Saturday, 12 May 2012

Yosemite National Park, CA

When I booked our campsite in January I was actually trying to find a spot in June but backtracked to May to get five days in a row. We could only get space in a campsite outside the Village. Forty-five minutes away. Next time I would book single nights if possible and jump online as soon as the window opened for the dates we want.

I rang the information line to check if the Tioga Pass was open as it isn’t due to open until June, but they had a mild winter and it was opened a week before we arrived. We stayed the night before in a campsite called Lee Vining named after the town we had just come through. There were others along the route but luckily we hadn’t keep going as they were all closed. This was our first encounter with the bear boxes. You have to put all your food and toiletries – basically anything that has a smell – into metal cabinets. And yes locking them is a good idea – luckily there weren’t any bears around as Lindsay didn’t shut ours properly – potentially we could have lost all of our food! Good lesson before the real thing in Yosemite.

the Tioga Pass
So we were able to drive along the Tioga road in the morning and what a beautiful drive it is, there was still snow along the side of the road. Pine trees, snow, creeks, frozen lakes – it was gorgeous. Where we spent most of our time in Yosemite is a lot lower in altitude and there wasn’t any snow, but it is still very pretty. At the end of the Tioga Road, our campsite was eight miles in the opposite direction of the Valley, so we went there to stow away our food and checked the guide to see what we wanted to do on our five day stay. They have ranger walks everyday, mostly at 10am and a bear walk at 3pm during the week. This was Sunday, so we just went for a drive and I booked myself in for the camera walk on Thursday at the Ansel Adams Gallery. They have a bus system here too, but it doesn’t really go anywhere except around the Village which is fine for a few things and if you were staying in the Village, which of course we weren’t. On our way back to camp we saw a black bear sow (which are actually brown) and her cub. There are only about 25 bears in the valley area, so it isn’t a common sighting. They turned out to be the only bears we saw.

Our first black bear
The first ranger talk was about the waterfalls and rivers. All the water comes from the snowfall. The second one was on geology and the third was on trees. All of them were really interesting. The bear walk was talking about the bears, not actually seeing any! In the beginning, the rangers used to feed the bears and it took them some time to realise that it was bad for not only their health but bad for their behaviour. All food has to be locked up and out of your car, I’m not sure how many car break ins they get now, but they scare you into thinking they had one last week. You are fined $500 if you leave food in your car at any time. There was one bear that learned how to open car doors, another that worked out if you jumped on the roof of a Vdub, the doors popped open! A lot of the bears are tagged and monitored. The last walk I did was a camera walk by the Ansel Adams gallery. This was the least enjoyable, but I still learned a couple of things.

May is a good time to see the waterfalls in the park

El Capitan
Salt Lake City
We stayed in Salt Lake City at the KOA campground which is the closest RV park to our Caravan Parks that we have been in. It is an excellent place to stay. We got a shuttle from the campground into the city to do some window shopping and went out for lunch. For a restaurant the name the Cheesecake Factory doesn’t really conjure up a good feeling as we think of our Cheesecake Shop at home, but this place was great, great atmosphere, we ate outside and a great menu. The following day I decided to try out their medical system and our travel insurance. The staff at the medical centre and hospital were fantastic and so were the SOS people who liaise for Zurich regarding the travel insurance. It was the first time I had relied solely on our credit card insurance, it doesn’t usually tick all the boxes, so I usually take out additional cover, but this time it did. I think they were very relieved that it wasn’t anything serious. After a couple of days of rest, we headed north. I had wanted to go to Antelope Island but on their website they had a warning that the gnats had just hatched and were everywhere. It said that insect repellant didn’t work, so we decided we didn’t need the aggravation and skipped it.

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