Thursday, November 09, 2006

What have I been up to post-Korea?
I'll start a series of posts regaling my activities post-Korea. Fourth up:


Early October I flew to California to visit my sister Joleen in Yountville, CA. We had an interesting experience at the airport in San Francisco. We were waiting for my luggage to arrive in baggage claim along with the rest of the people on my flight (it was about midnight at the time, so other than us the airport was pretty empty). Some old lady who had been on our flight suddenly collapsed and had (what I presume to be) a heart attack. People on our flight who must have some sort of medical training ran over to her. One person yelled, "Call 911!" They start doing CPR on the lady, then one person yelled out, "Is there a defibrillator nearby?!?" Someone ran over with one (so they do get used...those things that are hanging on walls in public places). They got out the paddle things and are yelling, "Clear!" and shocking her back to life. Crikey. I don't know if she ended up dying or living, but I do know it took a hell of a long time for any sort of response team to arrive.

We didn't do too much in Yountville...because it's Yountville (near Napa). Wine sucks. In their backyard they have a garden and fruit trees (apple, fig, pear). They have a couple gnomes, and one gnome who was sitting under a fig tree had a big glop of fig on his face. I thought it was he'd been chowing down on figs.

Joleen and I went camping in Yosemite National Park for 4 days. It was really beautiful. Here are some pictures with accompanying text:

I took the above pictures...somewhere in Yosemite at a look-out point on our first day. I think it was kind of near Lake Tenaya. Or something.

This picture is of Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite Valley. Since we were there in October, the waterfalls were all really low on water. Upper Yosemite Falls was barely a trickle. But for the most part, they were still pretty...just not as impressive as they'd be in spring.

Here's the token picture of Yosemite Valley, taken from another look-out point off the road. The big moutain thing on the left is called El Capitan (which we saw a few people rock-climbing). In the middle in the distance is Half Dome (used to be a normal dome, and then...half fell off). On the right is what I think is referred to as The Three Brothers (according to some dude I overheard while taking this picture).

The above 2 pictures are taken at Glacier Point. The top one is me (obviously) with Half Dome in the background. The bottom one is not a picture I'm particularly proud of or anything, it just shows 2 waterfalls we hiked to one morning. The one on the bottom left is Vernal Falls and the bigger one is called Nevada Falls.

The above three are on the hike to the top of Vernal Falls. Man, this hike was killer. The last however hundred feet were on this stone stairway that I swear to God was straight up. The top one is of Joleen striking an uber-Korean cheesy pose while on the path. The middle one is just a pic of the waterfall. The bottom one is of my standing at the top of the waterfall. There was actually a fence/railing around the area, but as no one was around at the time we just climbed over it to get a picture of us standing at the top. During the spring and summer I'd guess that area would be all filled with water (as the waterfall is much bigger). How rebellious are we??

We then continued our hike to see another waterfall--Nevada Falls (pictured above). We walked to the base of this one (and maybe up a little higher) but we didn't want to hike to the top if it'd be a repeat of the hike to the top of Vernal Falls. So we enjoyed it from below then hiked back down.

One day we hiked to Taft Point. Taft Point is not where you want to bring children or people scared of heights. It's...well, a point...and it has a lot of fissures in the rock that plummet way down to the Valley floor. Unlike many places in Yosemite, there aren't really any guardrails around to prevent you from falling to your death. I took a lot of pictures here as it was really cool looking. But pictures just don't get across how dizzying it is to be there. You need 3D pictures or something. The first picture is a picture I took of some moss-covered trees on the hike there. I'm obsessed with taking pictures of trees. The second picture is a big rock. The third picture shows how Joleen is, in fact, scared of heights. As she approached a cliff edge she had to get down and crawl. The cliff out-cropping in the background of that picture is the one I am standing on in the next picture. And the last one is me and a tree.

