After our not so fun ride into the West side of Yosemite, we decided we would exit the East side and drive up to Tahoe from the East. Frankly the thought of going down the road we came in with just made us all sick to our stomach. Arnie was a bit nervous as the Tioga Pass write-up said you would climb to 9,000 feet and that is alot when driving a 32 foot RV, but I was up for it and I would be doing the driving. After getting some gas at our RV park store, just to be case given the altitude we would climb, we hit the road.
Tioga Pass is described as such in our National Geographic book: "Tioga road, which climbs into an alpine world of snowy peaks, crystal lakes, wind-tousled meadows, and relatively few people." Doesn't that just sound divine, I was so excited. We stopped at many of the look-outs and little lakes along the road. We saw signs for the White Wolf lodge and it was the first day it was open for the season, as it was June 21st, the first day of summer, so we thought we would stop to see it. I don't know about you but when it says "lodge" I think it is going to be a rather large building with hotel like rooms. Well lodges at Yosemite are a but different. They have these "rooms" that are part cement walls, and then have heavy duty tarps, like the types of tents you rent for an outdoor wedding, as the roof and walls. There are tons of them, and this is what they call a lodge. So we quickly turned around and headed out again.
The first place we stopped was a cute little lake surrounded by great trees. It was just a picturesque point and we were just warming up.
The second main stop was Olmsted Point. A few things were magnificent about this place; 1) it had the most amazing long-distance view of Half-Dome, through a valley; 2) it was steep rock cliffs the kids of course loved to play on; and 3) a group of about 20 park ranger fireman stopped to take a picture :) (bummer for you all I was too shy to take one of them, I am guessing they were either in training or coming back from fighting the wildfire, based on their ages, I think the former).
Our next stop was right around the corner at Tenaya Lake. Gosh this place was beautiful. We took lots of photos and just walked around. Henry loved getting his paws wet in the ice cold water. Speaking of water, there was a mom and her two older daughters there, I am guessing around 16 and 20. She dared the older daughter to jump in the water like the polar bear club. I never thought she would do it, but she did, and then they made her stay in a minute to get whatever prize she would get. I had to clap for her, that was above and beyond. The water was so clear and blue, but definitely alpine in temperature. Henry is actually in the photo below with Arnie and I, but his black fur blends in so well with our fleeces it is hard to see.
Our last stop was Toulumne Meadows. This is what gets written up on Tioga Road, it is also where the visitor center is, camping and the most activity in general (i.e. post office). We were a bit early for the summer flowers that normally cover the meadow but it was still really beautiful. We had a nice picnic lunch and then headed off on the Soda Springs trail. It is names so as it has a natural spring at the end of it. Along the way we meandered a bit and stopped by the flowing river, definitely a bit like "a river runs through it" film. We even ran into some rangers on horseback on the way back.
Coming out of the park was a bit tough, remember that 9,000 feet we climbed (well really only about 3,000 as we were already high), we now had to come down most of it in less than 5 minutes. The RV has a button you push when ascending or descending a bunch, it is the "haul/tow" function and it lets the engine slow you down vs. the brakes. We despite this being on and me using the breaks, the RV smelled like it would explode. But...pulling off isn't quite easy either, remember NO GUARDRAILS anywhere near this place. I finally found a place to pull off and rest the engine, it took a good 5 minutes for the smell to go away.
An unexpected highlight was the drive up to Tahoe. We were driving on Route 395 North, another scenic
byway, and boy was this one. Having done Route 101 down the Coast, and now Route 128 in Moab through the canyons, this was right up there with it. It started with Mono Basin, which is a MASSIVE lake filled by all the run-off of the snow. The funny thing is it doesn't go anywhere, so over time it has become salt-water like as it evaporates away. It was so beautiful, blue like the Mediterranean, almost unreal looking. Because of it's properties, it has become the "stopping point" for over 2 million migrant birds each year.
The drive then turns into rolling hills in the foothills of the sierra nevadas, with thousands of cattle dotting them. At this point I felt like I was in Montana a bit. The entire drive up to Carson City was just beautiful, I highly recommend it. We pulled off for dinner at In-and-Out burger, just have to do it when in Cali (but I am the only one who likes it), a stop at WalMart to stock up and off we went to our friends place in Tahoe.
All of my pics from the RV don't give the drive it's justice in terms of beauty, so I am not posting any. But we did stop to take pics of the sunsetting over Tahoe- just beautiful.
A bit about the Shield's lake house. Louisa and Tom Shields are friends of ours, I met Lou when she interned at P and G with me. She did not come back but we remained friends since. They live in San Fran, just south, she works at Apple now and he owns his own company after many years in Venture Capital. They bought this place about 10 years ago. They own 200 acres in the Tahoe National Forest, about 45 minutes from the lake, heading West on Route 80, Yuba gap area. The cool thing is their property is on the Emmigrant Pass, you can see the historical markings, Indian markings on stone, stagecoach tracks on rocks and more. They have a 7 acre lake so we can go boating and canoeing and it is just a magical place. Last time we came I was pregnant with Sarah, so 8 years ago so we were anxious to go back and just relax for three nights (and sleep on real beds).
ps - I am now a week behind again, we are realizing that it is impossible to upload any photos when we are not in a city. I try to catch up at friends places, as the MiFi still needs a cell tower to pick up from, and essentially once we are in national forest or national parks, which has been all non-city stops for the last 2.5 weeks, it just won't upload. So now we are in Portland and I am trying to catch up.