September 7, 2017

The decades party came here to welcome in the Decade of Our SEVENTIES.
We stayed in the John Muir House at the Evergreen Lodge in a beautiful location about 45 minutes outside the Yosemite Valley floor. Plenty of room, views and the fragrant smells of Yosemite, a big hot tub, a fire pit, many lounging and dining options, and a full service resort with a swimming pool, restaurants, ETC!

(Evergreen website)
Everyone could fit in the kitchen.

A view from the living room.

Good morning September 8!

Driving into the valley we were enveloped by the smoke and ash from several fires burning at the time.
A grab out of the car's sunroof.
Along the way we were worried that we would see nothing at all and have a hard time breathing but by the time we got to Yosemite Lodge to pick up our valley floor tour the air was much better, not perfect, but better.
Being last to board we got the only backward facing seat on the tram. It's more like a hay ride with a big tractor pulling a couple of flat-beds.
Yosemite Falls.

Here come a few pictures of the magnificent rock faces peeking through the trees.
Another one...
...another one.
Look, more...
...and another one.
There are two yellow squares inside of which are climbers. The park service issues 300 permits per day to climb in Yosemite.
All the falls were running, we were lucky for that, which usually isn't true in September but this was a particularly wet rainy season.
The Tour Group. I liked it, I liked riding around in the open air snapping some pictures and listening to stories of Yosemite.

Here we are in front of...
...the legendary Tunnel View during a particularly smoky fire season.
This is a clear and illustrative picture from Wikipedia.

"Tunnel View is a scenic overlook on State Route 41 in Yosemite National Park. The iconic and expansive view of Yosemite Valley from the view point has been seen and documented by visitors since it opened in 1933. ...

"The view looks eastward into Yosemite Valley, and includes surrounding features, such as the southwest face of El Capitan on the left, Half Dome on axis, and Bridalveil Fall on the right."

Ansel Adams' took this one in 1934.

(Ansel Adams)
After the tour we had a stroll over to Yosemite Falls before...
...heading to the Majestic Hotel (shall we stop calling it the Ahwahnee?) for a festive lunch where Bob, Marijke, Robert, and Joanna, who had been out hiking, joined the lunch.
We're off on the trail to Mirror Lake.

"With a fresh perspective looking up at Half Dome directly from its base, you'll be rewarded with views of Tenaya Canyon, Mount Watkins, Washington Column, and more."
More climbers. Yosemite is The place for 'flat face climbing' according to the tour guide.
The walk to Mirror Lake wasn't an easy stroll but it wasn't hard either.
Here's the beginning of that view of Half Dome.
"Mirror Lake has little water much of the year and, while pleasant at any time of year, it is fullest in spring and early summer, when Tenaya Creek flows freely with fresh snowmelt."

So true, it was more of a bog than a lake, but pretty anyway.
Instead of going back the way we came some of us decided to take a different (easier...) route that would bring us to the road and the free tram.

What's this?! A photo must be taken!
More of Mirror Lake.

"When water is calm, the lake offers beautiful reflections of surrounding cliffs. Exhibits along the trail tell the story of Mirror Lake's lake-to-meadow succession, and also highlight some of the cultural history of the area. Mirror Lake is often referred to as Mirror Meadow in late summer due to the lack of water and the influx of grasses and sandy areas."
On the way home, here's the backside of a fleeing deer and about all we saw of wildlife - deer, and usually fleeing.
I didn't make it over to the pool but Ben and Bonnie did!

Good Morning September 9th!
Robert and Joanna in front of the Welcome to Hetch Hetchy sign, ready for a real hike.
"Hetch Hetchy is the name of a valley, a reservoir and a water system in California in the United States. The glacial Hetch Hetchy Valley lies in the northwestern part of Yosemite National Park and is drained by the Tuolumne River. For thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans in the 1850s, the valley was inhabited by Native Americans who practiced subsistence hunting-gathering.

