The BTW Weekly Log: Week 6

Begin Day #33

Quick Stats for today:

Today was: October 2, 2000 
Day Number: Thirty Three
Miles Travelled: 225 miles
Region Travelling in:  Death Valley/Yosemite
Approx Money Spent: $80

For the Lazy Ones who can read through:

We started the morning with the breakfast at the adjoining restaurant to our lodge. For 13 bucks we had a great breakfast served in an old country style. The restaurant is very well appointed in Stove Pipe Wells Village. We were ready to checkout when we noticed it - a real scorpion in our room!! It had a reddish tinge around its sting and was about three inches in length, not a very menacing one. But it was there. We locked our room and at check out time we told the folks about it. The lady said that all the bugs are a part of the desert experience. This is one thing you have to be careful about in the desert. Particularly most bugs are trying to find cool places to hide and the hotel rooms seem best for them!

The drive from Death Valley NP to Yosemite NP follows the route US395. It winds through the Sierra Nevada moutains and it can be very scenic at times. It can also be very hot around Death Valley, so you will need ac. However as you get closer to Yosemite the temperatures drop dramatically and then you will need you heater! This is what happened to us as we approached the town of Mammoth Lakes (about 30 miles south of Yosemite NP). We found a motel for 44 bucks. Motels and gas are very costly in California. So you got to budget more for them.

We then visited the Devils PostPile national monument. DPPNM is a natural formation which looks like a pile of pillars (or posts). At times these posts are curved and look like a huge stack of chalk. Its a good place to visit if you have a couple of hours. We later returned to the hotel and cooked spanish rice for dinner.


SOTD (Saying Of The Day):

Visiting Calif? Have a fall jacket and a summer cap handy!

 End Day #33


 Begin Day #34

Quick Stats for today:

Today was: October 3, 2000 
Day Number: Thirty Four
Miles Travelled: 160 miles
Region Travelling in:  Yosemite NP
Approx Money Spent: $60

For the Lazy Ones who can read through:

We left Mammoth Lake around 9 am and started towards Yosemite NP on US395. As we mentioned its a beautiful drive in this parts of the country. Our first visit was however outside YNP past the town of Lee Vining. It was the MonoLake (funny name) with its funny formations. The lake is salty and also caustic. It is saltier than most oceans. The lake has been receding slowly and getting saltier all the time. Interestingly below the lake are funny stone formations that are emerging out as the lake recedes. Its another nice stop if you have an hour.

We headed back to the town of Lee Vining - that is if you want to call a couple of motels, gas stations and restaurants as a town. We had a big brunch at an unlikely named restaurant as Nicelys for 12 bucks. We also gassed up for 12 bucks (the car has started eating as much as the two of us, with $2.40 per gallon prices!!) However we are saved because our SUV gives about 30 miles to a gallon.

We entered YNP around 11:30 am on the Tioga road. It further drives up to around 10000 ft to the Tioga pass. YNP here is absolutely stunning. We stopped at many of the places some of which are Toulumne Meadows, Tenaya Lake and numerous overlooks. We drove right through the western entrance about 80 miles. We also visited the Toulumne Visitor center - there is nothing much to see here except a few good exhibits and bear photographs.

At around 4:30 pm we headed out of YNP and were searching for a motel. We landed in the town of El Portal. However the one lodge in this town has exhorbitant rates as expected. A campground manager next door mentioned to us about the Yosemite Bug Hostel. The hostel was about 15 miles down the road set on the side of a huge mountain. They have cut the mountain to set the wooden buildings. In fact the passages between buildings were named as trails - meaning you have to really hike between buildings! We looked around and found a camping cabin for 33 bucks a night. The only downside being we have to hike up to the restroom! Otherwise it was a good deal and we settled ourselves down in here. Later, we discovered that they have a good kitchen that we could use. We also discovered that they had a coin laundry for which we had to hike up the hill! In all it was a good staying place. The kitchen was well stocked with utensils, cutlery and had two cooking ranges. When we went up to make dinner of Sambar-Rice, there was a nice young crowd cooking/eating out there. There was an internet access terminal too. The kitchen wall was decorated with signs like "WASH, DRY OR DIE. Your mother does not work here. Soooo, clean up your mess after yourself". We guess, as a result the kitchen was extremely clean. We cooked, ate and cleaned up and proceeded to our cabin for the night.


