Monday, April 06, 2009

Close, and other subjective terms

While I usually embrace new technology and try to stay up with the times, I have learned over the years, not everything that glitters is gold. Take online reservations for example. Having recently lamented the fact that I never get around to doing some of things I really want to, I asked for a few days off to take the family to Yosemite. Even though I am heading up a new project at work, things fell into place and my boss gave me Friday and Monday off.

In the old days, you would call the park to see if they have any vacancies or look for campgrounds around the park and make a few more calls. Eventually, either you find a campsite, or you find you need to pick a different weekend. However, in today's point and click world, you go to the Yosemite website, click on reservations, and input your requirements. Fill in the blanks for trailer length, full hookups or self-contained, number of nights etc., and presto, you have your reservation. Now for the subjective part; "close to the park entrance."

That word close can have many meanings. In this particular case, close meant, it is closer to the park than your house is.

On a map, Eastman Lake even looks "close" to the southern entrance to Yosemite. Sacagawea, the name we have given to our GPS unit, says its only 37 miles from Eastman Lake to the south entrance. When I saw this on the online reservation page, I was thinking, okay its 45 minutes from the park, an hour tops. Woops.

Some two and half hours from our campsite, we pulled into Yosemite Valley. Granted we did make it to the park's southern entrance in one hour and forty-five minutes, it takes quite a while to get from there to the valley floor.

It was worth the drive. We brought our bikes, rented one for our daughter, and we rode the bike trails all afternoon. We rode all over the valley floor, something my thighs will swear to in a court of law. We parked at the village center about 10:30 and the crowds were just starting to arrive in force. By 2:00, it was crowded anywhere you went.

We spent most of that day just looking up and saying, wow. Pictures are great and the movie they show at the visitor's center is nice, but you really have to see it for yourself.

So as the shadows grew longer, I thought we might cut some time by going out the main entrance and finding a new way back to camp. Woops.

Following the Merced River down the valley to Mariposa, we plugged Eastman Lake into Sacagawea, and with her smooth yet annoying voice, she said, “Turn left in point seven miles." That took us to Ben Hur Road. Imagine Ben Hur Road as a corkscrewing ribbon of potholed asphalt that goes on for miles. I did enjoy seeing the cattle grazing on the hills as I drove my Dodge 4X4 down the rough road, smacking my head against the roof the entire way.

Three hours from leaving Yosemite, we pulled back into our campsite. The next day, we stayed at Eastman Lake. While not as visually exciting and majestic as Yosemite, it did have one thing going for it.

It was "close."

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