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Bishop Yosemite

21st August 2010

Mono Lake, Tuolumne Meadows and Music in Mariposa Park

Panorama of Tenaya Lake near Tuolumne Meadows      (please use scroll bar)

Tufa Formations at Mono Lake
Dan by Mono Lake
    After breakfast, we drove up past Mono Craters to Mono Lake, where Dan had a chance to see the tufa formations and take in the size of the lake. It made a pleasant change being beside an expanse of water after yesterday's long haul up through Death Valley.
    From there, we headed over the spectacular 9,945' Tioga Pass into Yosemite's Tuolumne Meadows where we stopped for a stroll by the river. Although I had seen this all a month earlier, it gave me a lot of pleasure showing my son around them and sharing the experience. It made a world of difference, not that I minded my solo trek before, but sharing it and discussing it added that extra dimension.
Dan and I Beachcombing by the River in Tuolumne Meadows
    From the meadows, we drove across the tops towards Yosemite Valley, where I hoped to pick up some accommodation in the El Portal area. I stopped off at a viewing point in the drop down to the valley, and in doing so I noticed some bad wear in one of my front tyres. It was so bad that I decided there and then that our first priority was to get the tyre replaced.
Lembert Dome Across the Meadows
    This was not straight forward in the vicinity of the valley. A few enquiries revealed that we would have to drive 32 miles down highway 140 to Mariposa in order to find a place where tyres could be purchased.
    So, we made the journey at careful speed. The valley we were driving down followed the Merced River for the most part, and was stunningly beautiful. I knew the top part of the valley well since that was where I had camped on my earlier visit. Further down the valley we came across a set of traffic lights for a diversion, with a sign warning that delays of 15 minutes could be expected. The diversion took us across a bridge to a single carriageway on the other side of the river, and then for about a mile before another bridge took us back to the main road again. We saw why after a short distance. A gigantic rock slide had wiped out the main road on the opposite bank, and the whole slope looked very unstable. The diversion we were using appeared to have been in place for a number of years. Further more it looked as though it would be a permanent diversion too.
    At Mariposa, the visitor centre helped us locate the tyre outfit about four miles out of town. They also called the business to check it was still open, indeed they were most helpful. We found the firm, and ended up changing both front tyres.
    Since there was a musical event in the park in Mariposa, we decided to spend the night there. One motel was full. The second motel I tried had a girl in her early twenties on the desk, and a younger sidekick who appeared, both giggling. They had a room available; good news so far. The girl was acting rather strangely; I was getting the fluttering of eyes, the wink, and the smile treatment. I was a bit long in the tooth to be taken in by all this. Then came the proposition; pay in cash or pay by credit card and attract an extra charge for the use of a card, plus pay the taxes. Even a child could spot the scam going on here. To see the girl put on this act as if she were a cool, streetwise grown up was pathetic. But it didn't stop there. She also wanted to swipe my card for the full amount AND get me to sign upfront, the excuse for this being "to cover expenses if I should decide to trash the room". How fickle an argument. To go down that route I could effectively be paying for the room twice, and she would be pocketing half. I argued for quite a while with her telling her that this was highly fraudulent, by which time customers were standing in line behind me, and then I walked out. What the rest of the queue did, I don't know. She wouldn't get far in the world.
    We found other accommodation up the road. Whilst unloading the van, I got chatting to a couple staying in the same inn, who were traveling around this region of California on a Harley-Davidson. The couple lived in a town near Barstow in southern California, and we would have driven through the town on our drive from San Diego to Las Vegas.
    We chatted about our traveling exploits and then we put the world to rights, specifically on the political front. The chap was a builder by profession, but since the recession hit, had found work hard to come by. property in the town had been selling for $500k before the recession, now it had plummeted to $120k, and people had fled in droves. One of the knock-on effects of this was the reduced number of children, which effectively reduced the number of teachers required in the town. Both their children had been teachers, but were now unemployed. In addition, since a lot of property was now empty, coach loads of "undesirables" were being shipped out from problematic areas in cities and being housed in the empty accommodation. The couple now felt that they lived in a ghetto.
    Whilst dwelling on crime and politics, they told me a funny story about an Arizona sheriff, Sheriff Joe, who operated his jail in a slightly unconventional way. The sheriff saw that jails offered prisoners cable TV, leisure facilities, the comforts of home and three meals a day. Indeed, many elderly folk who wanted care in their old age, were often committing crimes just so that they could be sent to jail in order to have 'free accommodation, food and care'. The sheriff decided to adopt his own policy for his jail. All prisoners were housed in tents, and had to wear striped outer clothing and pink underwear. They all had to work, and those who didn't would just be fed bread and water. The Federal Government stepped in and said that he was denying their rights. Joe's response was, "If tents, and uniforms, and rations are good enough for our boys in Afghanistan, they are good enough for our prisoners." He won his argument.
    Sheriff Joe also saved his county a fortune in animal welfare by employing his prisoners for 'free'. The Federal powers then insisted that all prisoners be provided with cable TV. Joe had no option but to oblige. However, he only supplied two channels: the weather and Walt Disney. Good for him I thought. He was trying to punish prisoners, not pamper them. I was amused by all this, and how closely our two countries are aligned.
    Dan and I had a meal in the town, and spent time in the park listening to the Haegar Brothers, an excellent band playing a wide spectrum of blues and rock music. Three sheriffs turning up and arresting a guy added to the evening's entertainment. Sadly, the local laws dictated that the music had to stop at 10pm, so Dan and I ended the evening in a bar playing pool. We had an extra beer to celebrate my grandson's first birthday.
    Overall, it had been an enjoyable day.
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Bishop Yosemite

Uploaded from Francisco Bay Inn, 1501 Lombard Street, San Francisco CA on 29/08/10 at 01:30

Last updated 30.8.2010