Monday, June 11, 2012

Even by car, Yosemite is a blast

I joined Mary in San Francisco on Monday, June 4. She was attending an American Heart Association board meeting at the airport Weston that wrapped up on Tuesday. My job was to pick up a car at "Rental Car Central" on Tuesday morning, stop by the hotel to get our bags and check out by noon and then collect her after her meeting.

I took the hotel shuttle to the terminal and then the train to the RCC. The Hertz counter was awash with customers. A Hertz agent directing traffic told me I could check in on an electronic kiosk instead of waiting in line. 20 minutes later the machine finally spit out a contract and I took the elevator down to get the car, which turned out to be a Chevy Aveo hatchback -- a sort of modern-day Geo Metro.

I'd reserved a "Chevy Cobalt or similar," which I expected to be a more substantial vehicle, but there was no time to complain. I had to get back to the hotel to check out by noon and it was 11:50 a.m. by the time I cleared the gate at RCC. With our bags filling the puny boot and back seat, I buzzed down to the In and Out Burger in Millbrae for lunch, considered spending a week in the Aveo and called Hertz to see if I could exchange it.

The first human that the Hertz automated phone system connected me to was someone in roadside service and repairs, but they told me to just take the Aveo back to RCC and ask them to exchange it. An hour later, I was happily driving a Toyota Camry for the same price as the pathetic Aveo.

*    *    *

We spent the night in Novato with friends Jan and Rick before heading out across the Central Valley to Yosemite on Wednesday in our comfy Camry.

Yosemite Valley has three entrances. Our first arrival was on California 120 through Groveland. After climbing up through the foothills, you turn a corner and there is an overlook with this view:

At the first valley overlook, there is a bronze model of Half Dome.
Perhaps when the weather's bad, one can't see the real thing -- but we
could. It was spectacular.

From the valley floor, Half Dome is even more imposing.
Bridal Veil Falls dwarfs a few Yosemite visitors
below in the valley.
After a first-afternoon tour of the valley, we headed out California 41
to Oakhurst, where we checked into the Sierra Vista B&B.
From the terrace outside our room, we enjoyed the panorama.
Next morning, we drove to the Mariposa
Sequoia Grove and took the tram tour. The
guide said, "tram is short for trampoline --
hold on tight."
The big Sequoia that tourists used to drive through fell a few decades
ago, but there are still trees like this one to walk through. The heart wood
isn't necessary for the tree to live.
After lunch at the Wawona Hotel, we went out Glacier Point Road to climb
Sentinel Dome, which is the peak on the right of this photo. From
the parking lot, the trek was supposed to be just 1.1 miles, but we took
a wrong turn and ended up hiking about 5 miles along the canyon rim.
Mary contemplates our final ascent to the summit.
And here we are, high above the world with a 360-degree view. Next
day, we were a little stiff, but there were no blisters and a good meal,
a shower and a couple of glasses of port at the B&B restored us.
Friday morning, we were back in the park. This time, we drove up the
Merced River and entered through the Rock Arch Gate.
The restroom at Bridal Veil Falls was ready for a busy day -- 15 rolls
El Capitan is one big hunk of granite. A real traffic stopper.
A little flash fill wasn't all that lit up Mary's face at
Bridal Veil Falls.
Friday afternoon, we drove to San Ramon to visit good friends Dave and Lichinn and our god children Hannah and Ryan. We took advantage of our ride through the Central Valley and stocked up on cherries, strawberries and apricots at a fruit stand on the way. By the time these things get to Hawaii, they are half as good and twice as expensive.

Saturday, Dave loaded up the minivan and took us out to Del Valle State Recreation Area near Livermore for a lake-shore family picnic.

While the old folks got caught up, the kids did a little fishing. The one they hooked was reportedly between 12 and 20 inches. Unfortunately, he got away -- as did we.

Ryan and Hannah try their hands at fishing in Lake Del Valle.
According to their dad, Dave, there are no fish in any of California's
On Sunday noon, Mary flew back to Honolulu and I to Los Angeles to pick up the V-Strom and begin 2012's motorcycle adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Mary, I'm so glad you got to do a little adventure riding. I think you should take a sabbatical next year and go with John for at least part of his ride. These pix make me think of our trip to Muir Woods (?) many moons ago.