We awoke to discover on our morning walk around the campground that we had rejoined our old friends, the mosquitos. I had noticed a few last night but apparently we had come south enough to enjoy them in large quantities again. The big pool of stagnant water in the middle of camp didn't help.
I really had no idea of what to expect from Yosemite National Park. I was starting to think that maybe it was only famous because it was one of the closest parks to LA and that's where so much of our culture comes from. Fortunately, I was very pleasantly surprised by the sights and animals there.
The Yosemite Valley itself, with the Glacier-carved slopes and HUGE waterfalls, was breathtaking to me. Max was unimpressed.
We ate lunch by this meadow with the waterfall in the background. The longer we were there, the more I realized what a torrential amount of water was cascading over these falls. We took a loop down through the camping area, which was packed. I would have stayed but they apparently book up quite a ways out. Then I drove around this corner and there was a park ranger standing in the middle of the road, looking intently at something. Then I noticed that she had a very large gun in her hand. She waved me by but stopped the cars behind me. I looked over and saw a little black bear with her 3 cubs, sitting there wondering what all the commotion was about. They were right in a very populated camping area so I believe the rangers were trying to block off a path to chase them out of that area. Very cute, but I didn't stop to take a picture with the gun-toting ranger emphatically waving me on.
Then we're driving along, looking for a place to stop and walk around that looked like it wouldn't have bears lying in wait to eat Max, when I see this furry torso and legs sticking out from under this Mazda. I circle back through the parking area and stop about 10 feet away and watch this Marmot trying to get into the trunk of the car. He was very determined, and I don't know how long he was there before we got there, but we watched him about 20 minutes and he was not giving up. He'd chew for a while, then scratch, then mess around with the tailpipe, then climb up on the rear axle and try it from that angle. He would stop and look out whenever he heard anyone coming, but was completely oblivious to us watching, taking pictures, talking to him (like when I said "Hey varmint, I wouldn't do that if I were you" when he started chewing on the gas tank), etc. We moved on since Max had to go out and I didn't give him good odds against the little bear-beaver-thing (I had to ask a ranger later what it was).
The East Side of Yosemite tops 9,000 feet in elevation so it still had a good bit of snow, then a pretty steep descent down to lower elevations to the East. This last stretch of California and then into Nevada is one of those western drives that stretches all the way out to the horizon and I just love it. In addition to the frequent changes in vegetation and scenery, though, this road (CA-120) is almost like a roller coaster with lots of "whoop-te-do's" which, once again, I loved. Max: not so much.
We went across the top of Nellis Air Force Range since I've done the Vegas, Grand Canyon thing before a couple of times. We stopped for the night in Tonopah, NV. Upon discovering that the RV Park and camping facilities were sub-par, we checked into the Clown Motel for the evening. I was very hesitant, but it was pet friendly and fit our budget, and I was actually pleasantly surprised. I almost didn't even try to see if there was WiFi here, but it has turned out to be the best internet connection I've had since... I don't know, Orlando? I think it's even better than the one at our house in Savannah. And it is much quieter than any hotel we've stayed in so far. Max is sleeping soundly as we speak. Unfortunately, Tonopah bills itself as the number 1 stargazing destination in the country, so I'm going to have to go check that out.