Today was moving on day again but we intended to make the most of it by filling it with as much as possible.
A decent breakfast as usual was provided, this time with entertainment. The lady who was responsible for replenishing the food in the breakfast room took it upon herself to shout out whenever someone’s bread in the toaster popped up. It was a little bit scary so I went without.
By 9am we were back on the road, this time heading to Mariposa Grove which is the southern end of Yosemite. It was a relatively short drive. As we were driving through a small town called Oakhurst, Karen suddenly exclaimed ‘We’ve stayed here before’. Now I was rather sceptical at the time but then I started having vague recollections. It would have been back in 2004 and the boys were both with us. The town had grown since we had stayed there and had acquired a Starbucks which earned a shriek of excitement from Karen. I executed a quick U turn and we pulled into its car park. Whilst Karen was getting her coffee I logged into the Wifi and found the photos from 2004 from iCloud. There was no actual proof of us staying here but a couple of photos showed us standing in front of a tree that looked suspiciously like one of the ones we were planning to see in Mariposa Grove.
We carried on our journey and eventually arrived at the visitors centre. There was a shuttle service then running into the Grove and the trails. Thankfully the place was nowhere near as busy as the Valley yesterday. We hopped on the waiting bus and took the 10 minute ride to the trailhead. We started on the 2 mile loop that we had selected. It was quite uphill to start with. I had made a mistake of wearing my sandals today. The paths were extremely dusty and my feet were soon covered with it. I got told off for being so stupid.
The trees were majestic and magnificent. The Sequoias may not be quite as tall as the Redwoods (still nearly 300ft) but they absolutely make up for it with width.
Then we came to the California Tunnel Tree. There was a queue of people waiting politely to have their picture taken with it. Whilst waiting I looked again at the pictures from 2004 and confirmed it was the same tree. Karen came over misty eyed about it and wished that our boys were here with us again.
On the next part of the trail we ended up following a family group from the UK who were really enjoying themselves and taking all sort of creative pictures, including trying to sort themselves in age order on different stepping stones across a small stream. They then insisted on taking our photos doing the same thing although it wasn’t quite the same with just two of us. The trail was another beautiful one in the dappled sunshine and we really enjoyed it. Just as pleasing was that there was a shuttle waiting to take us back with no delay. Mariposa Grove seems to be an overlooked part of Yosemite, yet is just as beautiful. I am really pleased we went and even more amazed that we originally found it in 2004.
We then headed to Fresno where the plan was to do some shopping and eat before driving to a place called Three Rivers for the night. We were in no hurry to get there as this we knew this was to be the smallest place we have stayed on this trip. We also knew that there was little choice of places to eat there.
We saw little of Fresno itself other than one long Street. On this street it had every shop or restaurant we like to frequent. We were amazed. Our first stop was Walmart to pick up some lunch for the next two days and more fruit. After wasting some time in there we then stopped at a Ross, where surprise, surprise Karen bought a top.
Then we made our way to Outback which was also on the same street. This turned out to be one of the best ones we have ever been into. The service was impeccable and the food superb. We had the usual and as it was Happy Hour, Karen has a Blueberry Martini which mellowed her for the rest of the journey.
We had about another 90 minute drive to Three Rivers. It was as we thought a one horse town, but the Hotel was pleasant enough. We spent the remainder of the evening sorting ourselves out and planning our route for the next day.