Memory 48 left the Carringtons, Dick and Mary, Doris and I at the Ahwahnee Lodge in Yosemite National Park in the summer of 1992. We were touring from Los Angeles to San Francisco and were having a wonderful time. We drove to the Bridal Veil Falls, parked and walked to the falls close
enough to get wet. When we planned to leave, we found that I had left the ignition key in the locked car. After lots of advice from other sight-seers we borrowed a wire coat-hanger and tried fishing through the rubber trim on the door with no avail. Another driver lent us a screw-driver and we laboriously un-screwed the windshield and I managed, by lying on the hood, to reach in and get the keys. Putting the windshield back together was more difficult and we were subjected to a whistling draft the rest of the trip. This allowed me to innocently complain to Avis about the inconvenience when I returned the car later. We hiked to the Lower Falls and had a great view of the Upper Falls, the highest in the country. We enjoyed dining in the vast dining room at the lodge and were impressed with the 34 foot high beamed ceiling of large diameter sugar pine tree trunks and the very large span of the roof. The floor to ceiling windows allowed views of the impressive mountains of the valley, including El Capitan and Half Dome.
The second day, we watched climbers on the face of the 3,000 foot high granite wall of El Capitan. It looked impossible but we learned it had been climbed since 1958 but only by expert climbers. We saw two teams actually doing it and were told one team had been climbing for three days and the others were on their sixth day. We were also told about BASE jumpers that were originally introduced on EL Capitan in 1966 when two men jumped with parachutes but both broke several bones. In 1968, a film-maker made it popular by having videos of him and his wife doing it. For ten weeks after that, the park issued permits but soon stopped and jumping became illegal. A group sued the Park and one man jumped illegally to show how safe it was but he unfortunately died, disproving his claim.
Half Dome appears as though a giant glacier has cut off half of the dome shaped mountain. It is actually an optical illusion as seen from the valley but is just a ridge of rock when seen from Washburn Point. It rises 4,737 feet above the valley floor but its elevation above sea level is 8,837 feet. It was for years described by the California Archeologist Association as “perfectly in accessible” but it was climbed by a man in 1875 for the first time. The north-west face was first climbed in 1957 by a three man team that took five days and it became designated as the first Class VI climb in the United States.
From Yosemite, we continued north to the 90 or so miles of the California Coast known as Big Sur. Here, the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the sea with the highest, Cone Peak at 5,155 feet high and only three miles from the sea.
The views are awe-inspiring and it is a very popular tourist destination. Our ladies had a great time touring the numerous craft shops and we had several very California out-door restaurant meals with local wines enjoyed as we watched the waves and the ever present seals lying on the small beaches. The route up Highway 1 was beautiful all the way up to Monterey where we stayed for two days. It was fascinating to eat at a restaurant on Cannery Row, surrounded by the old sardine canneries and on the way there, we saw a pond that I could visualize Mack and his bunch of derelict friends catching frogs for Doc, the marine biologist just as John Steinbeck described it in Cannery Row. Monterey is famous for its annual Jazz Festival that started in 1957 with bands like Louis Armstrong’s and Dizzy Gillespie. They also started the pop concert rage with their annual Pop Festival that started in 1968 and introduced for the first time stars like Jimmy Hendrix and the Who, Janis Joplin and Otis Redding. Woodstock copied the theme two years later. Adjacent Carmel is equally famous for the 17 mile drive and the Pebble Beach Golf Club. As a long time golfer, I just loved driving the 17 mile route, seeing the crooked tree and the golf course views. I had played the course twice on a trip with the
Senior Golfers’ Association and I remember every shot I played in those two rounds. My best round was an 85 on a breezy day and I was a proud 10 handicap at the time. My best claim is that I parred the 107 yard number seven both rounds, one day with a nine iron, the next day with a five because of the wind. We also spent three hours touring the famous Monterey Aquarium that was actually connected to the sea by a Tidal Pool.
From Monterey, we drove another 120 miles to San Francisco where we had reserved rooms for two nights at a motel close to the airport because the Carringtons had an early flight home. We spent the first day driving around San Francisco to see the sights, then later, doing the same on foot and by cable car. I drove down the one-way 27 degree slope of Lombard Street with its red brick-lined, eight hair-pin bends and nick-named, “the Crookedest Street in the World”.
We walked all around the Fisherman’s Wharf area and had a sea-food lunch at one of the restaurants. Dick and I went on the ferry to visit Alcatraz, the now defunct
right on the water with great views of San Francisco. Doris and I had been there before and we knew the best restaurant where we had a chilly lunch on the deck, watching the local boat traffic and the occasional liners and tankers passing under the bridge. We drove up to the famous wine-making Napa Valley but only had time to visit one winery.
After our enjoyable and educational two week ride from southern to northern California, we were all ready to go home the next day. Getting back into our lives of retirement is another memory for another day.