David and Gillian fly in from Alabama to the San Francisco Airport and after all four us stay one night at a nearby motel (eating at the Grand Harbor Seafood and Dimsum Restaurant in Burlingame), we all drive together out to Yosemite Valley. We check into our two tent cabins where we will spend almost a week before driving back to San Francisco.
Giving credit where credit is due, for the last few days Shirley has been doing a lot of work preparing for this trip. So on Sunday Shirley and Bob are ready to go. We drive to San Francisco where we make our first stop: T C Pastry on Irving Street. We stop there because Bob really likes their sesame seed balls. He gets two dozen - yep, a box of 24 sesame seed balls! 4 of which he immediately eats. Then we go back to the car and drive to the San Francisco Airport to meet David and Gillian.
The drive goes smoothly and we get a parking space in the airport garage - a long way from the airport entry, but we make it to the airline meeting place plenty early, where we sit and wait and watch the display of incoming flights. Gillian and David's flight lands about ten minutes early and we immediately get a text from David. It seems like we watch hundreds of people walk by, but then forty minutes later they arrive at the meeting place. Yay!
We all then walk to the garage and find our car which we drive to the Holiday Inn Express San Francisco Airport South, where we check in and haul all of our luggage to our rooms. We then have a good time walking along the bay shore. The airport runways are in the near distance. We check out one restaurant, decide it is too noisy, so choose to eat at the Grand Harbor Restaurant. The seats could not have been more perfect, right next to a glass wall overlooking the bay. Bob's shrimp dish is ok and Shirley demonstrates how to use chopsticks (OK, after David teaches her and Bob). Sadly, all the rest of the dishes were none too good. And David's dish of ribs is served after we have eaten all the other food.
After dinner we walk back to the hotel and rest for the night - including Bob doing Sudoku in the book David gave him as a Father's Day present.
Bob and Shirley awake at 4:40 AM. Bob writes in the diary. They get up and load stuff in the car, then confirm that Gillian and David are up - they are.
We leave around 5:30 and drive to Yosemite on Hwy 120 through Manteca, stopping one time for gas (and Powerball ticket!) and once at McDonald's. It is an easy, beautiful ride, although the traffic going the other way to San Francisco is really heavy. And of course in the foothills and mountains the roads have lots of curves.
We get in to Yosemite for free (using Bob's old-age card), then drive to cabin check-in by 10:30 AM. No checking in until 11:30, so we go to air-conditioned Pavilion where David charges his phone.
We walk around a bit, then at 11:30 get our tent cabins assigned. We get cabins 664 (Shirley and Bob) and 673 (Gillian and David).
We lug lots of luggage to tents. Bob and Shirley try to rest in very hot cabin. David and Gillian hike 5 miles, see lower Yosemite Falls.
Bob and Shirley give up on tent, then go into air-conditioned Pavilion again. Next we get on shuttle bus to Wilderness Center (but Gillian and David's wilderness permit are not yet available), followed by ride around Yosemite Valley and back to camp.
At one point Bob sees 3 pileated woodpeckers on a tree and takes their picture. All three of them fly right over Bob's head, one of them actually touching his head with a wing. And from the parking lot we get a view of Yosemite Falls.
Bob and Shirley meet David and Gillian in the Pavilion and we all eat dinner. David and Gillian charge phones and other items. We then all walk back to tent cabins to rest.
David and Bob go to shop, but Bob forgets wallet, so they walk back, get the wallet, and go shop again for ice, cold water, tooth brush/paste. They walk back, take a short walk in nearby woods, then return for the night.
Shirley gets up early - 6:15 - and goes to get tea. The line is already long. She chats with a couple from Orange County, CA., who have been up Half Dome three times. One of those times, the guy proposed to his wife.
Gillian and David decide to rent bikes for the day. They ride to Mirror Lake and afterwards decide to do day hikes.
Shirley and Bob board shuttle bus and go to Wilderness Office where they pick up a wilderness permit for David and Gillian. The permit allows backpacking from Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley and Half Dome, starting tomorrow.
After getting permit, Bob and Shirley walk to lower Yosemite Falls.
Afterwards they walk to Village Store, then Denegan's for a lunch of salmon sandwiches.
While they are eating, Gillian and David ride bicycles by. After lunch, Shirley and Bob walk to the Ahwahnee Hotel.
They then take a very, very crowded bus back to Curry Village. They nap, then Shirley gets up and goes to the Pavilion and charges cell phone. Later, Bob goes over there, then Gillian and David also come over to charge phones.
We then order two pizzas (Bob requires one to be vegetarian), enjoy them, and return to the cabins. We get backpacks ready, Bob does Sudoku and diary writing, and Shirley picks stuff up at car.
Shirley and Bob get up at 5 AM, Gillian and David at 5:20. Car is loaded by 6 and we all head to Glacier Point, about a 25 mile drive. There is road work on Glacier Road, but trip goes well. At one point going up we stop and watch a bear with her two cubs cross the road and climb upwards.
We park at the end of the road, walk with backpacks to the Panorama trailhead, the starting point for David and Gillian's backpack trip. The view from Glacier Point is spectacular in all directions. There is however a bluish haze. We take pictures, then head back to the trailhead, hug, Gillian and David take off with loaded backpacks.
Shirley and Bob then continue to get views and take pics in the area. And see a small building to walk up to that also has good views. And a grouse on the path up to it!
David and Gillian backpack towards Little Yosemite Valley, passing mule riders along the way and seeing of course beautiful panoramas.
Shirley and Bob drive back to Curry Village and luckily find a parking space in spite of very crowded road conditions.
