Earlier in the year around January we started planning a road trip for this summer’s vacation. The thought was to go to Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and maybe Napa Valley and a winery. It ended up that was too much so we took Napa Valley off the trip.
So that was the plan, we checked all of Yahoo! travel for insight into where to stay and what to see and do. I attached all of those items i liked onto my Yahoo trip schedule. We also bought a few items to enhance our trip and make it easier too.
Anyway the last few nights leading up to Saturday night I had this pain in my tooth. What the heck, it was the lower left side, third from the back, a Pre-Molar. Not a huge deal I thought, a couple of Advil and it would go away and for some reason taking a sip of water took the pain away too? I thought that odd but I was looking to take the pain away so I was happy. But Saturday night (the night before the night before) it wouldn’t go away. In fact it was hurting a lot, no matter what I did. So Sunday morning I called my Dentist. Of course he had gone on vacation too! But they gave me a number to call for emergencies. I called the number and they would be able to see me at 11:00AM that day. They took an x-ray and the tooth was considered a probable root canal candidate. She said my choice was to get either get a prescription for pain and antibiotics to get rid of the infection. Or call an Endodontic Dentist and get an emergency root canal. In hindsight I should have taken this latter option and if you ever land in this predicament, get the root canal done, trust me. “Okay”, I said “I will take the medicine, and when I get back I will take care of it” my exact words. So I got the pain meds and antibiotics and started taking them immediately.
So we / I packed the Expedition (seems nearly prophetic to use this word) that Sunday afternoon; items included were, three suitcases, one very large, one carry-on and one garment bag, three canvas type grocery bags with groceries, a cooler [ squarish one with wheels], two toiletry bags, and two large type 4 ft long Denier black duffel bags , one for pillows and one for extra clothes? A first aid kit [homemade], one small 2 ft duffle bag filled with electronics [connections for phones, PSP, video camera], Photo and Video camera. Also Four backpacks, three smaller ones and one larger backpack for all my camera and video gear. The three smaller backpacks were Camelback water hydration packs. If you can I highly recommend picking up one of these for each member of you party. These are so much better than lugging water bottles and they hold up to 3 liters of water each. I saw many people on the trail with one small water bottle and that just won’t work for long hikes, there is no water around even if you wanted to fill back up. These were so handy I purchased another hydration bladder for the larger backpack and fit it into one of the partitions, it worked great. It was about 35 dollars for the insulated bladder alone and the back packs range from very simple and 40 dollars to very large and over one hundred. REI and Online stores, check out Sunny Sports online, but be careful of "E-bags" and shipping costs, they change their pricing almost daily.
Just so you know we each drank the entire 3 liters before we made it back from the hike to Nevada falls.
Anyway that Sunday night I could not get to sleep at all. I don’t know really why, some pain in the tooth maybe some anxiety probably, and thinking about a 12 hour drive ahead of me? Anyway I had found that drinking water took the pain away, if only for a short time, so I was taking a sip of water every ten minutes or so. Whatever, it worked.
Our / my plan was to leave the house at 3:00AM so we would get there early enough to enjoy some of the park during the day. I figured that they could sleep if only a few hours in the truck and it would not seem as long a drive to them. It is a 12 hour drive from our home to Yosemite. Finally Around 1:30AM I got up and went into our hot tub to relax and then get ready. I got out, checked everything in the truck and figured we were ready to go, so I woke them up and got them into the Expedition. We set off to Yosemite, we were off. About 2 hours later I needed to take a rest stop, go figure, drinking all these sips of water for my tooth, well you know......
Nothing much to write about until we get to about Lone Pine, CA. Here you could tell we were at the base of the Sierra Nevada range, the mountains looked marvelous. I had been going to Yosemite since I was very young, maybe 6 or 7 until I was about 17. I have been there probably 8 times but I hadn't been back since then. Mostly to Tuolumne Meadows but twice to the Valley as a teenager with my best friend and those times we were backpacking. I always enjoyed the trip to Yosemite and seeing the mountains on the way. We were getting close.
