Destination: Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park in California is visited by 3.7 million people each year, and most spend their time in Yosemite Valley, a good-luck-finding-any-privacy campground strewn around modern amenities that would offend a true outdoorsman. Apart from this (though it’s not a bad choice for families on the camping grind), the valley is a solid base for exploring the rest of the park’s features, from cliff faces and waterfalls to mountain peaks and hiking trails. A few highlights:

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A First Try at Yosemite National Park

Eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park

Eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park

Fitting a square peg into a round hole is akin to driving a broken Mercedes over the Sierra Nevadas. I would know.

Transmission problems throughout Nevada left me wondering if I—if we, the car and I—could make it over mountainous Yosemite National Park. Getting my cabriolet to a Mercedes service department meant either traversing the park to reach Fresno, or returning to Nevada for service in Reno or Vegas. With visions of being stranded in a population-less state dancing through my head, we pushed westward.

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Destination: Rocky Mountain National Park (Part 1: Alpine Tundra)

Entering the Alpine Tundra Ecosystem

Entering the Alpine Tundra Ecosystem

Unhealthy obsession with Canada? Check.

Ancestrally, I’m half Canadian (French y’all!) so this may be the culprit. One part of Canada I’ve always wanted to see (in addition to all the other parts of Canada) is the Arctic Tundra, but you can’t access this treeless land it until you get way (like, way) north. This will probably never happen for me.

No worries. While in Colorado, I found out Rocky Mountain National Park has its own tundra, the Alpine Tundra Ecosystem, lying above the tree line of the park’s tallest mountains. Driving up Trail Ridge Road you can’t miss the changing landscape or the popular Ute Trail, used by prehistoric people as a pass over the mountains in the summer.

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Destination: Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle National Monument’s main attraction is this first large structure along the path, which is said to be more like an apartment complex than a castle.

I’m frugal. I think frugality is what divides the middle class from rich folk. Studies show that the richer people are, the more discerning they are about where and how they spend their money. One day I plan to be extremely discerning, get my drift?

Somewhat unrelated, I decided to spend my money on a National Parks Annual Pass last weekend. This pass grants unlimited access to all national parks and monuments for one year, and I can bring up to 3 people for free. Because I’m frugal (back to that now), I’m determined to get to most out of the $80 I just spent.

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