The Nessa & Zy Road Trip Finale: Yosemite to Cupertino | Day Drunk: The Nessa & Zy Road Trip Finale: Yosemite to Cupertino

December 3, 2014

The Nessa & Zy Road Trip Finale: Yosemite to Cupertino

Alas, the story of me and Nessa's trip from Vermont to Cupertino, California is coming to an end! From 24 hours straight to Tulsa, to harrowing adventure in New Mexico, to dodging tractor beams on the Extraterrestrial Highway, and much more, we are finally bringing Nessa home...

After the painfully early morning at Mono Lake, we headed up, up, up into Yosemite National Park, conveniently located en route to destination: Cupertino. I love entering Yosemite from the eastern access point in Lee Vining. It feels more removed from the impending tourist traffic ahead and it's always best to drive the road less traveled - the Tioga Road, so far away from the hustle and bustle of the oh-so-popular Yosemite Valley. It's a nice way to lean into a National Park experience before the overwhelming crowds, traffic, and then show stopping stunnery of Yosemite's most famous inhabitants. A night of primitive camping amongst the sage in the Inyo National Forest and a Mono Lake sunrise before a day at Yosemite? Yes, please! (and definitely get breakfast at the Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining)

The first time I went to Yosemite with AGP, we had elected to skip the Valley in order to take a more accessible hike and then make it to San Francisco with time to spare. If you are heading into the Valley, especially after driving the Tioga Road, assume that your adventure will be daylong. I mean obviously, right? Most people save up vacation all year just to spend weeks frolicking amongst the granite domes and the glacial valleys dripping melt water from the upwards of 13,000 feet in elevation. So it was a clear choice for me and Nessa to spend a few hours exploring the beautiful Valley on this special trip.

Yosemite is pretty famous for having several Giant Sequoia groves, although Nessa and I spent our time exploring beneath the canopy of ponderosa pines along the Merced River in the shadow of El Capitan.

Ah, the infamous "Captain", illuminated in geology slide shows in lecture halls around the nation. The granite that makes up El Capitan was formed approximately 100 million years ago!

We cruised out of Yosemite in the golden afternoon, traveling from the crisp summer of the Valley into the bizarre alien scape that was the western edges of the park and the surrounding Stanislaus National Forest, which had very recently been on fire. Actually, Route 120 had only opened back up a couple of days before we had arrived! In the park, we were in awe of the ash colored trees where a low intensity fire had torn through the forest floor, burning up the trunks but leaving behind a cloudy pink canopy of needles.

And then - woah. We stopped at an overlook that truly put the devastation of forest fires into perspective for a couple of rainy day flatlanders like us.

The size consumed by the wildfire was three times the size of San Francisco! With high intensity fires like this one, it can take 20 years or more for the recovery process to begin in the forest. Lost are valuable homes and food sources for many animals and the soil will be at risk for erosion and nutrient depletion, not a pretty forecast for such a massive tract of wild space. However, it was nice to see that nearby Groveland was spared certain disaster, and the streets were lined with handmade signs thanking the firefighters for their hard work and sacrifice.

Before long we were ensconced in the eternal interstates of the Bay area of California, anxiously spiraling towards Vanessa's new life in Cupertino. We arrived just as the sun set, slowly creeping down the dead end that her rental cottage was situated on. Since Nessa's boyfriend had arrived in California a few months before her, he had scouted out this awesome home for the two of them. Greeted by a small front yard lined with fruit trees, flowering shrubs, darting hummingbirds, and a perfect oasis among the nonstop pop-op of urban Cali, we knew we were finally home.

Thanks for reading about our adventure!!

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