West Coast Road Trip – Day 25 
Thursday, April 8, 2010, 02:54 PM
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Going to bed in our freezing tent was bad, but waking up in it was even worse. I put on as many layers of clothes as possible, grabbed our breakfast out of the bear box and wandered over to the dining hall which was swarming with school groups. Many of the kids wore only jeans, sweatshirts and sneakers!

We joined a group of people at the Ansel Adams Gallery at Yosemite Village for their free daily 9:00am photography tour. Paul picked up a few pointers and I learned a good deal about this hobby of Paul’s, as well as a few things about the park.





Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America, is actually broken up into three distinct falls. We took a short hike to the lower falls, which was quite impressive, especially when you consider that it’s only 1/3 of the whole.



Here's a photo of all three parts of the falls.



Paul had signed up for a 4-hour afternoon photo workshop and so I was on my own for a few hours. I grabbed lunch and then went for a much-needed run. My legs felt heavy and I was stiff from being so cold for so long. While the run didn’t feel great, I felt great afterward. Funny how that works.

I saw a bear while running and Paul saw one (most likely the same one) during his photo class. Wildlife is generally easy to spot as word spreads and a large crowd forms quickly.



With the run, a hot shower and temperatures now in the mid-60’s, I was a new woman and ready to enjoy Yosemite to the fullest. I met Paul after his class and we headed to Mirror Lake for sunset photos.







Once again, the temperature plummeted as soon as the sun set, but I was much more good-natured about it this evening. Upon returning to Camp Curry, we rummaged through our bear box for food and headed to the guest lounge. We feasted on our usual - canned chili, canned salmon and tortillas – but also had wine and chocolate to make the evening more festive.



The WiFi did not work very well and so we read for a while before going back to our freezing cabin. Though not any more comfortable than the previous night, having survived it once somehow made it easier to bear.

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West Coast Road Trip – Day 24 
Wednesday, April 7, 2010, 09:35 AM
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While Paul did some online job hunting, I, at the suggestion of a fellow Tri Girl, ran to McKinley Park. It was a nice park with a pond, rose garden and quite a few other runners. (Thanks Jen!)

We then drove to Yosemite via Highway 120. It was a beautiful drive with rolling hills, farms and small towns along the way.



We arrived at the park in the late afternoon and, before even reaching our lodging, stopped for a number of photos ops. As many trails were still covered by snow and ice, we knew that our hiking options would be limited, and so it was a nice surprise to discover just how much there was right in Yosemite Valley.

It was awe-inspiring to see some of the most famous landmarks – El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite Falls and Half Dome.









We also pulled over to join a crowd that had spotted a coyote. (We actually assumed it was a wolf because it looked so much healthier than our Arizona coyotes, but later learned that Yosemite does not have wolves.)



This may have been our once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Yosemite and so, even though it was not the optimal time to visit, we didn’t want to miss out. However, with the “figure it out as we go” nature of our trip, we looked into lodging reservations just a few days in advance. This left us with just one option – an unheated canvas tent in Camp Curry. It’s probably best that I didn’t know in advance just how miserable it would be.



To be fair, there were some positive things about this experience:
- Camp Curry is in a great location, very close to Yosemite Village.
- The tent had beds with sheets, pillows, and 4 wool blankets – all of which we piled on top of our sleeping bags.
- The tents were charming, in a rustic kind of way. They are probably wonderful in the summer.
- That which does not kill you, makes you stronger. Right?



But, there was a long list of things about which I was rather grumpy:
- Most of the camp was a mud pit due to the melting snow.



- We had to put all food and toiletries (including unopened packages) in a bear box next to our tent. Nothing could be left in the car either. This policy is understandable and, if you’ve packed for a few nights, probably not too much of a hassle. However, we had packed for 5 weeks and had a ton of bear-attracting crap.



- The cold was even worse than I had imagined. Temperatures dropped quickly once the sun set and kept going until they hit the 20’s.

I was pretty miserable this first evening, but kept trying to remind myself that I was in the midst of the trip of a lifetime and in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Having no place else to go to be warm, we joined most of the rest of the camp guests in the lounge and hung out as long as possible before retiring to our ice box. Needless to say, I did not sleep well.

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West Coast Road Trip - Day 23 
Tuesday, April 6, 2010, 12:15 PM
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Today was the first really nice day in a while for us – sunny and mid-60’s. It felt great.

We ran from our hotel to the American River Trail and then along the trail for a while. It was pleasant to be off the roads and to have river views, although somewhat disconcerting that the path appears to be “home” for Sacramento’s homeless population.



