Saturday, January 13, 2007

In the Hall of the Mountain Kings-YOSEMITE

El Capitan

Half Dome.

The first time I drove into Yosemite Valley, I could hear "In the Hall of the Mountain Kings" music in my head. It is a very majestic moment to see El Capitan and Half-Dome in your vision at the same time. The first time we came in, we used the southern route; this time we came in through the northern route.

My husband was tickled to be able to buy his Golden Passport. At age 62, you pay $10 and you can get into any National Park FREE for the rest of your life. That means anyone who is in your vehicle! What a deal!

We got in around 3:30 in the afternoon. Our room wasn't quite ready (Yosemite Falls Lodge), so we drove to the gift shop and did a little shopping. By then, our room was ready. The rooms are rustic, but comfortable. Yes, they DO have TVs.

We ate dinner at the food court. They have a good selection of pasta, grilled entrees (hamburgers etc), chicken, duck, pizza, salads, soups, desserts, etc. Pretty reasonable prices. You could also go to the grocery store at the village and buy your own stuff. A lot of people camp at Camp Curry (and another camp whose name I can't think of right now).

They have community activities (like free movies, etc) if you stay long enough. They aren't offered every day, but you don't need to be entertained, really. Just driving around to see all the sights will entertain you enough. The valley itself isn't very big and you could easily take it in in a day but there are tons of trails and off road excursions to keep you busy for a week. In the winter, some of the trails are closed so it limits your activities.

Luckily, both times I've visited Yosemite have not been PEAK times, so it's not been real crowded. The first time was Labor Day week and the next time was New Year's Day. So if you go, try to avoid the crowds and you'll enjoy it much more.

Lake Tahoe

Until our visit, the best image I had of Lake Tahoe was from The City of Angels movie, when Meg Ryan was bicycling along the road, just before she hit the truck! It was a beautiful scene (until that last part) and I wondered if such a popular place could have such unpopulated roads.

Well, yes and no.

There are parts of the drive around the lake that are unpopulated. These are mostly the ones in the National Forests. There are parts that actually go through cities (South Lake Tahoe -- it even has casinos). And there are some that have nestled lake houses along the side.

We stayed in Tahoe City on New Year's Eve. We debated about going to South Lake Tahoe but I was afraid that since it was NYE, we might get shut out of a reasonable hotel/motel room. I had checked and couldn't find anything reasonable listed as available.

So when we came to Tahoe City, we found several small motels with views of the lake and we settled on one. There was snow on the ground and a little ice to negotiate but even though it got down to 25 degrees the next morning, it wasn't unbearable. It didn't snow while we were there.

We walked most of the "downtown" if you can call it that, and found a little park that allowed us to walk down to the lake. It was a beautiful scene. We ate an early dinner at a local cafe called Rosie's and then back to the room. We celebrated New Year's with the East Coast -- watching the ball fall at Times Square, and then we called it a year and went to sleep.

The next morning we drove down to South Lake Tahoe, spent $3 on a Megabucks chance at a casino, then drove on to Yosemite, my next entry.