Today we had a tour of Yosemite Valley, courtesy of Eric’s VIP Tours.
The correct answer will be provided at the end of this post.
We met Eric at 7.30am this morning and he drove us for 3-4 hours NW of San Francisco to Yosemite National Park. On the way Eric provided an interesting overview and brief history of the places we were driving through, including Oakland, the current home of the Raiders NFL Team. We agreed that the Oakland Coliseum was tired and run down but apparently Oakland doesn’t have the funds to maintain it properly. As a consequence, the Raiders will be moving to Las Vegas and a brand new stadium in a few years time. As I type this up I have local news on in the background and consequently discovered that Oakland city workers (librarians, street sweepers, parking inspectors, etc) were on strike today due to an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions. It sounds like things are grim in Oakland.
The traffic was thick and slow as workers drove into San Francisco all through the suburbs of Pleasanton, Livermore and Tracy. Eric says this is the everyday commute for many people. Companies such as Google and Facebook run their own buses, 100s of them, to ensure their employees arrive less frazzled and able to knock out some work as they travel to and from in their wifi environment.
Beyond the suburbs is flat farming country: nuts, orchards and olives, to name some of the produce. In Eric’s words, it is also the land where grapevines grow in quantity, to eventually become the contents of chateau cardboard, in stark contrast to the quality of the vines in Napa and Sonoma.
TIP: Don’t buy Californian wine unless it also has Napa or Sonoma written on it too.
Then suddenly we went from flat plains to mountains high. I tested my dodgy knees on a walk down some icy paths to see the giant sequoia trees. They are truly magnificent with trunks remaining thick to the top of their incredible height. Griffin crawled through a dead hollowed out trunk lying on the ground for about half its length before it became too narrow for him. The bark is light, like a stringybark, but much thicker.
We then made our way through the main part of Yosemite Valley with waterfalls and massive sheer granite rock towering above. I'll let the pictures do the talking. That said, I loved all the background stories Eric provided. If you're interested in knowing more, ask me!
All up, it was a great day out with a healthy dose of exercise (17000 steps, 95 floors) in the informative and friendly company of Eric, who returned from Panama in the nick of time to take us on this trip. We are very grateful.
See this clip about Alex Honnold, the first person to free solo El Capitan (ie no ropes).
Correct Quiz Answer: B, C & D
B: We were late starting because we were too late to return our hire car before closing after Napa so had to return it at opening this morning, 7.30am, and Eric met us there.
C: We had an option to walk to the top of a waterfall (2 hours or so) but due to my knees and general lack of fitness we declined.
D: We were originally going to have our Napa and Yosemite days the other way around but Eric and his wife had a holiday to Panama, cavorting with sloths, only returning the night before Eric took us to Yosemite.