On the Way to Yosemite National Park

After just a bit over a week of decompressing in San Francisco, I was itching to hit the road again (while my sister and her boyfriend were probably itching to get rid of me). But first, I had a stop to make at TripIt. TripIt is a travel itinerary aggregator service that makes it simple to keep track of [almost] everything in one place. I love it and it's been one of top three most useful apps/services throughout my travels for about three years now. So, when I met with their marketing folks at TBEX Toronto, they encouraged me to stop by the office when I am in San Francisco.

So I did and got a cool branded fleece and a lunch in return for chatting about things I liked and disliked about the product as well as a few related suggestions and ideas that have been brewing in my head for a while.

TripIt Lobby - complete with a picture of myriads of penguins in Antarctica

As I got on the road, it was tempting to make another stop on the way - actually a few stops along the way where I could get my mile and points fix.

Right away I hit a couple of snags - a CVS location GPS took me to was closed and the ladies at a local Walmart refused to take my debit cards for either billpay or Bluebird reloads - something about a new policy not allowing the use of debit cards with no names on them. Nonsense!

I had better luck in the next town. With Bluebird loaded and the credit card paid off, I got some groceries, swung by Costco to grab a salad for the evening (even though I no longer have membership there, eh), made a stop to get rid of the rest of debit cards at a Rite Aid, got some "ice cream" at CVS and deposited it all at a nearby bank.

Catch of the day

Then I decided to push my luck once again by trying to get six variable load MasterCards at Safeway (each with $5.95 fee, more than offset with $10 off next purchase coupon). Here came more nonsense about not being able to sell gift cards without California ID. After going back and forth with the manager, I finally got it my way, triggering four credit card fraud alerts in the process - a new record for me.

Now I was ready to continue with three more hours ahead of me and the uncertainty of finding an open spot at a campground inside Yosemite.

Yosemite First scenic stop along the way - note the low water level

Yosemite Another fun and twisty road coming up!

Getting to Yosemite turned out to be very anticlimactic. With the exception of a couple overlooks, there wasn't much to check out on the way.

Yosemite Mountain on the horizon - must be getting close

Yosemite I expected bare granite rocks. Not so much.

Made it to the yosemite entrance!

As I was getting close, I noticed quite a few cards driving out of the park. Either they were heading back to San Francisco late or they were heading out to find a campground outside the park. I was hoping for the earlier but any illusions I had about camping in the valley tonight were promptly crushed by a bright red sign.

Yosemite campground Bummer

Yosemite is probably the most popular national park and most campgrounds require reservations, available (and typically sold out) five months in advance. These are so popular that the park's website recommends that people ensure their watches are set correctly AND they go through the first few steps of setting up a reservation to be ready to hit Reserve button as soon as 7am hits on the day reservations become available. Crazy!

So off I was, back the way I just came, looking for a private campground for the night. Yosemite Lakes was the closest one and at $42 a night by far the most expensive out of the ones I stayed at - seriously, up to 3x expensive! But I figured it would be best to stay close to the park so I can head out early morning and try to grab a spot at one of the few first-come-first-served campgrounds.

As I got into the camping area, I saw a group of tents with G Adventures logos. While I have yet to do a G Adventures tour myself, I am quite familiar with them as they are one of the companies truly embracing the power influence of travel bloggers.

G Adventures tents

Panderosa Pines was the fancy name for the tents-only part of the campground and it could not have been farther from the truth - for the most part it was just an empty, dusty area with absolutely no privacy. So much for that $42...

Yosemite camping Set for the night

For the first time on my journey I am traveling by myself so I was glad I snatched that salad from Costco - no cooking needed tonight. It actually did not hit me until dinner - a little sense of loneliness. But, at the same time, a sense of relief that I could do whatever - I was not under any time pressures to get anywhere and I could just do whatever I felt like doing tonight.

Which wasn't much really. I was tired and with plans to wake up early, it was time to hit the showers and pass out. Except that I realized I left my soap and shampoo in San Francisco… So much for the free showers. Baby wipes time once again!

Yosemite A little creek nearby - just big enough to attract mosquitos