Monday, May 14, 2012
Palo Alto to Yosemite National Park

Tom and I left the hotel at 9:30. I later learned, with no surprise at all, that Dad and Joan left around 6:00 a.m. This is why we said goodbye last night! Just outside Palo Alto, we stopped to see slabs from the Berlin Wall on display in an office park in Mountain View, California.

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Berlin Wall Slabs

It's about four and a half hours from Palo Alto to Yosemite. As soon as we got off the Interstate and onto 120, a two-lane highway, we started seeing roadside fruit stands at the edges of the fields. We stopped just outside Escalon and loaded up on fresh strawberries, cherries, and tomatoes. They were sooo good!

In Knights Ferry we walked across the longest covered bridge west of the Mississippi. The 330-foot bridge was built in 1863 and spans the Stanislaus River. It saw a lot of traffic during the Gold Rush days. It's a very scenic area and made a nice mid-drive stop.

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Knights Ferry, California

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Longest covered bridge in the West

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Knights Ferry ruins

We entered Yosemite through the Big Oak Flat Entrance on 120. A few miles later, we arrived at Valley View, where I got my first look at Half Dome and El Capitan. We had a little picnic here. Tom has been to Yosemite before, but this is my first time. It's incredible! This time of year, mid May, the waterfalls are really flowing nicely as the snow melts in the Sierras.

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El Capitan and Half Dome from Valley View

From Valley View to our lodgings in the valley, we pulled over constantly to take photos and gawk. 620-foot-tall Bridalveil Fall required a short walk to the base of the fall, less than a mile round-trip. The spray from the fall was forceful. The photos were actually better from farther away. A woman in the parking lot there claimed to see climbers far above, but we failed to spot them, even with binoculars. Maybe she was just screwing with us!

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Bridalveil Fall

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Do you see the climbers?

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A peaceful scene in Yosemite Valley

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Upper Yosemite Fall

At 5:00 we checked in to our “heated tent cabin” at Curry Village, a freestanding structure with a wooden frame and floor but canvas sides and roof. Some of the tent cabins, like ours, have propane heat, thank goodness, because this time of year it can still get pretty cold at night. I don't know how effective a heater is going to be in a canvas structure, but we'll see! Our cabin, 413, has three beds, a full size and two twins, plenty of heavy blankets, and is well located near the main restroom/showers and the village restaurants and general store. We have four nights here, Monday through Friday.

They are super strict on their anti-bear precautions in Yosemite. No food or toiletries or even water bottles are allowed in the tent cabins or your vehicle. A large bear-proof locker is located just outside each cabin – BYO padlock. As for anti-people precautions, our canvas cabin has a padlock on the screen door, for all the good that will do, but there's also a combination safe inside large enough to fit all our gadgetry, including a small computer.

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Home away from home!

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Interior of the tent cabin

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Our Curry Village neighborhood

About 6:30 we drove over to Lower Yosemite Fall. Very nice, but the light is in the wrong place for pics. We'll have to return one morning for photos.

Curry Village has a few different dinner choices. We ate on the Pizza Deck. A 12-inch pizza with two toppings was $24. Not a bad price for a national park. The pizza was good, and a 10-inch would have been plenty. We stuck the leftovers in the bear locker for breakfast.

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Half Dome from Curry Village

Continue to May 15, 2012

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