Still giddy from the amazing riding through Lassen Volcanic National Park, I went against the advice of local riders I chatted with at a rest area, and took CA-32 out of the park to Chico. Their warning about 15-20 minute construction delays turned out to be more like 30-45 minutes, but the bright red line highlighting the route on my Butler motorcycle map was just too much to resist. Although road construction has been a common theme on this trip, fortunately, so has super friendly people! I was first in line when a flag-woman stopped traffic and said the pilot-car delay would be at least 30-minutes. So, I shut off my engine, put down the kick-stand, and proceeded to have a great chat with her for the duration of the wait 🙂
I had texted Larry, my Bunk-a-Biker host for that evening, to let him know that I would be delayed, but I still felt bad as I rolled up to their house in Olivehurst, CA about an hour later than expected. He was still at work, but his wife Sharon, waved me into the garage and got me settled in as if I were family. By the time their daughter Madison and Larry showed up, dinner was ready and we sat down to a tasty meal and great conversation. I just can’t say enough about how great the Bunk-a-Biker community is, and find it hard to articulate how comfortable and welcomed I’ve felt at each stay. Another family I’m looking forward to hosting in North Carolina soon 🙂
Larry shared his local knowledge by helping me plot out the best route to Yosemite National Park from their place. Now that it was after Labor Day, I was able to score a room for several nights at the Yosemite Valley Lodge, right in the park. I took advantage of being within minutes of some of the most iconic sights in the park, as well as a Ranger-led nature walk and an Ansel Adams studio camera-phone photography class!
According to the NPS, “the name Yosemite is simply a corruption of the term which the southern Miwoks (Indians) applied to any species of bear and particularly to the grizzly.” The name became synonymous with the whole valley to the white people who first came in contact with it, so they started referring to the valley’s native inhabitants as Yosemites. The Park’s beauty lies in its varied geographic areas: the High Sierra, Granite Cliffs, Sequoia Groves, and Valleys.
I’m generally a bit underwhelmed by things that are super-popular with the masses, especially national parks. Perhaps it’s because you hear so much about it, and see so many photos, before you actually go there, that the surprise factor is diminished. In the case of Yosemite, it lived up to the hype, but I think the lack of crowds (post Labor Day is the way to go!) and taking walks and courses led by knowledgeable folks, combined with dramatic weather conditions, is what elevated the Yosemite experience for me. Whatever the reasons, it was truly an unforgettable experience!