Sunday, July 27, 2014

Yosemite National Park, CA: Timing Is Everything!



Our final destination of the six-week trip was Yosemite National Park -- a trip Philip has dreamed of since he was a teenager and mooned over famous photographer Ansel Adams' beautiful black and white photos of this gorgeous area.  We had a full day to see a mere fraction of the park ... but boy were we glad we got there when we did.  Because the following day, 3 separate wildfires totaling 2,200 acres broke out in Yosemite, and the road/entrance we needed to use was CLOSED!  The webcams in the park showed heavy smoke and we were so grateful that we had been able to see the beauty of the park .. because a day later, we would have been out of luck! To compare ..............

El Capitan --- our photo from July 25

El Capitan --- webcam photo from July 26
Yosemite Falls --- our photo from July 25
Yosemite Falls --- webcam photo from July 26

Half Dome --- our photo from July 25

Half Dome --- webcam photo from July 26

So, the bummer was, we couldn't go back into Yosemite after our one-day visit on July 25, but the good news was that we really enjoyed our day there -- hiking, picnicking, sightseeing, and perfecting our French accents, since  for some reason it seemed that 95% of the people in Yosemite were visiting from France.





Bella made friends everywhere she went.  It seemed everyone visiting Yosemite had left their dogs back wherever they came from and were eager for some canine kisses.  She was seriously mobbed everywhere we went and patiently submitted herself to all the attention.


Though wildlife was nowhere near as abundant as it had been in Yellowstone, it fearlessly could care less about the humans around.  We were about two feet from this deer and he just kept on munchin'!


We got quite lost at one point (I would like to have a word or two with whoever's in charge of the lame signage at Yosemite) but it was fortunate because then we got to drive through Arch Rock, which we wouldn't have seen otherwise!


One of our favorite adventures in nearby Groveland was going to a very small outdoor concert held in a combination plant nursery/photo gallery/reading room/coffee shop/caterer/concert venue called Mountain Sage ... only in Northern California would all those things come together successfully and charmingly!




The setting was straight from the 70's and the crowd at the concert was disorderly in the best possible way ... everyone was extremely free-spirited, incredibly friendly, and people-watching-worthy!



But most importantly, these people wanted to DANCE their pants off!  All night long!
How could we do anything but join in?



Our new friends Christian and Anne ... getting married August 16!
The band "California Honeydrops" was awesome and played what could only be described as, uhhhh, upbeat New Orleans-style rockabilly!  If that genre exists! And they finished their first set in true New Orleans style, takin' it out into the crowd.  So! Much! Fun!




Our other fun Groveland adventure was to throw one back in the oldest continuously operating saloon in California, established in 1852.



Here is what it looked like back in the day ....

And here is what it looks like in 2014.

And here is what it looks like inside!



All the wads hanging from the ceiling are dollar bills.  They have a special way of wrapping the bill around a quarter and a thumbtack so that it becomes a little missile, which you pitch up and it theoretically sticks into the ceiling.  


Everyone who risks life and limb (and more importantly, the life and limb of people around him or her) by doing this receives an invitation to return for a special fundraising event in the spring that benefits local schools.
  

 Our trip to the Yosemite area was complete, and with it, our final destination. 
We drank a final toast to "The Road" and prepared to head back to Scottsdale, where it was a record 117 degrees yesterday.  Sigh. 


After 3,718 miles and six weeks, we knew that this had truly been the Trip of A Lifetime.


Though I am not going to miss getting multiple fraud-prevention text messages as we trolloped our way across the Great American West.


After seeing hundreds (if not thousands) of RV's in our travels, I was shocked that only one other RV we ran across was "named" as the Lucky Charm is, with the name emblazoned across the back like a boat.  How cute is "Southern Eggsposure"?



More things we learned on this trip:

(1) In an RV, eating things that take up the most space in the tiny fridge take priority over things that are going to expire.

(2) The ancient, 30+-year-old Maytag agitator-style washing machines found  in every RV park laundry room get clothes WAY cleaner than the fancy "high-efficiency" front loader in my laundry room at home.

(3) Given enough time, even Sirius radio repeats the same songs over and over.  Particularly if they are by Jackson Browne.  Or are "Levon" by Elton John.  

(4) Always close the toilet lid in the tiny RV bathroom because 99% of the time when you open a cabinet, SOMETHING is gonna fall in there.

(5) 250 square feet doesn't seem that small when you are with some you adore and whose company makes the adventure so much more fun!  Thanks, Philip Miller! <3

Lastly, of all the bumper stickers we rode behind (or, more accurately, who passed us as we were chugging along at 40 MPH), this one was our favorite!


THE LUCKY CHARM'S 2014 GREAT WESTERN ADVENTURE IS OVER!
Our states map is a lot more complete, but we are already excited about planning another one!
Remember, those who wander are not necessarily lost.  :-)
Till next time .....!