America 2017: Day Ten (30 October)

It’s like a full force gale
An American storm
You’re buried far beneath a mountain of cold
And you never get warm
It’s like a wall of mirrors
You charge `em at full speed
You cover up, you hear the shattering glass
But you never bleed
You never feel the need

– Bob Seger

Monday 30 October 2017

Yosemite Valley, California

Another wonderful day in Yosemite. The national park was at it’s moody best today, with high cloud cover providing some nice texture to offset the formations all around us. Still no signs of rain on this trip, ten days in, and – fingers crossed! – that looks set to continue well into the next week, which will see us leave California and head to Nevada.

We started our Monday with a brisk walk down to the Ahwahnee Hotel. The weather this morning is as cold as we’ve had all trip, and it was nice to get into the warmth of the hotel. The Ahwahnee is very expensive hotel – you really do pay for residing in a piece of history. With rooms at around $600/night, the best way to experience some of the ambience of this unquestionably spectacular hotel is to indulge in the buffet breakfast, which is served for three hours each morning in the beautiful dining room.

The menu is pretty much perfect: bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes, waffles, ham, yoghurt, oatmeal, fruit, serial, coffee and an assortment of juices. The best thing of all is that you can go back again and again. I polished off five plates of food, not including the special side order of ham delivered by our attentive server – I asked if the buffet had ham this morning, and the next thing I knew, I had my own plate of it. The coffee was amazing. Probably drank too much of that. The pineapple juice was amazing. Probably drank too much of that, too.

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Luckily, the walk from our lodge to the Ahwahnee was a tick under 3km each way, so we at least burnt off a little of the food we ate. En route back to our lodge, we stopped at the village. After buying lunch, Mum, dad and Nathan went to the Native American museum whilst I lined up at the visitor’s centre to get some information on the Tioga Pass and Tuolumne Meadows areas of the park, where we plan to head tomorrow.

Fair to say we had a less strenuous day today. We drove around to the trailhead for Bridalveil Falls, walked the short but steep path to the base of the falls, and then headed across into the meadow, following a trail alongside the bubbling Merced River, in and out of the forest. Our lunch stop was sitting on a log watching the river. Not quite as spectacular as Mirror Lake yesterday, but still very nice. I actually don’t think there’s a place in this park that isn’t nice.

I caught up on my blogging and reading in the afternoon before we had a pre-dinner drink with mum and dad, and walked down to Degnan’s Loft to eat. When we were there last night, we saw people ordering giant servings of meatballs and decided we’d try them tonight. I’m happy to report that, despite a delay in mine arriving – a mix-up in the order – they were amazing. Don’t know what we’re going to do tomorrow, with Degnan’s closing for the winter season after tonight.

Another fun day coming up tomorrow, our final full day in the park. We’re headed out along the Tioga Pass Road to visit Tuolumne Meadows, Lembert Dome, Lake Tenaya and Olmstead Point. We expect the temperature up there will be about ten degrees cooler than in Yosemite Valley, so I think I’ll finally get to use my polar fleece.


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