SOTD (Saying Of The Day):


End Day #34


Begin Day #35

Quick Stats for today:

Today was: October 4, 2000 
Day Number: Thirty Five
Miles Travelled: 150 miles
Region Travelling in:  Yosemite NP
Approx Money Spent: $51

For the Lazy Ones who can read through:

We woke up to a chilly morning and were almost freezing. The sleeping bags were doing their job very well and hence we were saved in the night. We hiked back up to the restrooms and got fresh. We headed to the hostel restaurant for a sumptuous breakfast for 12 bucks. The omlets were very good. At about 10:15 am we were travelling towards YNP. The road snakes along with river Merced and hence is scenic but curvy. We drove up to the Yosemite Valley. YNP is under stress of large number of visitors and is eroding away pretty fast. Most of the parking lots were almost full inspite of it being a week day. We had to park in a make-shift parking lot and hike about 15 minutes to get to the visitor center. Moreover, the signs were confusing - in short it was close to a mess.

However there are movements to save Yosemite. We were glad to hear about grandoise plans to make Yosemite as good as ever. In fact we later realized that except Yosemite valley the rest of the park seems pretty good.

We saw a small film about yosemite attractions at the visitor center. Then we walked across to the Indian Village that is recreated to depict 1870s life in Yosemite. There are a few wigwams (huts built buy red indians) and other things. We next visited the photogallary that displays works of Ansel Adams and others. Itseems like Ansel Adams has a soft corner for Yosemite. In fact there is a mountain nearby called Ansel Adams mountain. We saw some stunning pictures from other national parks too. We then went to a picnicing area for a short afternoon siesta.

Our next point was the Mariposa grove: it houses the giant Sequoias. These are trees that are living for quite sometime, actually more than a thousand years. The trees can grow around 200 ft and can have a base of around 30 ft. That is really big!! They are also considered the oldest living things on earth and California has tons of them. We hiked in Mariposa grove for about 2 miles. We were tired and dusty, hence we rushed to replenish ourselves with coffee.

It was now a race against time to get to the next site, Glacier point. We wanted to be at this site to view as the sun sets. We drove for about an hour and made it. From Glacier pt, you can view the whole of Yosemite NP. The monolith stone mountains of YNP stand out at sunset. Even the yosemite valley looks fantastic from the top. Hundreds of cameras were feeling the same way as we did.

We then drove back to the hostel and cooked dinner. Surprisingly there was no crowd in the kitchen today and we ate our bread and beans almost to ourselves. We also made changes to our plan for the night and decided to sleep in the hostel dorms. We wanted to experience whats it is like and also escape the cold of the night. Hostels are an economic solution for staying and eating. You mostly find an young and energetic crowd in these hostels. We have dorms usually housing ten to fifteen people. There are bunk beds (double decker beds) and common restrooms. You get separate dorms for men and women and co-ed ones too. We chose the separate ones and slept separately. Though people are considerate the noise in the dorms might affect your sleep but otherwise our experience was very good. Hostels are very cheap. The other advantage of hostels is that you bump into crowd from all over the world and it is fun to know their lifestyles. On the downside you dont have privacy and you dont know what kind of crowd you will get into. Also Deepa was not comfortable using the same utensils in the kitchen.

In general one thing we felt about YNP is that it is more of a spring destination than a fall one. This time of the year the water in the streams runs dry and you dont get to see any of the waterfalls. The path can get dusty. Also the valley floors are resplendent with flowers in spring. Also winter is another fantastic season in YNP. We have to return here!


