Mono Lake had been beautiful, but with no disrespect to the lake or to the area, it was simply an appetizer for what was to follow. From the small hamlet of Lee Vinning, I turned right onto Highway 120, …… signposted ‘Yosemite’, and began to climb, .. and climb. I could hear the theme tunes from great Western’s playing in my mind, .. around each corner there was another scene to stop and admire, to photograph and to savour. This was just the approach road, Yosemite was still sixteen miles ahead of me.
At the entrance to the National Park, I was waved through, my ‘America The Beautiful’ sticker on the front of the Tiger allowing me immediate access, ….. no photo ID required today. The roads were quiet, it was close to 11am, .. altitude 7,000 feet and climbing, a cloudless sky, strong winds, …. it was cold but that mattered little, every sense was being simultaneously entertained by the environment. Many images of Yosemite appear on the Web, mostly taken by photographers far more accomplished than I, take a look, .. I could never even begin to describe just how beautiful and overpowering this area is.
I spend the day riding every road in the Park, stopping to brew coffee and to talk with other bikers. I meet eleven BMW riders from Finland riding from Alaska to Argentina, fourteen Scottish riders on rental Harley’s, out in California to celebrate a friends 50th birthday, ….. what a way to celebrate. Amongst the group are policemen from the West Lothian Force, .. they’re riding ahead of me in a group, ….. the lead rider is pulled over for speeding. Perhaps it was a case of international camaraderie between colleagues, or perhaps the Highway Patrol Officer simply disliked the thought of a lengthy paperwork procedure, … he continued with no more than a caution.
My day ends in Yosemite Village, ’Upper Pines Campground’. It’s a warm evening, I don’t bother with the usual campfire, …. I cook pasta on the Coleman Primus and drink ice cold beers from my remarkably well insulated topbox. I turn on my cell phone and get a full signal, …. it rings. A conversation with my Brother and then a long message from the beautiful Nurse Wipa Klampeng in Thailand. I listen to the message for a third time and watch as the setting sun turns the smooth face of the rocks the deepest shade of orange, ….. I’ve certainly spent the night in worse places.