Thursday, September 2, 2021
Distance: 248.6 miles
Duration: 10 hours, 50 minutes, and 44 seconds
Average Speed: 22.9 mph
Minimum Elevation: 964 feet
Maximum Elevation: 9978 feet
I think today is the first time I've had a relaxing morning on the trip. I have a nice 2 hour back roads trip to the Starbucks in Oakhurst California where I'm meeting friends for today's ride. We don't meet till 11ish so I have time to leisurely enjoy my coffee and shoot photos of the sunrise over the mountains by my campsite today.
No rush packing up, I get everything done and the ole girl is ready to go early, so we depart to find out what goat paths I have in store for us this morning.
Then I encountered a strange section of dead forest. The trees are black like there's been a fire, but if there was, it was some time ago because there's green vegetation on the ground. Many of the trees still have dead leaves or pine needles on them that reach all the way to the ground that I would have thought should have burned. It reminds me of seeing the devastation of the pine beetle in Colorado several years ago, but this is a small by comparison and lots of live trees surrounding the area.
Then back to the regular goat paths. You have to be careful because these cattle guards are signs of open ranging and more than once I've come around the corner to find cows in the road. Not riding in speedy mode today for sure.
I arrive in Oakhurst around 10am, and find out that the others will be getting there a little before 11am. I find the Starbucks and am determined to have a coffee at one of the outside tables relaxing and enjoying the weather. Only thing, the doors are locked. I try to do an online order so I can have it brought out to me but the app says the location is closed. There's chairs stacked across the drive through. Very strange, and I wasn't the only one caught by surprise because many folks were pulling in and circling around to head back out, even one guy walked up all perplexed with his dog and had to leave.
I see that true to Starbucks form, there's another one 1/4 mile up the road and head there. That one is in a grocery store, that's not happening. I make an executive decision for us to eat at Denny's just down the road from the original Starbucks and send a text message to the group. As I am getting off the bike, Craig (CraigRegs on FJRiders) pulls up next to me, so we head inside and get a table to wait on Tyler.
It's always great to see Tyler, she's amazing and always has hugs and smiles for everyone.
Tyler and I each order breakfast (no photos for some reason) and Craig orders an Ice Cream Sundae. Then we are off....to Yosemite!
Tyler leads as she's local and been here a zillion times, followed by Craig and myself. The roads wind this way and that and the weather is amazing all contributing to a great motorcycle ride. Craig can't contain himself and tries taking a photo backwards of me, but only gets a very nice shot of the side of his helmet.
Because I know the GoPro's wide angle lens always makes it look like I'm so far away from the rider in front of me, I move up and close some of the distance between me and Craig to get better footage for later, and also a better photo. I still look pretty far behind him but in reality I'm probably riding way too close, but I'm being careful and use sections of the road where I can see ahead for a bit.
The I move up and do the same for Tyler.
Tyler, not knowing what I was doing, hit the first pull off and turned on her "Mom Voice" and let me know that all the reasons she's not speeding and if I want to go faster I'm free to go around. I explained I was filming and the GoPro lens and that I was quite content with our pace. We had a chuckle and things went better after that.
I'm the only one who hasn't been here before, so Tyler pulls over for a moment here to let me be hit by the first glimpse of the amazing scenery offered by Yosemite. It hits me about as hard as that first glimpse into the Grand Canyon.
Then we head over to Glacier Point to get a better view.
Proof I was actually there was provided by Tyler.
Looking down to where we'll be headed later. Craig and I wonder how many phones have been accidentally dropped over this edge.
Heading down, the view isn't bad from here.
Going through a long tunnel.
If you've never been here before, this next image will make you go "Wow, such amazing views he's seeing" but if you've been here before your eyes will be drawn elsewhere as you proclaim "Wow, those parking lots are EMPTY!"
Seriously, we lucked out today. The weather was phenomenal with zero clouds to be seen anywhere in the sky, perfect temperatures, no smoke haze, and the park practically empty that we could get around and park with ease. I'm informed that such perfect days almost don't exist here so I feel blessed.
Riding a nice loop they have of two lane, one way only roads through the trees with nice views every now and then.
And then we are brought to this little viewpoint. I take this photo, but I'm not happy with it, it could be better.
With a little bit of movement down to the right and toward the river, I'm able to eliminate a lot of that foreground clutter and get the shot I'm happiest with from this trip.
That's El Capitan on the left, there's climbers but you can't see them. There is supposed to be a waterfall on the right but all the falls are dry from the drought. Still, what an amazing view.
Later we head out toward Tioga Pass to get to our destination for the night. On the way I notice there's a beautiful lake through the trees to our right. I'm thinking "Wow, I hope there's a good place to stop" as I try to see the lake through the trees. It's at that exact moment I get my wish as I realize that Tyler and Craig are hard on the brakes right in front of me. No accident but there's a permanent crease in my undies from that one. We stop and get some photos of the beautiful lake. I bet that water is cold.
Then the beauty continues as we head over Tioga Pass.
A quick stop in the town of Lee Vining for folks to grab some adult beverages for the weekend.
Then we are off to Virginia Creek Settlement to settle in for the weekend as this is the site of the YFO meet. This is a cool little place with lots of options on how you want to stay including a small hotel and individual cabins.
They have an onsite restaurant serving fantastic food so I order up the 10" cheese pizza. I'm super hungry after today's activities and almost eat the whole thing.
One of the options they have for you to stay in is one of two covered wagons. There's a bubbling creek running there in front of the chairs and it's a fun way to spend the weekend.
Looking inside you've got more room than you'd think. The bed is a nice bunk with a comfy mattress and about an inch and a half of blankets and covers. In addition, in the bin to the right is another blanket and an electric blanket. I'll need all of that as the temperatures will get into the mid to low 30's overnight. I sleep comfortably and warm in there, but late night trips to the bathhouse are chilly for sure.
I settle into bed extremely happy with today's sights and riding, and eager to see what tomorrow has in store.