The looong and winding rooooaaad

The journey from Furnace Creek to Yosemite is to be long and winding.

oh oh oh oh oh – coyote!!!!!!!!!
Right in front of us on the road out, Hubby notices movement and it’s a real live Wilie Coyote! We scream to a stop, I grab the camera expecting him to lope off any minute! Just one good shot please!. He looks at me, and comes in my direction and spends several minutes contemplating me. I think he was on the road checking for potential road kill, and maybe thinks I am going to feed him?

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Best not to, like with dingoes in Australia, feeding them can make wild creatures dependent on humans and aggressive if they don’t get what they want. Before you know it, a dingo has taken your baby and Meryl Streep is re-enacting your life.

So I rein in the temptation to lure it closer for a good shot, “here pup, pup, pup” but instead keep a respectful distance. I also don’t need more rabies shots – the squirrel bite in India 2004 was enough excitement for me (and if you are interested in THAT story do let me know!). I get off a few good shots before the next van comes down the road, and the coyote lopes off into the distance. How exciting! And wishes do come true, after all!!

The eastern passes of the Sierra Nevada are still snowbound, meaning the 4.75 hour drive north is now a 9.5 hour drive to skirt the southern end of the mountain range to enter Yosemite from Fresno and the south.
20140405-IMG_1392-19We retrace our path back till we turn towards the north west again, taking the road less traveled through the passes. At first the countryside is pretty barren and scrubby, cattle country. Past Lake Isabella and we start to climb, and we soon have a foretaste of what may face us in Yosemite – snow.
At first we only see it on the southern slopes, but as we climb to Alta Sierra, it’s on both sides and on the roadside. Signs proclaim winter conditions and ice, but we bask in mild 14 degree sunshine.
As we slalom our way down the other side, the trees become more temperate types. one can tell where the rain stops – this side of the range is lush and green in comparison with the eastern side.

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We pass a curious sign:

What does that mean? Am I being exhorted to eat like an American? Adding to the diabetes and obesity crises? Goodness me!

 

When we finally leave the hairpin bends behind, we end up on a ridiculously straight road through totally flat orchard country. On each side we are surrounded by flat lands of orange plantations, grapevines and agriculture.
One winery even advertises “your name on the label” which leaves us pondering the merits of a Werner Voignier, a Meyer Merlot or maybe a West Wooded Chardonnay?
I have my usually overoptimistic view of time – we clearly have enough time to get in a side trip to Kings Canyon National park on the way to Yosemite. Never mind that it’s 56 miles each way and the road winds up through the mountains and our average speed is likely to be 20mph…. and it’s now 3.30 pm as we approach Fresno.
Sigh – so much to see, so little time.
In the end we decide to overnight in Fresno. Now Fresno is interesting for its absolute lack of interest. I have a 600 page Lonely Planet guide to California and I can’t even find one paragraph on Fresno. That speaks volumes don’t it?

We turn off highway 140 and two blocks later we are in downtown, passing a Best Western where we can stay.BEST WESTERN Plus Fresno Inn

 

We did notice the Radisson on the way past, but the inn looks fine. I waltz up to reception and say to the lady “We would like to sleep with you tonight”, which causes a little consternation at first, but then she realises we are foreign and we get a big smile. I bet no-one has ever said that to her before.. And probably never will.

And a very nice sleep was had by all…

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