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disneyfaninaz 06-16-2012 11:14 AM

Our Awesome Yosemite & Monterey Adventure Revisited ~ May 2012 ~ w/ pics ~ Completed!
Well, I have to admit, after our last trip to Utah last summer; I was done planning trips for a while. I just got burned out I guess. :confused3 I had no plans for the Summer of 2012. We anticipated our daughter going to Diabetes Camp and knew it was usually held the first weekend in June (the time we usually go on vacation) so I didn’t want to plan anything to conflict with her camp.

Fast forward to February 1st, 2012. On line registration opened for Arizona Diabetes Camp. Lo and behold, the camp doesn’t start until June 9th. I guess we do have some time between the time that school lets out until her camp. :thumbsup2

Hmmmm. :scratchin We start thinking about where we might want to go that’s not too far away. We asked our daughter, “Where would you like to go before camp?” She doesn’t even hesitate and states, rather excitedly, that she wants to go back to Yosemite! Hmmm. :scratchin OK. Come to think of it, that would be perfect! It doesn’t require a full week and it was already planned 3 years ago when we went, so I don’t need to do much more planning. Eureka! I think we have a trip. :banana:

Hence, Our Awesome Yosemite & Monterey Adventure Revisited is born!

The first thing we needed to do was make sure that we had places to stay. Checked the Tenaya Lodge, and yes, a 2 Queen Cabin is available. Score! Checked the Embassy Suites in Seaside. Score! Next we have to secure airfare to San Jose. Fortunately, Southwest’s pricing wasn’t too bad, so we booked our airfare. Car rental is a little steep and gas prices will be astronomical in California, but we’re on vacation, right! Booked!

Our plan is to fly out of Phoenix on Memorial Day. We have a mid morning flight out to San Jose. We will rent a car and drive 3 and a half hours to Oakhurst where we will do a grocery stop and then head to our lodge. We will the then be at Yosemite on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning before driving to Monterey. On Friday we plan to drive down the PCH 1 towards Big Sur and beyond to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and take in the coastline.

So sit back, relax and I hope you enjoy my trip report. :surfweb:

Next: And, away we go!

DisneytheKid 06-18-2012 06:02 PM

Cool! Can't wait!

disneyfaninaz 06-22-2012 05:22 PM

Day 1 - Do you know the way to San Jose?
Sorry for the delay. I just got back from taking 5 7th grade girl scouts to Disneyland for a couple of days. Cars Land rocks! :cool1: Now back to our reguarly scheduled programming.

Monday, May 28th

Everything is packed and my dad is picking us up and taking us to the airport. Since it is a holiday, traffic is nonexistent and we make quick progress to the airport where we are dropped at Terminal 4. We have traveled before where the line to check your bags at SWA has been out the door. Fortunately, today, we have no wait and go to the express baggage drop counter go drop off or bags and then we’re off to security. Again, no wait and we whisked through security with no issues. Now we wait. popcorn::

Our flight to San Jose leaves and lands on time. We retrieve our bags and head over to the rental car area where our Nissan Altima is waiting for us. :car: We then head out towards Yosemite with a quick stop at McDonalds for lunch and Target for an auxiliary cable connection for our MP3 players so we can listen to them in the car. :music: Sure beats bringing CDs. The drive takes about 4 hours.

Unfortunately, on this trip we will see a lot of unfortunate experiences for other people. Our first was on the road to Yosemite where somebody flipped their trailer coming down and not negotiating a turn properly. Saw emergency vehicles but no people, so we hope they were all right.

After arriving at Oakhurst, we did a grocery run for breakfast items at Vons and then went to check in at the Tenaya Lodge. We were in the Incense Cedar cabin in a very nice 2 Queen room which was remodeled since we last stayed here.

We headed to the lodge for dinner at the Sierra Restaurant and ate out by the fire pit. It was a beautiful evening. DH said that the Schnitzel was excellent. After dinner we took DD to go swimming at the newly remodeled pool. Some of the improvements included cabanas, transfer chairs for wheelchair bound people and a special spay/splash area with a ramp for the little ones. It was very nice, but starting to get a little coo outside. Fortunately, the water was heated.

Next: A trail to no where.

disneyfaninaz 06-24-2012 12:12 PM

Day 2 - A Trail to Nowhere
Tuesday, May 29, 2012

We woke up to a gorgeous day of sunshine. After showering and eating breakfast in our room, we loaded up the car and headed to the South entrance to Yosemite. Our plan today was to drive to Glacier Point, eat lunch at The Ahwahnee and hike the Mist Trail.

We got to the entrance gate and paid or entry fee of $20. Our first stop was an overlook at the Merced River. We noticed immediately how much less it was running than three years before, but it was still a very nice stop.

