A Little Trip

Heather and I wanted to have a little vacation this year, but with Covid restrictions and seemingly everyone else on the planet booking hotels, it became a little difficult to plan.  Back in May we thought it would be nice to book a few days away in July.  Well, that search lead me to find a place on the Eastern Sierra for September.

For many years, we had an annual camping trip at Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite’s high country.  When the grand kids were old enough, we’d take them along too.

My first trip to Tuolumne was when I was a child, maybe 6 or 7.  It was one of my mother’s favorite places too.  Heather and I started camping about 20 years ago and it became something of an annual spiritual retreat for us.  Due to health, work, and traveling other places, we’ve been away for a number of years.

Getting reservations to camp there can be difficult.  Normally you have to book in March and need to be on-line at the very minute reservations open or you won’t get a spot.  This year we weren’t sure that the camp would even be open and with just getting settled in our new home, we decided this wasn’t the year to camp.

However, we came up with a different plan.  From our old home in San Jose, it normally is a good four hour drive to Tuolumne Meadows, but from our new home in Reno, you can get there from the east in about three hours down highway 395.  At the junction of 395 and 120, the Tioga Pass Road, is the town of Lee Vining and Mono Lake.  Tuolumne is about half hour drive from Lee Vining.

Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra is a favorite travel area for us, so we booked a motel in Lee Vining for a couple of nights.  The plan was to drive down and visit Mono Lake, see a few sights and spend one day up in Tuolumne.

Nothing is ever that easy.  For the first time ever, Yosemite is requiring reservations for day visitors.  If you don’t book in advance, you won’t get in.  Another reason why the July trip happened in September – it was the fist time I could find both a motel room and day pass for Yosemite available for the same day.

We worried that the recent fires in the Sierra might affect our trip, but our route was not on any of the evacuation routes or near an active fire.  One good thing was that we found that the smoke was a lot less the further south we went.

The ride down did take us through the Tamarack Fire burn scar on 395.  It was sad to see how much of the forest had burned.  It was also strange to see what had burned and what hadn’t.  In the middle of burnt trees there was a green field.  Some buildings were burnt down, while others were fine.  Through the middle of it the highway seemed to have suffered no damage.

Sadly, many of the areas we wanted to see around Mono Lake were closed.  The Inyo National Forest area was closed due to fire restrictions so areas we wanted to see like the Panum Crater, south tufa area, and places further south near Mammoth were also closed.  We did get to see the Mono Lake Vistor center and visited the Mono Committee’s book shop in Lee Vining.  The Mono Committee is the group that is fighting to save Mono lake. (the picture I posted last week was of one of the islands in Mono Lake).

What I found strange is that the National Forest closed, but right smack in the middle, Yosemite National Park stayed open.  Made no sense to us.  Also it should be noted that the part of the Inyo National Forest we wanted to visit is basically desert – no trees and little to burn.

Our day in Tuolumne Meadows was filled with visiting familiar places and renewing old memories.  It was also a bit frustrating.  There was a major road construction project going on and most of the parking areas weren’t usable.  I guess it’s needed as there hasn’t been any improvements to the road or parking in the area that I can remember – say over the last 50 years.  It’s nice that they’re fixing some of the problems, but it wasn’t nice to have to deal with all the construction stuff during our visit.

One other thing we noted with sadness – the meadow is dying and being take over by pine trees.  When I was young, you could see for a couple of miles across an open alpine meadow.  The meadows were wet and full of life.  This year we could see the damage from years of drought and the effects of a warming climate on the area.  Where the meadow used to be, there is now pine trees about four to six years old.  It won’t be that many years from now when the meadow will be a forest.  If the climate keeps changing, it will be a high desert in a few more decades.

Sad to see the damage being done to our world.

On a happier note we drove back through the little town of Walker and came across this little place selling yard art and other quirky things.  We’ve been looking for a focal piece for the front of our house and found this really cool stagecoach with two horses:

The horses have been named, “Hard” and “Bargain.”
Always point the horse for a fast get-a-way.
Heather driving.

The store owner delivered it today and we love it.  Yes, she loaded it in her truck and drove two hours to deliver it. How’s that for service?

I expect we’ll be doing more along the Eastern Sierra.

