Sunday, September 16, 2007


Friday, Sept 14:
One of the things we did yesterday was joine the Yosemite Association. One of our “benefits” was a book of coupons which included the opportunity to take a 2-hour “scenic valley tram tour” at two for the price of one. Since we planned not to move Mo while we were in the valley (the shuttle is quite convenient), this limited some of our activities. Luckily, since we’d been to Yosemite twice already, we had done all the “must-do” and “must-see” things, and one of my primary goals for this trip was simply to spend more time soaking up the valley ambience, with the advantage of not having to leave in the evening to return to a hotel or rental house to make dinner. We decided to take advantage of the tour, which in the past we hadn’t wanted to spare two hours for.

The tram left from Yosemite Lodge, so we took the shuttle to get there. As we passed Curry Village, not far from our campground, there was a large group of people with cameras lined up along the road as we passed. The shuttle drivers are usually very accommodating to slow down when this happens, because undoubtedly there is something interesting going on. In this case, there were bears! Two, a mother and her cub, were right at the side of the road. The cub was in a tree, and the mom was curled up under the tree. I saw them both, very clearly, and was so excited—we have joked that I am some kind of bear prevention, because I’ve never seen a bear yet when we’ve been warned to watch out for them. I was just sorry that we didn’t jump out to take photos.

While we waited at Yosemite Lodge for the tour to start, we discovered the wifi kiosks, so THAT was useful. And something that was funny happened, too. I mentioned being disappointed at not finding any other Jews who wanted to celebrate an unconventional RH with us yesterday. Well, there were not ONE, but TWO Israeli families on our tram tour! One family was sitting in front of us, and we ended up chatting briefly. I asked them if they had been in the park the day before, and they said yes—so I told them about our shofar in the meadow. The mom said to me that they had been at Yosemite Falls, and she had asked someone to take their photo. The person heard them speaking Hebrew and said, “Oh—it’s Yom Tov!” LOL! So there were at least FOUR families here yesterday who could have gotten together. Oh well—now that I am a member of the Yosemite Association, if I find myself here again on a major holiday, I will contact them well in advance and ask them to put something about it into the newspaper, along with all the other activities and religious services.

The tour itself was delightful. It took us to two famous valley viewpoints, neither of which we would have seen otherwise. The first stop was a view of the meadows with both El Capitan and the Cathedral Rocks dominating:

Then the tram went up to the famous Tunnel View. Of course we’ve been there before, but without this our we would have skipped it this time, which would have been a shame. It is such a mind-boggling view.
All along the tour, the ranger-guide gave us a lot of information on history, geology, etc. It was really a relaxing and enjoyable two hours. As the tram passed Curry Village, sure enough, the bears were STILL there, this time apparently in the trees. We couldn’t see them, but there was still a group of people gathered around pointing, and that gave our guide the opportunity to talk about how clever the bears are in searching out food in the park. I heard one shuttle driver say (the drivers also told us a lot about the park as they drove us) that one year a bear found some food in a Camaro, and subsequently 27 more Camaros were damaged by (presumably) the same bear, who identified that particular car as a pantry.

Anyway, when the tour ended, we had to take the shuttle back to our campsite, so I said I wanted to stop and see if the bears were still there. Sure enough, now both of them were up in a tall pine tree, and a ranger was keeping the people from coming too close. Unfortunately, the sun was in an awkward place and it was very hard to take a good picture. I took this one, and Joe fixed it a bit for me—it still isn’t great but you can at least see the bear!

After that, we went back to Mo and had some lunch. We relaxed a bit, and I even did some reading. At around 5 pm, we decided to take Roxy for a real walk. Dogs are only allowed along the paved roads, but we figured we would follow the road around the campground, which is only used by the shuttles. Of course, in the late afternoon light, I couldn’t help taking photos—including this one right by the entrance to Upper Pines Campground:

We walked past the stables (horseback riding for our next visit, maybe?), and saw a deer crossing the road ahead (of course I took a photo); and then as we walked a little farther, Joe said, “BEARS!” Sure enough, through the trees we could see two bears. We are pretty sure it was the same two we’d seen earlier—a larger one and a cub, and we weren’t that far away from Curry Village. We were really excited, but they seemed to move away from us and I couldn’t get a good photo. However, as we went further down the road, I looked over my shoulder, and there they were, on the other side of the road—they must have crossed behind us, the sneaky things!! Again I didn’t get a picture, but we saw them as clear as could be. It was so exciting!
After our walk, we had a quick dinner, because one thing I really wanted to do was walk in one of the valley meadows as the sun was going down, and see the sunlight changing on the rock walls of the valley. We took the tram, and lo and behold, we went RIGHT past our bears, standing in a meadow not far from the road. Unlike the other shuttle drivers, this one seemed disinterested when I yelled “Bear!” and everyone rushed to see—he didn’t stop, we just rode on past.

Our walk in the meadow was exquisite. I was aggravated that my photos seemed so pathetic, so Joe taught me how to deal with the apertures and the lighting, and for once I listened, LOL! As a result, I think I got some really nice photos, what do you think? (As I upload them, I hope they aren't too dark to see.)

Looking Up at Glacier Point

North Dome, Late Evening

Half Dome, Late Evening

We went home to bed, agreeing that the day had been absolutely perfect.

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