Another weekend, another familiar 395 drive on Friday night! Arriving after midnight, Dikko and I slept in our car at the Buttermilks near Bishop, awakening as the tops of the Sierras appeared to catch fire with intense pink and orange.
Toward Mammoth Lakes the Tioga Pass signs flashed “open” on the highway. We had a Plan B if the pass wasn’t open, however we were in great luck with a perfect forecast for the roads and us!
With a quick stop in Mammoth Lakes to pick up my sister from her wonderful week, hot drinks in cupholders we headed north toward Lee Vining before turning onto Tioga Pass. This Highway 120 is the eastern access road to Yosemite National Park. As I’d only been as far as Tuolumne Meadows I was like a little kid at Christmas, excited and energetic for the unknown! Just past Mount Dana we stopped to explore creeks as they froze and unfroze with the confusing approach of winter.
Reaching Yosemite National Park around 2pm we had plenty of time to spare for a walk. We headed up to Vernal Falls from the campground which included just enough stairs to make it interesting. Returning as night fell it was lovely to wander without the crowds and enjoy the sounds and smells of the Merced River.
Sunday morning was a breakfast with campfire smoke which hung amongst the trees like fog. Packing up and driving out of the park we all relished its photogenic nature.
It is impossible to take a bad photo in Yosemite! The light, textures, colours, rock – it’s amazing how the valley retains a special feeling even with millions of visitors each year.
Leaving the giant granite walls we drove south to the city of Fresno, returning to the mountains near Visalia to see the giant trees of Sequoia National Park. The northern entrance was something new for Dikko and I, on our third visit to the giant trees.
We walked a small loop at the General Grant Grove and headed to the General Sherman to see the big fellow and stroll another short loop. By that time the sun was low in the sky and we drove out of the park in the dark.
Continuing our luck from an open Tioga Pass we had perfect appetites to stop at the Black Bear Diner in Porterville. We all packed a lot into our bellies, just like we’d packed a lot into the two days, enjoying (albeit briefly) some of California’s most famous scenery.