Camping Travel

Yosemite, Lake Mono, Sacramento Beer Tour!

It’s Sunday, 9:14am. If you crunch the numbers, that means roughly of the weekend is still available for activities. But! We’ve already done more this weekend then we’d normally do in a month.

Let’s do a quick recap of the big items. For this exercise, you’ll have to pretend you haven’t already read the title of this blog post! Don’t look now if you haven’t already read it! And if you have but perhaps are a bit foggy on it, then don’t look back!

  • Yosemite National Park
  • Lake Mono
  • Northern California brewery tour
  • Tour of our states capitol

We started this trip out on Thursday. I took Friday off and we left straight after work for our campground (Hodgdon Meadow – how would you pronounce this anyway?). It was QUITE the trip for our little Yaris, but she made it. Lots of pretty crazy hills to drive up. There was a 20 mile stretch that we had to drive in 3rd or 4th gear the whole way to make it up the hill (and by hill I mean mountain).

We got to the camp late, but not really too late. I think around 10:30 or so. Being somewhat proficient by now at setting up our tent we had camp all setup in 15 minutes or so and went straight to sleep. I was very thankful that there were no bears to wake us up, or anything else really that Sai felt the need to wake us up for.

In the morning (I think we were up by 7 or 7:30) we drove the 25 miles into Yosemite.
Windows Vista

There are a few things I should point out now. First, I personally did VERY little research into what we were going to do or see in Yosemite. Honestly I knew (know) very little about Yosemite. Second, at this point I think both Lindsay and myself (more me then her, to be fair) were still a bit hard-core-hiked-out, which as it turns out is probably not the best way to be when you are going to Yosemite.

Anyway, my impression of Yosemite is that it can be a couple of different things, depending on how you choose to experience it. For the hiker/camper (which I generally would consider Lindsay and I) it can be a hiking/climbing mecha, with tons of awesome, world-class hikes everywhere and even more beautiful, while places to camp. For the fly fisherman, it seems like a great place to fish. For a photographer (and I’d say I fit partially in this camp, though not on this trip) it seems like a place you could spend weeks taking amazing photographs of beautiful vistas. For the somewhat casual Yosemite participant, it’s more of an amazing drive with an almost Disneyland level of organization and tourist count.
Basically what I’m trying to say in a clever way, that turned out not to be that clever, is that Yosemite was amazingly beautiful, and super organized, and full of tourists (I’m not exaggerating when I say that I think the primary spoken language I heard was German). But as casual observers, we were basically following the path of all of the other tourists from beautiful vista to beautiful vista, with a short hike up the lower Yosemite falls in between and a bunch of stops along the drive at random rivers/streams to take photos and dip our feet in the water. Yosemite was beautiful and huge and like nothing else (besides perhaps Yellowstone) like it (that I’ve seen). Everything is just so big, and wide, and HUGE!


But after the morning of exploring (and I think we drove to most of the major points of interest – drove being the key word) we decided that unless we were going to do some hiking (which we weren’t) we might want to think about having an actual destination in mind or risk finding ourselves unsure of what to do in this beautiful place. We decided, after much thought, that we’d accelerate our plan and drive to Lake Mono (the former plan was to camp near Yosemite on Thursday/Friday, then move to Lake Mono (technically Lake June) on Saturday and hang out around there until Sunday). So that’s what we did. We made the two hour, very beautiful, drive to Mono.

And I’m glad that we did! Because honestly, as beautiful and majestic and amazing and unique as Lake Mono is, it was perhaps not a place we’d spend a full day at. Look everybody I know I probably sound like a spoiled little shit! But honestly, it’s a beautiful view, but not a particularly friendly lake. It’s a desert, and a briny lake. And with the brinyness comes the brine flies. Which I don’t honestly mind (it’s sort of fun to chase them around) but it’s just not a place I’d hang out at all day, unless I was SCUBA diving or something like that. It’s not the sort of lake you sit by all day, as far as I can tell.

Lindsay really wanted to see these “Tufa” pillars, at South Tufa Trail. These are pretty cool things, mineral springs make deposits that look like sta-lag-mites and when the lake was drained (I believe by Los Angeles) these things “rose” above the water. Apparently (and I believe it) these are much cooler at the sunset. But oh well.

We at ice cream here, around Lake Mono.
Sai likes ice cream

After this, we drove back to camp near Yosemite. We had an AMAZING dinner: cheddar bratwurst, ketchup (which Lindsay optained from a gas station). This is probably the best part of camping for me, eating dinner at a picknick table outside in the fresh air. At dinner we decided that in the morning we would leave Yosemite and take a mini road-trip somewhere.

Somewhere ended up being a semi-brewery tour to Sacramento. We stopped at three places: Lodi Beer Company, Hand Craft Brewing in Elk Grove (which turned out to be a brewing supply store BUT they had some of their own beer on tap), and Track Seven Brewing Company. We each split a beer. Track Seven was pretty awesome.
Track Seven

We didn’t spend a whole lot of time in Sacramento but we did drive around a bit, and most importantly we went to the capitol. We even caught a guided tour, which was awesome.
Waiting for the capitol tour

Then, last night (Saturday) we stopped at a BBQ place in Sacramento (I’m FINALLY able to start actually eating food without it hurting!) and then made our way back home (first stopping at Target to buy 100 pounds of notebooks for Lindsay’s students!).

So that’s about it. I think someday we’ll probably go back to Yosemite, when we are in the mood to do some more serious hiking like Half Dome (though I think it’s somewhat interesting to note what even the much talked about Half Dome looks like during the weekend). For now, I think Lindsay and I really realized that we are destination travelers. We like to go to some place, for some specific task. Then once we’ve completed the task, we like to go somewhere else. I think we probably make better South East Asia backpackers, or car road trippers, then Yosemite Valley Vista Viewers.

As is true with a number of the previous posts, I also took a bunch of film photos but I haven’t yet developed any of my film from the past few trips. When everything is developed I’ll probably post some of the photos in a new blog post (assuming there is anything worth sharing. I also have a flickr account with all of my photos, and in particular this bunch of photos is in a set “Yosemite Mono and Sacramento.”

p.s. Lindsay thought I should share something that I learned on the tour of the capitol. I’m not sure what I should share though. One thing that I thought was very interesting was how red (more pink really then red) the Senate Room was. It looked almost comical to me, though I’m sure when it is full of people doing important stuff it might not be so funny. I also found it interesting that during the (I think) 1906 earth quake people gathered outside of — OK, wait a second mid paragraph here I looked back to make sure I was using the correct letter for capitol, and I have a breaking interesting thing to mention. It turns out, for those of you that don’t know, that if I said

We went to the capital

I would be correct, but I could ALSO say

We went to the capitol

and be EQUALLY correct! The ‘a’ version refers to the CITY that is the center of power in a state, the ‘o’ version refers to the actual building (source). Ok.