Friday, July 16, 2010

Yosemite to Vegas

I am writing this as I wait for Kristie’s plan to land. I could not be less impressed with Las Vegas. It is no wonder that Harry Reid was able to float to the top here. Everyone here is an idiot. They are terrible drivers, dysfunctional cashiers, and CRAZY for living somewhere where it can literally still be 106 degrees out at 11pm.
So, what did I do today… I woke up in heaven… ok Yosemite but heaven is pretty close. Yosemite is the west coast version of my Elysium – Acadia. If we were to move here, I’d be as obsessed with Yosemite as I am with Acadia. Speaking of which – Pete and Annie, are you still up for our August or September weekend in Acadia?

Yosemite is one of those perfect places for every life stage. It’s a great place to be a kid because there are such diverse natural wonders, a great place for college/20’s because there are awesome intense hikes. Speaking of that, Jared – we need to plan a trip to climb half dome. I saw a shirt for sale for those who did it and I want that shirt. It’s then also a wonderful place to bring your own children to expose them to geology, nature, and just having fun in the outdoors. When I was at Tenaya Lake I really saw this. It is a beautiful alpine lake that is warm enough to swim in. What better day than going on a hike with your kids, cooling off with a swim in the lake, and then attending one of the campfire programs with the Rangers at night. Anyways, I digress.
So this morning, I woke up around 7 and took down camp. I’d never camped at a place without running water and the thing I missed most was brushing my teeth. I really missed it and felt gross. It was also a letdown not to be able to wash my hair in the sink so I could at least look presentable. I headed down to the Valley because I wanted to see the waterfalls (Yosemite and Bridalveil). They sure did impress. Although not very powerful since the snow is all melted it was great to see them as well as half dome and El Captain. I must say that the waterfalls hold their allure on a second visit much more strongly than do the rock features.

I hiked up to the base of Yosemite Falls and got to take some great pictures. The only way for me to get in the picture was to stick my head in the very bottom as there was so much scenery to capture. As soon as I tried to walk down (in my sandals) I became immediately aware of why there are warnings that the rocks are slippery. They are, even when dry. I had a camcorder in one hand and a camera in the other. Thankfully I saved both and let my shin absorb my fall. This of course resulted in me slicing the shin. It was not too bad but I think it is the first cut on my leg I’ve had since I was in middle school. The weird thing is that it tingles now whenever I yawn or cough or stretch. Weird, right? I was much more careful following this and made it the down the rest of the way ok. I checked out the Yosemite Village store and picked up a magnet and t-shirt. It’s kind of a cool shirt. This was my favorite National Park store so far. I think when I retire I will try to work at a national park. Perhaps Yosemite. I could even work at the store. There is a produce section.

Then I headed out of the valley and through a huge fire scar. This must have been a huge fire as it stretched for about 15 miles. I considered a stop at the Tuolomne Grove but decided it would be more prudent to get on the road towards Las Vegas. Having run out of gas a few days ago, I was sure to get a few gallons of gas in the park – despite the price of $3.75 a gallon. My car battery continued to scare me getting down to the single purple bar as I ascended into the Tioga Pass area. Before then, I stopped to take some pictures at Olmstead Point (overlooking Yosemite Valley from above) and Tenaya Lake. Then I bid my farewell to Yosemite and descended back down Tioga Pass towards Mono Lake. Mono Lake was very striking from this perspective but my camera was dead and I was charging the battery.

Then began the 5 hour drive to Las Vegas through the middle of nowhere. I think I only passed through 6 towns on the whole journey. It is that remote. There were tons of abandoned gas stations, trailers, businesses, and homes along the way. There was also very spotty cell coverage. I passed through a couple of cool towns. One was a ghost town called Benton Hot Springs. There were abandoned wagons similar to those in the Oregon Trail, and all of the buildings in town were in shambles with the exception of one really well kept bed and breakfast. I kind of think it would be fun to stay there sometime in the future. I made a note of it here to remind me as I plan future trips. Another town was an old western town called Tonopah. I think mining is the industry of that area. It does have a wild west feel.

Then I finally got to Vegas. Staying at Circus Circus is a novelty as I don’t think it will be here much longer. It looks like Sinatra performed here and they have not updated it since then. There is an indoor amusement park for the kids. But I think this place will be demolished in 5-10 years to make room for some new place which can charge a lot more than $28 a night. What a deal, right!

So I had some errands to run here in Vegas. I wanted to get hiking sandals for hiking the Narrows in Zion but you had to pay $10 to park at the outlets so that was out. So I then went to get a few items for the cooler. Albertsons had disgusting produce, just like their sister company Shaws so I left there. I ended up at Wal-Mart. Big mistake. Where’s a Safeway when you need it? Not in Vegas. People are too disgusting to know what to do in a nice store like that. They had crappy food and terrible customer service. I waited 20 minutes in line. I had to swap my ice twice as it was melting in line. When I finally checked out the guy didn’t put all my stuff in my cart. I was missing blueberries, plums and air freshener. I went back in to get them and he said that he must have given the fruit to someone else. Sorry, but here’s your air freshener. I asked if I could go get replacements and he said I’d have to speak with a manager. Tired and hot, I left. IT was still 106 out, down from 113 earlier. I went to Wendy’s because I was starving and had missed the buffets.

Oh Kristie just called. She’s landed. I am off to get her. Yay!


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