After showering up, we walked a short ways to rent bikes at City Bicycle Works. They did not have tandems, but we got great deal on a 24-hour rental of two single hybrids – just $43 total for the bikes, helmets and a lock.

We rode to midtown and walked through the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, a gorgeous church.





Just a block away was the Capitol, which happened to be having a big health fair on the lawn. There were media and speakers, but we took off when it looked like the Governator was not on the agenda. Later, while watching the news, I discovered that Shay (of Biggest Loser fame) had been on the agenda. I totally would have stayed for her! I’m sure Paul is glad to have missed it though.



Instead, we walked though the Capitol building, which is magnificent.







We hopped back on the bikes and rode about 3 miles to uptown Sacramento for lunch at The Art of Food Café, a raw restaurant that I had found online. As usual with raw meals, it was light, healthy and delicious. We had a burrito, The Cuban (a marinated Portobello mushroom) and, for dessert, chocolate cheesecake that was phenomenal.



It appeared that we had hit all of the major tourist spots in town and so we enjoyed some more riding on the American River Trail before calling it a day.



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West Coast Road Trip – Day 22 
Monday, April 5, 2010, 12:29 AM
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We awoke to a winter wonderland in Mt. Shasta!



Thankfully, the snow had stopped and the hotel parking lot had been cleared by a plow, but we walked down the street to purchase tire chains anyway. We might encounter more snow and ice in Yosemite and did not want to get stuck again.



Conditions improved as soon as we started south. We took I-5 to Sacramento and arrived in time for a late lunch at Café Morocco. It had fantastic reviews on Yelp, but we were somewhat disappointed to find it rather mediocre.

We checked in at the Quality Inn in midtown and then headed to Old Sacramento in search of dinner. “Old Sac” is a quaint, touristy area – much like Tombstone, but without the cowboys.

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West Coast Road Trip – Day 21 
Sunday, April 4, 2010, 10:17 PM
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It was 28 degrees and we had plans to spend 3 hours on snowmobiles. I bundled up with 7 layers on top and 3 on the bottom, including my new snow pants. Amazingly, I was quite comfortable all morning, with the exception of my fingers which kept getting numb.



Our motivation for going to Diamond Lake was to snowmobile to Crater Lake. Unfortunately, that particular trail was not groomed. But, we had a blast anyway! The snow-covered, tree-lined trail was gorgeous and we only saw a handful of people the entire morning. Apparently, snowmobiling is not a popular Easter activity.





Paul was surprised when I requested two single snowmobiles instead of one double, and even more so when I hauled ass down the trail. Of course, I was also the one who got my machine so stuck in deep snow that we had to go back to the rental place and have someone come out to rescue it. (This is Paul trying to get it out.)



We made lunch on the road, stopped in Ashland for coffee and tea, and then continued down I-5 into California. When we left Ashland, it was about 50 degrees and lightly raining. As we drove, and climbed in elevation, the rain became heavy and then changed to snow. Highway traffic slowed to a crawl and, when it became icy, Paul pulled off at the next exit which was for the town of Mt. Shasta.

At the end of the exit ramp, we turned left, hoping to get to the Best Western just on the other side of the overpass. We saw cars sliding all over the place, and then ours became one of them. We couldn’t move without sliding and so we just put on our hazards, stayed put and watched lots of near misses as other cars attempted to make it over the icy bridge.

Just a few minutes later, a police officer asked Paul to step out of the car, got behind the wheel himself and got us off of the bridge and out of the way. He suggested trying it again with some momentum. This ended us up in a snowbank, but a good Samaritan towed us out and then recommended an alternate route to the other side of the freeway, which was where all of the hotels were located.



A few treacherous miles later, I hopped out at the Mt. Shasta Inn to inquire about vacancy while Paul tried to get the car out of traffic. The owner informed me that they had plenty of rooms available, but, before registering, we would need to get our car into the parking lot, which was buried under two feet of snow. So, I asked for a shovel and got to work while Paul struggled with safely getting the car back to the motel.



After about 10 minutes, I was thrilled to see four other people walking out of the hotel with shovels. It turns out that they were the kids of the motel owner. Then, a young man walking down the street with a shovel jumped in and started helping. He was just out to offer help to anyone that needed it.

While our situation was frustrating at times, we were amazed by and grateful for the many kindnesses shown to us by total strangers.

It took us a good hour to clear enough snow to get the car in the lot, maneuver it up the driveway incline and fit it into a snow-free spot. We were relieved to finally settle into our room and take off our wet clothes, but also felt fortunate to be there and not stuck on I-5 which was now a giant parking lot.

Happy Easter!

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