Yosemite, Day One

Our family had a amazing two weeks in California; we covered so much ground–literally–that it’s going to take me a few posts to tell you all about it! From the time we picked up our rental car in Los Angeles to the morning we turned it back in, we drove about 2,500 miles. We knew that we were going to have to drive a lot, but we also had a couple of setbacks.

Our plan was to drive from San Luis Obispo to the south entrance of Yosemite, drive north through the park, and take Hwy 120 to our rental house. As we were driving to Yosemite, Ed noticed some interesting cloud formations. “What’s that?” he said, pointing. I, of course, said it was nothing.

We arrived at the Ranger’s station about an hour later. Ed asked the ranger how it was going. “Okay, except for the fire that started two days ago. The road to Hwy 120 is closed.”

It was early enough in the day that we had plenty of time to see some of Yosemite before we heading to our lodging for the night. Ed looked at a map, and we would have to backtrack out of the park and go north on a different road. It might take us a little longer, but it didn’t seem like it would ruin our trip.

We didn’t have to drive far into Yosemite to see the fire. As we stood at a viewpoint, about seven green firetrucks drove by us, the firemen waving at the girls as they passed by. Many of the fires that start in Yosemite are named. This was the El Portal fire.

Yosemite fire

It’s hard to describe driving into Yosemite Valley. As we drove, we were surrounded by these breathtaking walls of granite that reached up into the sky, almost higher than you could image. If anything makes you feel small, it’s entering that majestic valley where the Merced River flows. The smoke made everything hazy and a little surreal.

Yosemite Valley

Ed, Lily and Emmy were thrilled because there were rocks to climb on. Climbing rocks makes them happy. I may have also climbed on a few rocks.

Merced River

And then my sister and I took a selfie. Which Ed and Lily tried to photobomb.

Merced River selfie

After exploring the Valley for a little while, we decided we’d better get back on the road. It’s a good thing we did. The section of 49 from Mariposa to Coulterville is one of  the scariest roads I’ve ever been on.  It twisted and turned along the sides of the mountains, and as soon as I said, “Now that’s a hairpin turn if I ever saw one,” there was an even tighter hairpin turn! Ed couldn’t drive more that 15 miles an hour, and when the section of road is 13 miles long…it takes an hour to drive it.

When we finally arrived in Coulterville, we breathed a communal sigh of relief! We ate dinner at Hotel Jeffery. The service was slow because the men were all out fighting the fire, but once we got our food, it was very good. Hotel Jeffery is a historic building, and it still has hotel rooms you can stay in. We were staying six miles up the road. As we found out later, finding places to eat was a challenge in some areas on this trip.

Hotel Jeffery

In the next few posts, I’m going to include some links about where we stayed and ate. Maybe this will help you if you plan on traveling to Yosemite!

Where we ate: The Historic Hotel Jeffery in Coulterville

Where we stayed: When we travel, Ed loves using VRBO (Vacation Rent By Owner). This time, we rented a beautiful house about six miles north of Coulterville.

More posts about our California trip:

Meeting Gretchen from Second Blooming in Los Angeles
Hiking the Lemon Grove Loop Trail in San Luis Obispo





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15 Replies to “Yosemite, Day One”

    1. We have really been lucky with our vacation rentals! One place in Michigan had a yucky bathroom, but the owner was very up front that it needed to be updated. Other than that, we love using it!

  1. Wow – that had to be a bit scary being there when the fires were going in full force!!
    And we have never rented a vacation home from VRBO but after looking at the pictures of the place you stayed I think we might start doing that!!!
    Kim recently posted…My Wake-Up CallMy Profile

    1. We were never close enough to the fire to see the flames. They kept everyone visiting the park far away! But one town was evacuated. I don’t think any buildings were damaged by the time it was over.

      You should definitely check out VRBO! It’s been great for us!

  2. The section of 49 from Mariposa to Coulterville made me so carsick! And I don’t even GET carsick! That was weird, but I sipped coffee and somehow that helped.
    I loved Yosemite so much. The shooting stars. Our private cabin. That fresh air. I can’t even think too much about it without getting nostalgic.
    Tamara recently posted…The Cape House.My Profile

    1. I had to give the girls and myself Bonine before we started out the next morning! After driving it for three days, we got used to it, but that road is very carsick inducing! We wanted to stay in the park, but were too late to make reservations. Next time hopefully we will!

  3. Oh Ginny, this is beautiful! I’ve always wanted to visit Yosemite and so glad you are posting your trip. Your words are so discriptive that I feel like I’m there with you, and your photos are breathtaking. (Took a look at days 2, 3, and 4 already!)

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