It was a long drive to Yosemite from San Francisco but the girls were very happy to find that we had a DVD player in the hire car (it’s a massive truck thing, with enough room for us all to comfortably live in for the rest of the holiday!) We’ve so far managed to avoid in-car entertainment for the girls (other than singing, eye-spy and general chatting), but after several days of walking and being pretty well-behaved in the city they deserved a bit of a treat.
Popcorn purchased and a film on, they were both very happy (or as happy as small children ever are in the car for 4 hours…)
About an hour out of San Francisco, the landscape changed from low-rise roadside development to wide and sweeping hills. It was truly beautiful and nice to see land without fences or demarcation of any kind, just green, green grass, rolling hills and lots of trees (American Oaks, I think…)
The only places you get to see such big, uncultivated landscapes at home are somewhere like Windsor Great Park or a National Trust property. Where there was agriculture it was cows (and lots of them), orange trees and almond trees. We tried to interest the girls in the surroundings but the film they were watching was far more interesting!
We could see the mountains rising up in the distance and we spent an hour driving through some twisty mountain roads before we finally got to Yosemite. Once inside the park, the mountains towered above us and the valleys were wide and flat in between. The sun was shining and the girls had gone to sleep, so missed the breathtaking beauty of our surroundings.
The sleeping girls meant that we got to have a quick explore before they woke up again and we headed to Bridalveil falls which was awesome. The water falls over a wide flat ledge, straight down for hundreds of feet (no measurements in metres here, I’m afraid) and there was a rainbow about half way up caused by the sun shining through the water spray from the waterfall.
We woke the girls up as we left that spot so that they would have 10 minutes to come to before we got to the hotel. As we came over a bridge we spotted some photographers and a group of people stopped at the side of the road. We pulled over when we spotted an American Black bear ambling around the meadow just beyond the road.
I jumped out to film whilst my lovely husband parked and got the girls out of the car. It was amazing to see a bear like that in its natural environment, rather than in a zoo. My lovely husband and I had spent 2 weeks in the Canadian Rockies and surrounding areas hoping to see bears a few years ago and didn’t see one, so we were stunned to find one within minutes of being in the national park.
The girls were nearly as excited as we were and were pleased that they could ask the park ranger some question about the bear (Blue 72 – no name, just a number). The weather has been very warm all winter here in Yosemite so this bear, who has a radio tracker fitted as he likes to hang out close to tourist areas and they keep an eye on him to stop him getting into trouble, hasn’t hibernated at all. There was no real snow here until February, which is very unusual.
Blue 72 was eating some grass – the bear equivalent of salad! He also likes honey (and the bee stings don’t hurt him as his skin is so thick), berries and occasionally munching on a dead animal that he comes across. He’s not much of a hunter. He’d love some fish but the rivers in the park don’t have many fish in, so he copes without.
We must have spent 20 minutes watching him before the girls ran out of patience. What an amazing start to our stay here.