Monday, June 26, 2006

Tioga Pass to Mono Lake June 26, 2006

We had hoped to get over the pass last week, as close to opening day as possible. I always like to see the snow that delayed the opening. This year has much more snow around and to a far lower elevation than last year. I did not wack Victor in the head with a snow ball.

I enjoy the lakes the best. First there is Teneya Lake, from the approach we almost thought the lake had a layer of ice on it still is was so motionless. We were in rain for half an hour in both directions and it was easy to imagine the night temperatures reaching some fairly low lows, which is what must be keeping the snow on the ground refreezes every night.

This year we left later in the day and had already eaten lunch and weren't hungry when we hit Whoa Nelli Deli inside the Mobile Station just above Lee Vining, but we stopped anyway. Same great menu, fair prices, quick service and that fantastic view overlooking Mono Lake. A must do if in the area.

We spent a little time at the Mono Lake visitors center, run by the National Forest Service. What a fabulous display. They have a great space, photography room, amplitheater, history, education and endless lake views. I am curious as to the source of the funding for all this. Such a huge project for a small area. Was it interest surrounding the restore Mono Lake activity roughly 15 years ago? I can say, it was far more "lunaresque" when the water levels were low. But that only matters for the pictures. The lake looks grand!

I will update the Hotel Charlotte website, Eastern Sierras itinerary to include my new Mono Lake pictures. We went to the lake, dipped a toe in the water and read about these odd flies that coat the last few inches of shoreline all around the lake. Harmless and strange. Check the website for updated photos later this week,

On our return we stopped at the Tioga Pass Resort, just on the outside of the park boundary. Talk about a piece of heaven. Stunning views in every direction, gorgeous alpine lakes, lots of running water & snow...and the restaurant was putting out some perfectly delicious smells. The cafe is tiny, but very warm and charming. You could meet a new best friend here. Again, we were not yet hungry and Victor really did not want to get stuck driving the return trip in the dark and feeling sluggish from a super off we went, back into the park, over the pass and out again on the Groveland side.

Now we are hungry and are tempted by the treats awaiting us at Evergreen Lodge, but without reservations, fear getting a table quickly will be unlikely. We continued down the road with a brief stop in Buck Meadows. And so ends our adventure today!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Yosemite Jaw Factor, Victor's first visit

We just celebrated our 3 year anniversary at the Hotel Charlotte last week and before we moved here neither of us had ever been to Yosemite Valley. I had been over Tioga Pass years before and considered it a road challenge to get through, but really didn't know anything about Yosemite, the park. Since then I have come to love it... But this is more about Victor's awe-inspired relationship with the park. I took Victor on his first valley visit in October of 2003 and the falls visible from the valley were nearly dry and he thought it was "nice" but surely not worth all the hype we had been exposed to since moving up here. Then I took him in May of 04 for another visit and the falls were screaming and there was water coming out of every granite crevas. The Jaw Dropping ohh-ahhing began. We were off to Glacier Point next, then over the pass and we now take many day trips through out the year to experience the many visions of Yosemite, ever changing by the season. Without question, if you are only coming once, come when the falls are the strongest. It would be nice if Tioga Pass and Glacier Point roads were also open. This tends to be in June sometime. Here at the Hotel we always hope for late snows, lots of snow and early opening of the roads, which are contradictory wants!

Saturday, June 10, 2006


I've been researching agri-tourism, having had the word come up in several meetings and am convinced it is word that would only come up in meetings. Travelers who choose holidays with some of their itinerary selections based on agricultural stops would be unlikely to use the term. I think it is a great marketing word towards building a new travel industry around one that has already been around. Think of all the folks that visit wineries, this is very successful agri-tourism. I imagine with the growth of the word and the coorodinated marketing that will go right along with it, we will see more families choosing vacations where the kids might get to milk a cow, pick strawberries, sheer a sheep, shoe a horse and any number of other interesting farm activities.

Already many of our visitors coming in from San Francisco will participate in some similar activity, perhaps touring the cheese factory in Oakdale or the wineries in Murphys. We are going to keep an eye on this new travel angle and see where it goes and what develops. I have always thought a ranch holiday might be fun...

Shattered Air, the Yosemite thunderstorm story

We took a week off from the hotel recently for Victor's daughter's graduation and I was able to actually complete a full book: Shattered Air by Bob Madgic. This true story follows a handful of adventure seekers on an excursion up Half Dome in Yosemite culminating in a bad weather scene and the drama that unfolds. It is a compelling story and keeps you interested throughout, but what was most intriguing to me were all the bits of climbing history thrown into the story.

On Friday, September 15th the Historical Society's guest speaker is Bob Madgic who will bring this book to life. We think this will be a marvelous program and it kicks off the annual 49er festival and chili cookoff the next day.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

My first post: Highway 140 road closure

There are so many things I want to comment on here, the biggest for those traveling to Yosemite has to be the closure of the 140 route due to the sliding hill. This is devastating for those businesses and folks who live and work on opposite sides of the problem. Mariposa County declared a state of emergency last week, noting they have already last $4million and anticipate this to go as high as $14million if the closure continues through the summer season. Considering the effect our own 34-day Highway 120 road closure had on us earlier this spring, these figures seem somewhat low.

Some of the handling of this event by the news agencies, such as San Diego CBS Channel 8 ( have done additional harm by discouraging visitors to even attempt Yosemite trips with claims that travelers will be disappointed... I laughed when I read that. Surely no one goes to Yosemite for the road they want to enter on, but rather for the glorious experiences that await them on the inside. Why would they be disappointed? Yosemite Falls still fall, Half Dome is still a life-goal, El Capitan is still royal in its massiveness and so on...

This particular story claimed the main entrance was closed and yet failed to offer alternative routes, implying one couldn't get into the park at all. Perhaps this is what the disappointment would have been, not getting in at all. We hope all the news agencys and Associated Press will work harder to get the details right, folks who are traveling to Yosemite and those who live and work in the area depend on them for accurately reporting the facts.

Our hearts go out to our neighbors to the south and we are hoping for as speedy a solution as possible!