 6:30 by the time we finished, and we decided not to bother trying to go down the see the redwoods until the morning.
After supper, we had a fair bit of time on our hands, but it was getting dark, and not really good for hiking.  Ronald decided to sit by the fireplace, and I decided to update my web site.  It was getting quite chilly, so I got out my winter jacket.  I would guess that it got down to about 8° that night.  The previous day, some of the roads had been closed due to a snowstorm in one of the high sections of the park.  I sat on the veranda in a

Redwoods dot the grounds of the Wawona Hotel
The Hotel Annex where we stayed - Built in 1930
Huge verandas were the style
The main lobby had a warm fireplace
Our antique hotel room with hot water heating

Muskoka chair, editing my travelogue for a couple of hours, and chatting with people as they came by.  It was nice to be able to sit outside and enjoy the outdoors.

We both turned in around 9:30 after a most pleasant day.  I went to sleep, listening to the sound of hissing from the steam heater at the foot of our bed.  I suspect there was a tiny leak somewhere, but it was cozy, and we had a reasonably good sleep.
We had traveled 316 km today.

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