Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Lavender Lost...

Our lavender plants are well established and provide much beauty and fragrance to our yard and patio.

Vigorous growers, they produce scads of blooms and grow to nice, large orbs of purple and green.

Earlier in the season, I'll cut back the blooms to encourage a second one.

Late in the summer, though, the plant is spent and it's time to cut back.

This is a good time, too, because once the flowers are gone, so are the ever-present bees who might get a little riled when you stick a big pair of loppers into their midst.

Chop, chop, chop...and now the garden waste bin is full.

I'm done for this year, the plant now has plenty of room to fill back up. Just need to sweep up this mess and I'm finished for today.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to Eat Your Dragon

One plant I really love in our garden is the dragon fruit. This tropical cactus does very well in our climate and I'm hoping to get more production out of it.

We have two varieties, one with white flesh and the other a vibrant, hot-pink flesh like a watermelon on acid.

It's time to eat this one.  Eaten straight, it's ok. Slightly sweet but a bit bland.

The best, we've found, is to cut it up in cubes and very lightly sprinkle a little powdered sugar on it.

This amps up the natural sweetness and the taste is as stunning as the looks of the fruit.

Best of all, I went out this morning and found more flower buds on the plant. More fruit to come...

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, August 18, 2014


In part 1 , we had great, cheap hot dogs; went to a Yankees game; and paid our repects at the World Trade Center site.

The next day it’s bagels for breakfast again as we do some sightseeing and shopping around Manhattan in the morning.

For that, we head downtown to the South Street Seaport, a nautically themed shopping area facing the East River.  It's kind of quiet and not a lot going on.  We browse some of the stores, but frankly, there is nothing here that you can't get at any of a hundred other tourist spots.

Taking our leave, we head up to the city hall with it's beautiful fountain and gas lamps before heading back to the hotel.

In the afternoon, it’s time to get ready to go to our next game. We’ll be seeing the Amazin’ Mets take on the San Diego Padres at Shea Stadium.

Unlike Yankee Stadium, the subway stop at Shea is not accessible. It could easily be made accessible…the exit from the elevated station includes a spiral ramp down to the parking lot but it stops about 10 feet from the ground with a set of stairs leading the rest of the way down. Why not just continue with the ramp?

This means that we take the train one stop past Shea to Flushing-Main Street where the station is accessible. Outside are dozens of bus stops, our job is to find the one that goes back to the stadium. I see an MTA worker in an orange vest and ask him. He’s friendly and points us to the correct stop where we catch a 48 bus back to Shea.

When we called for tickets at the number listed on the Mets website, a friendly gentleman helped us out and quickly sold us three seats very close to home plate. They were very good seats.

Inside the stadium, however, friendliness from the employees was in short supply. From the snack bar to the gift shop short, rude service was the order of the day. It was not anywhere near the great service we got at Yankee Stadium.
The Scoreboard Sums Up the Weather

The game itself was good. The Mets came from behind to beat San Diego. There was a light drizzle and it was chilly during the entire game but it was never stopped. A highlight was seeing George Thorogood sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the stretch standing on the dugout just a few feet away from us.

After the game, we made our way back to Main Street on the bus, got on the subway, and made our way back to the hotel.

In the morning, it was time to checkout and the doorman helped us flag down a van taxi. He couldn’t quite work a miracle to find a fully accessible one, but this would do. The van took us over to Penn Station where we boarded a southbound Amtrak heading to Philadelphia.

Next week, it's on to Pennsylvania for more baseball and Amish country.  Stay tuned...

Copyright 2010 - Darryl Musick

Friday, August 15, 2014


UpTake Travel Gem

We love New York. If you saw our first trip report to the city, you can see we were a bit intimidated but that soon passed. I would never pass up a trip to this great city.

In our ongoing quest to see every Major League Stadium, this time we’re headed to the Big Apple. Our flight is scheduled to leave John Wayne Airport in Orange County at 6:30 in the morning. We’re on Frontier Airlines today and have comfortable bulkhead seats at the front of the plane.