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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40 Responses to A Little Trip

  1. The stage coach is very cute. I could see my parents loving that too. Two hours to deliver it! Wow! Did you invite her inside afterward?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mitchteemley says:

    I visited either Yosemite or Sequoia every summer for six or seven years as a kid, and remember Tuolumne Meadows, in particular, as a beautiful place. So sad to hear what’s happened to it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. wolfsrosebud says:

    What fun and adventure. With that stagecoach you now can go anywhere 🤣

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I love that stagecoach, Andrew. I would also buy it. I am sorry so much was closed and there was so much damage. We have had terrible fires in South Africa in the past too, in Cape Town and Knysna. So awful.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Debra says:

    I’ve been thinking of a return trip to Yosemite, but I think I’ll have to wait! I love every aspect of the Eastern Sierras and hope it won’t be too long before we find things opened up with a bit more freedom than you describe. Most of the years when we visit the Meadows are closed due to snow. We haven’t timed it right in years!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh, wow! I love your stagecoach! What a unique piece of yard art.

    You certainly had to compromise a lot on your trip, but at least you still found some things to enjoy. It is sad when the beloved places of our earlier years get swept away by nature or progress, but maybe that makes the memories even more precious. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Baydreamer says:

    Love the stagecoach and so generous of the seller to deliver! It’s great that you were able to get away even though parts of your trip were not how you had envisioned. So sad about the effects of climate change. Our backyard doesn’t look like it did ten years ago. This year, everyone is supposed to let their grass go due to the severe drought. We may hire someone to re-do the whole yard someday. It’s also frustrating about Yosemite and how crowded it is. That’s why we haven’t visited in so long. Last year and this summer, our backpacking plans were scratched due to fires and smoke in the Sierra. We’re planning to camp locally this coming weekend if all goes well. We’re eager to throw those packs on even for a short hike. Thanks for sharing your travels!

    Liked by 2 people

    • We love the stagecoach! We have some lawn up here, but many people here are taking their lawns out because many just think it’s a matter of time before we won’t get the water for them. The current day pass system for Yosemite has great reduced the crowds and if they keep it for next year, we might use it again.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Very nice yard art! Glad you got away for a bit, even if some of your trip was disappointing and different.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Lucky you. I love the stagecoach but am pretty sure our HOA wouldn’t allow it.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. So sad about the meadow, meantime nice post Andrew

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Good info on traveling. My son and I are doing a road trip across the country. I’ll keep in mind your suggestions. The land does change, doesn’t it. In my prehistoric fiction books, my folks benefited when the vast jungles of Africa were replaced by savannah. Someone sang (Crosby Stills and Nash??) that nothing’s quite as sure as change. Yep. And that I don’t like it!

    Liked by 3 people

  12. momshieb says:

    I love the horses and wagon! Glad you had a chance to get away for a bit.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. It is so hard to realize the negative changes that have been occurring. Places we remembered as children or when we were younger are no longer how we envisioned them. It is rare that we find these changes for the better. But new memories are made as we go on to new adventures. I am glad you two got to go on yours. I love the yard art! It is a wonderful signature piece for your new home! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Annika Perry says:

    I was wondering how you managed to bring the stagecoach home as I was reading and very impressed with the seller bringing it all the way over to you! Great service! It looks great. Wow! What a trip and yes, co-ordinating all the elements can be tricky. It’s sad about the meadows slowly disappearing and for us in the U.K. it’s strange to think you’re driving through so much burnt landscape … and wonder why some things survive untouched and others burnt to cinders? A fascinating post, Andrew!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. jfwknifton says:

    Your stagecoach is really great. Now, with your woodworking skills. you can knock up an appropriately sized model John Wayne, and half a dozen Apaches for him to be fighting off. Personally, I would continue the scene with some arrows embedded in the walls of the house, but not everybody might appreciate that.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. cindy knoke says:

    I love it!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Dave Foyle says:

    Glad you had a good , although somewhat frustrating, trip. Yes, for sure the drought is having its effect.

    Up here in Washington state, we haven’t had rain since mid-June (3 months!). Everything is brown except the trees, although the deciduous ones are starting to lose leaves early.

    Wow- personal delivery from 2 hours away—that’s service! Probably would take that long to box it up securely, let alone shipping cost.

    I hope Heather let’s you ride on it sometimes! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Even here things look drier than normal. We got lucky with stagecoach – first I didn’t think they’d ship, then was wondering what it would cost – then the shop owner says, “Reno, I’ll just drive it up there for you.” wow!


  18. davidprosser says:

    Your stagecoach and horses will be a real talking point at home, I’m very impressed by it.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. lifelessons says:

    Love your new yard art! That was quite a find.

    Liked by 4 people

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