We then drove up to Glacier Point. We pretty much had the road to ourselves until we reached Washburn Point. The view from this overlook is amazing. You get your first, in your face, look at Half Dome and you can see both Vernal and Nevada falls from here.

Again, we noticed that there was a lot less snow on the Sierra Nevadas in the background then before. According to people we talked to, the Sierras only got 32% of their average snow fall last winter, which of course, resulted in only 32% of the expected run off to the valley.

After taking in the views here, we then moved up towards Glacier Point.
The traffic picked up here. The first thing we did after finding a parking place was to wait in line for the bathroom. These are popular places at most of the overlooks. Anyway, we walked to the viewing section of the point.

We could look down and see Nevada and Vernal falls.

Unfortunately, you couldn’t go out on the actual Glacier Point overlook to view the valley as it was closed. Unfortunately, some poor soul decided to take their own life and had jumped off Glacier Point the night before. The ranger and mountain rescue crew stationed there told us they were doing a recovery operation and the point would be closed for a couple of more hours. We then decided to head down the mountain and stop at Bridal Veil Falls before heading to the Ahwahnee for our lunch reservations.

We arrived and Bridal Veil Fall for a quick stop as it was getting late and we still had most of the valley to negotiate before getting to the Ahwahnee. This fall is one of my favorites.

We walked all the way to the base of the falls before quickly heading back to the car.

Parking in Yosemite Village is luck of the draw. We were vey lucky to find a spot at the Ahwahnee next to the bus stop, so we decided to leave our car there for the rest of the day and take the Valley bus around.

We arrived at the dining room right at our appointed time. The dining room is a large cavernous room with open beams on the ceiling and huge picture windows looking out towards Glacier Point. My DH and I split a burger, which was very good.

After lunch we walked around the outside of the resort and got the obligatory picture of our DD standing inside the fireplace in the lobby. This resort is spectacular.

Royal Arches

We then decided to take the bus to the Happy Isle bus stop for our afternoon hike up the Mist Trail. We had heard that this was the trail to take. It takes you to the base of Vernal Falls and then you can hike further, if you so desire, to Nevada Falls. Our goal was the footbridge below Vernal Falls. The trail was busy and afforded a lot of views of the Merced and large granite boulders. It even offered a glimpse of the Hidden Fall.

Well, nobody informed us that the Mist Trail was a consistent 45 degree incline for almost a mile. I think we made it 2/3 of the way up before we decided that we need to turn back before we stressed our muscles and knees too much. I was a bit disappointed as I was really looking forward to seeing Vernal falls up close, however, my knees probably appreciated my restraint.

After our aborted hike, we took the bus back to Curry Village to get some snacks. We also saw several deer.

disneyfaninaz 06-24-2012 12:30 PM

Day 2 Continued
We then hopped on the bus towards the valley and got off at the visitor center. We went to the visitor center and got our park passport stamped and looked at the exhibits. We then decided to walk along the valley floor trail to Yosemite Falls. This trail will take you in the back way to the falls. We finally arrived.

We walked out the front trail and looked back to the perfect framing of all 3 falls among the pines. I love this view!

It was getting to be around dinner time so we decided to eat in the village rather than drive back to our lodge. The pizza place was open so we ate there. The pizza wasn’t bad.

After dinner we grabbed a bus back to our car and started the hour long drive back to the lodge, but not without making a few stops along the way. My favorite turnout in the whole valley is Valley View.

This view is spectacular. We were lucky to catch it in the late afternoon, early evening with full sun.

Our next stop was Tunnel View. Again, in the early evening it has full sun and is not hazy like in the morning.

We then headed back to our room for showers and a nice relaxing evening.

Next: A day in the valley.

disneyfaninaz 06-28-2012 01:40 PM

Day 3 - A Day in the Valley
Wednesday, May 30, 2012

We awoke to another beautiful day. The sun was shining and the air was cool. We ate breakfast in our cabin and headed out for the day a little after 8:30 AM.

Our first stop this morning was Bridal Veil Fall. We were so rushed yesterday, that we decided to take our time here today. We parked in the Bridal Veil parking lot and walked to the fall. I love how the water cascades down the rocks here.

After viewing the fall, we walked towards the road and caught a glimpse of Horsetail Fall. This fall is spectacular in February and looks like a firefall over the cliff when the sun hits it just right. Today, however, it was barely a water fall.

We got back to the car and decided to take the loop around to El Capitan Meadow. On the way we stopped at Bridal Veil View and walked down to the river. The area was teeming with butterflies. It was actually quite nice.

After this brief stop, we pulled over next to the meadow to see if we could see any climbers on El Cap. We were in luck, there were quite a few actually.

The next stop is my absolute favorite in the park, Valley View. It looked different today with the sun at a different angle, but still a spectacular sight.

