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Yosemite Winter Trip 2009

Day 1 of 3

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Friday, February 20th
Drive to Yosemite Valley

We got a late start on Friday, leaving the Bay Area just before noon. This was our first ever winter trip to Yosemite. I decided to take Highway 120, which on paper should be a bit faster than Highway 140. Along the way I neglected to top off the gas tank in Oakdale (one of the last places you're likely to find a major gas station). So I ended up stopping in Buck Meadows, where you can have any octane gas you like, as long as it's 87. Actually, I would have done better to stop in Colfax Spring, just a little further, where there's more choice (albeit more expensive).

We entered the park at the Big Oak Flat entrance and started up the road. A recent storm had dumped a lot of snow, and even though it was clear skies today, the snow was still very much there. In fact, chains were required. A big snow plow was stopped in front of us and we had to wait for it. It eventually led us slowly up and over a small summit until we could finally continue the drive down to the valley. I made a mental note that if the expected bad weather came on Sunday, I'd avoid this section of road and take Highway 140 back instead.

We drove through the snow-covered valley. We arrived at Curry Village just in time to witness snow-flecked Half Dome receiving the last rays of light. We checked in and settled into our cabin (heated, with bathroom). The cabin was small, just two double beds and not much room for two little boys to run around, but it was adequate. I was a bit disoriented because I quickly noticed that the cabin floor was actually slanted. I felt like I was at the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz (even though I've never actually been there).

Half Dome from Curry Village

Curry Village cabin

As you may or may not be aware, there was a big rock slide here just a few months ago. Luckily no one was injured, but it did result in the closure of a large section of Curry Village. At least I felt safer knowing that our cabin was well outside of the closure area.

We walked over to the pizza restaurant at Curry Village. Dining options are pretty limited; you could also take the shuttle over to the Yosemite Falls area and eat at the cafeteria or the Ahwahnee. Pizza was fine. My only complaint is that, for some unknown (as least to me) reason, they don't recycle plastic there, only glass. I asked and the cashier shrugged his shoulders and told me to throw it in the trash.

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