Day 15 – May 21, 2015

At around 9900 ft. elevation in Yosemite on Thursday morning.

At around 9900 ft. elevation in Yosemite on Thursday morning.

Day 2 at Yosemite

Today we arouse to a beautiful morning, however that was the calm before the storm. As we entered the park it was snowing just a little bit. That was to be expected because at that high of elevation, you expect some flurries, at least I do when it is cloudy with a chance of rain. Inside at the lower elevations of the park, there were just a few rain showers, at least until we got out of the van and on our way to the bathroom (again), a little heavier showers started.

Amelia with a large pinecone.

Amelia with a large pinecone.

We walked to the post office and purchased our postcard stamps. There we showed the kids the old architecture of the post office where they still had the PO boxes without keys, just combination style locks. It was really cool. Next, of course, was the gift shop, where the kids enjoyed looking at all the trinkets and gadgets. They made their purchases, and of course, now it is a down pour (guess that means no hiking today). So our next adventure was to watch the film on Yosemite, which I, Charlie, did not watch, as little kids just could not sit through the film, so we played outside under the awning. After that we headed back to the van to eat our lunch and come up with a new game plan.

Waterfall seen in Yosemite Valley.

Waterfall seen in Yosemite Valley.

After looking at our options, we started back to the camper in Lee Vining when the real adventure started. THE PASS IS CLOSED DUE TO THE WEATHER. Estimated time to drive around the park was 4 to 8 hrs. With Rebecca driving, we begin travel around Yosemite headed to Sonora to find that that pass was closed. Sonora had a beautiful downtown though. Well we got to the next pass at Angels Camp and it was open. Three and half hours after exiting the park we are on our way over the Sierra Nevada Mountains heading toward Lee Vining via Ebbetts Pass thru the Stanislaus National Forest (HWY 4). Thus far, it was a beautiful trip around the park. As we drove closer to the mountains, the clouds grew darker, and it began to rain. The road thru the park began to get winding and narrow with no markings for center lines and temperatures now in the mid 30 degree range, however the views were incredible. As we got to around 8000 ft. the snow flurries began, the temperature was near freezing at Mosquito Lake and the road got very steep and curvy. This went on for more than 20 miles, as I was a wreck going down the steep, tight and narrow curves. Right as it turned dark, we then got on another pass called Monitor Pass (HWY 89) through the Toiyabe National Forest that at least had center lines on it. As we are going over the mountains it began to rain hard, and the fog grew thick, but the road was much better.

View after exiting the park on the way out of the mountains.

View after exiting the park on the way out of the mountains.

Annette taking a nap in the car.

Annette taking a nap in the car.

Although this was not a planned side trip, it was a complete gift from God as it was some of the most beautiful land I have ever seen (I truly loved it). We finally made it to HWY 395 at 8:50 pm more than five and half hours later with still more than an hour to go. Soon after heading down HWY 385, we saw a sign that said “Tioga Pass, Open”. We began to be a little frustrated but how can we be for the trip had astonishing views of the mountains, streams and valleys. As we continued on HWY 395, it began to snow once again. We finally made it back to the camper in Lee Vining just before 10pm. Home, safe at last. Wow, what an adventure today was; I would not have traded it for the world. The kids were great troopers too. We are looking forward to our next adventure.

View of a beautiful lake (less than a foot lower than the road) on our detour trip.

View of a beautiful lake (less than a foot lower than the road) on our detour trip.

The curvy, narrow Ebbetts Pass.

The curvy, narrow Ebbetts Pass.

There have been many lessons learned thus far on this trip:

  1. Follow your instincts; they are usually right.
  2. Pray often; let God handle the rest.  He works it out for you.
  3. Stick to major highways; it’s easier to find places to stay for free (Walmart).
  4. Enjoy whatever comes your way; it’s an adventure.
  5. Don’t drive large campers thru national parks (the roads are tight and not really designed to handle large vehicles towing as ours at almost a total of 52 feet).
  6. Make sure you have twice the water you think you need. It takes about 5 to 10 gallons for our family everyday.
  7. Always remember: where there is one deer, elk or whatever it is, there are usually more.
  8. Heading west after Little Rock, AR make sure you stop and get gas as many times as you see a gas station on I-40 pulling a camper. You are heading up in elevation the entire way to the Colorado Plateau and towing a camper sure does drink up the gas.
  9. Do what your biggest priority is first; there may not be another chance due to weather.
  10. Always carry blankets in the car just in case unexpected things, like bad weather happen.  (We were not totally prepared for this adventure.)
View from Ebbetts Pass.

View from Ebbetts Pass.

Coulterville:  I know all Worley's will appreciate this.

Coulterville: I know all Worley’s will appreciate this.

Please keep praying for us and sending us all the comments. The kids beg us to read the comments all the time. We love hearing from you and miss each and every one of you.

Thanks and God bless,

Charlie

10 thoughts on “Day 15 – May 21, 2015

  1. Wow! I didn’t know I could comment. I have enjoyed all your posts. It is a wonderful country we live in. I grew up out west and Lou was born in Az. You are blessed to be able to have such a special adventure.
    Keep ’em coming. Love you all.xxxx

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  2. Amelia’s pine cone: Most likely Sugar Pine or maybe Gray Pine. Gran is collecting cones. Bring her back one if you can.

    Coulterville? Those people were more prolific than Whisonants. They are everywhere. Incidentally, there is even a Coulter Pine in CA. Grows mostly on the coast. If you find a good biography on my cousin John of Yellowstone
    please bring it back to me.

    love,
    grandpa

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  3. First I love the picture of Annette sleeping. The “action” shots are the best!

    The scenery is amazing for sure! As for the narrow roads, traveling at 5 mph, John went around the hairpin turns (with no guardrails and steep plunges flanking the road), while the natives whipped around and fussed at us in our 15 passenger van. I can only imagine y’all at 50 something ft! Awful! And scary, white knuckling for several hours. That’s intense. I hope none of the kids chided you for your caution…we had one of those in our car, who shall go unnamed;)

    As for water. It is true that at altitude you need to drink a LOT more! And the vehicles drink a lot too…haha! No fun when they gas stations are few and far between.

    Yep! Keeping up a spirit of adventure gives you the “it’s all good” attitude, and you have great fun, while enduring some challenging experiences. So “bully for you” for keeping up the high spirits.

    Thanks for the blogging! You’ve reinvigorated my yearning to return to CA and explore its beauty more deeply.

    May the angels continue to guard you all.

    Love, Stacy

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  4. We are jealous of all the fun and sites you are enjoying!! Send us some pictures of old Army forts if you visit any…hugs to all

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  5. Breath taking views – Zoe and I enjoy seeing all the beautiful sights you are getting to experience first hand! (Great photographer!!!)

    Thanks so much for sharing!

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  6. Everything looks awesome!

    Charlie – I enjoyed your ‘lessons learned’ as I can relate to many of them. A buddy from Seattle is in town and I took him up to Mt. Baldy (where they just finished the Tour of California cycling stage race). It’s a 10,000+ peak that’s in ‘my back yard.’ Going up to the ski lifts, it’s an average grade of 14%. However, it’s a bit easier to do in my VW Golf. I can’t imagine navigating ~52′ worth of vehicle.

    Anxious to hear some of your recommendations for Yosemite. I am thinking about trying to get up there after my race.

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