Father and Son US Road Trip- 9 States, 12 National Parks, 2 Months, 6500 Miles!

TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
From Weed we jumped on the Interstate 5 down to the 89.
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Nice views of Mt Shasta from the West-
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While my goal on this trip was to avoid interstate highways as much as possible, this section of I5 was quite pleasant.

Passing Black Butte-
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A closer look at Black Butte-
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Off the I-5 and on to State Highway 89 headed east then south-
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91 more miles to Lassen National Park!
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Had the road mostly to ourselves through the Trinity-Shasta National Forests-
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Beautiful road, with an occasional nice curve thrown in-
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103 degrees Fahrenheit (about 40 C)!
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It was very hot, but a dry heat, bearable as long as we kept moving-
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Lassen National Forest!
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Hot and dry- fire restrictions in effect!
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We made it!!! Scored the next to last campsite in the Manzanita campground (so lucky!!!) and headed down to the lake to cool off-
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
Kristhawee at Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, USA!
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Ah that nice cool water felt good after a hot day on the bike!
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Tons of wildlife around the lake- we saw ducks, deer, eagles, hawks, turtles and something that looked like either a beaver or an otter, not suite sure which. Kristhawee enjoyed chasing the ducks
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Checking out some big pine cones-
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We scored a nice big site in the Manzanita Lake campground-
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Kristhawee was very happy to see that there were a bunch of kids in the site adjacent to ours and he made friends quickly and even got invited over for pancakes in the morning
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They were a really nice family from the Bay Area, father originally from Spain. Amazing and heartwarming hospitality
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Kristhawee with his new girlfriends
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
Time to hit the road!
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Highway 89 through Lassen Volcanic National Park is a fantastic ride-
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There were controlled burns taking place in the park so it was a bit smoky and hazy.
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It was another warm day, but got cooler as we climbed to higher elevations-
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Very smoky in some areas-
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Gorgeous road, too bad the views are partially obscured by the smoke-
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Chased down a heavily loaded GS-
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We're coming up to an area called the Sulfur Works-
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We stopped at the Sulfur Works to check out the geothermal features-
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Stinky!
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Some beautiful colors from the minerals and bacteria-
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Kristhawee at the Sulfur Works, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, USA!
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Looking back the way we came-
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I ask Kristhawee if he's up for a hike to the Ridge Lakes? He's up for it! Let's go!
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
The hike up to the Ridge Lakes was challenging and rewarding. It's only about a mile up to the lakes, but you gain over 1000 feet in elevation, so it's a pretty steep trail.
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Up up up!
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Looking back and down at highway 89
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Kristhawee was a trooper and we made slow but steady progress up the mountain-
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Highway 89 is shrinking below us as we climb-
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The Ridge Lakes Trail passes by some hot springs-
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It's a bit of a scramble to get down to the hot springs-
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Getting back up wasn't so easy either
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Up and up we continue to climb-
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Sulfur Creek burbles cheerfully through the meadow and along the trail-
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Wow- I wasn't expecting this- huge fields of wildflowers! Mules Ear, Indian Paintbrush and Lupine-
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Beautiful!!
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An entire slope in bloom!
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
We continue our hike through fields of Lupine on the Ridge Lakes Trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park
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I didn't think Lupine had a scent, but I guess I was wrong? It smells wonderful up here!
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Kristhawee tells me I take too many pictures
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He tells me to put away the camera and get moving!
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I get far enough ahead I can pull the camera out and snap a couple more pics-
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What a beautiful trail!
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C'mon little guy- it can't be much farther to the top!
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We are both in very good spirits
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Are we there yet??
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Seriously, are we there yet??
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Yippee! We made it!
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Ridge Lakes, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, USA
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
We've reached the Ridge Lakes, a pair of small alpine lakes cradled in a basin between Brokeoff Mountain and Mount Diller in Lassen Volcanic National Park!
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Kristhawee was straggling and just arrived-
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Crystal clear water, so cold it takes your breath away!
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We had plans to go swimming but quickly had second thoughts once we found out just how cold the water was-
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What a view! We were the only people here.
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Kristhawee at Ridge Lakes, Lassen Volcanic National Park!
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There were some trails that led off from the lakes so we decided to go exploring-
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Cool trees-
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This is a perfect example of a "Cathedral". Cathedrals are trees that have grown up from the living remains of an original stump or fallen tree. The new trees grow around the perimeter of the original tree and form a circle.

