Friday, August 20, 2010

Leaving Tahoe for Yosemite

The drive down from South Lake Tahoe was a fairly interesting one, with the windy roads of the Californian highlands providing a real change from the Nevada highways we'd been used to seeing. We took Ebbett's Pass through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a drive which involves some very tight roads climbing to around 9000 feet, at which point not only was the Cadillac running a little short on breath, we were too.

Kinney Lakes, at 8400 feet, alongside Ebbett's Pass

We stopped at around 8400 feet at a little lake, which appears to be called Kinney Lakes and I walked down to the shore to take a few photos. The walk back to the car was maybe 150 metres with a climb of around 10 to 15 metres, but by the time I got back to the car, I was feeling like I'd run a marathon. It definitely made me feel out of shape, considering that we passed several cyclists who showed no sign of needing to stop for a breather on the long climb. We then jumped back in the car and kept on driving, stopping at the town of Arnold, at a much more oxygen rich 4000 feet. We've actually spent quite a lot of the last 2 weeks around 4000 feet and above, which is a bit of a shock to the system for 3 Aussies brought up less than 100 feet above sea level.

Giant Burger in Arnold, California

While in Arnold, we took the opportunity to refuel the Cadillac, check the oil and water and to grab a bit at local burger joint Giant Burger. Giant Burger's signature burgers are only a quarter of a pound, but are definately Giant in taste. They are a more simple and effective formula than some burger joints we've visited, and it's been rewarded in the awards plastered on their walls. They also have some of the best onion rings I've tasted for a long time and topped it all off with an awesome butterscotch milkshake.

Pushing on from Arnold, we kept going to Yosemite, with only a small hiccup as the GPS confused us by taking us on some of the most out of the way roads into the Yosemite National Park, which we eventually worked out was due to the Garmin's 'avoid tolls' setting plotting a route that avoided the main entry gate to the park. Once we worked out what was happening, we switched that little feature off and got back on the main roads, which may or may not have been a good thing, considering the amount of roadworks going on in the park at the moment, but at least we payed our way.

Upper Yosemite FallsWe stopped for a couple of photos inside the park, where we had a pretty good view of the Upper Yosemite Falls, and part of the valley floor, not that I've yet worked out what most of the things I took photos of were. On a sadder note, my Canon 1D Mk III sustained it's first damage (and I'm about 99% sure this is the first time I've damaged any of my Canon's) when the tripod I had mounted it to toppled over. This was also the first time I'd mounted the 1D to my tripod with a long lens attached, and I immediately retired the tripod in question from use with the 1D. On a positive note, the camera works fine, there's just a couple of scratches in the finish of the body and a tear in the rubber of the eyecup.

We then jumped back into the traffic crawling through the roadworks on the road to the Wawona and Fish Camp areas, and eventually made it to our overnight accomodation at the Wawona Hotel with about half an hour to spare before the restaurant closed for the night. The Wawona is one of the oldest hotels in the park, with most of it's rooms having only shared bathroom facilities. None of the rooms have televisions, phones or wifi access and the majority of the Hotel has been maintained in a mid-19th century style.

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