Friend Lisa flew into Sacramento and traveled with us for a week through Yosemite, Death Valley and into Las Vegas.
Yosemite was amazing with sheer granite cliffs that dwarfed everything else in the valley. The Historic Wawona Lodge and visitors center are so popular that buses shuttle visitors from the overflow parking lots.
Hetch Hetchy was/is controversial because of the built a dam to provide water to San Francisco. A national park must preserve unimpaired the natural resources for all generations. The Sierra club is continually fighting to have the dam moved down river so that Hetch Hetchy Valley can be restored to its former magnificence.
Tuolumne Meadows and its rustic campground sit at 8,600 feet elevation with very few sites for a rig as big as ours, thankfully we had reservations. The elevation provided much needed relief from the July heat and we enjoyed lovely hikes among streams and through meadows teaming with wild flowers.
Leaving Yosemite we traveled south on US395 paralleling the Pacific Crest Trail. Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest boasts the oldest living trees on the planet. The only really sad part of the journey was poor planning! Imagine being on a national park tour finding out that you are on the wrong side of the Sierra maintain range and that there is no access into Kings Canyon or Sequoia from the east. Looks like we will get back to California after all in the future. Mt Whitney is the highest point in the contiguous United States and we had a great view of the most climbed summit in the U.S. from the highway.
Death Valley was 115 degrees when we stopped at the visitors center. I cannot imagine anyone living our working there. There just isn't much for me to say about this national park except 'been there and got my N. P. Passport book stamped'.
Las Vegas was hot, very hot. With temps well over 100 each day and our refrigerator hardly kept up. Lisa flew back to Texas, exchanging one hot climate for another. I left Steve behind the next day and flew to my home town in Wisconsin for my father's funeral service. The reason for the trip was sad but the weather was fabulous.
The day after I returned we drove the short distance to Lake Mead, a lovely waterfront campground. After the completion of Hoover Dam people were drawn to this new oasis in the dessert and in 1964 become the first national recreation area. Hoover Dam was located just a few miles from our campground. Almost a century ago the dam rose from the bed of the Colorado River. No longer the tallest, or the dam that produces the most energy, it still draws millions of visitors from around the world. I vaguely remember seeing this on a family road trip in the 70s but will certainly retain the memory this time around.
Time to head to our campground host commitment at Bryce Canyon so we headed north on Hwy 15 with more amazing views.