Week 214-215 - Tour 2010 Take Two - 09-26-2010

On the Road Again, Tour 2010 has been restarted!

After several months of interviews, we have renters at our house and they would look to be as good as we could hope.  So we headed out from Paso Robles on our 2010 Adventure.

1) We were home for six months without moving the motorhome so we had reduced our insurance limits to the legal minimums of liability only. Remembering this at the last moment, we stopped along the road outside of Paso Robles to jump on the Internet and buy a full coverage policy. 2) Our first night's stay was at the Oakhurst Elks just 12 miles short of Yosemite National Park.  As usual the Elks members were great hosts.  $15 with hookups and a good view was nice too.

It is said the every photo taken in Alaska is an "postcard".  The same is true for the valley at Yosemite National Park.  The scenery is absolutely stunning. 1) We pulled over at the view point just before the Wawona Tunnel and got our first look at the valley.  El Capitan juts out on the left and Half Dome is 10 miles further in the background. 2) The Wawona Tunnel, at 4,233 feet long, is the longest California highway tunnel (as of 2010, bigger tunnels are underway elsewhere).  Note to motor home drivers: Know your height!  We are 12 foot 10 inches tall and this tunnel, right at the curb, is only 10' 2". We passed a bus in the tunnel and it appeared only inches away.  Had we moved over to curb, we would have exited the tunnel as a convertible.

El Capitan is one of the world's favorites for rock climbers. It rises 3,000 feet from the valley floor with a great portion of it a sheer granite face.

Instead of climbing El Capitan we choose 1) to drive along the nicely paved roads and 2) to hike to Vernal Falls. This hike is only 1.5 miles but the last .7 miles is moderate to strenuous.  Here Pete enjoys the hike just before the staircases begin.

Ellen begins the hike up the stairs.  There are multiple staircases and some of the steps are 12 to 18 inches high.  By the time you get to the top, you will be exhausted, but it is definitely worth the hike.

Ellen gets a view from the top.  As this is about as dry as it gets, the falls are only about 10 feet wide.  During the peak spring runoff season, the falls are 75-100 feet wide. Even at 10 feet, it is powerful and dangerous.

The water drops 317 feet to the pool below.

Ellen spends some tranquil moments appreciating God's creation.

1) At the top of falls is this unnamed majestic chunk of granite.  2) This peaceful looking Emerald Pool has swept at least 13 persons through the water and to their death over the falls.  It is against the park rules to swim here.  Even so, we saw two young men jump in (and out quickly of the freezing water) at the far right end of the pool.  As we sat and ate our snacks, a little chipmunk came by to say hello.

1) So what does the trail look like in late morning? A little busier than when we headed up.  In the autumn, only Vernal and Nevada falls have water. In order to save water, God has turned off the other falls until spring.  2) Before coming to the park, we called to find out if the Mothership was too large to drive through or camp. "No, come on in", the ranger said.  You just have to know a) your tunnel clearances, b) which roads are too curvy and c) how to get a campsite.  The campsite maximum reserveable size is 35 feet.  For our 44 footer to stay you need to get to the campground reservation office in the morning and sign the waiting list.  Then at 3:00 pm sharp, they will assign you a site if available.  We signed the list at 9:30 am, waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too late.  We were 20 on the list and only 11 sites were available.  And then, they only have a few sites big enough for us.  2) This is the rush hour traffic after everyone is turned down without a campsite.

Before leaving the valley, we parked the Mothership and jumped on the scooter to head up to Glacier Point.  At 3,200 feet above the valley, it affords spectacular views of Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls.  This photo was taken from the scooter at Tunnel View just east of the Wawona Tunnel.

This is Half Dome as seen from Glacier Point.  We had a great idea to wait until sunset to get great photos. But when we got to Glacier Point the parking lot was full of over 100 cars and several hundred people also waiting for sunset.  As wonderful as the photos would have been, we headed down the hill to allow us to leave the park before dark.  Driving a motorhome at night, is well, stupid!  It's big enough during the day, but at night, it's twice as large (or seems so).

1) Curry Village photo taken from Glacier Point and 2) the Ahwahnee Hotel.  That's 3,200 feet away with a 12 times zoom!

This panoramic photo was taken from Washburn Point, just a short distance before you get to Glacier Point. Can your camera take a photo this wide? No, and neither can ours.  This is five photos, each overlapped about 30%.  Then you use panoramic photo software to "stitch" the photos together.  This software cost from nothing to hundreds of dollars. The free versions we tested were awful.  We use Panorama Factory v5 from Smokey City Design.  It cost $80.00 and we are quite pleased with it.  Not only will it stitch the photos together, it will also adjust the lighting as your photos will generally vary in brightness as you rotate the camera.  The complete photo of Vernal Falls was also a vertical panoramic of four pictures.

Larger View for more detail.

Well, thanks again for traveling with us, it's great to be on the road again.  Yosemite is one of God's most marvelous creations and it took us four years to bring it to you.  We wonder what else is out there for the future?  You'll just have to wait and see.

Love ya,

Pete and Ellen

Photos from Sep 2010

The Full Time Motorhome Living Guide

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