We stooped for some fuel and lunch. Not picturesque in the parking lot of a mini mart but. My lovely wife switched driving duties with me here and we continued on; I tried to get some sleep. We went through Bishop CA. and made it to Lee Vining, took another break and got fuel around noon. This is the turn off to Yosemite. Making Good time I thought. Left there and got to the Yosemite Park entrance around 12:45PM. By the way it is a huge hill driving up to this point. It is 3000 feet in elevation change from Lee Vining to the entrance to Yosemite at Tioga pass. The weather cloudy at the top and it was drizzling but we loved it. Probably was about 50 degrees, the air was fresh and smelled of pine trees, sounds corny but coming from the desert it is quite a difference. We made our way to Yosemite Valley. Stopped to look around in Tuolumne Meadows for a few, maybe twenty minutes or so, but it was getting late and I wanted to get settled so we took off. We stopped at Tenaya Lake for a couple of minutes. Some people were actually in the water, it had to be in the fifties or maybe forty degrees. Beautiful scenery and the weather was fantastic, cloudy and cool. It is quite a switch-back road to the valley, many, many turns to get there but we made it. We hit the Valley floor around 4PM. I was about an hour off from my plan, the tooth, no sleep, kid in the car, stopping for breaks, fuel, all things considered this was good.
Got out of the truck and made our way to Curry Village and signed in at the registration desk. Our reservation was for the "Signature tent" I was wondering if the comments on Yahoo travel were going to be true. Basically there are two types of tents in Curry Village, one with solid interior walls and ones without. The outside of both seem identical. They are basically a 12 foot long by 11 foot wide, a white vinyl coated canvas tarpaulin cover over a wooded two by four frame. A wooden screen door with a hook as a door latch and a padlock for security on the outside only, and two windows also with screens and a pad lock to lock your stuff inside ; ) The Signature tents however have solid walls inside, I guess for warmth in the winter. I took the padlock off at night just in case any ne'er-do-well happened by and thought it funny to lock us in.
From this parking lot we had to carry all our stuff to the tent. This is quite difficult to manage being a football field away from the parking area. Even longer if you don’t go in between the tents. Visualize just about everything in that truck being dragged over. I found out (Two days later) that you can ask someone to porter your stuff to the tent on an ATV. Anyway it is great we are here.
The air is fresh; it is dry and warm and a very slight breeze. Once we were settled in we took a walk over to Curry Village to try out the Buffet for dinner. We did bring some food items to try and save our money, but that was mostly just cereal, crackers and cheese, not that much we could put together for a dinner. And there is no cooking at the “Tents”. There was a Pizza place also at Curry, it was mobbed and we had read that it is a 40 minute wait to get your order. We were hungry so it’s the Buffet tonight. Standard fare as buffet’s go, think School cafeteria or Golden Corral but not as many choices, and kind of hefty at 12.95 per for dinner. Anyway we did eat there and it seemed okay. Took a walk after dinner and looked around, sat at the Curry amphitheater for a bit, they had showing of something can’t remember what, I think it was about bears.
Next morning, Tuesday we are up around 630AM. Every night is difficult for me with this tooth issue. I have to take more pills to get rid of the pain in my tooth; and it seems to be getting worse. But I keep hoping that the antibiotic will kick in and get rid of the infection and stop the pain.
Anyway we eat the cereal that we had brought with us and then take off exploring; we took the shuttle to the east from the Curry Village main parking lot. This shuttle route takes you to the Happy Isles stop this is the stop for the Mist trail, Vernal and Nevada falls and the Half Dome trail and then the next is the drop off to Mirror Lake. Then back around to Curry village and into Yosemite Village. As we got to Mirror lake stop we saw a good size bear and some people almost right next to it. It was Very exciting. Moving on taking the shuttle past Yosemite Village and over to Lower Yosemite Falls.
There we hiked up to the falls, took a lot of pictures, it is very short hike about a mile I would guess each way, and easy as hikes go. After that we then walked over and checked out the Yosemite visitor’s center, and the Grocery store (about a hundred yards away from the shuttle drop off to Yosemite falls. Then we figured we would get a sandwich at the Deli next door. Degnan’s Deli it is very good and better than a Subway. About 7 dollars for a sandwich good chili too.
After lunch we took the shuttle back to Mirror Lake for a look see. When I was here last, 30 years ago, the shuttle would drop you off at the lake and then turn around. Now it is walk up only no vehicles. On one of our shuttle rides I started talking to a woman I met and she told me she had been coming here since the sixties. They used to have Double Decker buses as well as the shuttles. Your right I said, I completely forgot about that. It seems to me they did not go all over the valley then just around the Village? And the shuttles were like trams from Disney land, they were made up of multiple sections not like the bus type version they have now.