We taxi and wait. Although Frontier schedules a 6:30 departure, airport rules don’t let any planes actually leave until 7:00am. The flight attendant tells me they do this so they can push back and be first in line.

It’s a comfortable, direct one-stop flight (in Denver) to La Guardia Airport in New York City. Out front, we get to the taxi stand and immediately the dispatcher tries to get us into a regular sedan that is in the front of the line. We explain that the wheelchair won’t fit and we at least need a minivan. He won’t budge…until I ask him to tell me how to get there by bus since there isn’t a taxi that will work. That does the trick. He loads us in a minivan that was about sixth in line and off we go.

Our hotel for this trip…our third to the city…is the Beekman Tower, adjacent to the United Nations on 1st Avenue. It’s a roomy two-room suite with a dine-in kitchen and marvelous views. We were able to book it just between to high periods and got four nights for just a touch over $200 a night, including taxes. A quick online check shows that normal rates run from $276 - $350, still not a bad deal for a good Manhattan neighborhood. The tub was doable and the toilet tiny, but we managed.

The next day, we took the subway up to the Bronx to see the Yankees play the Detroit Tigers in the old Yankee Stadium. You could see the new stadium going up over the left field side. The corridors are were very narrow but our seats above first base were very good but the view was just a bit obstructed by the second deck.

The Yankees required us to write in for tickets but we were rewarded with a great location for the three of us for only $86. The staff was very helpful and the concession workers very friendly. Say what you will of the Steinbrenners, they make sure their fans are treated well. I’d go into the complete specifics of the stadium’s accessibility, but since it is demolished now, it just seems a waste of typing.

We met a couple from Tennessee sitting next to us that were at the game to complete a dream of their son, Wes, who had been killed in an auto accident. It’s a sad story, but they’re wonderful people who are honoring their son as they get on with life.
The Yankees went on to win the game and Tim says this is the best baseball experience he’s had other than being at the playoffs in 2002 when the Angels took it all.
The Rooftop Bar and one of the Views From the Bar
Back at the hotel after the game, we went up to their magnificent rooftop bar and had a couple of martinis. There is a mostly accessible deck where you can get a view from all directions around the hotel. Drinks aren’t cheap…around $10 for a happy hour martini…but just this once.

The next morning we have breakfast at one of the most wonderful bagel bakeries we’ve been to, Tal Bagels, just a couple of blocks north of the hotel on 1st Avenue. Hectic and delicious, you need to know what you want before you hit the counter…they will have no patience with you if you don’t. When you do decide, get in line, order quick, pay at the end, get your food, and find a table. You’ll have one of the most mouth-watering experiences you’ll every have.
It’s off to the subway, heading downtown. It’s time to see just what those idiots did to us on September 11th…the ruins of the World Trade Center. A cobbled-together walkway in the buildings surrounding the site give you a view of the giant hole that used to be the world’s tallest buildings. It’s accessible but in fits and starts as you sometimes have to take an elevator to another level or go out to the street for a few feet…but we make the circle slowly. It’s a sad and somber reminder, looking into that grave, of man’s inhumanity.
I wish they would be faster about erecting the replacement building…as long as that hole is there, al qaeda gloats.

Back on the subway, we head up to the upper west side for one of New York’s great cheap eats, Gray’s Papaya, located just outside the accessible subway station at 72nd and Broadway. For a couple of bucks, you get two delicious hot dogs and a glass of fruit juice. We go with the management’s recommendation and choose papaya. For some reason this goes real well with a hot dog.

On a previous trip here I limited the amount of food we had here so we wouldn’t be full when we had dinner at Tavern on the Green. My wife later told me she wished I had just cancelled those reservations and let her and Tim eat to their heart’s content. Today, she got her wish…which was an extra two hot dogs, I guess.