"During the late 19th century, the valley was renowned for its natural beauty – often compared to that of Yosemite Valley – but also targeted for the development of water supply for irrigation and municipal interests.
In 1923, the O'Shaughnessy Dam was completed on the Tuolumne River, flooding the entire valley under the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir."
The water flowing out of the dam.

"The dam and reservoir are the centerpiece of the Hetch Hetchy Project, which in 1934 began to deliver water 167 miles (269 km) west to San Francisco and its client municipalities in the greater San Francisco Bay Area."
Keeping ourselves safe from the sun.

Nice colors.
A pano of the reservoir from just past the dam. It goes on much further.

We sat on the ground amazing at the view, eating lunch, having a meditation. It was grand.

Toward the middle on the far left you can see the waterfall where Robert and Joanna hiked.
They're off.

There was some walkway and a bridge from which to appreciate Falls Creek.

It was an adventure and a healthy slog.

Bob and Marijke had gone back into the valley for the day this being Marijke's first chance to be on the valley floor, and among other activities, they hiked to Vernal Falls.

We are all entering our 70s but here's Lynn with her real 70th birthday tomorrow. Happy Birthday Lynn!
And then STARS at the star viewing platform at Evergreen Lodge. What a lovely festivity to end our Happy Birthday weekend.

(I borrowed this picture from the internet as a reminder of our time under the stars.)
September 9, 2007

The decades crowd came here to welcome in the Decade of Our SIXTIES.
Arriving at Mayacamas, hence known as 'camp' since we have all agreed it is like going to a faabulous summer camp and you never have to do anything but exactly what you want!
A view from just standing around. Everyone chose their accommodations, got settled in, and then...
.we met at the wonderful pool area...
.for trays of delicious appetisers...
.and sunset.
Then we ate dinner (here's our gorgeous private dining room for the duration). YUM. And then we ate...
.S'Mores! Yummy AND fun. We shut out all the lights and enjoyed seeing an especially vivid display of stars with an entertaining and informative narration from Robert. After a song and some hugs, it was off to bed. (This being the part that's really not much like camp and more like resort living.)
September 10

After breakfast it's Fond Farewells to Joanna and Robert who have to leave now. We'll miss you!
There are others of these metal sculptures placed around the property. And they're all life sized.
Next - time for the Wine Tour. Should be a treat!
Beringer Vineyards, the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley.
A stroll through a just-harvested plot and the chance to enjoy the leavings of fully ripened cabernet sauvignon grapes.

We learned about the mechanical picking machines and it was really interesting. These huge 'things' straddle the vines, hauling b*tt down the rows at 20 miles per hour, they Shake the vines, dropping the fruit into a collecting hopper. Fast and Furious.
We complete our Beringer tour in a cave-like room, including a barrel tasting and three other selections. Our guide wanted us to get the idea of what the wine tasted like with food so we sucked on lemons and licked salt.
Shelly and Dan in Napa Valley! at a stop at the Culinary Institute where we just wandered around for a few minutes.
And admired some real-good tourista kitch.
Then we moved on to Markham Winery where they were having a show of old photos from the olden days of Rock 'n Roll. Everyone was whooping it up over what they did in those days. Oh yea...
.rock 'n roll will never die!
We arrived right at the biggest week for the harvest and the crush. It's a real industrial process.

The guide on this tour was all about the business side - how many cases they make of what and how fast it sells out. The contrast with Beringer's tour made for an even more interesting experience.
This wine tasting came with a food paring - some mighty tasty bites to go with each wine. And look at this venue! Candles and table-clothes and everything.
It's Lynn's Actual Happy Big Six OHH. Happy Birthday Lynn!
Boys at the back of the bus.
Ben got this shirt at Markham, and Richard got one too. Because it's 'Hey Hey My My...Rock 'n Roll Will Never Die'.
Richard and Bob talking about Something.
After the wine tour and a great hour or so of swimming, hot tubbing, and chatting, I went back to take a little nap, just resting my eyes, and someone had to come bang on my door for dinner.
The owner, who bought the place about a year ago, dropped by to say hello and to tell us of his vision for Mayacamas Ranch.

