Showing posts from December, 2014

California, 25th October, joining the throng in Yosemite Valley

Coming down the way from Glacier Point you pass Tunnel View, a famous overlook immortalised by Ansel Adams' photograph " Clearing Winter Storm" which was taken from just above here, where the old road used to travel. By the time we got to Tunnel View  the car park was full of coaches and the panorama of the valley could not be seen for tourists of all nationalities jostling for position. We did an about turn and drove down to the parking area around El Capitan and walked to the bottom of Bridal Veil Falls. The falls are so called as the wind causes the water to spray out at the top in a veil. Unfortunately there is not a lot of water in October, but I did take a photo to show the effect.
El Capitan, a face of sheer granite, rises 3,000 ft from the valley floor. On the opposite side are Cathedral Rocks, pretty ambitious in their own right and we had a short walk around here.

Sticking to the tourist trail we landed at the Ahwahnee Hotel a very posh venue where I treated my…

California, 24th October, an early start and some time in relative solitude

We had set the alarm for a 5.30 call, but slept through it till about 6.00am, as our intention was to get up to Glacier Point for dawn. We were camped just under it but to get to the top is a 45minute car trip round twisty roads, so we threw our clothes on and Mairi decided she would like to drive which she did, as fast as she could (Yosemite has a 20mph speed limit through the valley). We had got close to the top at Washburn Point when things started to happen fast, the sky was brightening and there was a line of about 6 standing photographers pointing down the valley. I joined them and we took a couple of pictures before going back to the car and continuing for about 7 miles to Glacier Point from where we watched the sun hit the top of the Half Dome. Yosemite Falls would be visible in these pictures earlier in the year but by now was non-existent. You can see the Half Dome (8,842ft) on the right opposite North Dome and Basket Dome on the left hand side. The valley follows the river …

California - a description of our 'equipment' and an exploration of the valley

We woke early and had breakfast from the picnic bench on our site with the company of a few hopeful ravens. Here is the car we rented, a Dodge Grand Caravan, with Mairi standing next to it. There were two opposing sets of seats in the rear, one of which had been taken out and replaced with a wooden storage box where we kept our bags and the bed linen. At night a foam mattress was unfurled to give a double bed and it was pretty comfortable. In the 'trunk' was a small sink from which the plug was missing  - we did not find one to fit until nearly the end of the holiday and made do with sponges squeezed in to stop the water flowing away. We also had a 2 burner camping stove and a box of rather battered bowls, plates and cutlery, one saucepan and a frying pan. Only one spoon unfortunately but we found a plastic one in the Yosemite shop to supplement. Also was provided one 5 gallon fresh water container and one for the waste to drain into. We rented a cooler box which ran from a 12…

California here we come

We had packed everything the night before so we were ready to creep out of the house at 5.00am the next morning for a 10.00 o'clock flight to San Francisco. The M25 was busy but kept moving and we got there in good time.
The last time I was at Heathrow Terminal 2 it looked like a detention centre (or how I imagine a detention centre would look like), but now it is all spruced up and gleaming, which made our wait there more enjoyable. I love airports anyway, plenty of chances to dream.

Finally on our way. It seems so odd that, after waiting interminably for an event to happen, it does and rushes past in an instant leaving just the memories and the photographs. The flight was good and the cloud cleared for views over the ice of northern Canada and the Rockies and even the Golden Gate Bridge as we were landing.

I had booked a hostel for the night in what I discovered to be a dubious part of town full of beggars, but quite close to the government district. I was to discover on our ret…