Friday, November 21, 2008

Day 1 (Friday) in California

The day started with Amber taking Diana to work while Chad (Diana's husband) and I griped to eachother about how much graduate school sucks and how we would never do it again knowing what we know now. The only comforting thing is that it appears that no matter what field you are in or which university you go to, the life of a grad student is always the same.

After Amber came back, we borrowed Diana's car and went to get an oil change. While the folks at the shop changed the oil, we strolled to a Taqueria nearby for lunch. The weather in California was, as always, nice and we were marveling at how fabulous it is to be able to come from a snowy November day on the East Coast to a sunny shorts-and-t shirt day in California simply by hopping on a flight. Lunch was a delicious foot-long burrito that we shared. Mexican food is so much better here than anywhere else.

After lunch and the oil change we got on the road for the 4 hour trip to Yosemite National Park. The drive took us south through the central valley then east on a back roads through the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas all the way to the mountains. We stopped at an information booth about an hour out from the national park and were recommended a hotel in a nearby gold rush town for only $59/night. More on that later.

We went ahead and booked the hotel room site unseen because we wanted to make it to the national park and catch the views at sunset. This was a great idea as we rolled into the Yosemite valley just as the sun was setting. We pulled over here and there to allow me to take some pictures and by the time we made it to the village, it was dark. We turned around and went back to the hotel. Although the scenery was stunningly beautiful (as seen above), the most amazing thing we saw were two bear cubs playing near the road. Of course, there was a dumb tourist nearby trying to take a picture of the cubs dangerously close to the them. It all happened so quickly we didn't have a chance to stop and take a picture, but the image is firmly etched in our memory. We also saw a coyote cross the road right in front of our car and several deer who did what deer do and froze when hit by the beams of our headlights. But Amber did a great job driving and we did not hit a single critter.

We drove back to the hotel and when we arrived to Jamestown, we were greeted by a quaint little wild west town. It is as if we went back in time. We checked into the hotel and were informed that it would be wise to go out and get dinner before taking all our stuff to the room because everything "closes early in this town". It was 7:15PM. We took the advice and found a very nice restaurant at the National Hotel just down the road. This was a more upscale hotel with a saloon and a gourmet restaurant. All the decorations were typical for the time period around 100-150 years ago and the food was absolutely delicious. I treated Amber to dinner to celebrate her victory over the preliminary exam. After dinner we retired to our room and promptly fell asleep as we were exhausted and slightly jet lagged.

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