Like Jack Kerouac and the Beatnicks before us, we decided to hit the road for a 2 week road trip accross the South West states of the US: California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona. We’ve got about 2500 miles or 4000 kilometers to cover! A trip of a lifetime… The first leg of a trip takes us from San Francisco, to one of the oldest National Parks in the US, the Yosemite Valley. The park was created in 1916, but was protected by Lincoln by a special grant, as early as 1864, thanks to the efforts and work by John Muir, one of the early advocates for the preservation of wilderness.


After about 4 hours of driving, we reach our first goal,Yosemite National Park!


Our first stop takes us to El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall, next to the Merced river.

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The bird below is the Steller’s Jay, one of the most common birds in Yosemite. One interesting fact about their color: the blue color doesn’t come from pigmentation but they way the light is reflected on them. Feathers are made of keratin, the same stuff that our fingernails are made of. Keratin grows in each cells and as cell dies, a structure of keratin is interspersed with pockets of air. The pattern makes it that when the sunlights strikes from a certain angle, the red and green reflections are cancelled out and only the blue remains. If you take one of the feathers and change how the light strikes it (for instance if you look at the feather with the light behind, then the feather becomes black-grey. This is structural color as opposed to pigmentation color. (source: the National Park Service website)


We spent the afternoon swimming in the Merced river, and visiting the Yosemite Valley. The area is pretty crowded but still the natural beauty and immensity of the place makes it an unforgetable experience. Sidenote: the water of the river was very very cold as a lot of the water comes from the snow melting in the higher elevations.

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After a day of driving and exploration, we head back to our camp and set up the tents. This is when we start to be attacked by mosquitoes. We came prepared, but those bugs are very sneaky.


Indian food for dinner!


No comment…


The next day, we head back to the Valley for a hike to go visit Mirror lake and beyond, along the Tenaya river. The drive to Yosemite is beautiful with views of half dome. We also hope to see a bear but with all the tourists, this is very unlikely.


Half-Dome in the distance.


This is a view of the rightly named Mirror lake


Into the wilderness (not really…)


Our hike was along the Tenaya river


If you are wondering, we did go swimming here, and the water was super “refreshing”.


Different views of Half Dome


On our way back to the car.


A nice view of the whole valley, El Capitan, Half dome and waterfall.


We decided to go up to Glacier Point. The drive was a bit long but the point of view is just breathtaking.

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The next day, we decided to go explore one of the Redwood groves. So we went to Tuolomne Grove. We had several encounters with these cute little chipmunks.


One of the giant sequoias.


The Tuolomne is on the path of the old tourist road to Yosemite Valley which was used in the 19th century. There is at least one Tunnel tree which was carved in a Giant Sequoia to impress visitors.


We were even able to catch a glimpse of a Pileated Woodpecker. He was very active.


After the visit of the Grove, we took Tioga road which leads us to the upper part of Yosemite and the mountain meadows.


Tenaya Lake

Yosemite - Tenaya Lake

We stopped at the Tuolomne meadows for a picnic. Not a bad scenery for a picnic!



In the middle of the Tuolomne Meadows, you can find a natural source of water called the Soda Springs, as they are naturally carbonated. The springs themselves a quite small but the soil around it has a very dark red color.


Afterwards, we take the road again and go through the Tioga pass at 9,943 feet or 3031 meters. It’s pretty cold and you can see snow everywhere.


This concludes the first chapter of our journey. Next: Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra.