Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

< Previous | List | A morning stroll in Bodie, crossing Yosemite on Hwy 120, to Glacier Point

I got up bright and (relatively) early, looking forward to spending a few more hours in Bodie. Since I'd been parking and sleeping on a small flat spot just next to the road in the "Bodie Hills" that surround the State Park, this meant that after just a few minutes' driving, I was back in Bodie.

Since the entrance station wasn't manned yet, I had to wait until 8am to be allowed into the park. I was wondering if the entrance stub from the previous day was still valid - you pay for "one day", but of course that turned out to mean "whatever remains of the day when you get there" not "24 hours". No big deal, realistically speaking I hadn't expected much else; but it doesn't hurt trying.

Thankfully, not many people were there at a comparatively early time, so I would be able to get a lot of pictures without having to worry about people walking into the picture or around buildings. One other advantage of being there both evening and morning was that I was getting decent light but from entirely different sides; so everything that was on the shadowy side the evening before was not brightly lit by the sun, and vice versa.

Temperatures started off chilly, but quickly warmed up, for it looked like it was going to be another day of perfect blue California skies.

By 9:15, I had filled my memory cards and a feeling that I had covered pretty much everything there was to cover. In less than 24 hours I'd be in a plane, home-bound to Luxembourg, so it was about time to head back towards San Francisco.

But first, my last US breakfast! I stopped in Lee Vining again, had another delicious (and filling) breakfast; and then took Highway 120 West. This goes up Lee Vining Canyon, past Ellery Lake, and then enters Yosemite National Park and the Tuolumne Meadows high country.

I've driven 120 a few times now, and unfortunately this time I had the same problem than all other times: for one reason or another I couldn't hike very much. This time, both my knees and my schedule didn't afford me a lot of liberties; but at least I got a number of very nice pictures and panoramas straight from the road or just a few hundred feet away from it.

But still, so much to see, so little time! I stopped at Olmsted Point, got irritated when people just wouldn't move away from the tree I wanted to take a picture of (even though, in all fairness, they had as much of a right to be there than I had), then headed down to Yosemite Valley. Yosemite Falls were water-less (like any other time I'd been there), Bridalveil Fall was serene... but once again, I had to be on my way.

My next stop was Tunnel View, where I took pictures and a few panoramas, and briefly chatted with two girls in a convertible. Up next was Washburn Point, quite a distance away (more because of the low speed limit than because of actual mileage), which sits across the valley from Half Dome and as such affords nice views of the entirely valley and most of its most scenic and/or well-known spots. Glacier Point is just a few miles from Washburn, and more well-know. It would, at the same time, be my last stop.

For reasons that are beyond my grasp now, I decided not to stay at Glacier Point until sunset. I hadn't packed, and I still had several hours of driving ahead of me to get to the airport in time for my 7am departure the next morning, but I could certainly have squeezed in some sunset shots.

So I hit the road sometime before 5pm, fuelled up somewhere outside of Yosemite; and parked my car on a small parking off the highway just as the sun was about to go down so that I would still be able to pack with some light left.

All packing had to be done off the car straight into my luggage, of course - I didn't have the luxury of an hotel room, and the ground I was standing on was unpaved and dusty. Still, I managed to fit all my belongings into my luggage without any problem, and was soon back on the road.

Since I still had ample time, I decided that I wouldn't take the interstate to San Francisco, but rather took a route that was more challenging in the dark - at least that way, I didn't risk falling asleep on the wheel.

When it was evident that I still would get to SFO earlier than I'd need to, I took another detour; and stopped somewhere at the coast. The Pacific Ocean seemed pretty brutal - high waves were crashing down on the coast, so I didn't dare dipping my toes in it.

Instead, I dropped off my car at the airport, and proceeded to wait a couple of hours for my plane to depart.

Miles driven: 1mi (2km)

Campground Accommodation: In my car (Driving from Yosemite NP to San Francisco): $0