I take back all I thought about Nevada – I like it! Even quieter roads than Utah, looks like the Flow Country, has clownish motels and has a few birds too. As I left Nevada, with a touch of sadness, but quite quickly as it was on a long downhill straight off the White Mountain Peak on Route 6, I had to smile. On a white round water tower type of thing was written ‘Missing you already’ which I thought was a nice touch. Underneath in less well crafted letters was an extra message ‘Jeff Welch is a rat’. In the rear view mirror, as I sped downhill, I could see that the same message was displayed to people entering Nevada from California. There must be a story behind that.
Entering Yosemite from the east, as I did, was very impressive. You travel uphill for miles with granite peaks around and in front. It’s rather special. I was enjoying it so much that I’d forgotten that I wasn’t already in the National Park when I came to the entrance and showed my annual pass. The camper van in front of me had Alaska plates! And I’ve picked up Washington, Arizona and Montana too.
Later in the evening I visited the Yosemite Valley when lots of people had gone. In the cool of the evening it was awe-inspiring. I wasn’t sure whether to look at the Bridalveil Falls or El Capitan – so I alternated looking at both (and occasionally glancing up at the swifts to see if they were black – they looked black but I wasn’t sure they were Black). I preferred the massive rock-face to the waterfall but both were special – and so was the pygmy owl being mobbed by American robins in the tree behind me.
Half Dome was shining in the evening sun and this was the other side of it from the one I saw as I passed over by the Tuolumne Meadows Road.
All this was great but I was also interested in the next door valley – the Hetch Hetchy valley where two of the heroes of US conservation, John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt, disagreed over the fate of the valley (which is in the National Park).
Muir lost and so did the valley as it was dammed and flooded and provides water for San Francisco about 180 miles away. The arguments still rage about whether it should have happened and about whether the dam should be removed and the valley restored to a second Yosemite. That would be one heck of a restoration project.
I couldn’t comment on this issue (not here anyway) but it got me thinking about which have been our, UK, largest mistakes of this sort and could we possibly rectify them? Any thoughts?
More from Yosemite tomorrow. Maybe bears – or lack of them.