Monday, June 15, 2009

An old favorite

It was 4:06 pm on a sunny Sunday afternoon when the bear wandered through Upper Pines Campground in the Yosemite Valley. Daisy and I spotted it about 100 yards ahead and turned on a dime to get Daisy back to safety. I sounded the warning, "Bear!" but no one else seemed to share my concern for safety. 5 minutes later when the bear ducked behind our RV headed back to the woods across the stream, he looked like the pied piper. Children on bikes, adults with cameras both big and small, poodles and weiner dogs were in hot pursuit.

Yosemite bears are quite bold and insistent on being fed their fair share of human food. Every campsite has a food storage locker. Daisy fits in it just fine. I figured in case of an all out attack of the bears, she and I could both get in it and hunker down.

I don't think the bears in Yosemite are as big an issue as the humans. We have overrun this place of beauty, and we are clueless. There's a bike path down the valley, and bikes to rent. Carl and I decided it was a good way to spend the three hours waiting for the campsite draw at 3 pm. So did a million other people, with no clue about biking rules. I faced down one lady headed straight at me in my lane till I cried uncle. Was she thinking English driving rules? Then there was the huge family gathering in the bike path. I said "Bike Passing" about 10 times as I approached, and they looked at me in amazement. I finally figured out they probably did not speak english, but still, would you not want to move aside rather than have your two year old be run over? Not this group. Then a family of about a dozen people was out in a convoy of bikes and baby carriers behind their bikes. We got to the turnoff to Yosemite falls that had three warning signs saying no bikes on the path. They barreled through with a chorus of yoo hoo's. I am sure the walkers on the path loved them.

I too was among the stupid people. I hadn't had a shower for several days, so I went to the Curry Village Central Showers, paid my money, and got with it. About half way through my shower, I notice that I kept hearing male voices. I began to suspect I might have made a big mistake. So, I dressed fully behind the curtain, then walked straight out, making no eye contact, and certainly no below the waist contact, like I belonged there and knew exactly what I was doing.

Still, despite the stupidity of humans, there's no place like Yosemite. Those granite faces sheared off by glaciers, the falls running strong this time of year, old Half Dome, the bears, the deers, the meadows, the reflections in the Merced, the wildflowers, the sounds of water everywhere. It's a temple. As we started dinner preparations I heard the sound of a stringed instrument. A lady with a harp was tuning up next door. I went to talk to her, and she said she is a nurse who only gets time to play on vacation, so she bought a travel harp. Later in the evening, we traded chocolate for music.

We finished off our Valley Visit the next morning biking to Mirror Lake. It was uphill all the way, 4000 feet above sea level, and I actually made it almost all the way. I must be growing high altitude lungs! While there we had our photo taken by a professional photographer who writes stories for RV magazines.

When we left the valley, we took the Tioga Pass Road across the Sierras, magnificent road that it is, and Carl remembered the summer he worked a survey crew laying it out. We had another bear sighting, and this guy was just munching down in a meadow, stopping so much traffic the rangers had put out traffic cones and were directing people where to park. Such a wonderful place, Yosemite. There was still snow in the upper valley and Tuolomne Meadows campground is not open yet. But the view is ready for company.

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