Yosemite Valley

Be sure and read part one in the last blog post. After spending one night in San Diego we drove up the Anaheim where we parked at the Anaheim Trailer Park. I remember this as being nothing but a large asphalt parking lot with hookups.  It became our home base for a few days. While in this area we had a full schedule.  We went to Knots Berry Farm, the Hollywood Wax Museum, Disneyland, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, we went to the filming of an episode of Password with Alan Ludden, we also went to Beverly Hills and saw the homes of several movie stars.

Returning to San Diego where my sister lived, we took a couple of days to explore the area. We visited the San Diego Zoo which is one of the world’s greatest. You really should train some days before going to this zoo because it is massive. The zoo is absolutely beautiful. The animals are plentiful and there are an amazing variety. If you are into zoos this is a must. We also visited the Navy Docks which was a treat for this 17-year-old young man.

We crossed the border into Tijuana, Mexico. This was my first time to cross an international border which in 1972 was quite simple. I had two goals for this excursion. I wanted to purchase myself a leather coat with long fringe on the sleeves. These coats were “in” and I had saved my money to purchase one because they were much more affordable in Mexico. I loved the “negotiations” which preceded the purchase. I actually discovered I was pretty good at it. I made an offer to one man who was so offended at my offer and refusal to go higher that he followed me down the street for a distance speaking, quite agitated I might add, in Spanish. I did however find the coat I wanted at the same price I had offered the incensed gentleman. I must say I looked good in my leather coat.

My second goal was to fulfill a request of my best friend. I may run the risk of arrest making this confession. I only hope that the statute of limitation has passed and I am now in the clear. My friend wanted me to bring him back a switch blade knife. These were illegal in Mexico and  the U.S. but every young man knew they could be acquired and brought across the border. Literally every store I went into offered to sell me a switch blade knife. They would reach under the counter and show me a collection of these knives. When I found the right one at the right price, I sealed the deal. Returning to the border to cross back into the U.S. the border agent asked me one question. “Do you have a switch blade that you purchased in Mexico?” Now I am truly running a risk telling this story because apparently there is no statute of limitation on some things in the U.S. today. Is lying to a government official one of those things? I could become the subject of a Congressional investigation, because I lied to this border control officer.

For me, the best part of this epic RV trip began the next day.  We traveled north from San Diego to Sequoia National Park. We camped that night at the Potwisha Campground inside the Park. I decided to take short hike that afternoon. As I was hiking along, I heard that sound once again. It is very recognizable. The rattle of a Rattle Snake. I stopped until I could spot this snake. There he was, quite large with a mouth full of Squirrel. He was no danger to me, but the squirrel  was history.

As is the case in most campgrounds we found our neighbors to be quite friendly. Next to us was a family who were Californians who camped there quite often. I asked if there were bears nearby. They answered that the bears never came that low in the park unless they were very hungry. That night was quite hot, my dad was snoring,  and I couldn’t sleep. I decided I would take my bedding outside and sleep under the stars. I made my bed on the picnic table and pursued sleep. I began to hear rustling in the woods and excited voices in the campground. Someone turned on their headlights pointing into the woods. There he was, the biggest bear in the history of the world! He was looking at me, licking his lips, headed my way. All he saw was a giant meal sitting on the picnic table! Then I remembered, “Bears don’t come down here unless they are really hungry.” Needless to say I made a hasty trip back to the travel trailer. Dad must have woken up when I went out. Not realizing I had gone outside he remembered he had not locked the door. That’s right I’m about to be a late-night meal for the world’s biggest bear and I’m locked out! I nearly rolled the trailer on its side trying to get in. My dad, disoriented having been awakened by such a commotion, became angered learning it was me. My aunt is in the back of the trailer watching the entire show outside her window was howling with delight at the comedic exhibition and I’m about to die. My aunt to her dying day would roar with laughter every time she recalled the bear incident.

We traveled on to Yosemite National Park and camped in Wawona Campground. This place is in my opinion is one of the two most beautiful places in the U.S. based on my limited experience. The second is the Grand Canyon. We went to the Mariposa Groves, took a shuttle around the valley and saw Bridal Vial Falls, and Yosemite Falls, and many other breath-taking sites. I am eager to return.

We traveled to Bridgeport, California and along the way reached our highest point of the trip 9,920 feet. Nearby Bridgeport was Lakeside Campground where we spent the night. From there we traveled to the Ponderosa Ranch in Nevada near Lake Tahoe where the western Bonanza was filmed. Dan Blocker had died just a short time before and I was a bit disturbed to find that they were serving “Hoss Burgers” at the ranch.

We were headed for Yellowstone National Park. We had traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah. We toured the Mormon Temple and later that night my dad called his parents to check on them. He learned that Mama, my grandmother had a stroke. Yellowstone would have to wait. We headed for home. While Mama’s stroke was serious, she would live a number of years longer.

Trips like this get in your blood. It really was an adventure! We were seeing so many things we had never seen before. We were learning what a truly amazing land it was in which we lived. As wonderful and fulfilling as it was it left me wanting to do more, to see more. It was one more step that lead me to this time in my life where my wife and I will soon embark to pursue our full time RV journey. You can go along with us. Go to www.prowlinwithpetenpen.com and click on follow. Also please like out blog posts on Facebook and be sure and share us with your friends. Thanks for reading!

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