The emphasis seemed to be on two parallel ideas - healing and philanthropy including a group called The GeneroCity Institute.

Here's something from their website. 'The GeneroCity Institute was founded by a small group of philanthropists and social artists with the belief that we are all connected and that each of us is a champion for something larger than ourselves. Through this understanding we hope to shape a better future for our own lives, our families, our communities and succeeding generations.'
After dinner we gathered in our lounge for an old fashioned, flash-from-the-past, kum-ba-ya musicale made possible by our own Bobby Z.

You go Bobby!
We sang and laughed into the night. What a Blast!
September 11

It's fun in the morning, how it's all socked in with fog and then the fog lifts and dissolves so that by 10am we've got a clear blue sky and a bright sunny day.
We totally enjoyed our dining experience here at Mayacamas Ranch.
A nice shot of The Gang before Richard and Emilia have to say good bye. Good Bye! Thanks for coming!
The garden is beyond spectacular. They grow tons of gorgeous flowers for cutting, and Food. We grazed up here often for raspberries, strawberries, apples, tomatoes, leafy greens, all deee-lish.
We went out for a short hike around the property and at one point there was a steep slippery spot so the guys made a chain and hand to hand passed down the gals. It was so charming...
.our guide said 'hey, this is good for a team building exercise.'
And here is Dan getting the phone call advising him he has been named to another leadership role in the Maryland Legislature (I'll ask again about the details...)
Frisbee on The Meadow!
And the cheering section. Rah! Rah!
Ben led us in a stretching routine with contributions from the participants. We felt Gooood.

Lovin' the leafy shadows.
Mayacamas had a couple barrels filled with these parasols for the benefit of their guests. Isn't that nice!
Then Lunch.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner every day. When was the last time I ate B-L-D day after day? And it is GOOD.
Wow, what a lovely lazy afternoon swimming and lounging and chatting.
Some of us dressed up nice for our last dinner, all clean and coiffed. And be-Flowered!
They set up the tables outside under the arbor where we ate bbq and had honor beer from the tap.
And Then! Our Grand Finale, the last item on the program, our string trio, we were out on blankets, in the middle of the meadow, under the stars. So very very cool.
Sixty IS Cool!
MY DRIVE...September 8, 2007

Time to head up north for the acknowledgment of our Big Six OH. We're meeting in Calistoga, an extra hour and a half past SF to the far end of the Napa Valley.

So I decided to take two days on the drive. And I decided to stop maany times along the way, to see if that makes for a more pleasant journey.

Remember when cars used to overheat all the time? And the signs that say 'turn off a/c next 6 miles' are still out there. But no way are we going to turn off our a/c!
Here they come. Trucks up the Grapevine.
Pyramid Lake, part of the California Aqueduct System. It's a big sporty venue of streaking power boats, fishing, and blazing sun picnics.
And now over the top and into the San Joaquin Valley, breadbasket of America. There are buildings and trees and powerlines back there but you can't see them.

From The Wiki: 'Hemmed in by mountains and lacking any prevailing winds to disperse smog, the San Joaquin Valley has long suffered from some of the United States' worst air pollution. This pollution, exacerbated by stagnant weather, comes mainly from diesel- and gasoline-fueled vehicles and agricultural operations such as dairies and field-tilling.

'Population growth has caused the San Joaquin Valley to rank with Los Angeles and Houston in most measures of air pollution. Only the Inland Empire region east of Los Angeles has worse overall air quality than the San Joaquin Valley.'
Here's a gas and burger stop along the way. And I stopped a couple times without photos too. It took an extra hour or so with all the stops but my *ss does feel better.

I spent the night in Merced and for dinner I ate a couple of tacos off the taco truck and an entire package of Nutter Butters. Yum.
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