Tuesday 12th May
Today we made our way to Yosemite National Park, travelling east on state route 152. We journeyed through pretty rural grassland with undulating hills and fruit growing areas. In the Pacheco Valley we stopped at Casa de Fruta a large roadside shop selling fruit and fruit products. Alongside the fruit shop was a gas station, restaurant, coffee shop, play area with children's rides and gift shop all owned by the same family and quite a tourist attraction.
We continued on to the San Luis Reservoir where we stopped at the Visitor Centre and to catch the view across the lake.
The weather was very windy on this leg of the journey and the RV felt the force of the wind blowing across the reservoir a couple of times. Past Los Banos we took the Interstate 99 north to Merced where we picked up the 140 east to Mariposa. We soon started to climb into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains as the road wound it's way up towards Yosemite. Our campsite was in a small place called Midpines just off the 140 and 23 miles from the entrance to the park. The campground was set amongst pine trees and had a nice pool and shop. We sat in the sunshine for the rest of the afternoon after our long journey from Carmel. Before dinner we walked the short trail that wound around the campsite through the woods. We had an early dinner of BBQ burgers with all the trimmings and sat outside until it got dark and too chilly.
Wednesday 13th May
Chrissy's birthday! After a rendition of happy birthday we sat outside with our teas and coffees whilst Chris opened her cards and presents. Sammy had sent a card with a picture of us all back in the 80's when Tony and I had visited Chris and Dave in Texas. Bacon and egg sandwiches for breakfast before we did a few chores and took advantage of the laundry on site to do washing. We left the campsite and turned onto the 140 west towards Yosemite. The road twisted and turned as we made our way higher, up into the mountains. We followed the Merced river along the route through unspoiled country with pine and deciduous forests climbing high above us. Near to the park we were diverted off the road onto a bridge that took us across the river. As we passed by on the other side we could see that there had been what looked like a landslide or heavy rock fall down the mountain that had covered the road. The hillside was netted across to keep things in place whilst they cleared the debris, it looked like a big job. We came to the Arch Rock entrance to the park and one of the Rangers approached the car, we advised her that we were national park members. She told us that access to Glacier Point would be closed later in the day due to expected bad weather and waved us through into the park. We continued along the side of the river towards Yosemite Valley with towering granite walls on either side of us. As we neared the valley we saw Half Dome rock formation rising nearly a mile above the valley floor in the distance. On our right across the river two water falls dropped over the edge of the cliffs. On our left was the massive sheer cliff face of El Capitan which is a popular place for rock climbers. Further along we came to meadows and sandy beaches at the side of the river before seeing the impressive Yosemite Falls in the distance running with force over the top of the granite cliff dropping in stages 2,425 feet - considered the tallest waterfall in North America.
We drove past Housekeeping Camp, through Curry Village, across the river to North Pines campground. We had a site booked there for tomorrow evening and wanted to check it out. The campsite was set in the trees near the river but was more cramped than expected and the setting was not as natural as we thought it would be, The route around the campsite to the RV pitch was very tight and would be difficult for a 32 foot RV with trailer. We headed back to the village where there are shops, a theatre, museum, visitor centre and restaurants. After having coffee and cake we headed back out of the park to get ready to go out to dinner. Mariposa is an old gold mining town about 6 miles away from the campsite and this was where we headed for dinner. We started with drinks at the Hideout Saloon and had a very warm welcome from Brenda the owners Mother who was serving behind the bar. The saloon was off the main street tucked behind a hotel and down stairs to a basement room. The walls where covered in paper money from all over the world with messages written on them by the contributors.
In one corner there was a band practicing with Brenda's son on the banjo. We chatted with Brenda for a while and asked if the picture on display behind the bar was of her. She said that it was taken when she had competed in the World Wrestling Federation competitions and had been undefeated for two years running. A local singer called John Cardenas came into the bar, we talked with him for a while and he gave us a CD of himself and the band he sings with. Brenda recommended the Charles Street Dinner House for Chris's birthday dinner and she kindly made the booking and then took us out and along the road to the restaurant. The restaurant was very smart but rustic at the same time with a good menu. We were spoilt for choice but decided on - Chris and Tony ribs, Dave ribeye and I had filet mignon. Chris and I then shared their legendary apple pie with rum sauce.