Texas Plus:

March 16 to March 22

(Ridgecrest, CA to Bass Lake, CA to Yosemite, CA to San Simeon, CA)

Click on the photo for each day to view that day's photos.

Day 65 - March 16, 2024

It was a catch-up day today. I spent until about 2:00 inside editing photos from the previous 2 days and catching up on some other mundane things. Then a drive around Bass Lake which is quite pretty. But nothing too special. Tomorrow, on to Yosemite.

Bass Lake

Day 66 - March 17, 2024

STOP! Look! Yosemite!

Sunrise to Sunset

Yosemite National Park. From the Yosemite Tunnel to a Stellar’s Jay to sunrise over the Yosemite Valley including El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls, to sunset at the same location and beyond, Yosemite does not disappoint. The mountains and forests and rivers and colours are outstanding. As the sun was getting low, I set up across the Merced River, looking at Bridalveil Falls. Suddenly there was a rainbow at the bottom of the falls and as the sun got lower, the rainbow got higher. I watched as it climbed to the top of the falls. Then I moved back to “Tunnel View” where I had watched the sun rise and bathe the valley in light, to watch the sunset. It’s interesting how the colours change from minute to minute as the sun drops and the shadows from the clouds move across the valley.


Yosemite is an interesting place. You can spend days and days here hiking. Or you can see most of it in a day if you are short of time. Either way, I highly recommend seeing Yosemite National Park.

Tunnel View at Sunset, Yosemite National Park

Day 67 - March 18, 2024

After the big day yesterday in Yosemite, I thought we would take it easy and just go for a short drive to a small, nearby town, Mariposa. It looked to be a cool little town and it was. Several 100 to 150 year old buildings and a bakery where the owner told me about a mountainside where wild poppies and other wildflowers were in bloom. So, off we went.


It took some work to find the spot but find it we did. Quite steep but, really pretty. Then I realized we were only about 11 miles away from a different entrance to Yosemite and since it was still only 4:30, off we went. I tried to get a few shots from some different spots.


Then I looked up at Horsetail Falls (over 2,100-foot drop but not as much water as Bridalveil or Yosemite Falls) dropping over El Capitan. In mid to late February, 5 to 15 minutes before sunset, the light hits these falls at just the right angle to make them look like they are on fire (https://www.yosemite.com/a-guide-to-yosemites-natural-firefall-horsetail-fall/). Today, there was a bit of a wind blowing the mist back up and with the water falling, the mist rising and the setting sun behind, we were treated to a similar sight. Just white, not the yellow that is only seen in February due to the different angle of the sun.


Just another amazing sight at Yosemite National Park.

Horsetail Falls at Sunset, Yosemite National Park

Day 68 - March 19, 2024

It was time to give our chariot some love. So, we went into Fresno and got an oil change, a car wash and gas. After stopping for a few shots of beautiful Bass Lake, of course, we drove the back roads (there and back) which are the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in east central California. Very beautiful. Wild Turkeys, Turkey Vultures, Scrub Jays, flowers, lakes and gorgeous overlooks. A pretty easy day.

Bass Lake, California

Day 69 - March 20, 2024

Yosemite, you are magnificent.


I decided that one more day in this amazing place was required. A quick stop at the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad (111-year-old steam engine) then on to magic. Since I have already done most of the easier hikes in the valley, I made the short hike to the base of Bridalveil Falls before, heading off to a “moderate” hike to Vernal Falls.  While it is a short, 1.2 miles each way, there is a 1,000-foot elevation gain in just 1.2 miles so it is fairly steep. The first mile is paved so it is easy walking (except for the incline). The last .2 is rocky and the last 100 yards are a steep, uneven, slippery rock staircase. Not good for my 70-year-old fear of heights. However, the falls are worth it. Vernal Falls drop 317 feet before becoming a torrent of rapids heading to the valley below. I met a young couple, Ty and Catherine, who walked with us on the way up who had just gotten engaged in the park two days before. So, I got a shot of them with Bud E. Bear.


Then back down to the valley and another trip to Bridalveil Falls, this time with them in sunlight. A couple trips around the loop (only about 15 miles, round trip) and then a stop at Horsetail Falls with the setting sun creating the “firefall”. A few weeks earlier in the year and the setting sun is lower and in a slightly different position creating the yellow “fire” effect on the falls, when viewed from the right spot. This time of year, the effect is whiter. However, with the magic of computers, I have managed to make it look more yellow/orange than I really saw. I have shown the “firefall” both ways. The way I saw it and with the more sunset effect. Usually, I want my photos to be “as seen” but for this I made an exception. Which do you prefer?


I also got a shot that I really like of Upper Yosemite Falls, in shadow and reflection in the Merced River.


Then a last goodbye shot from Tunnel View.

Vernal Falls, Yosemite National Park

Day 70 - March 21, 2024

Our last day at Bass Lake. This place has been very nice. Quiet and peaceful. So, just a short drive up a back road (whaaaat?) up a mountain along with a short hike to Glass Rock. I have no idea why it is called that, but it has great view of Bass Lake. I noticed lots of trees with stunning red bark and pink bell flowers. A quick search tells me they are Manzanita trees. Then we drove further up the mountain until we ran into a fair amount of snow on the road, so we turned around and stopped by a lovely little stream. Caught a few butterflies on camera (no, I have no idea what they are), Bud E. hid in a tree. And then back down the mountain to a restaurant on the lake for dinner. A nice, easy, quiet day.


Tomorrow…. off to the California coast.

Day 71 - March 22, 2024

The drive from Bass Lake (a couple more shots of the beautiful lake in the morning) was long and tedious. The highway I was going to take was closed and every time I though I was around the issue, I wasn’t. So, I took a long route around which added about three hours to the drive.


It also took me through about 50 miles of thousands of pump jacks, 90% of which were pumping. It is a great mystery to me why everyone is trying to shut down our energy industry, but they are pumping it out here as fast as they can. I also noticed that there was no sign of Leonardo DeCaprio, Neil Young, James Cameron or Jane Fonda. Apparently, they are too busy flying around on private jets and sailing giant yachts telling the rest of the world we should all be freezing in the dark.


When I finally arrived at Pismo Beach, the thousands upon thousands of Monarch Butterflies that winter here from November to February were gone. Just a couple stragglers for me to get photos of. Then on to Morro Bay and San Simeon. I drove up the coast until dark. The Elephant Seal Beach did have a few seals and a couple Elephant Seals. The coast is incredibly gorgeous.

California Coast north of San Simeon