Wednesday 18 April 2012

When plans go pear shaped....but before that news of more birds

On leaving Scotty's Castle we drove through a short section of road through a ravine. It seemed alive with birds. Two more Say's Pheobe, 2 California Towhee and perched on top of a small bush for 3 seconds, a Cactus Wren! What a cracker, unfortunately it flew before I could get the camera.

A very scenic drive took us too the foot hills of Yosemite, to Bishop. Just outside Bishop a marsh held 3 male Northern Harriers, initially by the road but they quickly headed away, so again no pics.

This is where it all went a bit wrong. When Virgin Holidays put a foot note to our itinerary stating "Please note that the Tioga Pass is closed during winter months" I assumed that meant we would not be able to get to some of Yosemite's famous tourist attractions on that road. No it meant, but did not say, Yosemite could not be entered from the east. We had planned our stay in Bishop purely because it was close to the national park entrance and therefore we could drive though Yosemite (as we did on our previous visit) and reach out hotel, outside the western entrance early the following day. Bearing in mind we had been on the road, on and off, for 9 hours that day, the news that we would have to drive well over 200 miles, mostly on a single lane road, the following day. did not go down well.

We left the hotel at 6.30am hoping, perhaps we could get there by lunchtime. No chance. We did see a few birds on the way but the journey was a nightmare. After 4 hours it dawned on me we still had only got half way, and the quickest route would take us over the top of a mountain. Heading up the steep roads the signs read "Chains must be used if lights lashing". We had no chains, but luckily the lights didn't flash. Snow began to fall, and then it was a blizzard. Thankfully the road remained clear and we arrived at the ski resort of South Tahoe. Here people walked along the road with snow boards, in full ski attire. It was crazy, just yesterday we were in Death Valley in near 100f temperatures!

We put in the destination of our next destination along the journey, 30 milers would take 1.5 hours, in a total blizzard. As we lost altitude as we moved away from the mountains the snow turned to rain, and rain it did, stair rods, for the rest of our journey. We eventually arrived at the the most northerly entrance to Yosemite and had a choice to make. We could take the shorter route, into Yosemite, drive south just inside the park, then back out to our hotel, or keep on the same road for a further 1.5 hrs plus. We decided to try and cut the journey time and head into the park. You can probably guess what happens next. 15 miles along the road, we stopped at tourist information, it was closed, a sign said the next one was a further 10 miles, up a mountain we drove, surprise surprise the next tourist information was closed. Into a shop I went for some help. I showed the lady behind the counter the map, "We want to get to here, can we get there this way?" The inevitable reply was "Do you have chains?" meant we would have to drive back the 25 miles on the slow twisty turny road and get back on the road we had left an hour ago to drive a further 1.5 hours south. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. We eventually arrived at El Portal and our hotel at 5.30pm, a full 11 hours after we set out. We headed to the pool/jacuzzi to relax. We did see a few birds on this mammoth journey at least. Pics coming soon.

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