Bob and Shirley snack, then take crowded bus (but they get seats) to the Happy Isles Nature Center, where Shirley buys a new book. We take the opportunity to walk near the Merced River. After that we go back to the Pavilion for a bit because it's cool. Then back to the tent cabins and nap.
Then back to the Pavilion to eat (cheese, bread, Teriyaki chicken) and charge Bob's phone. And we get a text from Gillian and David - they had gotten to Little Yosemite Valley, swam in the river, set up camp with lots of other people around.
After the Pavilion we go back to our campsite where Shirley talks with the 3 kids at the campsite next to ours.
Shirley and Bob walk across the parking lot on the way to the bus stop, but must let a deer go by, since deer have right of way.
We catch a bus around 7:30 in the morning and go to El Capitan with views of the Merced River also. We look for climbers on El Capitan, for a moment think we might have seen a couple of them, but decide that is not the case.
After walking around a bit, we take the shuttle to the road entrance for Mirror Lake. In the past we had taken the trail, but this time decide to walk up the road on the other side of the river from the trail. There are so many different flowers and plants, as of course there are all over Yosemite.
We hope to see a reflection of Half Dome in Mirror Lake, but that does not work out. Still, it is a beautiful lake with lots of reflections and fun to walk along the river on the road. We also look at Half Dome wondering if we might somehow see David and Gillian, but do not.
We walk back down the road and catch the shuttle which is, as is often the case, crowded.
The shuttle takes us to the Village Store, where we buy sandwiches. They are awful. Bob scrapes the filling from the bread and eats the bread. After gift shopping we go to the Pavilion for the air conditioning and charge phones, walk around a bit, and return to our cabin.
Meanwhile, Gillian and David leave Little Yosemite Valley and begin climbing Half Dome. David gets altitude sickness, so rests and waits as Gillian makes it to the top.
Gillian comes back down, they return to camp, pack up and begin backpacking down to Happy Isles.
Upon arriving at Happy Isles, they text Bob and Shirley asking for a ride, but moving the car would mean losing a parking space near our tent cabins, so David and Gillian ride the shuttle bus back to Curry Village, where Shirley and Bob meet them. David really needs fluids, salt and rest. All of us hang out for several hours in the cool dining Pavilion, as usual charging phones and eating and drinking.
Gillian relays her experience climbing Half Dome using the cables and has great photos of her climb to the top. We all relax then call it a night! Bob gets gear ready for a trail hike to Upper Yosemite Falls on Friday.
Bob and Shirley get up at six, Shirley goes out to get hot water for tea. Bob gets his hiking gear together. Bob catches shuttle to Stop 7 and walks to the trailhead, starting his climb to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls.
Long ago, in 1970, Bob had hiked with his sister Ellen up to the top of the falls and further along the trail to the river feeding the falls, where they took pictures of each other at the river. Bob hopes to get similar pictures to send to Ellen. The trail is 3.4 miles to the top. The trail is wonderful, very well maintained, with so many views, especially of Upper Yosemite Falls. Bob meets various animals, including a jay which is quite talkative and a lizard willing to pose. And of course, pretty flowers along the way.
Gillian and David hike to Vernal Falls, which is flowing very heavily given California's very rainy season this year.
Bob is doing fine for the first two and half to three miles of his hike to Upper Yosemite Falls, but then finds he can take only about 4 steps, then is so tired he must stop, rest and catch his breath. If he bends over, he gets dizzy. He does this for a bit, then decides he should sit and rest, then turn around and head back. He texts Shirley, then begins hiking down. He finishes drinking all his water. Various fellow hikers stop and ask if he is doing ok and a couple of them offer water. One pours water into Bob's bottle, another gives Bob an almost full bottle of water, telling him to take the bottle because he has others. People are so kind and supportive.
Meanwhile, Shirley goes to the Pavilion to charge iPhones, etc. David and Gillian join Shirley and they get lunch from the Taco place, with Shirley getting salad from the 1899 Bar. They stay in the Pavilion because of the air conditioning. Shirley meets an older woman, a nurse, who volunteers at Yosemite helping with people who fall, the parking lot and lost hikers (especially children lost in camp!). God bless her.
Shirley, Gillian and David play gin rummy all afternoon. Bob makes it back, joins them to play gin rummy. We order two pizzas. Afterwards we return to our cabins and prepare to leave tomorrow. We have had a wonderful time. The little kids in the tent cabin beside ours were a delight! The twins, older sister plus Mom and Dad. However, we wish it had not been so hot with so much air pollution - also fewer people with more parking would have been better.
In the morning we load all the stuff in the car. To make things a little easier Bob drives the car to a parking area nearer the cabins. We leave Yosemite by around 10. The drive back goes smoothly. As we drive out of Yosemite the line of cars waiting to get in at the gate is amazing. Probably 300 or more. After seeing many, many cars, Bob actually starts counting cars and gets up to 65 before the line ends. As we continue driving we see so many cars going in the other direction and comment on how they probably have no idea of the line they are about to join.
We return to our hotel in Burlingame, just south of the San Francisco airport.
In the morning David and Gillian board the shuttle bus that will take them to the airport. Bob and Shirley initially had thought they too would go the the airport on the shuttle, but in the end it made more sense to say goodbye and give hugs as Gillian and David board the shuttle bus. Shirley and Bob then pack up the car and head home (Bob does not require picking up more sesame seed balls). Bob and Shirley drive home safely and David and Gillian fly home safely.
All in all, an absolutely wonderful trip.
Photos by Shirley, Bob, Gillian and David
Adventures of Shirley and Bob
Bob Phillips [phillips bob 27 at yahoo dot com - no spaces]
Santa Rosa, CA
May 30, 2023