Apprised of the holiday weekend, fee-free, national parks, entrance bargain, with low lodging rates, and nice weather, I made quick plans to do this road trip. I did my research on the Net, and found a few things to do.

Leaving in the morning, Saturday, I took U.S. 99 south, then through Valley Home, and to CA 120 east. Expediently motoring to Yosemite National Park, I started with photos from the Half Dome view, then Cascade Creek. Going into the Valley, I did my usual shots at the usual stops, and then went to the visitor center. The Glacier Point Road had opened, so I was game to catch the views. I had skied here twice in winter conditions, but never had driven at this time of year, thanks to the low snowfall, and long dry spell this season. I made another stop at a Merced River pullout and at Tunnel View. Indeed, the highway was clear, and I came to the parking lot with hundreds of tourists, mostly in coats and jackets.

Strolling over to the best view, I began with my photos. I found a few nice spots for panorama sequences, and did some movie clips. Not staying too long, I had to get to Fresno, CA, for my motel reservation and food. On the way, I made a detour to the Mariposa Grove, and took the short hike to the Grizzly Giant, which had its top lighted up in alpenglow. I was rushed, since the ranger told me that it was closed after some hour, but didn’t know which.

Taking CA 41 south, I drove in the night, with plenty of traffic coming up, I guess to the casino along the way. I looked up the dining ops on their website, but the tuna in their California Roll caused me to be suspect. There are warnings out about toxins, and since I am seeking to be a more healthy person, chose to have a fresh burger and fries in Fresno.

I had the new problem of doing my daily physical therapy while on the road. This trip was sort of a test for that. I had to cut some corners, but I maintained my exercising and ice packs, all with little cost or inconvenience.

Sunday, I slept later, and then took CA 180 east. This had little traffic, and the Generals Highway was signed closed, but I had checked the Net. At the visitor center in Grant Grove, they gave me good information so I could accomplish my plans. I motored to the parking lot for the General Grant Tree, and took the short hike. Getting drink, and then taking the open and clear Generals Highway, I stopped at a vista point for some photos, then to another point.

I sought an easy peak to do. Buena Vista Peak (7,603’) fit that bill. I had hiked it in June, 1988, and wished to do it again. The trailhead was icy, but I left my car and started my hike. There was ice and snow, so I had to be careful. Having to skirt the icy spots, I was able to cross over the hazardous areas, and didn’t slip. There were several patches covering the trail, but I managed to continue.

Reaching the ridge, the trail then was clear. I topped out in about half an hour, and started with my photos. Clouds had come in, and it was a short stay for me. Encountering two hikers on my way down, they asked how far it was. A sign at the bottom reads “1 mile.” Back to the car, other people had stopped, but I took off and continued southward along the Generals Highway, with Moro Rock in mind.

Mostly forests and no great views comprised the rest of this drive, then I passed the General Sherman Tree area. I have seen it many times, and I had other things to do. I took the open and clear road to the Moro Rock parking lot, which is normally now served by a shuttle transport. Many other people had found this dry viewing opportunity, and I took the short climb up rock steps, and ledges with handrails, to the top. It started to snow lightly, then it stopped. I captured the view, and did my movie clips. Just dramatic light, as this winter.

I descended back down the trail to the car, and motored back to the main highway, and down west to the Foothills visitor center. I made a trail report, and took some photos, then was into Three Rivers, Visalia, and then headed westbound on CA 198. There was a nice sunset. I passed through Coalinga, then over part of the Coast Range to U.S. 101 in the night. Coming to King City, I got dinner, and then my room.

Up by 6:35 a.m., Monday the holiday, I had a nice breakfast, then took U.S. 101 north to Soledad. Taking CA 146 to the Pinnacles National Monument, I motored up the mostly one lane road to the new visitor center. A coyote was dawdling in the grasses, and I shot a movie. The ranger opened the center, and I looked inside.

It is a short way to drive to the Chaparral trailhead, where I parked. Using the water efficient restroom, I took the Juniper Canyon Trail to the High Peaks Trail. Looking for condors, I saw none. The stone steps and handrails made for a more challenging scramble, and I took plenty of pictures.

Taking the Tunnel Trail back to complete my shorter loop, I ran into more hikers, and then came back to my car. Motoring back to Soledad, I took a drink break, and then headed north on U.S. 101. The driving was fearsome, with only one lane, at times, or two lanes northbound, and plenty of fast traffic. Past Gilroy, it becomes nicer, and I could relax. I had the thought of finishing my loop at Muir Woods, but instead chose to go to Twin Peaks in San Francisco, for another vista. I didn’t hike the two highpoint bumps, but mingled with tourists enjoying the fine afternoon.

Taking Market Street back to the freeway, I was soon crossing over the Bay Bridge in heavy traffic. I’d get home at an earlier hour. The sunset wasn’t anything great, and I zoomed home, eastbound on Interstate 80.

Driving about 850 miles round trip, I hiked maybe 10 miles with 2,000 feet of gain. I captured 1,595 images and movie clips. Spending about $200 total for gas, food, and lodging, I used about 22.7 gallons of fuel. I had fears of car problems, but I checked my oil, and it was fine. I mostly ate fast food, and bought drinks to use a restroom and for my thirst.

So, despite my medical issues, I am still able to travel and climb a peak. I may never backpack again, but that is past me, now. I have my fun with my photography and video, and get about to new places, still. I have a lot more nooks and crannies to visit about the Pacific West.