Anyway Mirror Lake was very popular today; there were hundreds of a people. The walk up is not very long, it is an asphalt paved road, maybe a mile I would say, uphill one way and obviously down coming back. It is a tree lined (No kidding?) anyway it seemed like a tunnel, very picturesque. Some cars were going by us I thought to myself I would guess they were handicapped, but that is the only reason they should be there. The water was very low at the lake. When I was last here the water was up a third of the way on the large boulders to the south of the lake. The water also encompassed almost all of the sandy area too. I remember swimming across it and diving off that boulder as a teenager. As we stood today on the sand we were in probably the middle of the lake as it would be in May or June in a good year of snow runoff. The boulder I was standing next to was an island when the lake is full. So it is really just a pool that gets smaller as the summers goes on not so much a lake. My son went in all the way though, as it should be, oh to be young again, to have fun, enjoy, not me though it is still pretty cold water we did wade in it. We stayed for a couple of hours to around 4 PM. And took pictures of everything and then walked back to the shuttle stop.
We took a shower and got ready for dinner time. The showers in the Curry Village tent area are interesting. I only looked at the one Shower / restroom at our tent area while we were there so I can’t comment if they are like this one. It is a twenty by maybe forty foot building with one door and a long handicapped accessible ramp to that entrance. Once inside there is two 12 foot banks of lavatory type sinks heading length wise with an inside wall separating the toilet stall and a walk way on the other side of those sinks. Down that walkway further is six shower stalls. The outside of the building is a fusion of Frank Lloyd Wright meets 1940 Military it is pretty old but it is still working. It is not also not the cleanest but not because of the employees lack of trying. They are always there I believe it is the guests that keep this from being cleaner and a lack of caring. From that takeaway I recommend using rubber sandals at the minimum when showering and doing the changing back at the tent. Anyway once again what to do about dinner. It was the buffet ! Big surprise. My son liked it, I was already tired of it.
Stood in line and got our same table whoo hoo!. I think I had tacos and a salad this night. It is make your own tacos and burritos, they are pretty good but they stay with you for a while. I won’t go into all the items they had but most would not be good at least for my consumption.
Stayed for the amphitheater offering I can’t remember what this one was either, I think it was about hiking Yosemite and staying on the trails etc. We saw bats flying around as soon as the sun went down. We got ice cream at the Coffee / Ice cream place here. It is very good, popular too. I picked up some ice from the general store.
We walked back to the tents and went to sleep. I did not get to sleep very quickly my tooth was still bothering me, so I took some meds and fell to sleep around midnight. We got up the next morning and decided we would do the mist trail hike. I filled all of our backpacks with water and we were off. It was already about nine when we got started at the trail head.
We were about twenty minutes into is and we were all huffing and puffing. The path or trail, it is asphalt for the first mile or so and then after the bridge it turns into dirt. It is very up and down some parts are steep for a hundred feet or so and down and back up again. Anyway that’s my rationalization.
We refill our water bags at the bridge, BTW this is the last place to get water unless you want to drink out of the river. I don’t recommend that unless you have water purification. We developed a rhythm and it went something like this, my son would run off up ahead a couple of hundred yards and we would finally see him after stopping a few times minutes later and then whistle and he would stop and wait for us and so on.
It took maybe an hour and a half to get to the top of Vernal Falls. In terms of length it is not very far but in terms of distance up it is about 400 feet in elevation gain. We stopped and took pictures and walked to the Emerald pool and sat and had some crackers. If you are planning this hike or Nevada falls or even Half Dome the hard part is the elevation gain and the “steps” or “stairs”. Most of the way up was all stairs some of them six inches some of them almost two feet. All hand hewn for the mountain around us. The water was pretty low so the falls did not generate the mist and it was not as wet as in May or June but nice all the same. We talked to a couple there and they were coming down from the top of Nevada falls. We could see it from where were. They said it wasn’t like what we just came up, or I think that is what they said. Anyway my son and I talked my wife into going for the top of Nevada falls.
