The last leg of our California trip was a visit to Yosemite National Park. We have been ticking off the major national parks on our bucket list and Yosemite was next. www.nps.gov/yose/
We left our friends in Sonoma County and drove Hwy 108 and 120 toward the park. I had investigated places to stay and reserved a VRBO cottage that looked pretty close to the north entrance, Spinning Wheel Yosemite. www.spinningwheelyosemite.com/
I loved this vacation rental complex and would highly recommend it to other travelers that don’t want to stay in the park. It’s about as close as you’re going to get outside the park, but be ready to drive about an hour on the curvy roads. Just so you know. When you turn off the highway to go to Spinning Wheel, it seems like you are driving into a field to nowhere.
We stayed in the Spinning Wheel Cottage, below, and it was perfect for a couple. I enjoyed lounging by the pool with some of the other guests as Wally napped after the drive. They showed me their house, which was really nice for two couples. There are lots of neat carved totem poles and artsy sculptures around the complex, along with a resident peacock that roosted in the trees.
Peacock totem pole…
It was a pretty drive from San Francisco, and we passed through the little town of Groveland. There is a family-style diner at the edge of Groveland about 10-15 minutes from Spinning Wheel, and we ate there several times for breakfast and dinner. It was good food and reasonably priced.
When driving into and through Yosemite, especially early in the morning and in the evening, keep a lookout for wildlife. We spied deer and a bear! When we were there in June 2011, they had a record snowfall over the winter and so a record snow melt that spring. That meant the waterfalls were pumping an amazing amount of water! I happened to catch the stream when there was no wind and got a great reflection of Yosemite Falls.
El Capitan from the valley floor
There was so much water coming from the falls the path was flooding – this was Bridal Falls
This is one of my favorite pictures – these little girls were SO cute!
There were stray little waterfalls everywhere!
As we were exiting the park, through one of the campground areas, look what was ambling across the road! BEAR # 1
Sadly, the week we were at the park, three hikers were swept over Vernal Falls and died. They ignored danger signs, crossing the guard rail for a photo op and were swept over the falls and away by the river. It cost them their lives. There were several others that year around Yosemite that died as well in the rivers and falls. PLEASE EXERCISE CAUTION WHEN IN THE PARKS! A COOL PHOTO IS NOT WORTH YOUR LIFE!
Yosemite was our final stop for the trip so we headed back to San Francisco to fly home. We spent the last day driving and stayed at the Inn at Oyster Point just a few minutes from the airport. www.innatoysterpoint.com/ It’s really more like a hotel and offers great views to the marina and is reasonably priced. Our room was very spacious and comfortable, and the airport was five minutes away for our morning departure. We would highly recommend it for other travelers and they offer park and fly for residents.
They were holding a wedding reception the evening we were there so we didn’t get to try their restaurant. We ended up in a fabulous Italian restaurant just a few minutes drive on Grand Avenue – I just can’t remember which one it was! There’s actually several Italian restaurants, as well as others and shopping along Grand.
That’s all for California this time! WE’LL BE BACK!