Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day Nine - travel day and Yosemite National Park

We had mixed feelings today as we left Redding. We were excited to carry on with our trip, but also a little bit sad to leave Redding as it's very beautiful and we had a lot of fun there. Just south of Redding, the terrain became incredibly flat. You could see mountains in the far distance to the west and to the east, but the valley floor made Saskatchewan look like the Rockies. It stayed this way until we turned off the I-5 near Stockton and headed towards Yosemite. There were fruit trees and various types of agriculture for as far as you could see.
This is a truck with a LOAD of garlic!! We've never seen that before. We also saw a couple loaded like this with tomatoes. We were thinking those bottom ones must be what they used in CANNED tomatoes - the crushed variety! :)
We found it interesting that there is NO underbrush, it's just {dead} grass and trees. Presumably underbrush can't survive the summer months with no rain and the trees must be able to do so.
The drive up to Yosemite National Park on hwy 120 was amazing! Probably one of the windiest sections of highway I've ever driven - very fun!! It climbed from the valley floor up over 6000 feet winding along the hillside the whole way with no guardrails! The views were incredible - I (Dave) thought it was awesome, but Jen was freaked out.
As we first entered Yosemite, it was kind of a let down. It didn't have the same kind of grandeur that Banff and Jasper have, however, when we rounded the bend that opened up to the Yosemite Valley, the view was unbelievable! The photo above shows Half Dome in the center and El Capitan to the left. We took this photo at a pullout on the road and then carried on down to the valley floor and visitor's area. It is absolutely stunning to see.
This is a view of El Capitan from the main visitor's area. It is world's largest granite monolith with a 3000 foot vertical face. With our binoculars you could see a number of people climbing up this face. When we left at nighttime, we stopped here again and we could see 8 or 9 lights at different spots on this face where the climbers were tied off for the night. Very, very cool. A real highlight for the kids, all four of them! Especially Dave & Joshua!
Hopefully when you expand this photo you'll be able to see the climbers. They look like little dots, just to the right of center.
Due to the time of year all of the waterfalls were almost completely dried up. This one had the most water of any of them. We did see some pictures of them in the springtime and it looks amazing. Apparently Yosemite is famous for its waterfalls, something we didn't know. Definitely need to go back & see it in the Spring.
Sun setting on Half Dome.
Yosemite is an amazing park. We learned that further back in the park there are some peaks over 13,000 feet high but they are only accessible by trails. We stayed in the valley bottom until it was pitch black and then went and found the nearest affordable hotel which was about an hour away on another unbelievably windy highway!

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