Yosemite Valley with El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls from an overlook on...
Bridalveil Falls at the same place and time
Bridalveil Falls from the valley floor
El Capitan from the valley floor
Ribbon Falls from the valley floor
Upper Yosemite Falls from the valley floor
Upper Yosemite Falls blown by the wind, a closer view
Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls from the valley floor
Lake Tenaya from the Tioga Road below the pass
Lake Tenaya closer up
Pink-lilac Paintbrush in bloom near a Yosemite Valley overlook
Yosemite Valley and Merced River from a high overlook on the Tioga...
Yosemite Valley with El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls from a lower overlook
Bridalveil Falls (zoomed) from the lower overlook in afternoon light
Coyote along the Glacier Point road
Coyote in a snowbank near the road
Half-Dome and Vernal Falls in the afternoon light
Vernal Falls, zoomed-in
Bass Lake RV Resort, Bass Lake, CA
Sunday, May 13, 10:30 am PDT
This is the first installment of my Summer 2012 Western Mountain Tour journal. I’m back on the road again. I left Chula Vista on May 6 (a week ago) and have stopped at 3 RV Parks without bashing the coach into anything. So far, the RV is as pristine as when it left Chula Vista, only dustier. I’m trying new parking procedures to keep my motorhome free of scrapes and bashes.
Before I left Chula Vista, I attended Bob Williams’ 82nd Birthday Party on May 22 at a South Bay Seafood Grill where 25 people shared a champagne brunch, lots of talk, loads of laughs, many cards and a few gifts in celebration of Bob.
Then on May 28, Rascal graduated from PetsMart’s Beginning Dog Training. He can Sit, Lay Down, Shake, Leave food alone, and Come when called. The most important lesson is that he’s learned to listen to me (about 60% of the time, but nearly 100% of the time when I have treats and a clicker in my hands.) Rascal is up to 12 lbs now, the same weight as his sire. But I hope he gains a bit more weight and fills out.
He still loves to look out the window for cats, squirrels, bunnies and anything else that moves quickly and is smaller than he is. He's particularly obsessed with the cats belonging to a neighboring RV who hang out under the motorhome parked in the neighboring site.
Finally, around the same time, some Elks gave me an orchid that was about bloom. They were leaving to store their RV before flying home to the Boston area for the summer and couldn’t take it with them. The orchid has since opened 2 more flowers while enjoying the light from shower skylight.
On May 6, I drove 135 miles north from Chula Vista to Lytle Creek, CA in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. I stayed at the Mountain Lakes RV Resort there as a member of Resorts of Distinction (ROD) , another RV Park membership group that I joined at the very end of 2011. I get to stay at most ROD parks for $0/night although I have to pay about $500/year in membership (park maintenance) fees.
Mountains Lakes is a lovely resort NE of Los Angeles at 3000 ft elevation, and is quite crowded with local LA area residents on the wkends. There are a couple of lakes and lots of trees, but most of the RV sites are for smaller RV’s. Although the guard at the entrance assured me I’d have no trouble driving my 40 ft RV with car attached around the park looking for a site, some of the turns proved to be too tight, so I had to stop (when the RV was millimeters from a fence on a turn), detach the car, and back up the RV to keep from bashing my poor RV again. I found a site in the pines with much less shade but fewer obstacles and set up for two days.
The weather in Southern California is warm/hot and dry this May with temps in the 80’s and 90’s. After 2 days at Mountain Lakes, I drove to Bakersfield where the temperature reached 100 in the campground, and cooling off to the mid-70’s overnight, but since Orange Grove RV Park where we hooked up had 50 amps of power, I managed to stay cool in the coach. After 2 days there, I left for Bass Lake RV Resort, another ROD park. This park has a $3/night surcharge because utilities are high up here in the foothills of the Sierras 25 miles south of Yosemite’s south entrance. Since the temps are reaching 90 degrees during the days in this gulch at 3000 ft, I was happy to pay the surcharge and enjoy the 50 amp power hookup. It cools off to the low 50’s overnight and there is no rain in the forecast.
Rascal is glad to be back on the road again. He enjoys all the new smells in the campgrounds. Mountain Lakes was especially delightful as it had lots of boulders, trees and wood fences with wonderful smells on them. I did a lot standing while walking him there as he savored the local bouquet. He also loves intermediate stop at gas stations or rest stops along the highway. Both the Orange Grove and Bass Lake RV Parks provided small but nice off-leash dog areas where Rascal could sniff to his heart’s content and meet other dogs to exchange odors.
On Friday, May 11, the skies were clear and the weather sunny. So Rascal and I drove up into Yosemite and drove most of the roads inside the National Park for about 10 hours.
I drove toward Yosemite Valley from the southeast entrance to witness Yosemite Valley with Bridalveil Falls in good flow. The Yosemite Valley was crowded when I arrived around noon, but not so much that cars were banned from the valley. Many of the visitors were foreigners; I heard French and Slavic accents among those taking pictures.
From the Valley floor, I was able to get good pictures of Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, Ribbon Falls and Yosemite Falls. At these lower altitudes, Lupines were blooming along the roadsides and Dogwood Trees were in bloom with white flowers in the Valley, but I was unable to get good pictures of either.
I then drove out the Tioga road toward the east over the pass to Tenaya Lake and down to Tuolumne Meadows. Unfortunately, it’s much too early for flowers in the high meadows with snow still lying in the shade along the road, so I turned around and drove back toward the Valley.
Along the way, I found and photographed a lovely pinkish-lilac paintbrush in bloom near a Valley overlook.
I took more pictures of the Valley and Bridalveil Falls in afternoon light for two overlooks farther along the Tioga road.
Then I headed up the road to Glacier Point where I encountered a coyote hanging out in a melting snowbank alongside the road.
My final pictures were from Washburn Overlook and Glacier Point showing Half-Dome and Vernal Falls in good light about 2 hours before sunset. When I first visited Yosemite in October 1995, I hung out a couple hours at Glacier Point to take sunset pictures. But this time, I decided to make the 1:30 hour drive over winding mountain roads back to my RV while it was still light and left the sunset pictures to younger, more warmly-dressed photographers.
It was an exhilarating experience for both Rascal and me. He was very excited by all the different woodsy smells and thrilled when a chipmunk darted across the path to the Glacier Point overlook right in front of him. I was thrilled by the clear skies and wonderful weather (low 80’s in the Valley and 60’s at Glacier Point and Tenaya Lake) for taking pictures. We’ll be in the area for another 10 days and I plan to return to take more pictures in the Valley and along the Merced River.
I’m relaxing in the RV Park this wkend, but will explore the local Bass Lake/Oakhurst area early next week before returning to Yosemite. I’ll leave here on May 24th for Lotus CA, north of Placerville, where I’ll camp at the Thousand Trails Ponderosa RV Park for 13 days before heading north to Redding CA near Mt. Shasta. After that, I’ll head north into Oregon. I'll send out a journal update when I get to Ponderosa RV Park.