They are great dogs. Savory, tasty and packed in a natural casing that provides a great snap. Fine dining Gray’s is not. There are no tables or chairs…you just stand at a narrow shelf that wraps around the room and eat. Still, one of New York’s best food deals.
One of the Views from our Room
We finish the day with a walk through Central Park before heading back to midtown and our hotel.

There's more, stay tuned for Part 2...

Copyright 2010 - Darryl Musick

Monday, August 11, 2014


It’s a pleasant 60 or so mile drive from Philadelphia to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We have just spent the last week in two of the largest cities on the east coast, loving our time in both of them…as long as you discount the bad time we had with our original Philly area hotel. As fun as that was, what we’d like…at least my wife and I…is a little slower pace to decompress before we return home.

Our hotel will actually be about 20 miles beyond Lancaster in the town of Mountville, about half-way between Lancaster and Columbia. We are staying at the MainStay Suites and get a wonderful, two-room suite with a roll-in shower overlooking the swimming pool. Next door is a miniature golf course and snack bar.

After unpacking, we hop in the car to do a little exploring and get some lunch. I had read about the bridge connecting Columbia to Wrightsville on the other side of the Susquehanna River. It’s the longest, multiple arch concrete bridge in the world, stretching in excess of 7,000 feet. Alongside it are the remains of a previous bridge that was destroyed by the Confederates 
during the Civil War.

  We made our way over there under darkening skies and stopped at a park next to the bridge to take in the view. It started to rain a bit so got back in the car and decided to drive to the other side on this old (1930) two-lane span. Then came the deluge.

A thunder storm of biblical proportions hit. Lightning was flashing all around us. By the time we got to the middle of the bridge, visibility was less than 100 feet. We had nowhere to go so we kept going until we got to the other side.

Tim’s going bananas at this point and my wife just wants to turn around and go back to the hotel. The rain eased up just a bit, so we make the U-turn in Wrightsville and go back.

That letup was just temporary as the downpour returned. We made it back to the other side and started back towards Mountville. Lightning still crashing around us. A bolt struck a utility pole as we passed, showering us with sparks. I pull into a shopping center and park under a covered drive-through lane in a closed bank for a few minutes.

The storm is not letting up. Eventually, we decide to push on, slowed by the lack of visibility when I see such a sight. With the rain coming down in buckets, lightning crashing, and thunder roaring, I see a twenty-something lady walking along the side of the road in a halter top, cut off shorts, barefoot, and smoking a cigarette without a care in the world.

They must think us Californians are such wimps there.

After a couple of hours at the hotel, the storm has passed and we decide to get some dinner. My wife had seen what looked like a fast-food seafood place on the way back and she was craving some crab cakes. We went there but they wanted an arm and a leg. With a kitchen and dining area, we decide to go to the local supermarket…Weis…and get some food to make in our room.

Pretty quickly, my wife finds some crab cakes in the seafood department. They were delicious and only $5.

The skies have cleared and the next morning we drive east of Lancaster into Amish country. Lincoln Highway, also known as highway 30, turns from expressway to four-lane road. According to the map, we’re there but instead of seeing bucolic farms and wooden bridges, it’s shopping centers, fast food restaurants , and tourist stops. Well, I take part of that back. An old wooden bridge sits in the parking lot of Dutch Wonderland, a local amusement park and miniature golf course.

A little farther down the road, we see Dutch Haven. It’s another very touristy place with antiques, blankets, crafts, jams & jellies, and more. We pull in because the sign says “free shoofly pie.” Why not?

We make our way in, which is a little tricky because they have a seldom-used wheelchair ramp at the entrance, and find the pie counter. We are indeed each given a generous slice of pie. It is redolent of molasses and delicious with whipped cream on top. That’s it…no sales pitch or making us feel guilty about not buying a pie. Just “thank you for coming in, we hope you enjoy your trip here.”