One of the sights I missed 3 years ago, and read about while researching this trip, was the smallest of the named waterfalls at Yosemite, Fern Springs. I knew it was near the Valley View turn out. It was very easy to find so we stopped and I took some photos.

From here, our next stop was the Cathedral Beach Picnic Area to get a glimpse of the Three Brothers peaks. Something else I missed last time.

After Three Brothers, it was time to head into the valley itself. We were getting hungry for lunch so we went to the Village Store and Deli for some lunch and shopping.

After lunch we drove to the Sentinel Bridge parking lot and decided to walk some of the valley floor trail from there. We separated, my DH taking DD so I could take some photos in peace. My first stop was Sentinel Bridge with a spectacular view of Half Dome.

I then walked a short distance to the Yosemite Chapel for some pictures.

It was then a short distance across the road to the meadow for some more spectacular views of Yosemite Falls.

We met up again decided to ride the shuttle to Curry Village for some ice cream. After our treat, we hopped back on the shuttle and rode to the Yosemite Falls stop. Since the fall was not running as heavy, you were able to climb pretty close to the lower falls.

After the falls, we decided to head back to the car. We decided to take the shuttle, when we could have actually just walked across the meadow to our car. However, we didn’t realize this until later on our bus ride. Oh well, the ride was a nice break.

Next: Day 3 continued

disneyfaninaz 07-01-2012 11:30 AM

Day 3 continued
We got back to the car and headed out of the valley. On our way out, we noticed that emergency vehicles a rescue helicopter and crew were working in the El Capitan meadow. Since I had missed the Three Brothers turn out before, my wonderful, patient, DH turned back towards the valley and stopped at the turn out so I could get this photo.

At some point, we discovered that a climber on EL Cap had slipped and had broken his pelvis and possibly his skull. We turned back around heading north out of the park and stopped at Bridal Veil Fall View

and then towards Valley View.

We got a great shot of the rescue helicopter ferrying gurneys and supplies to rescue workers at the top El Cap. This was going to be a long process climbing down the face of El Cap to rescue this poor climber. We figured the climber was about 2/3 of the way up El Cap. We never did here anymore about how that went.

On the way out of the valley, we stopped for one last look at Tunnel View. It was spectacular. The sun was hitting Bridal Veil Fall at just the right way to cause a beautiful rainbow from the water’s mist. Tunnel View was also exceptionally clear in the afternoon as well.

We made our way back to the hotel and had dinner at Jackelope’s Bar and Grill. DH took DD swimming after dinner and then we called it a night.

Next: Big trees.

PrincessInOz 07-04-2012 06:29 PM

:wave: Followed the breadcrumbs over here.

Your pictures of Yosemite are just gorgeous. Makes me want to go back.

I did climb up the trail along Vernal and Nevada Falls some years back. It was quite steep and strenuous. We met some other walkers at the top and they had taken the donkey trail up. Seems like it might have been an easier walk...but I don't think it was as scenic.

disneyfaninaz 07-05-2012 10:55 AM


Originally Posted by PrincessInOz (Post 45375546)
:wave: Followed the breadcrumbs over here.

Your pictures of Yosemite are just gorgeous. Makes me want to go back.

I did climb up the trail along Vernal and Nevada Falls some years back. It was quite steep and strenuous. We met some other walkers at the top and they had taken the donkey trail up. Seems like it might have been an easier walk...but I don't think it was as scenic.

:flower3: Thank you!

I'm bummed we couldn't make it to the foot bridge to see Vernal Falls, but my knees were glad I didnt'. It was a pretty walk though.

NLD 07-05-2012 12:23 PM

Disneyfaninaz, thanks for your TRs. This one and your other Yosemite trip.... after finding this one, I read that one too.

We are seriously considering a Yosemite trip next summer, and your info and pictures are so helpful. You may have convinced us to do a day in Monterey, too. :goodvibes I was torn on spending any time near the coast... hated to cut Yosemite short... but after seeing your pics and descriptions, I talked to my dh and he said to include it. (Hmmm... maybe we can just fly out a day earlier... add it in without chopping any time from Yosemite...)

Can you tell me your impressions of the Wawona Hotel? That's where we're booked. I had wanted something with a private bathroom in the valley, but 365 days in advance, and all rooms and cabins with private baths were gone already! So we snagged one of the rooms at Wawona that doesn't share a bath.

But I'm second guessing it and wondering... if we are going to be that far south of the Valley anyway... would Tenaya be a better choice?

The pluses for Wawona are the history and being close to the trees, and inside the park.

The pluses for Tenaya are it seems more up-to-date, and the cabin set-up. (We'd want a cabin like you had.)

disneyfaninaz 07-05-2012 01:28 PM


Thank you! :flower3:

Unfortunately, I cannot personally vouch for staying at the Wawona, but what I did see was lovely. It would definitely be step up from the hotel in the valley (not the Ahwahnee). Anyway, I told my DH that when DD was away at school, I wanted to come back and stay at the Wawona. My mother-in-law has stayed there and she thought it was very nice. If you want the history, definitely stay there.

