Our trip from Madera to Groveland, CA was an uneventful 105 mile trip through the countryside - until the last 10 miles! That is where we started up the New Priest Grade Road. This is a road that was built as an alternative way up the mountain to the Old Priest Grade Road which rose 1500 feet in a mere 2.7 miles. It takes about six miles to cover the same change in elevation on the New Priest Grade Road, so the grade is about half of the older road. Vehicles over 7,500 pounds are prohibited on the old road due to the large number of accidents caused on the descent at such a high grade (about 15%) and the resulting brake failures. The new road has half the grade but is still difficult for the Mothership to negotiate and maintain a reasonable speed on the climb. Some of the hairpins are very tight and you are constantly in one hairpin or another for the whole six miles. Doris didn't much like it as the passenger is hanging over the cliff on the ascent. The descent when we leave will make her happier but I will be busy trying to keep the speed down to get around the hairpins without using the brakes too much. The Allison transmission on the Mothership is a great help in these instances. It should be able to handle the 7% grade without too much trouble.
We are staying at the Yosemite Pines RV Resort and Family Lodging
which is a couple of miles east of Groveland. It is a large park with about 160 sites plus cabins and yurts. We have a full hookup back-in with 50 amps, a clear shot to the satellite and NO Verizon coverage at all. The park has all kinds of amenities: a stocked general store; a deli serving sandwiches and salads; pet zoo with assorted animals; swimming pool; hay rides; community campfire; and a gold-mining sluice where you can try your luck. The only downside we have seen (other than being phoneless) is the dust - no one seems interested in driving the low 5 MPH speed limit to keep the dust down and it swirls all over with every passing vehicle.
It was Memorial day weekend as we arrived and we had no interest in fighting the crowds to see Yosemite so we stayed at the campground until the madness had passed. And, of course, the college softball super regionals were being played and demanded my attention.
Tuesday we headed into Yosemite National Park, specifically visiting Yosemite Valley which is the most popular section of the park's four sections. It's about 45 miles and 1¼ hours to the valley from the campground. All the falls were running full and it was a beautiful day to see them. We parked in the parking lot and took the shuttle to the various points of interest. We got to see all the falls, the meadow, Half-Dome and El-Capitan. We walked the Lower Yosemite Falls trail and the Bridalveil Falls trail. Doris' back gets sore on these hikes but she has a quick recovery and we figure it is mostly muscle pain now as she gets back into shape from the surgery. One side effect of the surgery which is nice is that she seems to have less trouble with her knees when walking on pavement now. Apparently she was compensating for her back and walking in a way that hurt her knees. On the way back we HAD
to stop at the Iron Door Saloon
for a late lunch/dinner. It is supposedly the oldest saloon in California and a unique place, with all the antique decorations, dollars tacked to the ceiling, etc. All in all the trip was a little over eight hours and we were tired by the time we returned to the Mothership.
Wednesday we headed for a section of the park we had never seen before - Tuolumne Meadows
. What a wonderful surprise! We had no idea this day's trip would be one of the best we have experienced. This is also called the Tioga Pass Road as it is the only way across the Sierra Nevada for many, many miles. Since you are going over the mountains, the views are unbelievable, especially at Olmsted Point
. Once we got over the views at the point we headed onto the meadows which sit at 8,600 feet. Talk about a gorgeous setting to take a hike: this is IT. We had snow-capped mountains all around as we took an almost two-mile hike in a dry 50º to Soda Springs
and Parsons Memorial Lodge
. We were also fortunate to have two different deer sightings on the hike: one pair (about 150 feet away) and then a small herd of six (only about 50 feet away).
On the way back we took a look at the Hetch Hetchy
section of Yosemite NP, which requires you to exit the park and then come back after a 10 mile drive through private land. This is a controversial section of the park. In 1913 Congress passed the Raker Act
and President Woodrow Wilson signed it. It gave San Francisco the rights to the Hetch Hetchy Valley to be used for a water supply and power generation for the Bay area. Since the water and power were derived from public lands, the Act specified there would be no private profit from its sale. Of course we know how that works out! At any rate the Hetch Hetchy Project
delivered the first water to the Bay area in 1934 through a system of pipes, tunnels and aqueducts over 150 miles. This one reservoir supplies about 25% of the Bay Area water supply and also delivers two billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. There is also an ongoing attempt
to get the O'Shaughnessy Dam removed so the valley can return to its previous state which was much like a smaller Yosemite Valley. You can see from my pictures how the granite-walled side of this valley are very similar to Yosemite Valley and imagine those falls falling an additional 300 feet to the valley floor since the lake is 300 feet deep right now.
Guess what other "wonderful" piece of legislation was enacted in 1913?
After two full days of touring, Thursday was spent relaxing and watching the Women's College World Series
(all four games)! Of course my Gators managed to not show up and lost their opening game. Now they have to win. win. win, win their next four games - just to get to the Championship series.
Friday we decided to stay in and catch up on some of the things around the Mothership and let Doris' back rest another day. It seems she does better hiking than riding on some of these rough roads!
Tomorrow we head for Monterey, CA - about a four-hour trip. We should be there one week and with any luck we should have our Verizon for a while!!Did you guess it? The 16th amendment was ratified in 1913 giving Congress the authority to enact an income tax and the first Form 1040 also appeared that year.