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Willow Glen; Yosemite Part 1; Pedi-Potti?

I was remiss in the last blog in not including this photo of a house in Willow Glen, a charming suburb of San Jose. Suzanne and I have traveled a lot around the US and every continent except Antarctica, and Willow Glen is one of our favorite “small towns”. We even found a suitable home there, but alas, it is already occupied and unlikely to be on the market soon. It has a faux thatched cottage roof and a lovely garden. If I ever get around to buying that winning Lotto ticket, maybe we could have a replica built somewhere, but for now Willow Glen is out of our league financially. Two bedroom, bath and a half, 1500 sq. ft. cottages built in the 1950s and 60s are going for about $1.5 million… seems that Silicon Valley executives love the town, which has a very family-friendly atmosphere and a short commute to work.

We are now visiting Yosemite National Park for a week. My first (and only) trip here was back in 1976 or 77, and Suzanne has never been here. We are looking forward to My Lovely Daughter Elisabeth’s arrival on Saturday. Liz and I have a backpacking trip planned next week; regrettably, Suzanne has to remain in our 42 foot motor coach with Rudy and Gretchen while Liz and I hike up to a 10,000 foot lake with 30 lb. backpacks, sleep in tents and mummy bags and eat dehydrated food. (It’s a tough job, but someone has to care for our puppies, make sure the air conditioning works and ensure the refrigerator keeps the ice cream frozen.) 

We made a couple of recon runs around Yosemite to ensure it is adequate for Liz’s visit. One of our first stops on entering the park was at Tunnel View at sunset.That’s Half Dome on the right side of the valley in the distance. No complaints about bad views here! The only problem is that our coach is too big to fit in the park’s campgrounds, so we are in a commercial campground 40 miles away (a full hour+ drive on windy mountain roads), with no phone service and minimal Wi-Fi, so blog posts will be a bit spotty.

This photo shows a bronze relief map of Yosemite Valley. The drop from Half Dome, Glacier Point and El Capitan are about 3,000-3,500 feet to the valley below. Suzanne was carrying her phone in a vain hope of getting a cell signal. She will be reduced to using Skype via Wi-Fi if the limited signal allows. 

Rudy and Gretchen met another long-haired miniature Dachshund, a cute 1 year old English creme in a skirt. Rudy was interested, but I think Gretchen was a bit jealous of the younger girl’s flirting with Rudy… 

Yosemite is known for its towering granite walls. This one is an example of the easier climbing walls. It’s only about 1,000 feet high and has lots of cracks and ledges. (“Easier” being a relative term… I forgot my climbing gear back in the attic, so will have sit these out.) 

El Capitan is the Holy Grail of big wall rock climbing, though. Good climbers will take five days to climb El Cap, sleeping overnight on tiny 6’x8′ platforms tied to the rock, thousands of feet above the ground, with all their gear (water, food, poop bags) hauled up right alongside them for the duration. Sounds like great fun, doesn’t it? Climbers from all over the world come here for the experience.

Our first hike was up the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls, which is located out of sight to the left side of the rock wall in this photo. This pretty hiker looks perky at the bottom of the hike, but what would she look like two hours later? 

Near the start, we saw this young coyote pup resting at the entrance to his den on a rock ledge about 15 feet above the trail. He could not have been over a year old, and looked friendly and curious, not afraid of us at all.


We took the easy route, a 2,000 foot climb up a trail with lots of switchbacks and a set of 131 granite steps at the end.

Why is it called the Mist Trail? Take a look at the mist blowing onto the steps (making them very wet and slippery); it’s also chilly up here, out of direct sun and with snowmelt mist wafting over you.

Looking down, two things are apparent: 1. the trail is rather steep; and 2. the average age of the hikers is about 1/3 of my own; these two factors contributed to my somewhat leisurely pace…

We made it to the top, and Suzanne still looks pretty and chipper, which is much better than Der Blogmeister, who was getting a lttle tuckered out by this point and declined to be shown wheezing… but we did finish our first hike without incident, so that is always a plus. 

Suzanne insisted that I put one shot of the Old Goat in this blog, just to prove I was really here and not eating wings at Hooters, so I picked one that showed me rested and smiling…

Yosemite isn’t all rock walls and waterfalls; the Merced River runs through it, and has been one of the major forces in cutting the valley to its current shape.

And this small marsh, or fen, displayed some of the most brilliant greens I’ve seen in a long time.

Finally, our good friends Sharon and Joyce back in The Villages liked the photo of the blue loo on wheels outside the San Francisco Victorian home in the previous blog post so much that they are considering purchasing their own, more high-tech version, the Pedi-Potti, shown here. We are thrilled, because then they could go on bike rides with us at home and be ready to share their new acquisition on “comfort stops”.


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