As good as the pie was and as friendly as the people were, something is not right. It’s like being in Anaheim by Disneyland or Kissimmee near Disneyworld. Just a long stretch of tourist inspired businesses. Where are the farms? The wooden bridges? The countryside?

Before leaving, I pulled out a list of the bridges of the county (sounds like it should be a book) and a map. I made up a route of the half-dozen or so bridges nearest to us and started on our way. That was the trick!

As soon as we left highway 30, civilization melted away. Little two lane roads lead through green pastures, farms with fields of tall corn, and people driving little black horse-drawn buggies. Farmers were harvesting the crops with horse-drawn harvesters. It’s a beautiful sight.

Our first stop is Bitzer’s Mill Bridge, a long, wooden bridge spanning the Conestoga River. Still in use, it was built in 1846. You can drive across it. We did.

We found a pull out on the road and got out to take pictures and a closer look. There are two pretty houses with nice flower gardens next to the bridge. We saw no evidence of their occupants, however.

Continuing on, we saw a few more small bridges and many farms. It was time for the next planned adventure.
About a mile south of highway 30 and just east of the tiny town of Strasburg is the depot for the Strasburg Railroad. A steam-powered locomotive sits chugging on the tracks. Many families with small kids mingle in the station area with railroad enthusiasts and other tourists like us. We find the fare is $14 for adults ($7 for kids under 12). For just a few dollars more, we could ride in the dining car and eat lunch (NOTE: This option apparently is no longer offered. Now it is $2 extra to ride in the dining car, plus the cost of food which runs from $4 for soup to $14 for a prime rib sandwich). We chose that option.

It was just us and another couple in the really nicely restored dining car. A wheelchair lift was provided to get Tim’s chair on board, and then it was a bit of a tight turn to get into the car proper. All the noisy kids were in other cars so we had a nice, quiet ride.

We were offered an assortment of sandwiches, lemonade, tea, coffee, or soda, and dessert. We chose turkey and roast beef sandwiches which came with chips. For dessert, we had shoo-fly pie and carrot cake. All were very good and served by an attentive waitress.

On the ride, a tour guide noted points of interest and an explanation of Amish culture over the PA system. The ride goes through some spectacular country with rolling green hills of crops and the occasional Amish farm compound.

Several times, we could see men in the field harvesting with horse-drawn equipment. About half-way to our destination, there is a stop at Paradise. A small farm area where you can disembark to spend some time watching Amish demonstrations and having snacks is here. It is not an accessible location so we stay on the train.

After about an hour, we reach the destination…a siding next to a highway in Bird-In-Hand. The locomotive is disconnected and moved to the other end of the train. A conductor puts several pennies on the track to be flattened as the large engine passes. On the way back, he’ll hand these out to kids on the train.

Back at the depot – rested, fed, and educated – we take some time to see some of the other attractions here. Letty poses in an Amish carriage. A miniature version of the railroad carries kids around a small course. You can try your skill and operating a hand-powered cart (gandy dancer)…there’s even a mini version for small kids. And, of course, there are snacks and a gift shop.

We spend the afternoon just driving around the countryside, taking in the scenery and stopping now and again when something catches our eye. We stop in Intercourse to shop at the Kitchen Kettle Village, a kind of touristy shopping center, and buy some T-Shirts with double-entendre slogans (“Caught in the Middle of Intercourse”, etc…you get the idea). There are many antique shops here and Letty has a ball looking at the blankets and farm implements.

For dinner, we make our way back to Bird-In-Hand to eat at Good ‘n Plenty, a family style restaurant serving Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch comfort food. The dining room is huge, I’m guessing it can accommodate up to around 1,000, and there are long tables. We take our seats…and are told to scooch in close to the next party and not leave any empty seat. I’m guessing the dining room is about a tenth full so I don’t know why we have to crowd, but okay.

