A tiny place in the world

USA

I thought about it at the time and, almost one year on, I still believe that this is probably the most impressive start to a trip that I have had…

After landing in San Francisco following a fourteen-hour flight from Sydney, I was soon on another plane, this time a more bearable hour to Fresno, where my mates from South Carolina, Robert and Blake (you can read about how we met herepicked me up from the airport. They had flown to Denver to start their trip a few days earlier and drove a crazy number of hours to arrive in California sometime in the middle of the night before.

We made our way towards Yosemite National Park, where we planned to stay for a couple of nights, and an hour and a half later pulled over at Tunnel View lookout, where we were greeted with our first proper look at the National Park. This is a view that would still astound you on your tenth visit, but personally it was even more memorable due to the fact that I hadn’t done any research on Yosemite whatsoever and therefore didn’t have any idea of what to expect.

Other highlights that day included a glimpse of Bridalveil Falls and seeing a bear and her cub as we drove along the main road. We also got ‘lost’ on a mountain road after we thought we were following the Meadow Loop Trail…

Luckily, we ran into a car just as it started to get dark and they told us that the road we were on wasn’t a loop after all and we’d probably end up in Mariposa if we kept going! While they didn’t offer us a lift, the 2.5 mile walk back in the dark went by without further incident and the beers we’d put on ice before leaving the Wawona Hotel a few hours earlier went down nicely!

The hotel, on the other hand, wasn’t exactly what we had expected and, after driving around the following day, we agreed that the Yosemite Valley campsites would be a better option if we were to return. This would also get you closer to the action as Wawona is a thirty-minute drive from the main sights.

Regardless, we still made the most of catching up for the first time in eight months and even introduced a couple of our fellow guests to some psych rock!

The main standout from day two was the view of Half Dome from Glacier Point and the surrounding area – to borrow from Gustave Flaubert, it’s one of those sights that reminds you of what a tiny place you occupy in the world. We also got a closer look at both Bridalveil and Yosemite Falls and spent a fair amount of time admiring the tranquillity of Mirror Lake.

The next day, we checked out the Giant Sequoias in Mariposa Grove before the six-hour drive to Joshua Tree National Park, our next destination.

Being dwarfed by the landscape of Yosemite had been one thing, but standing next to those huge trees was equally impressive.

The couple of hours that we spent walking around the trails more than justified the decision to go there.

Looking back, I actually could have done all the research in the world and Yosemite still would have blown me away – I’m not sure that I’ve seen such striking scenery within hours of landing in a country. It’s definitely a place that I wish we’d had more time to explore and I’d love to head back there to do so.

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