Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Treasure In The Mountains

You have all probably heard of Yosemite National Park, just a short 90 minute drive from my house.  I should go more often.  This trip was to celebrate Mothers Day with my friends and my second birthday of the year.  As it turned out, only Tammy and I were able to make it, getting a late start.  That meant TRAFFIC ... LOTS of it!!  Parking was definitely at a premium.

Along the way, we stopped in at El Portal to check out the Merced River.  That's the hotel on the edge way in the distance.  Many years ago the river was half this wide, but with the big flood of 1997, it expanded it's boundaries.  Usually not much more than a trickle at this point, it was a raging river the day we were there, looking like a pot of boiling potatoes.  Everyone is on flood watch due to melting snow.
Water, water ... everywhere!!  I had to drive through several flooded sections of road in the park where water was sheeting off the mountains.  These two white stripes down the granite in back of the Ahwahnee Hotel are waterfalls.  Since I used to live in the park, several brand new waterfalls have appeared, flowing off the cliffs and into the valley due to erosion and river course changes.  
With all the flooding, half the valley was shut off to traffic, making very narrow single lanes going every which direction ... against the normal grain of traffic.  We barely made it in time for our lunch reservation, even with using Valet Parking.  By the way, you can't call for reservations any more ... although Tammy was finally able to find a phone number ... if they choose to answer.  

You have to go online to Open Table and make your reservation.  They do take walk-ins, but the wait was upwards of 60 minutes.  The place was packed!  If you ever visit, head around the corner to the right and up the stairs to the balcony.  It's a great place to get an idea of the grandeur of the hotel.  
We were finally seated in the main dining room.  It's such a spectacular venue, it's hard to concentrate on the menu.  Bring your biggest credit card and plan to stay awhile.
There is however, no use coming to such a grand location and being the cheapskate I usually am.  I splurged on the florentine crab appetizer at $17.  I know ... I almost choked on it too, but it was made with fresh spinach and was out of this world, so I figure it was worth it.
Next up ... rainbow trout.  Chef Patty would be proud of me for picking one of her favorite dishes.  I have to admit it was fabulous, along with the saluted onions, squash and green beans, with rice under the fish.  The plate is HUGE and enough for two people.  We found out too late that if you want bread, you have to ask for it.  They still bake it themselves and it is available at no charge, but if you do not ask, you do not get!!
After Tammy expounded on the virtues of the lemon meringue pie, she had a few months ago, I couldn't resist.  We both had a piece.   I could have eaten THREE pieces.  
Remember the trip to Maine with the Westerfields where we scouted out the best bread pudding?  The Golden Spike Train group was here a couple weeks ago, and they said the bread pudding was top of the line.  What the heck ... I ordered one to go.   Maybe it's because no one can beat Jerome Arizona's bread pudding, or maybe it was because it sat in my truck (in a to-go box) for four hours, but it didn't get a passing grade this time around.  

Lunch for two came to $111.05, probably the highest I've ever paid.  If you stick with the fish and only one dessert, it will run you about $30 each.  But what's the fun in THAT!!

Full to the brim, we wandered through the gift shop, non-existent when I was here.   Again, bring your BIG credit card.  The small red purse I looked at was $325 ... yup you read that right.  That was a little more than my $20 budget, so I passed.
Out front the dogwoods were blooming like crazy in every single tree around.  Unfortunately, try as we might to find some redbud, there was only one to behold.  I'm guessing the hot-no-water weather has killed most of it.  Maybe there's some at the higher elevations.
It was a trip down memory lane, except nothing matched up with my memories.  Degnans Restaurant where we caroused around the piano as Doug played the latest hits (after hours of course), was closed and half the grocery store is now another gift shop.  There's a new-to-me sandwich shop out front, where these guys get their fill.  I certainly hope they sterilize those trays before they serve food on them.  
Back in the truck, we headed through the employee section so I could show Tammy the dorm rooms. Right under my window was an old fashioned telephone booth.  Remember those with the sliding door?  One night a young bear got inside the booth and closed the door on himself when he turned around.  You should have heard the racket.  We all hung out the windows, but no one had enough nerve to go downstairs and open the door.  

We called the rangers, but they were slow to arrive.  We finally grabbed a broom and tried to push the door in far enough so he could get out.  He squalled every time it hit him in the butt.  At long last, he turned the right direction and escaped.  We never saw him again.  Don't you think he had tales to tell his mama!!!

Finally back at the Yosemite Lodge, I really thought we were out of luck in the way of a parking spot, but on the first round, I spotted a car backing out.  Tammy jumped out and stopped all the traffic (mainly so they wouldn't steal our spot) and I whipped the truck in backwards in a flash.  

With all the snow melt, the falls were pretty spectacular.  This is Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls.  The roar was deafening, even from the parking lot.  
As we got closer, we could feel a very light mist on the breeze.  In no time we were at the bridge and soaking wet.  
As we rounded the last corner, you could see how much mist there was at the bottom of Lower Falls.  The wind produced by the falling water was throwing the mist sideways, soaking everyone to the skin.  I stayed back trying to keep my camera dry.

Tammy went right up close into the eye of the storm.   We're still a long way from the actual base of the falls, but close enough to get drenched.
I've got more pictures I'll show you tomorrow.   It was getting late, so we loaded up in the truck and headed back home.  To my surprise, Tammy brought Smokehouse Almonds and pretzels to snack on.  This girl knows how to travel!!!  By the way, I really tried to drive nice.  I think I only scared her once!

With another trip to Morgan Hill in the books yesterday, I was exhausted and hit the sack early.  This morning is Mothers Day Brunch prep at the Elks, then it's nap time for Nancy.  Cooking for the brunch starts at 6:30 am on Sunday ..... won't THAT be fun!!


  1. WOW!!!!! You TRULY captured the unmeasurable Beauty of Yosemite!!! This trip will be a Priceless memory etched in my mind forever!! It's been a long time since I've seen the falls at such magnitude, and all just for us...
    YaaaaaaY!!!! :D
    You are a perfect traveling buddy and an excellent driver...
    The way you whipped that large truck in backwards into a regular parking spot so perfectly and quickly and NAILED it on the first try, yes, I was quite impressed!!!
    If you ever want company on another excursion, pick me, pick me please!!
    I'm always ready to RoLL... ;-)

    1. Hahaha I was just lucky!!! Glad I didn't have to run over those climbers to get the truck parked!!

  2. Can't wait for more pictures Nancy...I think we might just have to make Yosemite a visit this fall while in California (again). :)

    1. You should Dave, but beware of the traffic issue. It wasn't that there were too many people, just too many cars and not enough parking.