Our Chalet Truck Camper

Our Chalet Truck Camper

Monday, June 22, 2009

June 19 - Jackson, CA to Yosemite National Park

June 19 - Jackson, CA to Yosemite National Park

Today was a rock and roll day. California Route 49 is a real treasure for those of
you who like tight curves, steep ups and downs and who don't get carsick. It is a
fascinating road with a lot of pullouts with markers of historic places and events,
beautiful sights out over ranch country and tiny towns all along the way. There are
vast stretches where there is absolutely nothing but the road in front of you and
steep hills, dropoffs and a few cattle - no people or vehicles. We went through San
Andreas hoping for some signage to the fault line if this is actually where the San
Andreas Fault gets its name from. I know the fault line is actually visible in parts
of CA and was hoping to see it. At least it didn't split open in front of us.

In several small towns, we stopped and walked the old main streets, enjoying the
early frontier architecture and watching all the river rafters stock up on supplies.
This is big business in the small towns all along these rough, small rivers. I kept
expecting to see kayaks but mostly there were the large rubber rafts.

Stopped in Mariposa and walked that town, finding Castillo's Mexican Restaurant for
lunch. At last - great food and what we think was authentic flavoring. Maine is not
exactly a hot bed for Mexican food, flavors there being pretty bland and all tasting
the same. This was not bland and definitely not flat. My tongue is still tingling
from the salsa.

We had not planned on going to Yosemite National Park and therefore didn't make reservations. Of course all campgrounds in Yosemite are full so we found camp space
in Mariposa. Off comes the Host, first time since we left Maine.

An audience gathered of course to see how the truck camper came off. Always fun to
explain the fastguns, legs, etc. Off we go in the naked F350 to Bridalveil Falls and
Glacier Point. The Ford feels like a sports car without the TC weight.

Prior to El Portal, a landslide had totally closed the road and gone out halfway
across the Merced River. Two temporary bridges make a detour around the slide. IT's
going to be a long, long time before the original road is open if ever. The rockslide
went half way up the mountain like part of the side of the mountain had just

Along the way to Yosemite, there are many rock overhangs. No signs of RV debris so
they must be tall and wide enough.

Bridalveil Falls is the first real glimpse you get of what Yosemite is about and it
is awesome. After only three circles in the small parking lot, we finally squeezed in
a legal space as the park ranger was busy writing tickets for the idiots who had
parked everywhere. We must have heard a dozen different languages walking up to the
view point but once there, everyone sort of falls silent as they look.

We decided to go up to Glacier Point today and save the valley floor for tomorrow.
Weather was 90F as we entered the park and 63F up at Glacier Point. No way to
describe the view all along the way and up at the end of the 16 mile dead end road.

Met a Caribou TC couple from Bend, OR who really want a Host and asked us a lot of
questions. Shame we were TCless. Saw many pop up TCs and way, way too many of those
Rent-an-RVs driven by people who probably have never even driven a pickup. Scary when
you are looking down the side of a cliff and see one of those things barreling
towards you over the middle line. I kept thinking of Robin Williams and the movie "RV". Shudder.

Great day. We are both very tired from a lot of intense driving, town walking and a
couple of the smaller trails up at Glacier Point. This view was all along our walks.

Tomorrow Yosemite Valley floor and then we will turn eastward.

June 20 - Yosemite Valley

Today we planned on playing tourist and taking a guided tour of the part of Yosemite
Valley that you cannot drive into. Wrong!!! We had to pick this weekend to come to
Yosemite. It was "Free Weekend" with no entrance fees so of course there were traffic
jams, no parking, and a lot of very overworked rangers playing traffic cop. We missed
a two hour tour by one seat - meaning there was one left rather than two but it was
okay because by then we were on edge from all the people. Isn't that the problem with
being a TCer? You get so used to the back roads, out of the way places, that if you
encounter crowds, it's a bit of a bother.

We did finally find a parking place in a far off lot (truck only, not TC loaded) and
took the shuttle bus over to the Visitor Center. We wanted to see the Ansel Adams
exhibit (fantastic) and watch the 20 minute film on how the park was formed. Both
were excellent but by then, the elbow to elbow crowd was enough. Shuttle buses were
packed so walked back to the truck and left.

Fortunately we were able to find a parking space along several of the open meadows
and walk there on the paths and boardwalks. We also watched climbers going up El
Capitan through our binoculars. Oh to be young and fearless?

Got a good photo today of the landslide over Route 140.

Went into Mariposa and walked the street(s) again going into a lot of the small
shops. So many of the small towns have vacant buildings, businesses and houses.
Recession is hitting hard in the tourist areas. Maybe that is why Yosemite was so
busy today. Free means a lot to a family.

The TC is loaded on again (first try!), fridge has some Tecate Beer cooling and we
are going over the next leg of our trip. We are going east on Route 120 which
is the Tioga Pass Road. A ranger today gave us some good places to take off this road
for incredible views. I'll start a new message group on going east in hopes of
picking up more places that have to be seen and roads that have to be driven.

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