If you’ve ever eaten at a Basque restaurant, you can get an idea of what it’s like. It might also be likened to being at your Grandma’s house on Thanksgiving as servers bring out bowls of soup and salad, ham, roast beef, turkey, fried chicken, potatoes, green beans, bread & butter. Eat your fill…have seconds if you want but save room for the ever-present shoo-fly pie. It is very filling and delicious.

Waddling out bursting at the seams, we take some time to play with the animals in the little zoo out back before heading back to the hotel.

The next day we decide to drive the other direction towards Harrisburg. The capital is a medium-sized city on the banks of the Susquehanna. On arrival, we stop and take a little time to walk along the river in the pretty park that is there.

Driving south, soon we come along a modern day historical landmark…the twin cooling towers of the nuclear power plant sitting on an island in the river three miles south of Harrisburg. One is belching steam…the other quiet and not in use. The reactor, Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island power plant, suffered a cooling system malfunction on March 28, 1979…just a couple of months after I graduated from high school. This caused a partial melt-down of the core and released a significant amount of radiation in the surrounding environment resulting in one of the worst nuclear accidents in the country’s history.

An ongoing cleanup is still in process. It was recently announced that the undamaged generator will be moved to a power plant in North Carolina.

Not long after, we arrive back in Columbia and get to see the bridge, and the civil war era ruins, crossing the river in the sunlight. One last look as the sun sets. Tomorrow, it’s back to Philly to drop off the car and catch a train back to the airport. Then it’s back home.

Final Tally from this trip

New stadiums visited -3. Bringing our total to 16 for Tim, 17 for Letty and me (the two of us saw a game at Oakland without Tim). Since this trip, we also added Seattle so now it’s 16 and 18 respectively…that number includes two for San Diego (Qualcom Stadium and Petco Park)

New states – just New Jersey, bringing our total state count to 32 for Letty and Tim and 36 for me.

Copyright 2010-Darryl Musick

Monday, August 4, 2014

CLASSIC TRIP: Yosemite and the Gold Country, California - Part 2


Having been to Yosemite yesterday and not wanting to wade into the crowds, we decided to see what the town of Mariposa had in store for us.

After another giant breakfast, we headed to the state Mining and Mineral Museum located 2 miles south of town at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds. Jon and Lois had provided us with a 2 for 1 admission coupon (also available at the visitor's center at the north end of town) so the price was right.

It's your basic museum but loaded with gems and precious metals. You follow exhibits that explain the history of gold mining in the region. This is the heart of Mother Lode country so a trip here must include some gold mining related activities.

There is a recreated mine shaft to wander down and many displays of the various minerals and gems that are mined in California. There is even a display that explains how you can file a mining claim yourself.

The crowning jewel of the museum is the largest gold nugget found in California. This 13 pound giant is very spectacular. About a foot long and 6 inches high. Just off the top of our head we figured just by weight is must be worth close to $100,000.

Next, we head to the north side of town and went to the Mariposa County History Museum, located right behind the Bank of America. This admission-free museum is full of the history of the region.

Outside is a large display of authentic gold mining equipment used in the region. The original office of the local newspaper is here along with a rebuilt gold ore stamping machine.

Inside are displays of local antiques along with stories of the region's schools, saloons, good guys and bad guys. Of particular interest are many of John Fremont's personal belongings. He, along with Kit Carson, explored much of the region and was instrumental in getting statehood for California.

After the museum we drove up the street to the cemetery to do some exploring. We tried, but by now the heat was just too much so we drove up highway 140 to the Merced River Recreation Area (12 miles north of town) to wade in the cool water.

There is a great little dirt road here that follows the course of the river south for several miles with plenty of great pools for a dip. Many outfitters also provide raft trips down the river here.

After this we head back to the inn for a long, refreshing dip in the pool. As beautiful as this region is, it really gets hot.

Jon and Lois invited us up for a barbecue that evening and we had some delicious barbecued chicken tacos with a French flavor. Jon, ever the Frenchman, pulled out some delicious wine to top it off.

