We stayed the night in Fresno and drove to Yosemite National Park in the morning. The sun was out and it remained moderately warm until we started crawling higher in elevation. Unfortunately, Mom’s visit wasn’t opportune as far as going to Yosemite was concerned. We went about a week before April 1st so most of the park was still closed.
We were able to a walk a short trail through the Mariposa Grove near the southern entrance. It was a beautiful Saturday; there were a lot of people on the trail compacting the few inches of snow into a slick icy walk. Mom had some trouble with the ice but I pushed her to at least finish this one trail. It was a good trail to see some amazing trees. The forest was covered in giant sequoias, ponderosa pines and incense cedars. Near the Grizzly Giant, a massive approximately 1,800 year old tree that’s 96 feet around according to it’s introductory sign, a Douglas squirrel similar to a Albert squirrel ran through the crowd along the fence.
Mom was pretty uninterested in further walking once we finished the loop in the grove so we spent the rest of the afternoon driving up to the western entrance, stopping along the way to see the various views like El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls. We had lunch at the sandwich shop and gift store in the Village Center. The gift store was pretty interesting as far as gift shops go in that it sold only items made from recycled or reused products. The food was pricey but unexpectedly satisfying.
That’s really all we were able to experience of Yosemite. I’m guessing that’s about 10% of what there is to actually experience. But by this leg of the trip, I think Mom was feeling fatigued and ambivalent. She was ready to go back to Oakland and relax for awhile.
The next few days we traveled more locally. We walked along Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley even though all the shops were closed, took a short hike in Tilden Park and through the botanical garden there, and stopped at a small cactus and bonsai nursery on Dwight Way. One afternoon we spent a dreary couple of hours at the Ferry Building at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco browsing the local markets. We had lunch as we people-watched with a great view of the Coit Tower in the distance.
Afterwards, we strolled through the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. Unfortunately, there weren’t very many blooms but the building itself was quite gorgeous and they had an interesting exhibit on the history of the Cliffhouse and the Sutro Baths. Even though it was cold and rainy, after seeing the old photos of the bathhouse, I wanted to show Mom what they looked like now. It’s one of my favorite places in the city and having a bit more context made it that much more interesting. Alas, it was cold and windy and rainy; Mom was unimpressed and really didn’t want to get out of the car. She did it but we didn’t stay long.
Our last adventure together was a day trip to Point Reyes via Bolinas. One of my roommates suggested stopping for breakfast at the Coast Cafe in Bolinas, a small hidden town with a very natural hippie vibe. The food was good; the town was quaint and quiet. I felt very at home there. They had a beautiful shrine for peace set up on the main street between the general store and the cafe. I bought a sweatshirt that was hand printed with an octopus wrapped around “Bolinas,” but it was upside down so it just looked an abstract octopus. I was ecstatic to find a tiny, no-nonsense shop that does their own printing right behind the counter.
Point Reyes was exceptionally quiet. We stopped at the Visitor Center to get our bearings and then took a short, rather disappointing hike along the Earthquake Trail which comes into contact with the famed San Andreas fault. Afterwards, we drove to Drake’s Bay and out to Chimney Rock where we were able to see hundreds of elephant seals and their pups lying on the sandy beach yelping and bellowing below. By the time we left, the road was nearly smothered with fog which made the rolling green hills and pastures of cows like a scene from an Ireland travel brochure. Mom found the cows quite amusing as in some places they were in open pastures or on high cliff edges. As we waited for a line of them to cross the road, Mom snapped a few pictures. Cus’ California cows are happy cows.