Sunday, May 19
This is actually the second draft of this post. The first draft is lost in cyberspace. If you do not find this one interesting, blame cyberspace. The first draft was scintillating.
We ate a hearty breakfast at the Wawona Lodge in southern Yosemite National Park and then departed for Yosemite Valley. The Valley is the most developed, most visited, and most familiar part of the park.
We had been advised to look for a great view of the Yosemite Valley after completing the almost mile long tunnel. Thus, we were prepared for the quick turn off. However, the sun was in front of us and washing out the scene for the camera. So the pictures of the valley were a complete washout. We will have to duplicate the effort later in the week, later in the day.
We completed the drive and parked in the visitor parking lot, since we were early and had not checked in yet. We went to the visitors center and purchased tickets for that evening’s performance of Buffalo Soldiers. (More about that later.)
We made it in time for the 10 o’clock mass held in the park. Due to the shortage of priests in the Fresno diocese, it was only a Eucharistic service. Since that was short, we walked to the Yosemite Lodge at the falls. We hoped to obtain a parking permit and park car early in a better location.
We lucked out. We were able to check in immediately. When we returned to our car, the visitor parking lot was full. A three hour time difference was amazing. Crowds had increased dramatically and traffic was backing up. Evidently this was nothing compared to the post Memorial Day crowds. They get 4,000,000 visitors in three months.
After unloading the car, we walked by the falls and continued on to view the introductory video at the visitors center. To help handle the crowds and distance between various sections of the park, there is a free shuttle service. The buses run every 10 minutes at peak time. After the video, we rode a shuttle around the park loop to get the lay of the land. It took one hour from start to finish.
Our room has a direct, although minimal, view of Yosemite Falls. We can hear the roar of the water. It is about a mile round trip visit to the lower falls which we have done several times. We walk to numerous places, or take the shuttle and then hike. This makes for a relaxing system.
The falls are amazing. Almost 3,000 feet. The upper falls has spray and mist that mutate during the day. The view of the falls changes from different vistas. Of course, we have pictures of most of them. The cliffs, while sheer granite in numerous places, pale in comparison to the falls-in my opinion.
Our evening wrapped up with a performance by an African American park ranger about the Buffalo Soldiers. This refers to black cavalry that protected the park in its early years before the park service was established.
He developed this program after coming across pictures of black cavalry stationed here. Little, if anything,had been written about their role. Over his 27 years here, he has done research that has led to a PBS documentary by Ken Burns, national medial exposure, and last fall a visit to the White House to see President Obama.
His show details the unique nature of the black soldiers, how they got the name Buffalo Soldiers (named by American Indians because the nappy texture of African American hair resembled the hair between the horns of the bison. He spared no tenderness in reminding us of the life of blacks in the U,S. at that time. The task of telling Californians that they could no longer hunt, cut wood, graze animals in the meadows, etc was made more challenging by the American culture of those days.
All in all, an interesting, exciting, exercise filled day.
Ed and Chris May 20
Hopefully this version will work. We are still having difficulty with the old time dial up Internet service that is provided. Uploading pictures takes forever and my Verizon wifi service is not effective here. Actually the first three photos took 30 minutes to upload.