Kristhawee thought this Cathedral of trees was pretty cool! So did I
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We hiked around the lakes- pretty muddy in some spots!
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One of my son's favorite words is "SQUISHY!"
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A bit of a scramble in some places-
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Working our way over some fallen trees was harder than it looks-
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Father and Son at Ridge Lakes, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, USA!
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
One last picture of the Ridge Lakes before we hike back down to the Sulfur Works trailhead and continue our ride south towards Truckee and Lake Tahoe.
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Kristhawee sets off down the trail at a good pace-
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Check out the dust he's kicking up-
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I actually admonish him to slow down, because a fall here could be quite unpleasant-
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On the way down we spot a doe and two fawns-
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Look for the ears
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Zoomed in-
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The fawns still have their spots-
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Down down down-
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Across the meadows and into the forest-
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Kristhawee is doing great on this hike!
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We can see highway 89 again so we know we're close to the end-
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We made it! Good job Kristhawee- that was a challenging and rewarding hike!
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Back on the road- it's late afternoon now and we need to cover some distance. I'm hoping to reach Truckee today as we need to reach Yosemite National Park the next day to claim our reserved camping spot in the valley.
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Leaving Lassen Volcanic National Park. I really want to come back and spend some more time exploring this park some day!
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Left on 89 towards Susanville. I'm told that the 36 west to Red Bluff is a fantastic ride too!
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
Cruisin on the beautiful California Highway 89! :happy1:
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Some towering thunder clouds made me think we might get wet-
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It got really smoky as we approached Lake Almanor-
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Wow, kinda reminded me of Thailand during the fire season...
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Such weird light- we went from bright sun to this in the span of just a few miles-
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Fortunately once past Lake Almanor the air cleared-
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We reach the Feather River Highway and hang a left to continue on the 89. This is a fantastic road!!
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It's getting late and I don't think we'll reach Truckee today, but I want to get as close as I can without having to set up camp in the dark.

Beautiful countryside-
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Lots of ranches and cattle-
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Some cool old barns-
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Where's the beef?
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California Highway 89 South-
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The California flag has a Grizzly bear on it, even though there aren't any grizzlies in the state...
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Seems the whole state, in fact, much of the country, is a tinder box-
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The trees are quite beautiful in the early evening sun-
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It's after 6 and I decide it's time to stop. See a sign for Cottonwood Creek Campground-
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The campground is big and nearly deserted. We have our choice of sites. This ought to do
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
The campground had a trail and it felt good to stretch our legs after the longish ride from Lassen-
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Kristhawee led the way-
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He found some monster dandelions and made a few wishes-
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The trail crosses Cottonwood Creek several times-
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Getting dark in the old growth forest-
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We got back to our site just after sunset, built a nice fire (I was surprised that camp fires were still permitted, what with all the fire warning signs and restrictions in effect). We were both pretty beat from hike up to the Ridge Lakes earlier in the day and went to bed pretty early. Tomorrow will be a long ride to Yosemite National Park!
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
Good morning from Cottonwood Creek Campground, California, USA!
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We have a pretty long day ahead of us to reach Yosemite National Park-
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Riding highway 89 south towards Truckee-
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Truckee is a cool old mining and timber town that is now a tourist hotspot- we stop there for breakfast and fuel-
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It's a beautiful day and there are tons of people rafting on the Truckee River-
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Approaching Lake Tahoe!
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A Bicycle Campground? Sounds intriguing-
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Lake Tahoe!!
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West Lake Boulevard is a fantastic ride!
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Great road and beautiful views!
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Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe-
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The Emerald Bay parking area was absolutely packed so we didn't stop.

Just past Emerald Bay the road follows a ridge with sheer drop offs on both sides-
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Some nice hairpins bring us back down to the lake-
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Riding through the town of South Lake Tahoe-
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I know it's kind of cheating, but I take the Lincoln Highway and we cross the border into Nevada, just to say we were there, the U-turn back to California and continue south on the 89. This section of the 89 has many names, including Luther Pass Road and Christmas Valley Road.

