How easy it is to take for granted the treasures in our own backyard. How wonderful when we show a guest the place and see it as if for the first time through their eyes. Such is my recent experience exploring Yosemite with my friend UK Sarah. She was stopping over on her way home from UK to Auckland. We left Sacramento on Wednesday afternoon. Driving down Highway 99, we turned off in Merced and through Mariposa. We were aiming for Fish Camp and we missed the Google Map direction to turn off on Highway 49, so we went into Yosemite National Park through the Stone Arch Gate, then through Wawona, and into Fish Camp from the eastern side. I bought the yearly pass that gives me unlimited access to all national parks for a mere $80. A real bargain.
Along the way we saw practically tame mule deer along the road.
Plus we stopped at the vista point for the wonderful view just before the tunnel.
We stopped at the Wawona Hotel to eat dinner at the dining room, but the wait was 30 minutes–the same amount of time to drive to Fish Camp–so we pressed on to eat at the Narrow Gauge Inn. We checked into our room and dashed to the Narrow Gauge Inn dining room for a delicious dinner. The service was terrific and we met Lucy who makes the “puddings” so we had to try dessert. The carrot cake was divine.
The next day we set off early for the Yosemite Valley. It was fun to witness Sarah’s reaction to El Capitan, the puzzle bark on Ponderosa Pines, the birds and other wildlife.
We parked by Yosemite Village store and visited the main visitor’s center before taking the bus to the Mirror Lake trail. I remember when the Mirror Lake was much larger; eventually it will be a meadow. This year in the drought it is not much wider than a small river. We hiked the horse trail side and enjoyed seeing woodpeckers, butterflies and trout. Surrounded by the grandeur of the granite walls and blue, blue sky, we delighted in our walk. We continued on to look at the Merced River tumbling over boulders near Happy Isles. Quite refreshing on a hot June day.
By this time we had finished our water and were ready for a cool drink on the patio of the Ahwahnee Hotel. I kept reassuring Sarah that we would get a good look at the Royal Arches once we were at the hotel. And we did. We paused long enough to read a little and enjoy a truffle from the gift shop.
After collecting the car, we stopped and walked to the base of lower Yosemite Falls before heading back to Fish Camp. So much beauty in one day!