Monday, May 22, 2017

Grand Canyon, Death Valley and the Yosemite*

*If you're wondering why I've clubbed all 3 together, when clearly each deserves a separate post, it's because we drove through all of them, enroute to where we wanted to get. Someday, the intention is to revisit each, and give them the attention they deserve.

We decided to head out to the North Rim of the Canyons from Vegas- granted it was a bit longer to drive to, but we were assured it was worth it. Clearly, we weren't doing enough driving according to the baa-lamb, and we decided that a stopover at the Hoover Dam was also due. The structure had us really excited (some of us more than others). So did the history (again, some of us more than others)
Hoover dam

The dam bypass

We arrived at our resort just minutes before sunset and made a mad dash to Mathier Point to catch the last rays of the sun. It was a dash I was glad to have made or I'd be kicking myself for having missed it.
Mathier Point

Watching the sunset in droves

Mother Nature's light show

Once we caught the spectacular show, it was back to more mundane matters like dinner. Yavapai had just one general store, with a fairly decent choice of foods. The night sky at Yavapai was something we hadn't anticipated: it was clear, with not a light around for miles and brilliantly lit up with stars. It wasn't the first of many times I missed my tripod, but it definitely was one of the times I missed it most sorely!
peeking over the edge to spot the Colorado river

The sunrise bathes the canyon is a golden glow

The next morning, we left two very sleepy children snuggled into their blankets and set off to catch the sunrise (ooh, what a sight). Somehow you never seem to get enough of the massive structure. it is breathtaking, frightening, awe-inspiring and exhilarating all at once.
After breakfast, we took advantage of the many bus routes running on a loop to catch various points along the canyon, walking a short distance along each point. We even managed to catch sight of a Californian Condor and a bluebird (apart from the ravens). It was a most satisfying trip.

Pic courtesy: Arun Kumar Krishnamurthy

Pic Courtesy: Arun Kumar Krishnamurthy
 Our return to Vegas was only for the night and we set off again across Death Valley and Yosemite. As we drove across death valley, we didn't expect the scenery to change much. After all, how different can hundreds of miles of desert be?
Yup. They clamber up pretty much everything.

Death Valley
And that's where Death Valley takes you be surprise. It's got beautiful vistas, especially when you take unexpected detours like Dante's view,
Dante's View

Furnace creek Visitor centre, Death Valley
or the silken soft sands and Misquitta sand dunes.
The various hues of the sand dunes at Misquitta

we love our jump shots

and throwing sand everywhere, so mum has the darnedest time with the laundry
 At racetrack, apparently, you can clearly see huge stones having moved across the sand, but with no clue as to what forces moved them, We decided to skip that, reluctantly, it would have been too much of a detour.
There were folks who suggested that we just drive on without stopping. I wonder how they weren't moved by the beauty of this barren landscape. In fact, we spent far too much time admiring the beauty of Misquitta, and the husband had to drive in the pitch dark to Lone Pine, just outside of the Death Valley.
The kids were rather looking forward to this place because they'd heard that this place was haunted. Eyes and ears were duly kept peeled for any signs of Paranormal activity.
Keeping a lookout for the spooky
The next morning, Child 1 did report an 'odd throbbing noise' and 'a bright red light' which he was quite convinced was a ghost. I suspect it was more of an overactive imagination and a departing Harley.
I think that's Mt Whitney

We continued our journey from Lone Pine to Pollock Pines via Yosemite. This being the beginning of winter, we couldn't go via Tioga pass , so we had to skirt around the borders. We headed along lake Mono and lake Topaz - such beautiful lakes, both of them. It's a pity we couldn't catch El Capitan but I suppose that's a reason to return to this place.
Lake Mono

We did make sure we stopped by lake Tahoe. The emerald lakes were beautiful, especially on our way up to Eagle falls. At this point, I have to mention, the baa-lamb accidentally dropped my camera, so all I really have to show from Tahoe are pictures from the phone.

Slightly disconcerting to drive through a stretch with land dropping off into the water on both sides

Glad to note we weren't the only foolish tourists stopping every so often for picures
There was another first - me actually telling the Baa-Lamb that it was a bad idea to head on up to Eagle Falls, as it look pretty icy. Normally, I'm the one with the crazy ideas. Of course, sound logic is always ignored in our household, so up we went, in sneakers and jeans, trying to outsmart the ice and the setting sun. About 3/4th of the way up, however, good sense prevailed and we decided to head on back down, slowly slipping and sliding our way back to solid ground.
slipping and sliding down to safety
We spent our last night at Pollock pines before we headed on over to San Francisco to meet cousins and fly on out.
Happy reunions

The best kind of fun! (Kermit concurs)

Cousins meeting up after more than a decade. Two tiny humans have sprouted in the meanwhile.

I have a feeling this isn't going o be our last trip here. There are just too many places we haven't explored. Yet. 

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