Regardless of the name, it's another awesome road!
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We enter Toiyabe National Forest-
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Just me and my boy, on a beautiful road with fantastic scenery. Life is good!!
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There was a lot of traffic back at Lake Tahoe, but we have this road almost completely to ourselves-
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The Luther Pass Road is only open during the summer and passes through some really rough country-
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EXTREME Fire Danger, but thankfully no fires around here; the air is clean and clear!
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
Right around lunch time we reach the adorable little town of Markleeville.
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There are a couple other bikes in town. Kristhawee seems impressed by this BMW R1200 cruiser-
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There are a couple cute little restaurants on the main street, we decide on Ali's Cafe-
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They have a cool tex-mex / organic style menu and some pretty funny signs-
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A surcharge for grouches- brilliant!!
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We enjoy a fantastic lunch, huge burrito for me and chicken and cheese quesadillas for the little guy- Yum!
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Then we wander over to the historic Markleeville General Store for dessert.
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Kristhawee seems to enjoy relaxing on the patio of the Markleeville General Store with his frozen ice-
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The Markleeville General Store has burned down several times. I love their "No Smoking" sign-
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Father and son at the Markleeville General Store, Carson Pass Highway, California!
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While we're chillaxin a bunch of other bikes roll into town-
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The old timers on the hogs were super nice and couldn't believe we'd ridden all the way from Minnesota. Some guys on sport bikes showed up. Love this tri-color Ducati 848-
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But look closely and you'll see that it's rashed up from a spill from a few days earlier
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We have a good time chatting with the other bikers but finally it's time to hit the road! They kindly offer to take our picture before we go-
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Father and son in Markleeville, California!
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
We continue south on the 89-
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Up and over Monitor Pass!
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The guys on the sport bikes must be LOVING this road!! (I've got a serious case of perma-grin myself)
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Leaving Toiyabe National Forest-
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We finally reach the end of Highway 89 and proceed south on the 395. Only 400 miles to L.A!
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Wow, the 395 isn't a bad road either!
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We pass the junction to the 108, aka Sonora Pass Highway and I'm bummed that it's too late in the day for us to hit that road. Next time!!

We continue south towards Mono Lake---
 

TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
We're getting closer to our destination- Yosemite National Park!
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Highway 395 passes through some beautiful high mountain country. Way off in the distance we see some snow in the high Sierra Nevada peaks-
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Soon we will hang a right and ride over these mountains via the Tioga Pass, the highest highway pass in California and in the Sierra Nevadas!
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First we pass Mono Lake-
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Mono Lake supports an interesting ecosystem. It is a shallow salty soda lake that supports millions of migratory birds who feed on the lake's thriving shrimp.
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Mark Twain once described Mono Lake as a "lifeless, treeless, hideous desert... the loneliest place on earth."
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Highway 395 winds down to the lake-
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It is a very desolate area and I can imagine it wouldn't be much fun in bad weather. Fortunately for us it's another beautiful day!
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Those orange markers are to help the snow plows follow the road in the winter.

It can get pretty windy up here, but not a problem today-
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Highway 395 passes along the west shore of Mono Lake-
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Not sure how you can have a "National Forest" without any trees?
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Riding along the west shore of Mono Lake-
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We are approaching the turn off for highway 120 to the Tioga Pass and Yosemite National Park!
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
The California 120 climbs up and up and up to the Tioga Pass, which, at 9,943 ft (3,031 m) is the highest highway pass in California and in the Sierra Nevadas!
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It is a stunning ride!
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Entering Inyo National Forest-
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My point and shoot camera doesn't do justice to this amazing landscape-
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Waterfall-
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Woohoo! We've finally reached Yosemite National Park!!
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
While we waited to enter Yosemite we struck up a conversation with the biker in front of us who had ridden here all the way from New Jersey! Respect!
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Woohoo! We're in! Welcome to Yosemite National Park!
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It's still a fair distance from the Tioga Pass entrance to the Yosemite Valley-
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We stop at the Tuolomne Visitor Center to grab a snack and a Junior Ranger workbook for Kristhawee-
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It's been a long day in the saddle but he hasn't complained at all- what a great kid!!
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Back on the road- gorgeous scenery on the Tioga Road as we make our way down to the Yosemite Valley-
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Yosemite is full of granite domes. Which one is this? Medlicott Dome? Fairview Dome? Hard to keep track of them all!
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The massive granite formations in Yosemite are unlike anywhere else in the world-
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Beautiful Tenaya Lake-
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Approaching Olmsted Point-
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Over the shoulder shot looking back the way we've come-
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From Olmsted Point you have a partial view into Yosemite Valley. I think that might be Half Dome way off in the distance?
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Another look-
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I was a Geology minor in college so find these formations fascinating, but my terminology is damn rusty and I haven't a clue what this is called-
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It's getting late and much of the road is in shadow now-
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Great road and surprisingly not so much traffic-
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Finally we reach the junction with Big Oak Flat Road and hang a left, riding east towards the Yosemite Valley-
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Amazing light with the sun at our back-
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Approaching Yosemite Valley-
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We pass through some cool tunnels-
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The curves keep coming-
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Another tunnel-
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Now we're on the El Portal Road, following the Merced River-
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Cross the river, a few more bends, and we catch our first glimpse of El Capitan!
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David Learmonth

