Friday, July 13
Saturday, July 14
- Left work early and drove to Madison, WI to meet up with Amy at her place.
Sunday, July 15
- Flew from Madison, WI to San Francisco, CA via MSP on late afternoon flight.
- Picked up rental car (stripped down Chevy Cobalt) from Enterprise.
- Drove over to Embassy Suites for the night.
- Had dinner at the hotel where the restaurant had non-existent service.
Monday, July 16
- Drove across central California to Yosemite National Park.
- Stopped in Oakdale, CA to pick up supplies at the grocery store and get some lunch at BK.
- Drive should have taken 4 hours but I missed the split for Highway 120 and drove an extra 30 miles up Highway 108 before I realized the error.
- Turned around and got to Yosemite an hour later than planned.
- Since it was mid-afternoon went straight to the Cedar Lodge in El Portal to check in.
- Lodge was a little further outside of El Portal than I imagined, thought we had missed it before we found it six miles past the small blur of a town.
- After getting settled in the room returned to the park and went up to Glacier Point, stopped at Bridalveil Falls on the way -- which was pretty well dried up -- and Tunnel View.
- First visit to this area of the park since it was still closed with snow on previous visit.
- Stopped at first viewpoint, Washburn Point, which had great views of Little Yosemite Valley along with Vernal and Nevada Falls.
- Got out to Glacier Point and checked out the awesome view of Half Dome and Yosemite valley as well as the mountains beyond.
- Returned to the hotel and had dinner in the diner which was marginal.
Tuesday, July 17
- Went into the park after filling up for gas which cost $4.86 per gallon, a dollar higher than it was anywhere else in the state (captive market I guess, what you going to do - walk).
- Since it was our first day and we had lots of enthusiasm we hiked the Mist Trail into Little Yosemite Valley first.
- No mist due to low flow on the Merced River but still an excellent hike up the side of Vernal Falls, had to pause often on the killer steps - altitude affects you more than you would imagine (couldn't be the smoking).
- Amy dropped and broke her digital camera.
- After a short break by Emerald Pool hiked back to the base of Nevada Falls.
- Returned to the valley and went to the store to get a disposable camera.
- Had lunch at the Degnan's Deli -- listened to "greenies" yak about themselves -- ugh.
- Went over to Yosemite Falls which was dry except for a little drizzle coming off, not much snow the previous winter to feed the waterfalls through mid-summer.
- Got back to our car and took a quick tour of the valley meadows before heading back to the hotel for the night.
- Stopped by El Capitan where the now infamous "juice box" incident occurred (inside joke due to a sarcastic comment I made about an RV being in the foreground of a picture I wanted to take).
- Stopped at the Valley View viewpoint and got some great reflection photos in the calm river with the late afternoon light on the valley walls.
- Whirlpool tub in the room was extra enjoyable after the hike we went on.
- Had dinner at the hotel restaurant which was much better than the diner.
Wednesday, July 18
- Returned to the valley and took a short stop at a meadow, walked up to Mirror Lake which was gone due to lack of water.
- Stopped by the store to get some shirts and then some sandwiches from the deli again.
- Then drove down to the Mariposa Gove of sequoia's near Wawona, stopped along the way to enjoy our lunch.
- Went for a short hike in the grove and saw some of the big trees.
- A little too much up hill to go all the way back to the museum on foot, didn't feel like waiting to take a trolley tour.
- Headed back valley area and went up the Glacier Point road stopping at the Sentinel Dome trailhead.
- This short two-mile hike was one our favorites, the views from the top of the dome were 360 degrees and much more dramatic than those at Glacier Point itself.
- Returned to the hotel for another soak and a good dinner again.
Thursday, July 19
- Checked out of Cedar Lodge and headed up into the high country along the Tioga Road, stopped a few times to take pictures
- Got to Olmsted point at the top of Tenaya Canyon and Yosemite Valley and took the short nature trail out to some additional viewpoints which were much better than those available along the roadside.
- Drove down to Tenaya Lake which was very picturesque.
- Decided to go on to Tuolumne Meadows to get some lunch from the store, ended up with burgers and fries from the grill which were edible.
