Friday, July 11, 2008

Christmas 2007

We left home at 5:00 AM to get trough Los Angeles early, without traffic problems. The ride on I-5, through the San Joaquin Valley, was boring.
By noon we were at Vera and George's house in Walnut Creek, near San Francisco.
Vera and George are brother and sister in law of Doreen. Vera prepared a wonderful dinner for us and Doreen got all the latest news of the family.

We decided to continue on highway 101 instead of I-5. 101 is a very scenic highway, with grassy hills and forests.
At noon we arrived at Claudia's house. After unloading the car I was spending some time with Nicolette and Jacob.
They had packed back packs and little suit cases and were running away from home. The baggage ended up at the picnic table and they were playing in the yard.
They showed me all their hiding places and when Scott came home they took turns on the swing. I was afraid of this set up and did not want to push them. The swing is attached to a small tree and the kids fly towards a deep gully.

Since we do not have the motorhome with us, we are staying in the studio apartment. Scott and Claudia's house is build into the side of a hill and the garage and the studio apartment are on the lower level. The entrance to the house is on the upper level. Parking for cars are on both levels.

The weather changed today, it started to rain and the wind added to the uncomfortable condition. Most of the activities had to be done inside.

Another rainy day.

It was raining periodically. Doreen and I went to Scotia to the logging museum. The Museum was closed, so we went to Ferndale, the Victorian Village. We walked around town for an hour and then headed to the beach.
Then we went with Claudia and the children to Down Town Eureka.
When Scott came home we went out for dinner. Applebee's had 99 cent night for children.

It rained all day. We took the children to the movies. Alvin and the Chipmunks kept us entertained for a while. After the movie we went to the Indoor Mall where Nicolette and Jacob had fun on the slides. Doreen and Claudia went to the stores while I watched the little angels.

Today we saw some sun.
I stayed home all day. After Claudia picked up Jacob from preschool, I watched some cartoons
with him and helped him playing with his toys.
Doreen and Claudia visited Hanna and then picked up Nicolette from school, she is in first grade.
Since we leave tomorrow morning, Santa brought some of the presents a bit early. The children got their presents from us in the evening. Doreen was Santa Claus, she is in charge of presents.

When we left Eureka the red sun was coming over the mountains, no rain cloud in sight. They had good weather before we arrived and now will have sunny days when we are gone.
In the higher elevations, along highway 101, the country side was in a white blanket. There was frost on the grass and the trees. It was a beautiful sight.
Near Ukiah we took highway 20 east, towards Williams, to get on I-5 south. This highway is very scenic. It goes along Clearlake and a couple smaller lakes.
We arrived in Merced at about 3:00 PM.

The motel I chose turned out to be a bummer. It was noisy all night.
Trains came by and the engineers were heavy on the horn.
We left Merced at 6:15 AM and took highway 140 east. When we came near Yosemite National Park, the road followed the Merced River.
This is another beautiful scenic drive. I had expected to be using chains, but there was no snow. Doreen asked several times where the snow was. I had promised her that white stuff for Christmas.

When we came down to the valley there was plenty of snow. The roads were clear though and I did not have to put the chains on the tires.
Most of the cars parked near the lodge had snow on the roof and had to use chains.
We were early and our room was not ready. The sidewalks were covered with ice, but we managed to walk over to Yosemite Falls.
The falls have some water, not as much as in April. With snow on the ground and some in the trees, it is a perfect Christmas setting.
The sun shines and the snow melts in the trees and on the roofs of the buildings.
At noon we got the key for the room, unfortunately it was not made up. We moved our belongings in anyway.

The car was all iced up and I did not feel like scraping the windshield and the windows, so we took the free shuttle bus. Our first stop was the Visitor Center. They have beautiful, large displays about the park.
Our second stop was the Ahwanee Hotel. We wanted to see how the rich people live. I always enjoy going through the hotel, with its large fire places and the Native American Art on the walls.
We will not participate in the Christmas Dinner though. At $ 375.00 per person it is a little expensive for us.
On the way home we stopped at Yosemite Village and went to the museum and Ansel Adams Gallery. Both are worth a visit.
From the village we walked towards the lodge when the bus came along and we jumped on it.
This was a wonderful day. The weather is perfect and from our room we can
see the Yosemite Falls.

This was another beautiful, sunny day in the park. We took the bus to the Badger Pass ski area. The bus driver had to put chains on the back wheels for the last five miles. He had asked for volunteers for the task, but had no takers.
It was rather warm when we had our lunch at the veranda of the ski chalet. We sat there and watched the skiers and snow boarders come down the four ski runs.
There was also an area for beginners and a hill for the use of inner tubes. We stayed two hours and then took the first bus going back to the lodge.

This morning, on my way to get my E mail at the Reception Building, I thought about putting chains on the car. As soon as the sun came out I changed my mind. It could snow on our way home this Wednesday, and it is easier to do it when that white stuff does not come down.

I am still worried about the trip home tomorrow. The weather report says it will be snowing tomorrow. I also checked on the computer and it is the same story.
The sky is still blue and we took the bus to Curry Village. From there we walked to the Upper Pines campground to check out the facilities.
We talked to the camp host, who happened to be from La Mesa. He volunteers for six weeks in the winter, and loves it.
There are no hookups, only the camp host has water and electricity. We also talked to a couple who are there in their motorhome. They think it is great to camp in the snow, especially in this beautiful setting. The campground is in sight of half Dome, next to the Merced River.

They have double chains for the dual back wheels. I did not know there was such a thing. The bus driver put only chains on the outer rear tires.
On the way home we stopped at Yosemite Village for lunch. There were a bus load of Japanese in line and we decided to have lunch at the lodge.
It was 12:15 PM when we arrived there.

I asked Doreen how she would feel If we leave now for home. Under the coming weather condition she thought it was a good idea. I went to reception and asked them whether they would penalize us if we leave today. We were past check out time, which is at 11:00 AM, and we had
reservations for four days. The lady at the desk was in the holiday spirit and gave us 30 minutes to clear out, without penalty.
This was no problem since we had put all the items, we did not need for today, in the car.
Doreen warmed up the car while I removed the ice from the mirrors, the sun had taken care of the rest of the car. In the morning the whole car is iced up. We did not move the car while we were here. The free bus system is too convenient to lose a very good parking spot.
On the way out we stopped at several places and took pictures. I took my time and kept the speed at 30 miles an hour. Most of the Black Ice was at spots where the sun could not get to. The park uses no salt, only sand on the roads.
We had lunch in Oakhurst. All restaurants were closed, so we had our Christmas Dinner at Jack in the Box, a Chicken Meal. We were not the only customers. I was surprised.
The rest of the ride home was fine. We went through Los Angeles at about 7:00 PM and there were some slow spots.
We hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas day. I know some of you had snow, more than you need. We liked it, it was different for us.

Yosemite is beautiful all year. I would like to be a camp host there, for a month, in the summer or fall.

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