I was picked up at the Jelly Belly factory by Joan and Doug - my Mum's cousin. After a quick lunch we headed out to Columbia - made famous by the Gold Rush in the 1850's. Today Columbia is a state park and still run as it was in the 1800's. Here I got to have a pint in the Saloon, taste the root beer they used to drink (it was really sweet and tasted like concentrated coke - yuk!), see the candy store, stage coach, bank, pharmacy, dentist, blacksmith's, fire engine as it all was originally. There was also some good gift shops with authentic cowboy outfits in although I resisted!
We then continued on to a Jamestown - a similar town that was founded as part of the Gold Rush but that is a "normal" town today. I got to see the railroad museum but unfortunately couldn't go in as it was closed. After dinner in Jamestown we headed up to Doug and Joan's cabin in the mountains where we spent the night.
The following morning it was up early as we were off to Yosemite. I wasn't really sure what to expect as although I knew I was going there I didn't really know what was there. The first view you get is amazing view of half dome (a big rock that looks as those half of it has been cut away!) in the distance flanked by two other rocks with loads of greenery. We then drove down into the valley to get a better view of the area and all the falls. Although there was a lot snow this winter most of it had already melted so the falls were considerable less then they would have been during May/June time. We visited four main falls - Bridal Veil (unfortunately this didn't look like a Bridal Veil), Lower Yosemite Falls (more of a trickle), Upper Yosemite Falls (virtually non existent!) and Vernon Falls. I also got to see El Captain, although we couldn't spot anyone doing the 2 day climb (you sleep halfway up apparently!) as well as having lunch at the Awahnee Hotel which was delicious. There was also lots of wildlife to be seen including a deer and her 2 fawn who were extremely cute!
After a typical American Breakfast of Waffles it was off to see the Giant Sequoias. Sequoias are trees that have typically live for around 3,000 years and grow to on average 300ft. They are very unusual in that they survive fire and need it to re-germinate. We got to take the tram up to the top of the forest (good altitude training as we started about 6,000ft!) to pass by all the usual ones. There are some that have fallen over where you can see the roots, others that have developed "holes" in the trunk mainly from fire that you can actually walk through (you used to be able to drive through!). What really amazed me was the sight of the branches on these trees as they're equivalent to the size of a normal tree!
After a brief stop at the Pioneer centre in Wawona (it means Big Tree in Native American) where we were able to look at how some Native Americans type housing and how the first visitors to Yosemite came/stayed it was off to Glacier Point. Glacier Point was the site of some Glaciers several hundred years ago but these have all melted away to contribute to the views you see of Yosemite today! There were some amazing views of Yosemite particularly Half Dome again! All too soon it was time to hit the road again. Yet again it is an area I definitely want to come back and spend more time in so I can hike and bike some of the many trails that are around. Thank you so much to Joan & Doug for their generosity and showing me the wonderful sights of Yosemite.