We also went to Mariposa Grove, which has a lot of really old giant sequoias. The first picture is of me standing in front of the Fallen Monarch. The below picture demonstrates how huge the tree is. It's a picture taken of the Fallen Monarch in 1899 with U.S. Cavalry officers standing on and in front of the tree. Crikey! The next picture is of the Grizzly Giant. It's one of the largest trees in Mariposa Grove and is thought to be 2,700 years old (one of the oldest living sequoias). The picture below that is Teddy Roosevelt and his posse standing in front of the base of the Grizzly Giant. Yes, he happened to be there while I was there. :)

Because Yosemite Valley is "Bear Country," you have to store all your food and anything else scented (like toiletry items) in a bear box. Each campsite has a bear box. You can't even keep things in your cars, because bears will smash through your car to get at anything they think might be food. And besides having it suck that your car is ruined, you'll be fined $5,000 for not following the rules. Bummer. So here's a picture of the bear box at our campsite.

Joleen and I had an exciting bear encounter. Our bear box happened to be right next to our fire pit (maybe 5-10 ft away from where we sit). One night a park ranger was walking around telling everyone to close their bear boxes because "there are bears in the area." So we shut it and sit down around our fire. At about 9:30, Joleen suddenly whispers to me, "Bear!" and points to our bear box. There was a friggin' bear pawing at our bear box right next to us! It then got scared and ran away. Plus, it realized it couldn't get into our food. Anyway, a few minutes later we hear a bunch of clanging at the campsite across from us and we hear a guy yell out, "Get out of there!!!" The bear had got into their bear box! Hahaha! The rest of the night we could hear it wreaking havoc upon various campsites. The funny thing is, every single person yelled, "Get out of there!!!" I guess that's what you yell to bears. :)

So the next night at about the same time, we're again sitting around our fire. We can't see anything past the fire because it's too dark. Plus, we didn't have a flashlight, only this electric lantern thing that emitted minimal amounts of light (I fully blame that on Joleen who "just assumed" that their flashlight was in the trunk of their car). Suddenly, the girls at a campsite near us yell, "Bear!" and flash their flashlight near us. I see the bear running right past us. The bear again! Woo-hoo! It went over to a different campsite near us, and suddenly, "Get out of there!" It had started rummaging in their bear box. Then, this truck pulls up to our campsite and 2 rangers jump out with tranquilizer guns. About 5 rangers then proceed to search this little area around our campsite for the bear. I guess it was getting too bold and they needed to tranq it and stick it somewhere deeper in the woods because it was becoming too much of a nuisance. However, they were never able to find it. Tricky bear. I couldn't figure out where it would have gone. I kept thinking it had climbed a tree and suddenly this bear would fall from the sky right onto our tent or something. But it was never seen again. By us, anyway.

At the beginning of a path in Mariposa Grove, there was this sign that said, "Beware: A puma has been seen on this path recently." Then it went on to explain what you should do if you're attacked by a puma. NEVER run away. Make yourself look bigger than normal by spreading your coat out like wings, or something. Yell at it and throw things at it. Fight back. So I was kind of hoping to see a puma, but we never did. But we did see some mule deer. Joy. Actually, my ideal situation would have been to see a puma run out of the woods and chase down and kill a deer. But alas, I had to do without that.

So remember the lady we almost saw die at the airport? Well, we may have seen another person die. We were driving down a road in Yosemite. On the roads there are a lot of scenic pull-off areas. While driving we see this car coming towards us that was kind of in our lane. As we get closer we see that he's waving his arms at us like he wants us to stop or something. So we slow down and around the next curve there was a car accident that must have just happened. It seems like a car was taking a left turn into one of the scenic pull-off areas and didn't see that there was a motorcyclist in the oncoming lane. So the motorcyclist ran straight into the side of the car. The motorcycle was totalled. I looked over and saw the guy lying on the ground and there was blood all over the place. It didn't look good. In fact, it really creeped me out and I kept saying, "Why did I look? Why did I look? Why did I look?" So we thought that maybe we were the Angels of Death or something. Although we don't really know if any of them died or not (don't worry, plenty of people had already stopped and were around to help this dude out).

Um...yeah. I guess that's about all. If you've anything to add, Joleen, feel free to comment away.


At 11/10/2006 11:45 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

These photos are awesome!! This entry makes all the previous ones pale in comparison. Love, love, love them!

At 11/13/2006 11:49 PM, Anonymous elizabeth said...

that picture of joleen in the uber-korean pose is hilarious. i also love the gigantic trees.


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