SOTD (Saying Of The Day):


End Day #35


Begin Day #36

Quick Stats for today:

Today was: October 5, 2000 
Day Number: Thirty Six
Miles Travelled: 220 miles
Region Travelling in:  California
Approx Money Spent: $85

For the Lazy Ones who can read through:

Today was a mostly travel/rest day. In fact the only site we visited was a Dennys restaurant for lunch! (we had a coupon). We had coffe and bread for breakfast in the hostel kitchen and drove towards southern california. Our plans are to visit the Big Sur coast tomorrow. We mostly drove through desert local roads. These roads need you to keep your headlights on because of sudden sand/dust storms. We reached a town called Paso Robles around 4pm. This town has abundant desi owned motels so we did not have trouble in finding a good one for 38 bucks. We checked in and took the rest of the day off - a vacation on a vacation! We did a little bit of a planning for the last day of BTW, i.e. tomorrow.

Dinner, rice with black beans was cooked in the hotel room.


SOTD (Saying Of The Day):

Coupons work yet again!

 End Day #36


 Begin Day #37

Quick Stats for today:

Today was: October 6, 2000 
Day Number: Thirty Seven
Miles Travelled: 220 miles
Region Travelling in:  California coast
Approx Money Spent: $59

For the Lazy Ones who can read through:

The last day of BTW 2000 dawns as a foggy, cloudy one - a typical California coast day. We started early today around 8:30 am. At about 10:30 am we could see the Pacific ocean from the Calif coast. Officially we had completed the coast to coast drive!

We stopped for breakfast at a town called Cambria. The breakfast place claimed "where the locals come". We did see a lot of local people, mostly seniors discussing politics. After breakfast we continued on the famous route 1. It winds its way around California coast north to south. Most of the road is designated as scenic. The coast here is kind of different because there are mountains jutting right out of the pacific ocean. Hence route 1 is a very curvy and at times very slow to drive. But you are rewarded with the fantastic views of the rocky coast. It aslo means that there are very few sand beaches here (as compared to other coast lines).

Our first stop today was the famous Hearst castle. It is one of the most visited destinations in California. It is built in a huge ranch of more than 90,000 acres on top of a mountain right on the coast. It is so expansive that you have to travel in a bus for five miles to reach the castle from the visitor center. The castle was started in 1928 and costed more than 20 million dollars then. You can imagine the richness that William Hearst was carrying when he built it. He was born in a rich family and was a newspaper tycoon. We think its a good idea to build a lavish castle when you have the pots overflowing with gold. We took the starters tour (they have now dropped the visitor fees to 10 bucks from 14). The best things we liked are two swimming pools and the gardens outside. One of the pools is an outdoor greco-roman style pool complete with the pillars and all. The other pool is an indoor one with gold and venetian glass on the floor. You can imagine the lavishness. The other things we saw were the dining room, the living room etc. In all we feel it is worth the ten bucks if you like antiques, and if the weather is good - you get some stunning views of the coast from the garden.

We further drove up route 1 to the Big Sur coast. Here the big sur river joins the ocean. The forces of nature have carved a beautiful coast here. Man has added a beautiful bridge to complement it. We stopped at several vista points. Further up we drove to Monterey peninsula. There is a famous scenic drive here called the 17 mile drive. We did not opt for it because the weather was cloudy and foggy. We took scenic route 17 to get into Santa Clara. The end of BTW was celebrated with the dinner at an Indian restaurant called Pasand (yep, we were missing Indian food!). We are staying with Ravi and Vaiju Koulagi.


SOTD (Saying Of The Day):

All good things come to an end!

End Day #37

We are ending week number 6 and our trip. We think that the trip has turned us into new individuals - it has taught us a lot. It was one of the best things we have ever done. Looking back, we think its an achievement of a lifetime. Thank you all for staying with us through this.

This website will be changing for some more days because we are planning on some extensive additions and conclusions from the trip. Soon we will also be adding lot of pictures from the trip. As always send us e-mail if you want to know when the updates are done. A few quick things: we drove for 8097 miles (12855 km). This was far beyond our expectations of 4500 miles. Also the grand total for expenses comes to around 2700 dollars for the two of us. Thats it for now folks!!

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