Wednesday 31 October 2012

Wonders Of The Golden West Part 9...

Leaving Fresno behind we journeyed north travelling 22 miles through the San Joaquin Valley, called 'The Food Basket Of The World', which produces the majority of the 12.8% of the United States' agricultural production (as measured by dollar value) that comes from California.  Our first stop was was Murray Family Farms

to have morning coffee, sample their home-grown produce and buy some fruit, nuts and other supplies to eat at our next stop for lunch.

Back on the road again we were soon enjoying the sights leading to Yosemite National Park.

 Yosemite is a magnificent seven-mile long glacial valley.   About 10 million years ago, the Sierra Nevada was uplifted and then tilted to form its relatively gentle western slopes and the more dramatic eastern slopes. The uplift increased the steepness of stream and river beds, resulting in the formation of deep, narrow canyons. About 1 million years ago, snow and ice accumulated, forming glaciers at the higher alpine meadows that moved down the river valleys. Ice thickness in Yosemite Valley may have reached 4,000 feet (1,200 m) during the early glacial episode. The downslope movement of the ice masses cut and sculpted the U-shaped valley that attracts so many visitors to its scenic vistas today.

Once in the park itself we boarded the Yosemite Tram, for a two hour sightseeing tour of the valley with a ranger guide pointing out Yosemite's most famous sightseeing points, and describing the history, geology, plant and animal life of the Park.

Magnificent cliffs

El Capitan a prominent granite cliff that looms over Yosemite Valley, is one of the most popular rock climbing destinations in the world because of its diverse range of climbing routes in addition to its year-round accessibility.  There were people climbing the face of El Capitan whilst we were there.

El Capitan

and waterfalls cascading down the cliff walls, such as Bridalveil Fall.

 The Ahwahneechee tribe believed that Bridalveil Fall was home to a vengeful spirit named Pohono which guarded the entrance to the valley, and that those leaving the valley must not look directly into the waterfall lest they be cursed. They also believed that inhaling the mist of Bridalveil Fall would improve one's chances of marriage. Bridalveil Fall is 188 metres (617 ft) and flows year round,, though you will notice from the photo above there wasn't much water flowing whilst we were there.

The Ahwahneechee tribe lived in Yosemite Valley when the first non-indigenous people entered it.  The The California Gold Rush in the mid-19th century dramatically increased white travel in the area. United States Army Major Jim Savage led the Mariposa Battalion into the west end of Yosemite Valley in 1851 while in pursuit of around 200 Ahwahneechees led by Chief Tenaya as part of the Mariposa Wars.  Tenaya and the rest of the Ahwahneechee were eventually captured and their village burned; they were removed to a reservation near Fresno.

I will let the photos of Yosemite speak for it's beauty, though I don't think they do it justice by any means. Imagine what it was like for the Ahwahneechee indians living in such a beautiful place, only to be forcibly removed by the white men who invaded their homeland.

For me the most spectacular view of all - Tunnel View

It looks like a painted back-drop doesn't it?   I can assure you it is real!

Our two hour trip through the valley was over all too quickly and it was time to take a walk through the park to see if we could spot any wildlife.   Wildlife species typically found in valley include Black bear, Bobcat, Cougar, Gray Fox, Mule Deer, Mountain Kingsnake, White-headed Woodpecker, Spotted Owl and a wide variety of bat species.  Walking along the path through the park we heard a rustling in the brush and were surprised (and relieved to find it wasn't a bear) to see this bobcat.

It was quite unconcerned about being so close to humans!  We also got quite close to some Mule Deer.

After a picnic lunch it was time to leave the beauty of Yosemite heading for our next stop for the evening.

We passed through Groveland, home to the oldest Saloon in California, The Iron Door Saloon.

