Here we are...

Just off the Port Bow—a place of uncertainty, adventure, and insight. Thank you for your ears, eyes and hearts. I hope to bring compassion, grace and beauty to your day.

California Bound - Over the Mountains and To the Woods

A thick gray fog hovered over the coast as we awoke this morning. This made it a bit easier to turn away from the Pacific Coast Highway and the incredible views near Big Sur. Just to keep track, it was about 67 degrees in Cambria when we departed at 0900.

We asked Hermione (Waze) how to get to Yosemite, and then proceeded to heed her dulcet toned directions for the next three hours. That got us to Merced. We had already passed up one road sign to Yosemite and could not resist passing up another. Big mistake.

Pause for observation of things natural.

California and much of the West is experiencing a severe drought. I read an article about it this morning in the Wall Street Journal. On the ground you do not need any sort of degree to determine how dry it is. Everything, except the trees, is brown. Really, everything.

It's beautiful in its own way. It feels, and I have alluded to this before, though not in a drought context, like Israel in the dry season (May through October). The difference is that this part of California is not supposed to be this dry.

We drove through a few lines of foothills, through a bunch of lovely farming valleys (all sorts of fruit and nut trees which are irrigated) and finally into a broad and flat valley which resembles a desert. Closer to Fresno there were some large farms with large and filled irrigation ditches....and a bunch of signs begging for Sacramento politicians to give Central Valley water needs preference over high speed rail line speculation. It felt like Death Valley. Hot, brown, dusty, flat, straight paved emptiness.

Over the Sierras you could see a huge thunderhead with a threatening promise of water and lightening. The former is welcome. The latter could be devastating. I'll tell you about the fire in a second.

Defying Hermione's gentle cajoling we turned east in Merced, about five miles before she wanted us to turn. Our decision added nearly an hour to our drive. But it meant that we drove through Mariposa....one of the original gateway towns to Yosemite. Old hotels, old saloons, touristed-up relics of stores, etc.. We didn't enter the park there, though, and headed up an impossible road, featuring a head spinning number of hairpin turns (22 miles in 50 minutes about). Beautiful views down valleys and around the corner of countless ridges.

When we finally hit Route 120 from Modesto, we reckoned we were home free...35 miles from Yosemite. Well, there were more hairpin turns, more steep hills, narrow passes, logging trucks, RVs and slow moving. The outside temperature was about 95 degrees at this point.

This is where we saw the results of the "Rim" fire. Yosemite is the size of the State of Rhode Island. I don't know how many acres were affected by the fire last summer, but much of that final 35 miles was through burnt over forest. In some places you could see where the fire was halted. In others there were burned hulks of trees, or wastes of bulldozed and charred wood. Logging trucks were carrying salvaged pulp wood and building quality trunks out from the damaged area.

Our turn off, just before the park entrance, was up a road through a heavily burned forest...Evergreen Road. Five miles and 15 minutes later we arrived at Evergreen Lodge.

We had left Cambria at 0900, and arrived at Evergreen at 1545....happy that our drive was over, and more than happy to find ourselves in a really nice spot.

I'll write another post to describe this place. For the time being let me say that our terrible dinner of last night has been compensated for. The food here is amazing.

Tomorrow we'll go down into the park for the bulk of the day. Thursday we head home.


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Location:Evergreen Lodge, Groveland, CA

California Bound - Evergreen Lodge

California Bound - Elephant Seals and Zebras