The trail was pretty much the same if not harder and all stairs now not really any flat part at all on the Mist Trail for Nevada Falls. So it was about noon when we finally reached the top of the trail. From this point you can either continue on to Little Yosemite valley and stay the night or try for the top of Half Dome. Or go back on the John Muir trail and this takes you to the Valley. Or back they way we came on the Mist trail. We took a break for lunch at the top of the Falls and took pictures and had a snack.
We started back a little tired but seemed okay and besides it is all downhill from here.?! It is all downhill but never the less it is also about two hours of downhill and your knees and calf muscles start hurting from the jolts and your thigh muscles are spent from the hike up. Somewhere on this downhill portion we ran out of water. 3 liters each is what these Camelback hydration packs hold. So we made it to the bridge and filled back up with water. And then a little more and we made it to the shuttle. All in all it was a six hour hike, nine to three, and with the exception of my son really we were not in shape but we made it. We made it back to the tents and lay there for an un-determined amount of time then finally went and took showers and then to dinner. What to eat tonight? It wasn’t going to be the Buffett tonight, we went to the pizza place. As pizza goes it was very good. Maybe it was the lack of oxygen or I was really tired or my tooth, but the pizza was pretty good. I had a beer also and that was good too. They wanted to stay and see the amphitheater show but I went back to the tent.
To be continued…………………..
So after many months now I have not finished this writing about last year’s Vacation travels.
I apologize for that, but my explanation is I was let go from my employment of 11 years and have since that time been preoccupied in finding gainful employment. However as my luck would have it I have had little in engaging a new one. That being the case today I came across this piece and decided to complete it. Or at least get some it anyway. It Makes me feel better.
So where I left off was I think Tuesday night I had got back to the tent and tried some ice on my tooth more pills and sometime later the two of them got back. It was a dreadful night my tooth hurt terribly and in the morning we called around looking for a dentist. The dentist at Yosemite is not there all the time. Only a few times a week the woman on the other end of the phone call said. They did not take insurance only cash, so that was not a viable option for us. Those of you that have not had the pleasure of a root canal let me tell you, you need insurance. The cost is typically one thousand dollars per tooth! No crown included.
I can’t remember what we did on Wednesday I think we rode the trolley around and did the Mirror lake walk and stayed there for some time. But anyway we made a lot of calls and did find a dentist (orthodontist) that was approved by my orthodontist back home and I made an appointment to see him on Thursday. Once again the pain at night was so significant that I practically tripled the pills count to get some sleep. Woke up Thursday morning got dressed and went to see him. The Orthodontist’s office was in a little town Oakdale I believe. About 60 miles away. Very quant but not much different than other towns around. It was about 1 ½ hour’s drive. I was feeling no pain on the drive (odd, very odd). I was early ( I am always early) and waited while another unfortunate soul was having her toe nails ripped out one by one by some jungle headhunter, wait I digress. So anyway my time had come, he tested “the tooth” and found that I was correct on which tooth was the offended one and the extent to which it was infected. He numbed me up, took another twenty minutes and then proceeded to remove some portion of the crown and the nerve and said and I quote” you’re going to feel a little pinch” to which I cried a little, yeah I said it, I cried. Jesus Harold Christ that hurts. To which he said “I almost got it that time, just one more.”
I went to the drug store across the street as advised by the dentist and apparently they do things different in Cali. The Phramasist Assistant (PA) needed my drivers license and social number to fill my prescription and at least a hour to do it. I said something like “What?” and “No you don’t” and “Have a nice day”.
Anyway that is over and my whole tooth and mouth area is numb. I finish with the dentist and I see as I am leaving town a Carl’s Junior. I am not one for this type of fare much anymore, I guess I just grew up. But since I had not eaten since this morning and now it is 300pm, so I went over there and ordered a Carl’s Junior Double Western bacon burger and fries, yeah why the heck not. Well it did not taste as good as I believed it would and one other thing the reason they tell you not to eat anything after a tooth procedure is because you can’t feel your lips or the side of your mouth for that matter. I proceeded to bite into both of them a few times until I figured out this was not the bun.
So I made my way back to Yosemite, almost took the turn to go to the Glacier point overlook but that was another 35 miles much too far at this time, but a good idea to try next time. Stopped as I made it into the valley and shot some pictures of Half dome and the valley from the scenic drive stop area on the way in. Got to the tents and waited for the other two.
To be continued.......