After dinner, we head back over to the fairgrounds for the local 4th of July celebration. After much singing by a local group...too much singing judging by the reactions of those around us...the fireworks began. It was a great show and after fighting a great traffic jam to get out, we went back to the inn.


Our last morning at the Restful Nest. Breakfast again was a huge affair with an egg casserole, a variety of breakfast meats, fruit, muffins, and the ever-present brioches. It was sad to leave but leave we must and we proceeded to head south down highway 41 through a Gold Country scenic drive.

For the first time on our trip we actually got hungry for lunch about the time we hit Fresno. Not wanting to make the same mistake again, this time we remembered about the new In-n-Out on the south end of town.

After a delicious double-double and a shake, we continued on to this day's destination.

Most people are under the assumption that giant sequoia trees can only be found in national parks such as Yosemite and Sequoia. Well, they're wrong!

There is a little known and out of the way area south of Sequoia National Park that has many groves of these giants. True, it is out of the way (the loop we made will take you about 4 hours out of the way) and most of the groves are hidden in the forest up old dirt logging roads. However, that being said there are some spectacular trees right along the main highway.

To get there, we headed south on Highway 99 to Highway 140 leading to Porterville. Then we headed east on 140 into the Sequoia National Forest. This is a really windy road that finally straightens out 44 miles up into the mountains at Quaking Aspen. Here, we continued on to mile marker 13 to the Trail of 100 Giants.

There is a picnic area and a campground across the street from the trailhead next to the beautiful Long Meadow. The trail itself is an easy 1/2 mile loop through a spectacular grove of giant trees. These trees are not fenced in and you can get right up to them and touch 'em. You can even walk through some of them. If you've never seen a sequoia up close, just check out this picture to see just how big they can get.

After the trail, we did a little bird watching in Long Meadow, just off of the parking area. The meadow was filled with wild flowers and Letty cataloged 4 different species of birds in the meadow.

Next, we continued down the highway through the Kern River canyon. Just before the Kern, we pulled over to view the large South River Falls. The hillsides really dried up when we hit the Kern River although the river itself was very full and roiling with whitewater.

There were a lot of rafting guides leading groups through the river. We pulled over to watch some of the boats come around a bend in the river to get some photos for this report. If you look carefully at the picture below, you can see the result of a particularly nasty bump in the river. At the front of the boat you can see a woman holding on for dear life after she was thrown overboard in the rapids.

This was a truly scary moment as the guide let the raft go on uncontrolled while the woman held onto the guide's paddle. Luckily the raft drifted into some calm water and the overboard passenger was pulled to safety. Below is another picture of the whitewater activity at this point.

We continued on down the canyon to the nice little town of Kernville where the river empties into Lake Isabella. We had hoped to stay in the area this evening but everything was booked. We decided to spend some time here anyway, wading in the cool, refreshing water of the river and then having dinner before leaving.

From the numerous restaurants and snack bars around the town's Circle Park, we picked That's Italian. We were very glad we did.

That's Italian would be right at home with the better Italian restaurants of San Francisco or L.A. Dinner started off with a great, fresh green salad topped off with their delicious home-made Italian dressing...very creamy! Letty had the Linguini with shrimp and I had their cannelloni stuffed with ham, chicken, spinach, and cheese. The linguini came with an alfredo-like white sauce and the cannelloni had a tomato cream sauce. Absolutely delicious!

The meal was accompanied by basketfuls of fresh bread and butter. The whole thing was topped off with some of the best desserts we've ever had. Letty had a piece of their chocolate cake and I had a napoleon that was very, very flaky with custard and cream. All this was eaten on their outdoor porch dining area with great views of the town and fresh breeze.

With that great dinner under our belt, we continued on down highway 138 which winds its way down the Kern River to Bakersfield. At this point it was 8:30pm and we were not really wanting to spend the night in Bakersfield so we just continued on the 2 hour drive back home.

