on April 6, 2007
The highlight of my trip by far was our tour of Yosemite National Park. When we first booked the tour I was a little concerned about the length of the tour (14 hrs) and the amount of money it cost ($125). However, shortly after entering the park, all concerns melted away.The morning began early with the Gray Line bus picking us up outside our hotel. We then traveled across the Bay Bridge, through Oakland, and then across the Central Valley to reach Yosemite. We stopped for Breakfast at a small, family owned store before continuing on toward the park. As we drove we also encountered wind generators (something a native Floridian seldom sees) and the California Aqueduct. Although the driver was a little "corny" at times, he was well informed and did have some interesting tidbits to add to the drive.We arrived in the park around 11:30. Our first stop was the overlook featured in one of my pictures. This gave us an introduction to the rock formations and we were immediately in awe. After pausing to take pictures and pose, we reboarded the bus and headed to a visitor center near the base of Yosemite Falls. At the visitor center we divided up and were given ~3 hrs to explore the area. My friends and I grabbed lunch at the nearby cafeteria. Burgers, pizza, salads, etc. were available for less than $10 and the food was reasonably tasty.After lunch, we explored Yosemite Falls and the stream nearby. We were also free to take trams to other locations. We opted against this because of the limited time frame, but others on the tour used them with no problem.Once we regrouped, we stopped briefly at 2 or 3 more locations for photographs and then headed out of the park. The trip back across the Central Valley was a little uncomfortable in late July. The temperatures were extremely hot and the A/C on the bus was no match. We paused briefly for a bite to eat on the way home and then headed back to SF. We arrived back at the hotel around 9pm that night. The day was definitely long. The tour was pricey and our time in the park was limited. However, I would not trade that day for anything in the world. Yosemite is by far one of the most beautiful areas I've ever seen. Standing in the Valley is like standing in the middle of a 360 degree post card. Pictures and words do not do the park justice. One must truly experience it for his/herself. More information is available on the tour at www.grayline.com or by phone at (415) 434-8687. If traveling on the tour, remember to bring plenty of film/memory space for your camera and a little spending money for food and souvenirs. Also try to dress in layers so that you can add or remove articles according to fluctuating temperatures. Finally, bring something to do to avoid boredom on the drive.
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