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July 6, 2006


Figuring today had to be better than yesterday I woke up and packed up my site quickly. As I was finishing doing that, one of the two nice women next door came over and invited me to breakfast. For that I am very grateful - I would have had a far more difficult day without that meal. Thanks ladies! So I ate breakfast with them and we shared a few interesting stories. The meal over, I returned to my motorcycle and departed to see Sequoia National Park, fully intending to also explore Kings Canyon and then make my way to Yosemite National Park before the day was done.


I of course did it. Sequoia National Park was amazing, as most of the national parks have been up to this point. The trees are enormous - you can't possibly imagine how big they are even from the pictures that I took. I saw the General Sherman tree - the largest tree (by mass) in the world - as well as many other giant Sequoias. It's amazing to think about how long the trees have been there - some over 3,000 years! ("Normal" trees live to be about 300 years). As I was leaving I noticed an area inside the national forest boundary where logging appeared to be actively going on. That, I was quite sure, was not a normal sight. So after talking to some people I realized that the current government administration (not NPS) had not only relaxed environmental protection laws but also opened up previously protected areas to be raped by man. Fantastic, I thought to myself in a dangerously sarcastic manner.


And so I was off to Kings Canyon National Park. Kings Canyon actually shares quite a bit of border space with Sequoia and in fact they are managed as one park. Nevertheless, the scenery at Kings Canyon is quite a bit different. The road into the canyon follows a winding, fast flowing, beautiful river and dead ends deep in the canyon. I rode it all the way to the end, taking in all of the sights. It was once again breathtaking - a canyon only to be rivaled, as I would soon discover, by Yosemite. I actually spent very little time at Kings Canyon, since I still wanted to make it to Yosemite before the day was over.

On my way back out I dropped by the General Grant Grove and then continued on to Yosemite. As I was driving through one of the towns I noticed that the temperature was around 94 degrees. At that point I also noticed that I was still wearing a sweatshirt and not feeling too hot. This was the second time that had happened. I guess Death Valley raised my temperature tolerance :-).

I finally made it to Yosemite and as luck would have it the campgrounds appeared to be full. So I backtracked a short distance to the National Forest, finding a camp area there that ended up being cheaper anyway. At that point it was definitely time for some more sleep.

July 7, 2006


Once again off to an early start I quickly gathered my things and drove back to Yosemite. Upon entering I asked a ranger what I should do, and decided on a few things. First I drove out to Glacier Point, an area that offered an amazing view of about 25% of the park. Following that I drove down into the valley where I saw a waterfall on the way in. This waterfall, Bridalveil Fall, was packed with hordes of people. Though it looked amazing, the people detracted from the experience quite a bit. So, when I got into the valley I found an information center and asked them how to get away from the people. The kind lady suggested I hike to Nevada Fall, and so I did.


The hike to Nevada Fall passed Vernal Fall to begin with (both Falls are on the Merced River), where there were some but not too many people. Both are amazing waterfalls. I'd seen Niagara Falls, and then I had seen the small falls in Shenandoah. Both left me with a desire for something in-between, and Yosemite took care of that desire nicely. These falls were big in size and second to none in appearance. The surrounding plant life just added to the stunning beauty. As I continued on past Vernal Fall the trail started to suck a lot - it was basically steep rocks a good part of the way up. Towards the top I encountered a few Sequoias, which made the trip even better. In the end it was definitely worth it. At the top of Nevada Fall I took a break for a bit and then started back down the other side. As luck would have it, the trip down was considerably easier than the trip up (guess I should have looked at the map a little more closely). Once I made it back down to the bottom I decided I should see Yosemite Fall on my way out and then try to make it to San Francisco before the day ended (as I look at my route I've been adding some additional stops in my head - you'll see what they are when I get there :-)). So, I dropped by Yosemite Fall - gorgeous, but once again with a few more people than I'd like, and then took off.

I made it all the way to San Francisco - not really on purpose though. I stopped a ways away from San Francisco and asked about a place to camp. One of the attendants at a gas station, seemingly helpful at the time, suggested a place and then proceeded to give me directions that led somewhere else. Sick of not finding a place to camp I continued on to San Francisco. As most big cities are, this one was quite impressive at night. The lights were amazing once again. I made my way down through the city, taking in the sights all the way and shortly before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge found a relatively cheap motel. I checked in (it was late at this point - much later than I would have liked it to be) and went to sleep immediately.

Ah, I should probably mention (again for better or worse) that as I was leaving Yosemite I encountered what I would label as a "tailgating idiot." He felt the need to be two inches away from my nonexistent bumper despite the fact that there was traffic in front of me preventing me from going faster. So, for starters, as I usually do when I'm agitated, I gave the man a friendly gesture. Now, normally at this point the driver gets the picture and backs off. Not this one. So, I "tapped" my brakes. Well, apparently he was looking somewhere else at that point because once he realized my brake light was on he slammed on his brakes and actually made his car skid for a bit. This didn't scare me at all - in fact it amused me quite a bit, because I knew full well that if he was hitting his brakes and I was accelerating there was no chance of collision. I chuckled a little to myself, feeling a little guilty for scaring the man but also feeling that he deserved it. He backed off and I assumed our encounter was over.

I was wrong. When we reached the exit station there was a line of cars stopped, and so we stopped, and he pulled up next to me and got out. As it would turn out he was an angry black man - without a shirt on. I just sat on my bike while he yelled at me for a little bit – a little scared this time but still pretty sure that he wasn't stupid enough to resort to violence in front of so many people. Once he finished yelling I explained to him in a rather forceful voice that he was an idiot for tailgating me and that he could have killed me if I actually had to stop fast. He didn't have an intelligent reply and got back into his car. The encounter over we both continued on our way - this time with him even farther behind me. I guess it finally sunk in that tailgating motorcyclists is not only rude but also dangerous. *sigh* idiots.