For our second day in Yosemite, we drove about 30 miles away from the main valley to a small village called Wawona, which was the historic centre of the park. Today Wawona is a tiny settlement of about 160 people. It has a large Victorian hotel, a golf course and a visitor centre with log cabins from the old pioneer days of the mid 19th century. (On the right is a photo of one of the old log cabins) Although it's only 30 miles away, it takes about an hour an a quarter to drive to Wawona from Yosemite valley because the precarious road that hugs tightly to the side of the colossal mountains kinda slows things down. The national park authorities have thoughtfully failed to place any crash barriers on the 300 degree corners, which boomerang you out to the edge of the mountain, giving you a few moments to teeter on the edge before the road pulls you back in. Presumably this is so that everyone can get a good view.
So why did we chose to leave beautiful Yosemite valley, with it's highly organised shuttle-bus system and plethora of signposts that greatly appealed to Vincent's desire for order and organisation? Because at Wawona, we would find something just as good: The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. I've mentioned Giant Redwoods in a few blog posts and they deserve the mentions - they are very impressive trees. But Giant Sequoias are something else. The Giant Sequoias we saw were about 1,500 to 2,000 years old and about 200ft tall. Just ponder that for a moment. They are living things. They are up to 2,000 years old. That's much older than you and me. It's even older than the United States of America. Two thousand years. They have lived through fires, earth quakes, a mini-ice age or two, and they are still going.
I like the way that several trees have names and defining features that seem to give them personalities. I really liked the pair of trees called "the faithful couple", who have grown together so closely that their roots have fused together and over the last millennia or so, they have essentially become one tree. This is very cheesy, but seen as I'm on honeymoon and allowed to be a bit romantic, I'm going to point it out anyway: in our wedding ceremony our friend Mona read an excerpt from Captain Corelli's Mandolin which said that true love was like having "roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the
pretty blossom has fallen from your branches, you find that you are one
tree and not two". It seemed to us that it was a good omen to have come on honeymoon and found a pair of old trees that had actually done this.
Unfortunately, I did not think to take a photo of the bear and I didn't really have time to anyway. So in case you feel short changed by the lack of bear photos on this post, here is a picture of a similar bear, that I found on google.