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Yosemite - Quickly

September 28 - October 1
Written October 2+
Dear Friends,Family and Diary,

After four straight "family" diaries, we have squeezed in a little local tourism.  Not much, but a little.

The premier local tourism destination is, of course, Yosemite National Park (YNP).  However, unless forced by visitors, we do not DO Yosemite in the peak summer season.  It is just too crowded and inconvenient.  By the end of September, we had hoped crowds would be gone, at least for a one-night-stay visit.  Well, sorta.
We packed up the Jeep with almost as much as we would need for a week: cameras, art kits, books, CPAP, toiletries, and changes of  clothes for different temperatures.  This is why we should only take long trips.  Sheesh.

The south gate to Yosemite is a bit over an hour from home, plus time for a breakfast detour at "Pops" in Oakhurst, our standard morning stop.  I like travel routines.  Highway 41 was not full at all, a sign the summer was mostly over.
d180930_04_bus.jpgJust inside the gate, we stopped to visit Mariposa Grove, a major tourist destination that has been being rebuilt for the past two or three years.  It used to be possible to drive near and park next to the big trees, but popularity had threatened the grove, so parking and the paths were completely redone.  Now, the parking lot is a mile or so away from the grove and buses are needed for those of us not up to the uphill hike.
Mariposa is the only grove of Giant Sequoias in Yosemite NP.  The trees are pretty fussy about where they will grow: a narrow elevation band; just the right amount of water; a summer-winter temperature range that is just right.  Most areas like that are farther south in the Sierra Nevadas.

d180930_24_grizzley.jpgThe new paths are wide, good for summer crowds, and run past both downed giants and standing groves.  It is about a half-mile from the bus stop to the largest of the tree in the Mariposa Grove: The Grizzly Giant. We have seen plenty of Giant Sequoia in Sequoia NP, but this one specimen in YNP is as good as any.
Along the way, I took bark-texture pictures to see if, a year from now, I can tell which belongs to which species: Ponderosa Pine, Giant Sequoia, Sugar Pine, White Fir, Incense Cedar.  Actually, I can't tell even now!  You?
d180930_40_wawona.jpgOur real destination was the Wawona Hotel, a Victorian-era landmark.  For greedy, commercial reasons, it has been renamed the Big Tree Lodge, but we do NOT refer to it as other than The Wawona.  The only room available was one of the original, small, no-bathroom rooms in the main building.  Good enough for a one-night stand, even for seniors.

After our Mariposa Grove walk, we were hungry, so we went to the hotel's light and airy dinning room.  Like the hotel itself, it is one of my favorite spaces.  (Pictures below.)  Then we decided to forget about the "required"  Yosemite activities of hiking and picture-taking in favor of just reading on the upstairs veranda.  And slipping inside to nap a little.  We are seniors, after all.

We followed up the tough afternoon with a wine and a cocktail on the lower veranda.  To be productive, we had an editing-screening session of the new series "Magdalena's Chapters", my still-not-done effort at video production. (Links to YouTube will be provided, when I am done.)

Once it got a bit too chilly for the veranda, we went inside for dessert.  Seating was at a premium, so we joined a Swedish couple and their nine-month-old baby boy, with everyone's permission, of course. While they ate dinners, and we ate peach cobbler dessert, we chatted like long-lost friends.  This is the way travel should be and the Wawona atmosphere prompts exactly such encounters.  That's one reason we return.

d181001_02_morningcabin.jpgd181001_04_hotel.jpgAfter a nice overnight sleep (despite a trip or two to the men's water closet, out our door and around the veranda), I was up early to try some dark pictures.  Nothing special, I suppose, but a good reminder for me of what a nice environment it is.
Breakfast was again in the old dining room, with its vintage sheep-skin lamps providing proper lighting for a Victorian dining space.  Food, both for breakfast and lunch/dinner, is pretty much National Park standard, ok but unimaginative. Nevertheless, the special Wawona setting makes it worthwhile.
Once again, we considered a hike and decided against it.  Too chilly.  Too tired.  Too many chores calling us home.

By the end of the day we had driven back, gone to our gyms, paid bills, (M.) paint a little, and generally continued our routines. 

Our 24-hour break was over too soon, but, as Dr. Seuss said: “Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

John and Marianne


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