Ok, I’ll admit it, the way we camp really isn’t camping in the strictest sense of the word. Hot and cold running water, showers, inside toilets, microwave, washer, dryer, residential size refrigerator….doesn’t sound like camping, right? In our defense, we did our share of tent camping, complete with Coleman coolers for our food, air mattresses for our sleeping bags to lay on and cooking over the campfire. After many years of that, we moved up to renting a camper. We also borrowed a camper from Mr. Fae’s parents when they moved up to owning a travel trailer. Once our kids became older, 9 and 12 years old respectively, we bought our very first trailer. After 19 years of that, we bought our motorhome. So you can see, we did rough it for quite some time. We are long time campers and are completely in love with the way we camp now.
This long explanation is for my friends who always say we don’t know how to ‘camp’ merely because we use our motorhome. Pffft! So there.
Anyhoo, this past week, we traveled to number 6 on our national park playlist for Summer 2012. The last time I was there was during college, or as my children call it, the Jurassic Period. Mr. Fae had never been there so this was a treat for him. I have to tell you, Nature is pretty astounding here. But let me back up a bit. We all have heard horror stories regarding the Tioga Pass road being unkind to RVs. We opted to not utilize that way in but another way in suggested by our son-in-law.
First, it’s a good thing that I love him so much. Second, we will NEVER use Hwy 120 into the park again. Besides being car sick, we learned of a height fear experienced by our daughter-in-law. Oh, and the no guard rails on the sides of the road didn’t help matters at all. Old Priest Grade:
It took about 22 hours to climb this 6 mile grade in our RVs. Very slow going. And then, finally, we arrived at our RV park, a mere 25 miles from Yosemite Valley. So, yes, we did have a daily drive that was a drag. It really wore on the grandkids and their parents after a long day in the park. Everyone was ready for cocktail time by 5pm.
And honestly? Photographs do not do the natural beauty justice. They just don’t.
We got closer than this, but the sheer massiveness of this rock loses all perspective….and we found out that if you want to hike Half Dome, you need a permit due to everybody in the entire universe wants to hike Half Dome. Everybody, that is except me and my daughter-in-law. Madness.
Half Dome as seen from Glacier Point. Travel tip here, if you’re prone to car sickness, don’t take this drive. Dress warmly, 9,000+ feet in elevation is just down right cold despite the sun shining on you. Bring binoculars because you can see the people crawling on Half Dome, underscoring my opinion that it’s just Madness to climb. Madness, I tell you.
These are the high points of our visit….seeing what all the talk is about. And it was right…Yosemite is a beautiful and amazing park.
Do not, however, visit it on National Park Free Admittance day. The crowds were unbelievable, the parking non-existent. I would show you Bridalveil Falls but there were so many people there, the photo would show a mass of heads looking up. The parking lot was closed shortly after we arrived because they couldn’t fit in any more cars. Crazy.
We did not want to leave the park the same way we came, so we shrugged our shoulders and decided to take Tioga Pass road. While it had some more incredible scenery including several lakes, it was the 8% downgrade that was the clincher of the entire trip.
I drove our tow vehicle, a Jeep, while Son and his Family drove their travel trailer/truck combo and Mr. Fae drove the motor home. While the road is definitely narrow, motor homes can venture down this highway. Truck/travel trailers can come down this grade as well only if your trailer isn’t loaded down and you have trailer brakes. Our son did not have the small piece that would engage his trailer brakes on the truck . The truck brakes were slowing down not only the truck itself but trying to slow down the trailer as well. Two thirds of the way down, we had to pull over because his brake pedal was stuttering and the brakes were too hot to continue.
This really shook him and us up, without a doubt. Mr. Fae suggested that the granddaughters travel with me the rest of the way down and that he, Mr. Fae would travel in the lead thereby, if necessary, slowing down if not stopping a runaway truck/trailer. Also, to drive in low gear for the remainder of the grade. This gave all of us the shaking knee syndrome.
Not even wanting to get into the vehicles to continue this, we all had sick stomachs, tied in knots. Thank you, God in Heaven, for having your hand on us for the remainder of the drive. He made it to the bottom without once having to use his brakes; manual gear did the trick. He does have to replace the brakes on the truck and spend a nominal amount to install the device needed to engage the trailer’s brakes. Live and learn hard lessons.
Unless we can be helicoptered in, I just don’t know how we can travel into this park again without remembering the roads…..