Our Train Trip to the West – Part V

Yosemite National Park

Sunday, May 11th:

At 8 o’clock we boarded the bus and were ready for our trip to Yosemite National Park. I was still feeling a little queasy, but eager to visited this beautiful park. We headed East on Route 140 and our estimated time traveling time was around 2 1/2 hours. However, about midpoint, Mark spotted a sign that said that no vehicles over 30 feet were allowed ahead on that road. So, he did a impressive U turn, (with the help of Jerry guiding him) and had to return back some miles. Then we made a left turn on Route 49 and another left at Route 41, which took us to the Southern entrance to the Park. By then it was past 11.30 am and most of us needed desperately a pit stop.

We stopped at a place called Wawona, a few miles into the park. The setting was beautiful: the clear waters of the Merced river rushing through at our left, a groove of tall sequoia trees and other conifers around us and two primitive wooden shacks that housed the only facilities at the rest area. Long lines build up very quickly, but they didn’t move as quickly. So we stayed there for at least 45 minutes, instead of the usual 15-20.

El Capitan
El Capitan, the little Capitan and the Capitana.

We continued our journey to our destination at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center and Lodge, were we were suppose to have lunch and take a guided tour around the Valley. We got there by 12.45 pm, and the tour that had been booked was leaving at 1.00 pm, so lunch was out of the question. It didn’t matter much to me, as my stomach wasn’t ready to digest a lot of foodstuff. So we grabbed a place in the first seat on the open tram, were we thought we would hear better the guide that would be seating in front of us, without thinking that also we would have to endure the fumes from the truck pulling the tram. Luckily, the air around us was so pure that it cancelled the smell of the gas coming out of the exhaust pipe.

Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls

Our park ranger guide was pretty knowledgeable and did tell us a lot about the origins of the park, John Muir, the geology of the park, history, wild life and flora, legends, etc. There was beauty all around us. The day was perfect, a blue sky above, green meadows and trees around us, and the Sierra Nevada in the background. We passed near Bridalveil Fall, Sentinel Falls and Yosemite Falls. We were lucky, as we visited the place in the spring, the waterfalls were at their peak, still being feed by the melting snows of the Sierra. By late summer, these and most other falls in the park dry out.

Then, there were the gigantic rock formations: Half Dome, El Capitan, Cathedral Spires, Sentinel Dome, the Three Brothers and many more. We stopped at a point called Tunnel View, for picture taking and scenery admiring. (The picture of El Capitan, above, was taken from that vantage point.). After a fifteen minutes rest, we went back to the tram and returned to the Yosemite Lodge, where we had initiated our tour of the Valley and our bus was waiting to take us to our next destination. So, our stay at Yosemite was extremely short, and the experience too brief. Still, the beauty and the aura of this place, will always stay in our memory. [Luckily I had the chance to spend more time in Yosemite when I did a cross country trip in April 2015.]  (For more info about the Park, click here.)

Again, back to the bus. We had a long trip ahead of us and due to the detour we had to make, we were running behind schedule. We would have reached our programmed dinner stop very late. But, never fear, Jerry and Ann were there. They made some arrangements over their mobile phone and we reached another Home Buffet (our dinner destination) on a more timely fashion.

After satisfying our appetites, (I had regained mine) we continued our trip and arrived to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza, in Sacramento. It was late, we were tired, but our spirits were high. A comfortable bed and a good night sleep awaited us.

Sacramento, CA is next.