Copyright 1997 – Darryl Musick

Friday, August 1, 2014

CLASSIC TRIP: Yosemite and the Gold Country, California - Part 1

Tim's playing Baywatch...sort of. He's away at camp, roughing it in that backward community of Malibu. Actually, he goes used to go to camp there every summer giving Letty and I a break. We love the guy, but this is our time.

Our trip this year is up to Yosemite. Specifically, to the nearby town of Mariposa. Actually, we're only planning on spending one day in Yosemite and the rest of the time enjoying California's historical Gold Country.

Of course, as usual, we don't have nearly enough time to see everything we'd like to on a trip like this (4 nights) so we don't try to cover all the bases. Just what we can really enjoy during that time.

Day One, the drive.

Letty could only get one extra day off for the 4th of July weekend but since she gets off of work at 2:30, we could at least get an afternoon's head start.

It was hot at around 100 degrees in the San Gabriel Valley. Brush and forest fires burned out of control in the Angeles National Forest to the north. It seemed like a good time to get away. We ended up leaving at 3:00 on a hot, smoky Wednesday afternoon.

Traffic was light and we made good time out of the L.A. basin by going up the 210 freeway through La Canada and Sylmar. After the Grapvine, we took the fork up Highway 99 through Bakersfield enjoying the endless miles of farming country.
Three hours later found us just south of Fresno in the Swedish themed town of Kingsburg. It seemed like a good time to take a break from the road and to grab some dinner. Dinner this night would be at Kady's Cafe at the second Kingsburg offramp.

The food at Kady's, although wholesome and filling, is really unspectacular and rather bland. It did take much salt, pepper and tabasco to coax some flavor from it. Oh well, at least we're not hungry anymore...back on the road!

Just a few minutes later we hit the south end of Fresno and spot a brand new In-n-Out. Boy, we could have had a delicious double-double if we'd just waited five more minutes. Now I'm sorry...

When we hit Merced, we gas up where we can still get it relatively cheaply (gas in the mountains runs 20 to 30 cents a gallon more than down in the valley) and head east on Highway 41 to Mariposa. It's a beautiful drive through rolling hills of oaks and grass.

Exactly 5 1/2 hours after we leave home, we arrive at our destination, the Restful Nest Bed and Breakfast located just south of Mariposa.

Upon arrival, we are greeted by the resident pet, a 6 month old Labrador named Casey. Casey is an exuberantly friendly pup who keeps everybody company here. After Casey comes the owner, Lois Moroni, who greets us with an offer of a cold drink and shows us to our room.

The 3 rooms of the inn are just off of the great swimming pool and hot tub . All are large rooms with private bathrooms and private entrances. Each room is equipped with a tv, vcr, bar, refrigerator, and coffee machine.  There is level access via a paved walkway to the rooms.  Jon has a ramp to afford access to the upper level where breakfast is served.  The pool area requires the negotiation of a few stairs and there are no accessible features in the bathrooms but we managed showering by putting one of the plastic patio chairs in the shower stall.

The property of the inn encompasses 10 acres of rolling countryside complete with a stocked fishing pond (bring your gear). There are also horseshoe pits, a volleyball court, and tetherball. Near the pet pheasant's cage there's also a hammock if all of the above sounds just too tiring for you.  A wheelchair can get around to most of the property but be careful on the pond dock, there is no railing around the edge.

Wildlife abounds in the area. On top of the ever-present squirrels, rabbits and quail, we counted 5 deer sightings over the weekend. Letty, ever the bird watcher, cataloged 18 different species of birds just on the BandB property over our 3 days there.

Well, all the above is great, but after 5 hours on the road we were more concerned with getting some shuteye so off to bed we went. After a good night's sleep, we were ready when the breakfast bell rang at 9:00 the next morning (you can schedule breakfast at any time that's convenient for you).


