I woke up around 6am. Cold. I was cold in the night, the sleeping bag failed. If it was too hot previously then now I was missing heat and woke up with a sore throat. When the Sun rays hit the tent at 7am, I decided to wake up and quietly left the tent trying to not wake the others as the plan for the day allowed them to sleep for another hour. Only 9 degrees above zero. It had been raining more in the night and the forest was wet. The sun enlightened the rain drops that were caught by leaves and needles.
As long as I had stood firmly on my feet and looked around, already two girls asked if we are leaving today. Exactly how we did it yesterday. Only they did it already at 7am! This campsite is really demanded! It’s not exactly clear why so, though, as it was possible to stay somewhere lower down at the base of the mountain where it’s much warmer. They were happy by the answer that we are really leaving today already, asked where are we from, why. I told again that we will be chasing the eclipse. I didn’t try to explain where Latvia is – they were already surprised that we have come from Europe. So that the campsite would be safely “booked” they left their equipment in the site which was still for now ours.
To feel a little bit more live I decided to wash my hair and shave. Probably those are not the most typical actions of campers, but the decisions made early in the morning can be not as wise. Then I went to walk around the area while others were still waking up. In many places campfires were lit and breakfast prepared, here and there music was playing already, It looked like many people arrive here for several days – camper car (RV), sleeping bag, drying clothes, … And so many people. What’s the joy and nature here if all those neighbours are so close.
In the morning briefing Agnese says that “today we have only one thing in the plan, even though yesterday there was only one as well”. There’s a round of laughter as everyone remember the adventures in the mountains yesterday where we had to do “just one” round-trip to the Glacier point and back.
We gathered our things, got ready and left for the road. I already gradually started to get used to the winding roads of mountains, did not have the anxiety as in the first times of driving. I started to enjoy them. Really. The roads to the park, from the park and inside the park, those are simply really unreal, they are as in the game “Need for Speed”, only wit that difference tat the stress is real as there is no space for mistakes. Turn to one side, to the other, back to the first, downwards, a bend, more downwards, turn while going up, besides those are all one after another without any straight sections in between, they are not flat, but made as race track bends with an actual slope inwards. There are also no barriers, only trees – if you let the car go straight, then it’s for forever. And the sights behind the trees and past the edge – mountains, far away and other impressive sceneries. It’s fantastic to drive on such roads, and usually I don’t really like to be at the wheel.
The American road signs seem quite weird, they like to write all kinds of texts on them, and there are quite small amount of pictograms. Some signs are similar to the European ones, for example “stop” and “give way” (yield), but the speed constraints are completely different – those either work from one sign to another (zone) or for a particular distance which is depicted on another sign, for example – the 2 following turns. They are writing all kinds of texts on the signs, for example, “Report drunk drivers, call 911″, “Please don’t drink and drive”, “Two left lanes go to X city”, “Fasten safety belts, state law”, “Right lane must turn”, and some more variations. Besides, those are really standard road signs not informative posters.
It was hard to get used to three more american traffic features. They are allowed to tur right on a red if the road is free, They can put “stop” signs in the junction on all the roads which join here – then it’s as suspected – who comes first, stops and continues the first. And also on the highways they pass also on the right. Must be careful for this one. I don’t know if it is really allowed but my suspicion is that is because the highways go through cities, and cities are merged, and it is easier to not differentiate what’s happening in the part of populated place and what outside it.
When we got to the Wawona village, those who had the least gas, filled their tanks by a couple of gallons so we could safely reach the next fueling place. The fuel in mountains is, of course, much more expensive than outside the Yosemite, but it would be much worse to be left somewhere on the road.
Then we went to Nelder Grove to the big trees – sequoias – some of which are still growing there. Already by the parking we notice two stumps of the former giants. They seemed unbelievably big. We did a small, a couple of kilometres long loop along forest path to find sequoias. There were not many of them, but the view was impressive. Those trees are huge, even hugely huge. “Everything is big in America” somebody will say later. It’s, however, not really possible to photograph that hugeness by taking a simple picture, they look like quite ordinary trees, but when a person is put next to them to understand the scale, the person in the photo will be tiny. They must be seen in the real life to realise the grandness. Sequoias are growing for many thousands of years – it is sad that many were cut so quickly and without much reason.
We continue our route to Los Banos and feel that the air and everything else get hotter and hotter. On the way on the straight highway the ones in front suddenly brake and turn off the road to the roadside gravel. I wasn’t at all excited by this maneuver but I must admit that it was worth it – we have stopped at figs plantation, they were very delicious – as normal for a forbidden fruit..
This time we are in the motel very early, late afternoon. And it’s very hot, the temperature is more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit or around +39 degrees Celsium. Hot. We spread out the wet tents in the yard, and those got dry in one moment,
We turn into a petrol station (Circle K, by the way), where we fill our tanks full this time, and again visit Walmart, to prepare for the long drive tomorrow and also a party tonight – a week has passed by since we started the trip.