Yosemite National Park

For photographers, Yosemite National Park is a pilgrimage one must make. My incredible wife understood my need to get away from work for a few days and take a little trip with my buddy Shannon. From Houston we flew on Southwest to Reno, NV by way of Las Vegas. After getting our rent car we headed to In-N-Out Burger in Sparks for lunch, because it was already almost 1:00pm in Texas! In-N-Out is always a first-stop when I travel to a Western state. After a quick “Double-Double,” we were on the road in our rented PT Cruiser. The PT Cruiser drove just fine on flat roads, but I soon realized it was under-powered for all the hill climbing which began just south of Reno on Hwy 395. We topped out at 65 m.p.h. and 4,000RPM going uphill. Most of the driving I did for the week was on hilly curvy roads, for 540 miles round trip.

We made our way South through the State Capital, Carson City – which has a poor excuse for a State Legislature building compared with ours here in Austin. It was just more validation that things in Texas really are bigger.

We eventually reached Lee Vining, California – resting on the edge of Mono Lake. Here was a rest stop where we topped off our gas and stocked up on supplies (beer & water). From here we began the long, winding trek down the Tioga Pass entrance to Yosemite. We made several stops along the way to photograph breathtaking snow-capped mountains, streams & waterfalls. It was by far the most beautiful and scenic drive I have ever made.

We arrived at our destination, Curry Village, and checked in. We were given cabin 401, right on the edge of the parking lot by the trash cans. Thank goodness I had ear plugs. The screen-doored canvas cabin came with 2 single beds and one double bed. I claimed the double, agreeing Shannon would have it the next night. Somehow I ended up getting it both nights. Anyway, four towels were provided along with sheets and multiple blankets for each bed. Extra towels and bedding were available in a linen hut further down the row of cabins. For lighting, a single bulb hung from the ceiling which was illuminated by a beaded pull string. We were expecting low temps in the 30s but it never made it below the mid-50s. The heater was not operable, nor did we have a need for it – so we unplugged it and used the outlet to charge our camera batteries and cell phones. The soft sheets and pillows gave us a great sleep each night. Showering facilities were located in a trailer a short walk from the cabin. For dining, Curry Village has a pizzeria, a taqueria, a coffee bar that sells various pastries, an ice cream shop and a buffet that serves lunch and dinner. We found the buffet pricing to be beyond what we wanted to spend.

During the day we visited the famous Yosemite landmarks like Glacier Point, Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls. The morning after our arrival we hiked out to Mirror Lake, just under 4 miles round trip from our camp. We were rewarded with perfectly still waters that justified it’s name.

Bridalveil Falls

The final morning, we left Yosemite with plans to stop by Lake Tahoe on the way back to Reno. We were held up by some traffic & road construction along the way. Our plans to watch the MLB All-Star game cut our trip to Tahoe short but we did stop a little while to snap photos and call loved-ones. We checked into our hotel in time to watch the game. We visited In-N-Out once more for dinner then watched the rest of the game in our room before going down to play some Blackjack.

The trip was entirely rewarding and enjoyable. It was great to be able to travel with a friend I’ve known for so long. Special thanks to my loving wife.


Published by

Paul Thompson

Highly passionate about all things related to aviation! I combine my knowledge of the aircraft manufacturing and airline industry to provide a detailed and first-person point of view. I have worked on unique stories with airlines and companies including American Airlines, British Airways, Goodyear, Honeywell, jetBlue, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Red Bull Air Racing, Southwest Airlines, and the U.S. Navy.

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