- Stopped at a meadow viewpoint and then decided to hike up Pothole Dome for a better view.
- Pothole dome offered a good 360 view of the Sierra Nevada's and Tuolumne Meadows and was not too difficult to climb although the wind gave us a chill.
- Returned to Tenaya Lake where we took a walk along the shoreline and spent some time enjoying the wonderful view - you can always count on some teenagers to be around yelling and screaming to add to your enjoyment of the solitude.
- Late afternoon we headed out the east side of the park to Lee Vining and our next hotel, the road through Lee Vining Canyon was interesting with its lack of a guardrail.
- Checked into our room at Murphey's Motel which was nice but the bed was way too firm!
- Went down to the south shore of Mono Lake to check out the tufa formations.
- Had ribs for dinner at Bodie Mike's BBQ restaurant.
Friday, July 20
- After a less than desirable night's sleep returned to Yosemite after stopping to pick up sandwiches for lunch from the Mobil Station Restaurant (the best place in town people say and they line up for the food at night).
- Got to Tuolumne Meadows and took a short hike to Soda Spring which went through the middle of the meadow.
- Then drove down past Olmsted Point to take a hike up to May Lake after having lunch at the trailhead.
- Nice moderate hike up to where one of the high sierra camps is, the water in the lake was crystal clear and reflected the blue sky perfectly.
- Stopped at Olmsted Point again for a quick glimpse as a smoke from a fire was filling the valley below.
- Returned to Tuolumne Meadows with the intention of hiking up Lambert Dome but decided we had done enough up-hill hiking and instead decided to visit Tenaya Lake again.
- Enjoyed a good amount of time sitting on the shore of Tenaya Lake, even got brave enough to go into the cold water ankle deep.
- Headed back to Lee Vining, stopped by a Saddlebage Lake on a side road in a National Forest area just outside the park which was pretty much dry and unscenic.
- Had dinner again at Bodie Mike's (steak instead of ribs this time).
- Then went out to the tufa area at Mono Lake to watch sunset.
Saturday, July 21
- Checked out of the hotel and drove up Highway 395 to Bodie State Park which is the ghost town remains of the old mining town of Bodie which at its peak had 10,000 residents.
- Walked among the remaining buildings -- which are well preserved in the dry high desert -- peaking in the windows to see what was left behind and what the curators had set up.
- Returned to Lee Vining on fumes (cars consume more gas at high altitude).
- Drove through Yosemite on our return trip to San Francisco stopping only to take our photos by the entrance sign.
- Couldn't find a place to stop for lunch in the towns along the road which threw Amy for a loop, found a BK again in Tracy, CA.
- Finally got back to San Francisco and checked into the Embassy Suites again, ordered some pizza for dinner and fell asleep early exhausted from our vacation adventures.
Sunday, July 22
- Left the hotel with the intent going to the Pacific Ocean but got lost in downtown San Francisco because I didn't have direction (or couldn't remember them) on how to get from the 101 to CA 1.
- Returned to the hotel where we had lunch, again with bad service.
- Turned in the rental car and got to the airport for our afternoon flight home.
- Amy got us upgraded to first class for the return trip due to her elite status (membership has its privileges).
- Got back to Madison and Amy's apartment near midnight.
- Gizmo (Amy's cat) was very happy to see us having spent most of the week alone except for a daily visit from one of Amy's coworkers.
Tuesday, July 24
- Drove back to Winona where I had to pick up my cat (Kristy) from my parents' house because they were going to be out of town for the coming week.
Saturday, July 28
- Amy's beloved grandmother "Nonie" passed away after a brief battle with cancer and she had to return to Memphis for the funeral and to spend some time with her family.
- I returned to Madison the previous evening to an excited Gizmo who was distraught from having been alone again to move Amy into her new apartment.
- She had arranged movers so it wasn't too much labor on my behalf other than completing the packing she had left on her quick exit from town.
- By the time she returned from Memphis on Sunday evening I had her new place looking like home except for a large pile of boxes.
- Even Gizmo likes the new apartment in Middleton.