Ol'Timer
Apr 23, 2006
513
15
18
Your camera is doing a good enough job for me thank you! Was around Lake Tahoe, Reno & district one January in the late '90s - we hoped to go to Yosemite until it was politely pointed out that it would more than likely be 8 foot deep in snow! Beautiful area for sure. So now I am catching up with what I missed!
 

Cruising

Ol'Timer
Jun 28, 2010
142
1
0
Breathtaking scenery,,the geological formation you speak of may be a fault? (not of yours 55)
 

TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
Woohoo! We've reached Yosemite Valley. El Capitan towers above us-
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Half Dome!
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We make our way to the North Pines Campground where, despite my reservation number and proof of payment, they can't find my reservation...
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Grrr, after a long day in the saddle Kristhawee and I just want to find our spot and relax, but we have to do a bit of running around with the campground host, who makes some phone calls and does his best to get us sorted.

In the end he puts us in an unclaimed spot, not the greatest, but it will do-
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^Kristhawee at the North Pines Campground, Yosemite National Park!

Kristhawee was really happy to discover a nice family with really cute kids camping just behind us. We all hit it off and ended up having dinner together.
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I finally got rid of the Jiffy Pop that we'd been carrying around for the last week or so
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We ended the evening with a campfire and S'mores with our new friends and I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
Good morning from the North Pines Campground, Yosemite National Park!
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I had only been able to reserve one night in Yosemite, but wanted to stay at least a couple more days. Yosemite is the most visited National Park in the US and the reserved spots book out early- I'd been very lucky to find the one night.

I had spoken to a ranger at the visitor center the day before who told us that there are a few first-come-first-serve campgrounds in Yosemite- Bridalveil Creek, Camp 4 and Porcupine Flat. These campgrounds fill up fast so it's necessary to arrive early and get in line. I wanted to stay in the valley if possible so we packed up early (Kristhawee wasn't too happy about that- I think he wanted to sleep in) and made our way over to Camp 4.
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Wow- we got there around ~8am and already there was a long line of campers waiting to try and get a spot. There was a really nice ranger who tried to maintain some order. He said there would be about ~30 vacancies that day and then counted us off to see how many in line could be accommodated. We barely made the cut, but we were in!
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This isn't my pic but shows the check-in kiosk and campers waiting in line to try and get a spot at Yosemite's Camp 4:
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Camp 4 has traditionally been the number one choice for rock climbers and is littered with large boulders perfect for bouldering- (not my pic)
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It is a walk-in campground, so no generators or RV's here!
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Yosemite's Camp 4 is on the National Register of Historic Places; definitely a special place and I feel very lucky to have scored a spot here and pay for two nights.
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
By the time we finally checked in to Yosemite Valley's Camp 4 and got our site set up we were both pretty hungry. The Yosemite Lodge isn't too far from Camp 4 so we set off on foot to go find a late breakfast / early lunch.
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From Camp 4 we followed the Lower Yosemite Fall Trail. Lots of people out climbing- some unattended ropes-
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This late in the summer Yosemite Falls was just a trickle-
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We enjoyed a big meal at the Yosemite Lodge and then jumped on a shuttle to the Happy Isles Nature Center. The shuttle bus system they have set up in the Yosemite Valley, which historically has suffered from serious traffic congestion, is outstanding.

