Fri. July 19, 2019:
Yosemite Valley to San Francisco, California:
It was a rough wakeup, not just because it wasn’t even 6am yet- I was also in the middle of a dream. I chugged the half bottle of iced coffee I had left over from yesterday. Caffeine was my friend. I had packed up everything the night before to make the morning easier. Breakfast was given to us in a cooler bag that we got to keep. But it was too early in the morning for me, all I wanted was more coffee. I made do with the black coffee they gave me to go. Towards the end it was too much for my stomach to take. The sun was already starting to come up so we didn’t have to worry about navigating the park in the dark. We stopped at a gas station to top up and i watched, half asleep, as some deer foraged in the dumpster.
There was no traffic on the way into the park, which was a good sign as we were headed for a very busy attraction: the road that runs through the valley. It was frustrating because the car ahead of us was slow, and rather than go off onto the shoulder to let us pass, they just kept on. It’s not like they didn’t know they could do that, even slower people ahead of them were doing it. We yelled and gestured to no avail.
We didn’t get to enjoy the (apparently) spectacular Tunnel View because the sun was right at the dip in the valley between the two mountains and it was blinding. We stopped in a parking lot to get some good views, I got mad at the terrible map. It was hard to figure out a route, it was so poorly designed. We got back in the car and continued on to the Yosemite Falls trailhead parking. We got the perfect spot off the side of the road. It was near the trailhead but far back enough that we could easily walk to lunch later. Plus it led us directly to the exit road we needed to take.
We hiked to Lower Yosemite Falls. Ok, no, we walked. It was not a hike. It was stunning to see from afar, the waterfall peeking out between the trees. It had been a short walk. We looked at the map, Upper Yosemite Falls trail was long. It said that the full loop was 6-8 hours. Apparently along the trail there was a nice lookout Columbia Point which was a more reasonable distance. Gatorade, soda, chocolate bars and Pop Tarts in tow, we set off. As we climbed, I kept stopping for all the beautiful views, but also to catch my breath. I kept myself motivated: at Columbia Point I get a Pop Tart. That was the plan. As we kept climbing, the views of the valley would change ever so slightly. We thought we had gotten to the point, it sort of seemed like a point. We stopped, I sat down on a rock and ate my Pop Tart. Then some people passed us and we overheard their conversation. Not only were we not at Columbia Point, our pace was also much slower than Brent had initially thought (thanks to yours truly). On we hiked. I did not enjoy the sandy slopes, my calves were burning. By the time we reached the point my butt had joined the fray and was hurting. It was well worth the effort, the views were stunning. We could see the meadow down in the valley, we could see Half Dome and so many trees. On the way up we had seen a lizard and a woodpecker. I sat down on the rocks and tore into the Milky Way. The way back down was more stressful. I was unsure of my footing as I had to climb down the sand-covered stone steps (which were tiny in some places!). I inched my way down. Eventually we caught up to some people who were descending as we had approached Columbia Point. The lady pointed out Brent’s “We Want Beer” shirt and she was like YEAH! THIS GUY! I don’t know how she had so much energy. My legs and butt were really starting to ache now.
Back at the car I changed into my skirt and sandals and swapped out for a lighter purse. We were done hiking around 10:30am and still had time before our 12:30 lunch. While I repacked, I also ate some of the yogurt and granola- it was so damn good! We walked over to the Yosemite museum. It was cool to learn about the management side of the park and how they had to actually maintain the scenic views and make sure it’s not super overgrown. We also watched some of the wildlife camera highlights- given all we’d seen were squirrels, birds and lizards. They had photographs of Yosemite on display and from afar you could tell which one was by Ansel Adams, it was almost unfair to all the other photographers. I was expecting more of his work, maybe his camera, in the Ansel Adams Gallery. I was not expecting a glorified gift shop. I wanted to see his negatives and original prints! Maybe one of his outfits? We walked into the wilderness centre expecting to learn about local flora and fauna. I guess we still could have learned if we bought the little info identification cards. But no, it was an actual wilderness centre: they sold gear and permits and there were rangers.
