West Coast USA – Day 7 – Hetch Hetchy Valley

wake up at 8.30am, pack and take photos outside the cabin, locking ourselves out of the cabin in the process. The girl at reception gives me another key to let us back in. (Guess they are used to it as the doors are very easy to accidentally lock)

Walk down to the main lodge for breakfast. Di has smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel with fresh fruit and I have poached eggs on English muffin with fresh fruit. Both delicious so we share.

After breakfast we pack up the car and check out and drive down the road to the entrance to Yosemite national park.

Hetch Hetchy Valley

We head down to the Hetch Hetchy Valley entrance to the park which is 1 mile away from the lodge. The cash register isn’t working at the gate so we avoid paying again!

Hetch Hetchy Valley

Once we’ve parked up we take a nice walk to Yapama falls (2.5 miles). The route is along the side of the reservoir which supplies San Francisco with water and hydro-electric power. The falls are pretty dry at this time of year but it’s a nice walk anyway. The weather quickly changes from a cold morning into a hot sunny day. I remove the legs from my walking trousers to Di’s amusement.

Removing my trouser legs

We get back to the car around lunch time and head back to the lodge to get some lunch. We eat very nice burgers, Di has a bison burger, with coleslaw (Tom’s treat) and ice tea in the tavern.

Us on the walk

After lunch we drive the 4 hours to SF, stopping along the way at Baskin Robbins for an ice cream break. We arrive into SF over the bay bridge while it’s still light. We’re getting pretty low on gas and we need to fill up before we return the car. We keep checking the satnav to see where the last gas station is so we don’t need to fill up in the morning. Unfortunately we keep trying for the next gas station and run out. Thankfully find one in the city on the way to the hotel.

We abandon the car in the hotel’s car park and check in. The hotel and room is eccentric Victorian style, lots of velvet, old furniture and kitsch. It’s nice enough though and the room has two fireplaces.

Shower and change and take a walk through Japan town. We can’t find a Japanese place we like for dinner so we settle for a trendy American kitchen. We share a delicious Pinot Noir from Monterey over the meal.

After dinner it’s a short walk back to the hotel where we fall asleep watching TV, exhausted!

I have to rescue Di from a spider in the bathroom in the middle of the night, which runs into the electrical socket when I try and catch it. The power stays on, so guess it didn’t get electrocuted!

West Coast USA – Day 6 – Yosemite

Get up around 8am and head for the breakfast buffet with our luggage after completing the automated checkout.

After breakfast we pick up the car from the self park garage and head for Death Valley, driving through the mountains constantly trying to find a radio station that lasts more than 5 minutes.

Photo stop in Death Valley

We arrive at Death Valley and take photos of us with the car next to sand dunes and then stop a bit further in at Stovepipe Wells for soda, souvenirs (obligatory fridge magnet) and a rest stop.

Pushing on to Yosemite we top off the tank everywhere we can just in case we can’t find fuel further on. At Bishop we stop for a late lunch at a Mexican cantina. I have a massive beef burrito which I can’t manage to finish, but delicious all the same.

Just inside Yosemite on the Tioga pass

Another hours drive later and we are at Tioga Pass just before dusk. It’s too late to pay the fee at the gate (free entry, hurray!) so we keep driving so we can see as much of the park as possible before it gets dark. Stopping several times to take photos of the spectacular scenery. On one of the stops when it’s nearly dark we see a wolf trotting past, unfortunately it’s too dark to get a photo.

It’s pitch black before we leave the park and end up getting stuck behind a caravan for the last section of the park. Arrive around 8pm to the Evergreen Lodge after a long drive (well it seemed so at the time) into the middle of nowhere surrounded by forest and check into our cabin. We buy beers and souvenirs (another fridge magnet!) from the general store and settle in.

We drink our beers out on the deck of the cabin wondering about bears and if they’re interested enough in our snacks to jump the hand rails. The cabin is very nice, it’s set back from the main grounds a little in the woods and the Lodge is a woodland paradise, very peaceful with lots of activities on offer and surrounded by beautiful scenery. We resolve to come back again and stay longer at some point in the future.

Enjoying a beer at the cabin

After the beers we stay up a little longer inside the cabin reading and listening to the satellite radio for a while and then get to bed in preparation for our day of walking tomorrow.