I will get into road trips and my long history of both hating and loving them in a future post, but just to set the table: I have been on a lot of them, and will always support them as a way to make a trip more enjoyable.
My latest road trip was from Portland, Oregon to Yosemite National Park in California in roughly 4.5 days. Normally I would avoid a trip like this because with a round trip of 1,448 miles, 4.5 days is not enough to drive and enjoy the park. However, the goal of this trip was not to camp and hike Yosemite, but my friend Burton’s wedding. I was a little skeptical at first but the wedding was great and I was very honored to be a part of the celebration.
I left Portland after work on a Wednesday night with the plan of reaching Redding, California, 422 miles away. While Redding is a decent size town, with plenty of overnight options, my motivation to make this destination my first stop was the fact they had the closest In-And-Out Burger to Oregon. While I got into town later than I normally eat dinner (around 10:45 pm), its In-And-Out, so I pigged out like any rational person would. My typical order of a Double-Double, Animal-style fries, and Neopolitan shake, sat like a cinder block in my stomach, but was so very worth it.
After gorging myself, I quickly set out to find a place to spend the night. Now, as you will find out in future posts, I am ridiculously cheap. Almost to my detriment, but I try to keep my cheapness to a rational level. However, as time for this trip was limited, and I still had 300 miles until Yosemite, this stop was not going to be a long one by any means. With a few solo and two-person road trips under my belt, I was aware that Wal-Mart allows people to camp/sleep in their parking lots, so after finding one I settled into a space that was better fitted for someone half my size. After what can be best described as a long nap I was back on the road, and was able to get into Yosemite around 10 am.
I had only driven through California once before, back in 2012, and had a great experience. This particular time wasn’t bad, however, you can see the drought is taking its toll on the land. Everything in the park looked burned or was dying from a lack of water, and it was extremely dusty. A few lakes I passed seemed to be about a year away from being 100% dry.
With the limited time I was only able to get in 1-2 hikes, as Saturday was dedicated to the wedding, and Sunday to driving back. I was able to fight the crowds on Friday morning and hit the Mist Trail that leads up to Half Dome. The incline was incredible, and even though I had done Dog Mountain (Washington) the week before, it was still an arse-kicker. Although the weather was insane (100 back-to-back days), it made for some amazing views.
Sunday’s drive back was surprisingly easy. I left later than expected, but was home and had the car unpacked by 7 pm. I only made two stops, Redding to gorge myself again and refuel, and another refuel around Eugene, OR, and the most traffic I hit was around 75 miles south of Portland. Although it was a quick trip, it was a lot of fun and I was honored to be a part of my friend’s special day. As for Yosemite itself, it was a great setting for a wedding, but I’m wasn’t that impressed with it.
I, jokingly, refer to myself as spoiled when it comes to National Parks as I have been to a decent amount thus far. As great as the views and trails were, I much more enjoyed the new friends I met and the old friends I reconnected with. The park itself was very crowded and their ability to gouge visitors on price was second to none (ex. gas $4.69/gallon). For example, I spent five days in Olympic National Park (future post) on Memorial Day and much preferred the trails, views and overall outdoor experience.
*This is my first post, so please be kind if you choose to comment. Hoping to clear more time in the future so I can enter posts in one sitting rather than writing one over the course of two days. Thanks for reading.