Sunday, May 25, 2008

Learned on a road trip

Blogging by cell phone is very limited.
Walmart in Sonora opens at 8 on Sundays.
I do not want an Saturn Outback, although some features were very nice.
We can handle a little rain. We can handle some crowds. A lot of rain and a lot of crowds, not so much.
Andrew and Benjamin are good sports. (I already knew that, but it is good to be refreshed)

Yosemite! Amazing Awesome Beautiful

We got to Yosemite in the fairly early afternoon, entering by CA 140 - the minus there is the 14 miles of VERY curving road as opposed to the merely very curving road compared to 120 with 5 miles of VERY (but maybe not quite as) curving road. The plus, going under Arch Rock. Cool!

At first, it was pretty much another beautiful forested mountainy area. As much of traveling through the park is, actually. Then it was an traffic jammed, difficult to get through and even more difficult to find parking area - with stunning glimpses of why we were there. We actually managed to park in the Yosemite Village area. We looked in a couple of shops on the way to the visitors or information center. Despite the crowd, a young man was very helpful and did not laugh out loud when we confessed that we knew nothing at all about visiting Yosemite. He gave us free valley hike guide and we purchased 55 Day Hikes in Yosemite.

We "hiked" to Lower Yosemite Falls. An easy, mostly wheel chair accessible almost stroll. The last bit they say is not wheelchair accessible, but it would be to a person with two strong sons, I think. Beautiful! Magnificent! We walked back through a lovely meadow. The grandeur of the place! Beauty both enormous - as the gigantic granite rock - and minute - as in the delicate little plants. Totally lovely.

It was raining lightly - yellow ponchos everywhere! Still one could see the a giganitic formations and magnificient waterfalls, everything had a mistical, mystical feel. We wandered a bit, but were hungry and tired. And we had two more days to look forward to!

We stopped a couple of times to enjoy beautiful waterfalls on our way out to the 120 exit. How we were looking forward to the next 2 days when we would have more time.

We drove about 2 hours to Sonora, not surprisingly not seeing any Vacancy signs along the way in camp or motel. But with what I was paying to rent the "minivan," I wasn't looking that hard, anyway. At Walmart we did a little shopping - plastic knives which we had forgotten for spreading peanut butter, some milk because we felt like it, sunglasses for the boys (always a good thing to have and Andrew is working on getting his license), a wallet I promised Andrew for his birthday, and a floppy hat to replace the one I left at the eye doctor's but felt Davis was too far for an extra trip to reclaim it. We ate at the Taco Bell inside the store. I felt no qualms about using their facilities and spending the night in their parking lot.

Over dinner, we plotted hikes. After church, we planned to hike Sentinel Dome - an hour and a half hike, something like 600 foot climb, and 2nd highest view in the park. Then depending on time, energy, , couple of other hikes on Glacier Point Road also looked promising. Monday, we might head toward the Hetch Hetchy area. Such a big, big beautiful park!

We set up our beds. The boys in the cargo area with the seats folded flat. Me in the front passenger seat. Our stuff at their feet, under the seats, and filling the driver's seat. We called Joseph with my cell on speakerphone and had family prayer and scriptures - after he managed to get a reluctant little niece he was babysitting to bed.

Then the boys went to the movies - Chroncicals of Narnia - Prince Caspian. I set my alarm to 11pm so I could use the facilities before Walmart closed at midnight. Tried to blog by cell phone. That doesn't really work. Tested the cargo beds (This bed is too hard, she said) and fell asleep in the passenger seat. Not exactly just right, but comfortable enough. Next thing I knew, the boys were tapping on the window to be let in and it was 10 minutes to 1. I had missed my alarm. sigh

I slept ok, waking up off and on, which I often do at home. But no urgent urges, thankfully. I woke up for good a little before 5:30. I read a bit in John Adams and observed parking lot life. A surprising number of cars stayed the night in the parking lot. At least 3 RVs. Soon people started walking or driving up to the Walmart entrance and then leaving disappointedly. 6, 6:30, on and on. The boys woke up. We wondered when the facilities would be available. I read a bit of Dick Frances' Wild Horses out loud and we people watched. Finally, at 8 am, people started flowing in. I was surprised we were not in distress, but we were glad to see those doors open!

Ben and I has changed clothes in our beds - tricksey. Andrew waited until we went to the Sonora chapel.

Sonora First Ward. Nice friendly people. Excellent wife and husband talks about the Holy Ghost. Notes later.

We stopped at a park in Groveland (I think) to make sandwiches for lunch. We had missed breakfast waiting for Walmart. We didn't want to stir around too much before being allowed facilities and then it was time to get to church. No buying food on Sunday, we brought plenty. The weather wasn't too bad at all, I think we even had a bit of sunshine for our lunch.

As we got closer to Yosemite, the rain got rainier. There was quite a delay getting into the park - a precurser that the crowds were worse than Saturday. But also, coming in 120 is an easier ride, so that might be why more cars? We drove with difficulty through the park - long slow lines of cars, plenty of parked cars and pedestrians at every possible scenic spot, and increasing rain. As we headed up toward Glacier Point Road, we were finally free of the crowds, but the RAIN and we were driving through clouds. Places where I could barely see the road directly in front of me. Awe inspiring indeed when there is a sheer drop of thousands of feet at the edge of the road. It occured to us that should we find the trail and make the hike (the cold wet hike) we just might not see the grand vistas we hoped for. All we were going to see was grey, grey, grey. When the Glacier Point turn came, we passed it by and made our fearful way to lower and clear ground. The stress was taking a toll on me and I found a rest station barely in the nick of time. I have head a certain expression about being extremely afraid, today, I apparently experienced it!

We continued on to Mariposa Grove, but that road was closed because it was so full as to be nearly a parking lot. The rangers were advising people to park and take the shuttle in, but parking was not to be found and more people were arriving every moment. The exit is right there at the Mariposa Grove road and we took it, asking the ranger for tomorrow's forecast. More rain!

The boys and I agreed that it wasn't worth another night at Walmarts to see crowds and clouds, so we set our course for home.

Are we sorry we went? NO. We actually had a great time, although, admittedly, it could have been better.

The boys are now at Priesthood Meeting, but should be home any time (and will be hungry and tired.) Tomorrow we will go to the Mount Vernon Memorial Day Service after all - which we haven't missed in many years.

Someday we will go back. Possibly before Andrew's mission (probably not, but maybe), assuredly when he comes home. We will plan ahead and get a place to stay closer than Sonora's Walmart.


The rental has eased my minivan urges A LITTLE. Which is silly because it was an SUV, wasn't it. It had lovely, cushy seats! And! a front sunroof - fresh air/sunshine/shade/competely open/completely closed what you want is what you get plus a back seat moon roof. Very cool. There was something about the driver visability I didn't like. And it only got 16 mpg on the trip there. 19 on the way back. Over $120 on gas! I think I would like a minivan better, but I will try not to think about that right now. Goldie actually looked good to me when I turned in the Saturn.

The boys are home! We will forage.

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