The Iron Door was built in the California Gold Country sometime before 1852. It was first called the "Granite Store", perhaps because the front and back walls are made of solid granite blocks. The sidewalls are made of "shist" rock and mortar and the roof consists of three feet of sod, covered by tin.The iron doors on the front of the saloon today are the same ones originally fitted

Leaving Groveland behind we travelled Route 49 that passes through many historic mining communities of the 1849 California gold rush. Highway 49 is numbered after the "49ers", the waves of immigrants who swept into the area looking for gold.

Then into Sonora

where we were staying for the night.

After quickly freshning up, we had a lovely meal at  Emberz Restaurant

before having a walk around.

before calling in the Iron Horse Lounge for a nightcap with some fellow travellers

then back to the hotel for a good night's sleep.   I hope you will join me for Wonders Of The Golden West Part 10 where we visit Lake Tahoe.

Monday 29 October 2012

Succinctly Yours - A Microfiction Meme #65

Grandma at Grandma's Goulash provides a picture and a word prompt for this Microfiction Meme and the rules are use the photo as inspiration for a story of 140 characters OR 140 words.

Want more challenge? Use the word of the week in your story. This part is optional.

This week's word is VOLLEY here's the picture and my offering, using the picture and word of the week  in 140 characters, including spaces and punctuation.

Mum should've read the invitation properly.

 It said You are invited to play Volleyball on Halloween 

not You are invited to a Halloween Ball.

Friday 26 October 2012

Friday 55 Flash Fiction #208 Don't.......

Don't get too friendly with the neighbours.
Don't let the kids have friends stay over.
Don't phone old acquaintances.
Don't send birthday cards to friends and relatives.
Don't remember your birthday.
Don't remember your history.
Don't remember your name,
Don't talk about your previous life....
it doesn't exist when you're on the Witness Protection Programme.

Friday 55 Flash Fiction is brought to you by G-man (Mr Knowitall). The idea is you write a story in exactly 55 words. If you want to take part pop over and let G-man know when you've posted your 55.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Wonders Of The Golden West Part 8....

Leaving Vegas behind we hit the road through the Mojave Desert to Fresno, passing Baker, the exit to Death Valley, the hottest place in the world.  Our first stop was Calico Ghost Town.

 Between 1881 and 1896, Calico, (named after the varicoloured surrounding mountains) was a booming silver mining town of more than 1,200 people with mines producing more than $13 million in ore.   In 1895 the price of silver dropped, the mines stopped producing and Calico became a ghost town.    Calico was restored in 1954.

Calico is a really interesting historical site with recreated authentic looking buildings.

Inside the General Store...

We obeyed the sign outside the Sheriff's Office...No Shootin', No cussin in Town.

 The Undertakers....

  The school/church..

The Hotel, not exactly 5*
The Mining Company....

Calico Rail Road....

 Public Baths?

Do I really need a saddle?

 They sure are beautiful...
 MWM fancies himself as a safe cracker...

The Fire Hall...

After lunch in Calico we set off again through the Mojave Desert on Highway 58.  See the Joshua Tree?

The Mohave Desert's boundaries are generally defined by the presence of Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia).   It actually rained a little whilst we were driving through the desert!

We passed through Hinkley,  commonly associated with Pacific Gas and Electric since it was the location of a compressor station for PG&E's natural gas transmission pipelines, which severely contaminated the groundwater in the town resulting in the legal case which was the subject of the film Erin Brockovich.

 We also passed (though not close enough to get photos) Edwards Air Force Base, named in memory of U.S. Air Force test pilot Glen Edwards, who died along with the crew of five while testing the YB-49 Flying Wing.     It is also the place where Chuck Yeager was the first pilot to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, flying the experimental Bell X-1 at Mach 1 at an altitude of 45,000 ft.  The Space Shuttle also landed at Edwards Air Force Base when it couldn't land at Cape Canaveral.

We continued our journey arriving at our hotel, Best Western Village Inn, Fresno with just enough time to freshen up and nip in Denny's next door to sample their delicious pot roast, before retiring for the night.   Tomorrow we had Yosemite National Park to look forward to, I hope you'll join me for that in Wonders Of The Golden West Part 9.