Breakfast this morning was a huge affair that started off with platters of fresh cantaloupe, honey dew melons, water melons, grapefruit, and oranges. We polished that off with help from our fresh coffee and juice when Lois brought out more...much more. Next came banana muffins, omelets, pancakes, homemade sausages, and ham. The crowning touch was Lois' homemade brioche.

We then waddled off to the car for the drive to Yosemite. From the inn, Yosemite is a 50 mile drive up the Merced River canyon. We went on July 3 mostly to avoid the Independence Day crowds.

First up on our list was Bridalveil Falls.

We grabbed the last spot in the parking lot and walked up the 1/2 mile trail to the base of the falls. The mist felt refreshing as we came up upon the falls. There was no shortage of water going over the precipice. The view is spectacular but the best spot for a photo was back at the parking lot. The crowd was not too bad but I dread to think what it would be like the next day with that small parking lot.  The train up to the falls is wheelchair accessible but gets a little steep towards the end.

Next was a jaunt across the valley to see Yosemite Falls, the nations tallest. At over 1400 feet for the first drop, Yosemite Falls is the 5th tallest fall in the world and stands at about 9 times the height of Niagara Falls. They can literally be seen for many miles away.

We grabbed the second to the last spot in the lot this time. The crowd was much thicker here and many people lined up for the restrooms here. Again, I could only imagine what the crowds would be like the next day as everybody had the day off to visit.

Another 1/2 mile, wheelchair accessible, trail led up to the base of the falls. There, you are at the bottom of the 3rd drop of the falls and cannot see the first large drop. You can feel the wind that the falls generate however and it's a very refreshing feeling.

The third must-see of our day in the park was Glacier Point. The 30 mile or so road to the point takes you to the rim of the valley. The view from there is what you really want to see when you come to Yosemite and it is all accessible.

You can see all the major waterfalls including Yosemite, Nevada, Vernal, and another fall way up the valley that I don't know the name of. It is heart stopping to see the kids running around the edge with its thousands of feet vertical drop to the valley below.

Going back from Glacier Point, we pull into the lot for Sentinel Dome trail. We had planned to hike there but a ranger was about to lead a hike to nearby Taft Point so we decided to tag along. The 1.1 mile hike to Taft Point wound through forests, streams, and meadows before reaching the most famous feature, the fissures.

The fissures are cracks in the rocks that have expanded into 2 foot wide, canyons that reach down hundreds of feet. They are spectacular to look down but beware if you are afraid of heights.

At the end of the trail is Taft Point, named after our heaviest president. Here is a real edge-of-your-seat experience as you look over the edge straight down to the valley thousands of feet below you (see picture at the top of this report). At the point there is a small pipe fence to give you some security as you look and there is a whole lot more of unprotected cliff-edge to look over.

Again, you really get the willies as you see kids running around very unconcerned here. See just how high it is in the photo above. I commented on one particular kid to the woman standing next to me on the point. "Oh, that's my son. He's been here lots of times. He won't fall over..." Yeah, right. (NOTE: the trail to Taft Point is not accessible.)

Below is a picture of Yosemite Falls as seen from Taft Point.

Throughout all of this, we never got hungry. That breakfast was big enough to carry us through the entire day.

Toward evening we headed back to Mariposa and had appetizers at the Meadows Ranch Cafe . Here we had some delicious jalapeno poppers and chicken quesadilla rolls, all washed down with some Yosemite Brewery (located next door) amber ale. The brewery and restaurant are located at 5008 Highway 140 in downtown Mariposa.

Back at the inn, we took a dip in the pool and soaked in the hot tub to cut the day's trail dust. The inn's other owner, Lois' husband Jon Pierre, had returned from a business trip and prepared some homemade french onion soup.

Jon is an affable French man from the Provencal region of France. Along with his wife, he bought this inn as a retirement income booster. Jon and Lois both really enjoy it here and love chatting with the guests.

This evening the soup was marvelous. Along with the bread, cheese and wine, it made a perfect cap to the day.

Copyright 1997 - Darryl Musick