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Eastern Sierra Fall 2012

Day 1 of 4

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Friday, October 5th
Drive to Mammoth Lakes via Tuolumne Meadows

It was time for our annual fall color trip. So we packed up the car and headed off to the Mammoth/Bishop area.

Our kids are now in school a bit longer in the afternoon, so we didn't leave the Bay Area until 4pm (we'd left at 2pm last year). This led to about 35 minutes of traffic delays in Hayward, Livermore, and a bit beyond, but after that it was pretty much smooth sailing. We stopped in Oakdale for dinner. As it was now dark, I decided I didn't want to drive twisty Sonora Pass Road, which is much more technical than Tioga Pass Road.

The gate at the Yosemite entrance was empty, and we drove on through. Almost immediately after turning left onto Tioga Pass Road, I saw an animal dart across the road in front of me. Smaller than a deer, maybe a fox or coyote. That put me on alert the rest of the drive, trying to make sure I didn't run anything over. I've rarely driven on Tioga Pass Road after dark. One of the hazards of driving on such a road at night is the increased chance of hitting wildlife.

As I drove along Tioga Pass Road, I noticed lots of cars parked along the side of the road. Yosemite wouldn't allow overnight parking after October 15th this year, but for now many people were taking advantage of the nice weather and smaller crowds. We were just passing through, though.

There wasn't anyone at the exit gate, either. We exited Yosemite, then drove down and turned right onto Highway 395. Somewhere along the way to Mammoth Lakes, I saw an animal crossing the right side of the highway; again, it was probably a fox or coyote or another animal of that size. I slowed down a bit and veered slightly to the left. I thought I had safely navigated past it, but at the very last minute, it did a u-turn back onto the highway. Sadly, I heard the thump as it hit the car. As as far as I know, this is the first time I've ever driven my car over a vertebrate. (I've ridden my bike over one once, but that's a different story). I felt bad, but I take some comfort in thinking it wasn't my fault. (That bike incident wasn't my fault, either!)

In any case, we arrived in Mammoth Lakes around 10:30pm. After doing some grocery shopping, we arrived at our rental house at Swall Meadows at 11:30pm.

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