The Nature Center was fun and educational-
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Kristhawee loves to color
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
After exploring the Happy Isles Nature Center we joined a Junior Ranger activity hosted by a cute and vivacious intern- I think her name was Kelly-
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She was going to teach the kids (and adults) all about the geology and formation of Yosemite Valley
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First question- what is granite made out of? Hmmm, I'm a bit rusty, but recall that quartz is one of the primary minerals and whisper the answer to Kristhawee. We got one right answer!
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Then she holds this up and I whisper mica to Kristhawee, but turns out my geology sucks, cuz actually it's hornblende
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We learn that the granite in Yosemite is primarly Granodiorite, which is made up of quartz, feldspar and hornblende.
Kristhawee seems to be enjoying the presentation-
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The kids are all assigned to be different minerals and they play a kind of "musical chairs" game where like elements have to pair up and whoever doesn't find a partner is eliminated. Kristhawee is "Hornblende", hence the "horns"
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Next we learn about the formation of Yosemite Valley-
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Here the kids get to touch a 3D topo map of the valley and guess how it was formed-
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Now they are going to recreate the events that led to the formation of Yosemite Valley-
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Kelly talks about glaciers and tells the kids to make a fist which they will use to simulate glaciers pushing through Yosemite-
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They use their fists to push through the landmass and mimic the effect of glaciers-
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Next they take turns pouring water through the glacial valley to see the effect of erosion-
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
It was early afternoon by the time we finished the Junior Ranger activity and it was getting hot in the Yosemite Valley. Let's go for a swim in the Merced River
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The water was VERY cold!
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What's that? You want me to splash you again?
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It was a beautiful spot. We'd swim a bit in the freezing water, then warm ourselves on the rocks, then jump in again-
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Looks like somebody's getting a bit sleepy-
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My little guy passed out on the shuttle ride back to our campground-
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
Kristhawee was totally beat so I put him down for a nap while I got started on dinner.
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Our neighbors were a nice Korean couple and their daughter. I surprised them by dusting off some Korean I'd picked up years ago and we hit it off. He whipped up some awesome Korean bbq and offered me a plate
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Kamsamnida!
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Try as I might I could not roust my kid so I caught up with a nice guy we'd met while waiting in line to check in to the campground and he brought over his chess set-
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We ended the day with beers and chess at Camp 4 in Yosemite National Park; it really doesn't get much better than this!
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Kristhawee finally woke up, right around the time I was ready to pass out
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Got him fed and ready for bed, eventually. First we sat out watching the stars and trying to identify constellations with a really cool app from the European Space Agency called Star Walk that I had installed on the iPad-
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
11
38
Good Morning from Camp 4, Yosemite National Park!
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As luck would have it, the trailhead for the Yosemite Falls Trail is right behind Camp 4. One of Yosemite oldest historic trails (built by hand from 1873 to 1877), the Yosemite Falls Trail leads to the top of North America’s tallest waterfall 2,425 feet (739 m) above the Valley floor.

It's a strenuous hike; 7.2 miles/11.6 km round-trip; 6 to 8 hours; 2,700 feet/823 m elevation gain!

This would be by far the toughest hike Kristhawee had yet attempted, but he was totally game for it-
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The guy we'd met in line and played chess with the night before joined us for the hike. Adam was super-cool, a student from Mendocino he was on summer holiday and traveling in Yosemite by himself and Kristhawee warmed up to him immediately.

Up up up! More switchbacks than I could count!
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Looking down at the valley floor-
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The long nap the afternoon before served Kristhawee well- he was full of energy today and motoring ahead-
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Lots of critters on the trail; lizards, snakes, bugs, etc-
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(If you look closely you might be able to see the lizard in this pic)

Higher and higher- a nice view of Half Dome-
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Father and son on the Yosemite Falls Trail, Yosemite National Park!
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Eventually Kristhawee did run out of steam...
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And Adam became his new best friend when he offered to carry him for a while-
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Kristhawee seemed to enjoy the ride; Adam? Not sure...
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Going up!!
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Woohoo! We made it to the base of the Upper Yosemite Falls!
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As you can see, this late in the summer, it's nearly dry!
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feejer

Ol'Timer
Feb 16, 2007
443
1
18
Too bad about the dry falls. :( I grew up in Clovis (about 2 hours from Yosemite). My Dad is still there and said they had received very little snow down there the prior winter.