We left the Monterey area and spent easy days driving across the central valley to the foothills of the Sierras. It took some searching, but we found a place in the historic gold mining town of Columbia. The campground is the site of an old Marble quarry, and we have a quiet spot shaded by oak trees and visited daily by deer. Since we are about 60 miles from Yosemite National Park, we knew we had to go visit. Like most of the National Parks, you pay $35 for a seven day pass to enter. First impression . . . It’s like visiting an amusement park without the rides. We couldn’t find parking, and the traffic was bad. Disappointed and frustrated, we retreated back to the campsite and came up with a plan. There, we decided what hikes and sites we wanted to see, get up early, and get to the park before the tour busses started filing in. It worked great, we found a parking spot, got on the trail to Vernal Falls and saw an amazing side of the park. We hiked up to the falls and took the Mist Trail that felt like we were in a setting from Lord of the Rings. We kept hiking a bit past the first falls and were rewarded with some awesome views of the valley. It was a semi strenuous hike and that kept most of the other visitors away. After we got back to the car, we drove the 30 miles up to Glacier Point. WOW! Glacier Point is almost 3000 feet above the valley with the shear granite walls dropping strait down. It gave an eagle’s eye view of the park. We finished up the day with a stop and short walk up to Bridal Veil falls. The mist falling on us was nice since by now it was getting warm. Yosemite was a surprise for me. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I thought it would just be a drive in, look at some big rocks, and leave. It is a pretty amazing place and blew my expectations away. If you get a chance, go see it. On Saturday, we went Railtown 1897 State Park. The state of California basically bought the Sierra Railroad and turned the roundhouse and rolling stock into a museum. The key exhibit is the Sierra #3 steam engine. This engine has been in a lot of movies. From The Virginian, High Noon, 3:10 to Yuma, to Back to the Future part III. We signed up for the excursion ride. It takes you out into the area south of the museum. As you ride along the scenery becomes very familiar since it was used in so many movies. We have tried to find another campground further into the mountains, but with the 4th being in the middle of the week, every place is booked full. We plan to stay put another week. There’s a plenty to explore in the area.
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