Walking to Majestic Yosemite Lodge I, once again, regretted not putting on sunscreen. There was not nearly enough shade to protect me. The meadow was even more beautiful from ground level, with the mountains and the dip to the valley off in the distance. It was still kind of hard to fully enjoy it, with the sun still blazing and making it hard to photograph. At least it wasn’t nearly as blinding as it had been that morning. We were early for lunch but it wasn’t that busy so we got in. Lunch was a letdown at first. We split an order of deviled eggs, Brent had never had them before. The appetizers menu differed drastically from the mains, which were just burgers and sandwiches. I had the French onion soup. I was not impressed, and when it came time for dessert, I was honestly thinking id rather eat Oreos in the car. People around us had ordered cake and gotten massive slices, so we at least had to glance at the dessert menu to see what that was all about. Each person was shocked at the towering slice of layer cake. But when you looked at the menu, it was 2-3 times as many calories as the other offerings. No one should have been shocked. Brent suggested we get the lemon meringue pie. It was incredible, far and away the best dish we had. It stood in stark contrast to the rest of the lunch food. As if we had eaten at two completely different places. The thinking is that the dessert menu is part of the dinner fare, which is fancier (jackets required) and less cafeteria-quality.
It was a slow drive out of the park. We stopped to look at El Capitan and marvel that the guy climbed up it, seeing it in person is just nuts. It also hurt my neck to look up at it. I had left the Butterfinger in the car and it was a sad melted mess. I put it in the cooler bag in the hopes of reviving it, but the food in there was not faring much better. The cheese had melted and the meat was warm. The grapes were alright but a bit warm for my liking. The only winner of the hot car was the marshmallow Oreos. You could say they were out of this world.
We had just enough time- after dropping off the car and taking the (very slow) train to San Francisco- to check in to the hotel, do a quick change and head right back out the door. Oracle Park was just down the street from our hotel and we quickly got caught up in the crowd. Except they were so bad as pedestrians. No one was jaywalking! Once we got to the stadium, we were unsure where to go, there were people everywhere. We saw a lineup that went through metal detectors so we queued up. A lady came up behind us and asked if it was the line to get in. We said maybe, unsure. She laughed and asked someone else who said yes- she was like 80% sure. Then a guy came by and said it was the line to get into the merchandise store. We joined the huge crowd slowly making its way inside by the main entrance. We still had not heard from John’s friend Dave who might get us into the suites. We walked half the main course, noted where the Gilroy’s garlic fries stand was, and made our way to our seats. There was no point in getting food or drinks if we might be going to the suites. The most insufferable people were sitting behind us, talking anime and ignoring the game. One girl moved closer to her friend (i.e.: closer to us), good we thought, maybe she won’t be as loud. Nope, she was just as loud (actually louder, because she was now closer to us) and so high-pitched and just all around horrible. Thankfully Dave saved us during the 2nd inning, he came down and whisked us away to the Cloud Club.
We got wristbands and were told there was a buffet and it was open bar. Apparently, there was also a former Giants pitcher milling about, taking advantage of the offerings. We got to sit in comfy leather seats with a view of the whole field, and most importantly, the wall over which i needed the Giants to hit a home run so i could cross “see a Splash Down Home Run” off my things-to-see list. At the very least, they had to hit a regular home run and get my hopes up. What do people in fancy suites at baseball games eat? Hotdogs! For dessert: a brownie, a terrible cakepop (who makes a cheesecake cakepop?) and of course, a bag of Cracker Jacks. The plan was to go around the world, and have all three feature cocktails. All well and good, I went one more and had a spicy Paloma. Turns out it actually is a good drink, that lady at the A’s game was right. While getting my second drink at the bar, the baseball man (Jeremy Affeldt) had put his drink down and was signing a kid’s jersey. Afterwards he turned to me and jokingly asked if I’d put anything in it. I laughed, blushed mildly and said nah. And just as quickly, he was whisked away to meet & greet with more people. It was amusing how drunk he was. While getting drink #4 I met two guys who asked what I was getting. We high-fived on our shared goal of going around the world. They laughed and said of course, everyone would like to see a home run but his tone implied it was not going to happen. Of the three cocktails, the clear winner was the strawberry and prosecco one. I should have guessed that because everyone had one. The violet one came in a close second. It was the prettiest of the three. The watermelon one was dead last, it was tasteless and the only saving grace was the alcohol. Eventually they turned on the heat lamps by the seats and it was perfect.
The game was going really fast. Not great when you are in the suites and have an open bar and a buffet. We went back down to the concourse during the 8th inning but by then everything was closing. Thankfully I had eaten some popcorn on my third round of the buffet tables so I wasn’t too hungry. Walking the concourse, I posted another video to Instagram demanding a Splash Down Home Run. Blame the open bar. The game was still going so we went down to our seats. It continued into the 10th inning when the Giants finally won, on a walk-off non-home run. It was the lamest end to a game of all time. It also ruined my streak of seeing every home team hit a home run. It just meant we would have to come back again someday. Back in the hotel room I was too tired to even write it all up in my book.