2016 Yosemite road diary: June 20 - 24

        Monday, June 20
Leave Oakland 11:40 AM after dr's appt. 73 degrees F.
Reach Oakdale 1:25, stop for lunch at Sno-White Drivein, under new management yet again.
New mgmt has not yet learned how to flavor a milkshake despite (or because of) offering 55 varieties.
But burger & fries are good; probably a different corporate division makes them.
Leave Oakdale 2 PM; out of Central Valley into grasslands, 2-lane blacktop highway.
Farmland, haying, cattle, horses in place of freeways and orchards.
96 degrees at Yosemite Junction; give thanks for A/C in car.
98 at foot of Priest Grade, 94 at top, cooling with elevation.
93 at Big Oak Flat, 91 at Groveland, 86 at park entrance.
Stop at Chinese Camp for soda; motel, store, probably entire town is for sale. We did not ask the price.
Into Yosemite valley to sounds of Hildegard von Bingen in car; appropriate to Nature's cathedral.
All is still, calm, and green at Fern Spring.
Pause at foot of Bridalveil Fall for photos; busy place. Hear many languages spoken on the trail.
But see nobody taking selfies, everyone looks up at the falls.
Reach Tenaya Lodge about 6 PM; a large place, but looks nice.
Obamas have just left. Actually they stayed at Ahwahnee, Secret Service guys stayed here.

        Tuesday, June 21
Up at 6 AM. No coffee in lobby; nothing open till 6:30. Grrr.
Go back to room, try to figure out in-room coffeemaker.
Head north for Glacier Point ~8:15; 63 degrees.
The famous breathtaking view is not over-rated.
After walking and gaping for an hour, we head for the nearly deserted, flower-filled McGurk Meadow.
See maybe six people in three hours; what a change from crowds elsewhere.
Then back to car and drive to beautiful Summit Meadow.

        Wednesday, June 22
Leave Tenaya Lodge 9:30 for Chilnualna Falls trailhead.
Take wrong turn, end up at 7th Day Adventist camp and another trailhead to the "Swinging bridge".
Decide to hike here, glad we did; lovely level forest path to bridge over Chilnualna Creek.
(Chilnualna apparently means "mosquito", but we had no problem with them.)
Many wildflowers, including Mariposa lily. List of flowers we saw on trip is below.
Back to car, find C. Falls trailhead, ascend steep slippery path to falls.
Old jogging shoes lack traction; but rockbound waterfall is worth the climb.
Return to Wawona Hotel (presently called Big Trees Lodge because of a legal dispute) for lunch,
then set out on Wawona Meadow trail circuit.
A long dry 2-hour loop, but very scenic.
Meadow is bordered by old 19th-century rail fence; good scenic Christmas-card material, maybe.

        Thursday, June 23
Back up to Wawona, start to hike Mariposa Grove trail; dry, dusty, boring amidst view-blocking trees.
Decide to do W. Meadow again.
Many bugs this morning, learn to hike with mouth closed.
Then lunch again at hotel, return to Tenaya Lodge, nap till dinner.

        Friday, June 24
Up early, pack. Pack some more. And again.
(We spread out a lot when we stay at a place.)
Pause for coffee and yogurt takeout from lodge deli.
Had planned for leisurely breakfast on last day, but with a 6 1/2 hour drive ahead of us...
Leave Tenaya 9:30.
At Crane Flat store, long line outside for gas; long line inside for unappealing cellophane bags of dry snacks. Skip both.
Leave park reluctantly.
Reach Oakdale 1:40. Have checked TripAdvisor for lunch place, settle on Cahoots Corner Cafe.
Good choice; also under new management, but one that knows how to cook.
Hungry; yogurt is OK but not much to start a day on.
Order biscuits, gravy, sausages, coffee; dive in.
Return through tree-lined Escalon, then hit freeways.
Back home about 4 PM.

        Wildflowers-seen list:
lupine, columbine, larkspur,
yarrow, strawberry, corn lily,
Indian paintbrush, violets,
shooting stars, ranunculus, phlox,
forget-me-nots, owl clover, Wyethia (mule ears),
thimbleberry, calochortus, wild currant,
buckwheat, wild roses, Tragopogon (salsify or goats'-beard),
Clarkia, dianthus (Indian pink), penstemon,
Chamaebatia (kit-kit-dizze or mountain misery,
so called for its dense sticky hard to penetrate foliage),
Blue gilia, linanthus (also called Leptosiphon montanus, Mustang clover)

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