Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States



We finally took a trip to Yosemite this weekend (it's only been 5 years since we moved here...) with our friends K & M, who will soon be relocating to Phoenix. It's odd how the thought of an impending departure can serve as a catalyst to finally get to those items on your "bucket" list of things to do and see...

Thanks to Purple Roofs, we found the Queen's Inn by the River, a great B&B in Oakhurst just 13 miles from the southern entrance to Yosemite on SR41. One of the primary attractions about the Inn was the adjacent Idle Hour Winery and associated Beer & Wine Garden. We enjoyed our glasses each evening and returned home with 2 bottles of just-released Cabernet Franc for our collection. Yum!

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Friday 5/8
K & M picked us up around 4pm, and we arrived in Oakhurst around 7:30pm. After a passable dinner at the nearby Crab Cakes, we joined the festivities in the Beer & Wine Garden for awhile.

Saturday 5/9
We left the Inn around 7am to grab breakfast at Starbucks and Jamba before heading to Yosemite. The road to Glacier Point had opened a few days earlier, so we made that our first destination, and it provided an amazing panoramic viewpoint of the entire Yosemite Valley 3,200 feet below, including Half Dome, the Awahnee Hotel, Curry Village, and Yosemite Falls.

We had thought about hiking down Four Mile Trail to the Valley, but the trail was closed due to hazardous conditions. Instead, we decided to try the Pohono Trail towards Sentinel Dome, which our Lonely Planet Guidebook recommended as a great alternative to Half Dome (since that strenuous climb wasn't on our itinerary, especially since the cables don't get installed until later in the season). The uphill climb provided some great views of El Capitan, but the remaining snow on the trail proved to be not only challengine but also misleading, as we eventually reached a point where we could no longer discern where the trail continued! By then, we'd been hiking for over an hour, so we all decided it would be best to turn back and continue by car to Yosemite Valley.

We stopped for a photo opportunity at Tunnel View and then found a parking spot along the road near the Lodge so that we could head on foot to the Awahnee for lunch. The wait at the dining room was too long (no surprise), so we ate in the bar instead, accompanied by an inquisitive squirrel that scampered from table to table looking for scraps. This wildlife encounter brought to light K's surprising fear of squirrels, as he got very nervous when I reached down towards the little critter under my chair!

After a quick stop in the Sweet Shop for dessert, we caught the shuttle to the trailhead near Yosemite Falls and braved the strong spray across the bridge at the base. Our path back to the car was a bit longer than expected, as we crossed the Swinging Bridge over the Merced River rather than taking the shorter route towards Sentinel Bridge. But this did lead us past a pair of deer by the roadside, so the detour was worth it. We drove back to the Inn, had a pre-dinner glass of wine, and then walked up the hill to the Sweetwater Steakhouse.

The journal in K & M's room at the Inn had provided a warning about this restaurant, but Rocky, the father of the Inn's proprietor, whom we had met in the Beer & Wine Garden, had given a positive review. Unfortunately, we should have trusted the journal... Although the food was fine eventually, we waited almost 1 1/2 hours for dinner, and my plate was lukewarm when it arrived, so we sent it back for a fresh meal. A rather frustrating end to an otherwise lovely day.

Sunday 5/10
I got up for a 3.5 mile run (lots of hills!) as the others slept in a bit longer. We checked out around 8am and grabbed breakfast at Starbucks, Jamba, and the Yosemite Roasting Company.

Our destination today was the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. While waiting to join the (free) ranger-led nature tour at 10am, we walked a short ways into the grove and discovered the bright red funky-looking snow plant, which our ranger later identified. The 1 1/2 hour nature walk took us to the Fallen Monarch and the Grizzly Giant and was loaded with tons of fascinating information about these amazing trees. Our ranger, Marea, was a wonderful tour guide, providing insight and show-and-tell items (cones, seeds) related to the sequoias and other conifers in the forest.

I had downloaded a trail map from the Yosemite web site, so after the tour, we continued through the California Tunnel Tree uphill to the Museum in the Upper Grove, where we took a snack break. The downhill trail (a bit longer but easier!) back to the car bought us past the Clothespin Tree and the Faithful Couple. We hardly saw any other visitors during our hike, so we could really just enjoy being outside, surrounded by the trees and chipmunks and squirrels.

Our drive home led through Mariposa (a different route from how we arrived), and we got back to Sacto around 5:20pm, just in time to watch the Red Sox on ESPN as they [barely] beat the Rays.

* * * *

The weather was ideal, our timing was perfect, being with close friends was wonderful, and overall the entire trip was great, with the one exception of some less-than-impressive dining experiences.

So... when do we go back???


Blogger Adam P. said...

Sounds delightful. Glad that you enjoyed it and isn't it pretty? I'd like to go back in time 100 years and see it then. ;)

8:03 AM  

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