If you have any other questions, please ask.

NLD 07-05-2012 01:32 PM

Thanks so much, that helps. It's always so hard to tell from pictures! I know you didn't stay there but at least you were on the property, so it really helps. We don't really need upscale, but clean and well maintained (realizing it's an old property!) is good. :)

disneyfaninaz 07-05-2012 01:34 PM


Originally Posted by NLD (Post 45382840)
Thanks so much, that helps. It's always so hard to tell from pictures! I know you didn't stay there but at least you were on the property, so it really helps. We don't really need upscale, but clean and well maintained (realizing it's an old property!) is good. :)

It definitely looked well maintained and the grounds were emmaculate and beautiful.

disneyfaninaz 07-05-2012 02:39 PM

Day 4 - Big Trees
Thursday, May 31, 2012

This was our last day at Yosemite. Our plan was to visit Mariposa Grove, have lunch at the Wawona hotel and then head towards Monterey.

We got up, had breakfast in our room and checked out of the hotel.

We headed back to Yosemite. When we got to the park entrance, around 9:00 AM, we turned right towards the Mariposa Grove. We were one of the last cars to get a parking space. If you go to Mariposa Grove, there is limited parking and it will fill up early. If parking is not available, you will have to go either to Wawona or the village to get a shuttle to Mariposa Grove. Anyway, once we arrived, we got tickets for the first tour or the morning. It is a narrated tour which takes you to the top of the grove through the Sequoias on an open air tram.

We took the tour last time, but liked getting to the top of the grove. The trees were just as magnificent as they were three years ago.

After the tour we decided to head towards Wawona for lunch. On our way out, we noticed that they closed the road to the grove so the only way you could get there was by tram. We arrived at the hotel a little before 11:00 AM, so we had to wait just a bit before they started serving lunch.

It was delightful sitting outside on the porch.

After lunch we headed out the South entrance towards Oakhurst. As we approached Oakhurst we noticed emergency vehicles ahead. As we got nearer we saw that a logging truck had spilled some of its load onto the shoulder so only one lane was open to go by. Our drive to Monterey was uneventful. We arrived to a beautiful sunny day where you could see all the way across the bay (believe me that is rare). After we checked in to our hotel in Seaside, we headed to Cannery Row to Bubba Gumps for dinner. We don’t have one here in Phoenix, so we like to visit them when we’re in California. I love their Pear and shrimp salad.

After dinner, we walked around looking for otters or seals in the bay. We found one harbor seal frolicking around.

We had a long day, so we headed back to hotel. Fortunately, because it had been a clear afternoon, we were in for a beautiful sunset, so I set my camera up on the balcony of our room and enjoyed.

Next: By the sea.

disneyfaninaz 07-07-2012 10:56 AM

Day 5 - By the Sea
Friday, June 1, 2012

Californians have a term for low lying clouds that drift in from the ocean obscuring the coastline from your view: its called June Gloom. I just call it fog! Well, in Monterey it was clear in May but the minute June showed up, June Gloom set in. We woke up and couldn’t see across the street, let alone the bay. It was our intention to drive Pacific Highway 1 today towards and beyond Big Sur.

We slept in, had breakfast and waited to see if the June Gloom would “burn off.” It seemed pretty much set in, so we decided to go anyway and see what we could see.

We drove through Carmel on our way towards PCH1. Patchy fog greeted us most of the way. Our first stop was Point Lobos State Park: a gem to be sure within the CA state park system. It was a beautiful little park with wonderful vistas overlooking the ocean.

We stopped at Whalers Cove.

Then we drove up to a larger parking lot and took the Cypress Grove Trail. The blues of the ocean amazed me, I'm used to the Pacific being more green. In some places it rivaled the blues of the Caribbean.

It started to rain, more like mist, while we were walking, but there was a lot of moisture already in the air as demonstrated here:

I happened to look to my right and saw this spider web covered with dew. It looked like pearls had been strung along the spokes.

We then walked to North Point, South Point and around Headland Cove.

Then we headed out back onto PCH 1. There are several turnouts along the way to see the coastline.

The flowers along the coast were so bright. It looked like a patchwork quilt.

We stopped for lunch at Rocky Point Restaurant and got a table overlooking the ocean. It was very good.

The views from the restaurant were amazing.

We then continued on going over old bridges and finally entering Big Sur, which really isn’t on the water since a mountain separates it from the coastline.

In the meantime, the further down the coast we drove, the less fog we encountered. Our ultimate goal was to visit the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and McWay Waterfall.

Next: Day 5 continued.

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