Ray's Adventures

travels and adventures to share

Yosemite Valley in October

By

I have been to Yosemite National Park many times, but never during the fall. The park is much cooler in the evening but the days can be sunny and warm, but you can never predict Mother Nature around this time of the year. However, the fall brings some welcome beauty and colors to Yosemite Valley. Also, there tends to be a lot fewer visitors in the park so the trails were less crowed which for us all, is always a welcome feature.

View of Half-Dome along the Panorama TrailArriving into Yosemite Valley through HWY 41 can be a whole lot of fun if you have a good handling vehicle and are feeling bit like Mario Andretti. The highway has some of the best curves along the way encouraging an ever faster pace; I’m known to have a lead foot. Vehicle traffic during October is much lighter going into the Valley, so I’m sure I would not have been able to zip along the same way during the summer months.

 

Upper Pines Campground

Upper Pines campground was the only site available to reserve for the weekend we wanted to camp. Camping in Yosemite Valley can be much like tail-gate camping. Many campers use camping trailers giving the campgrounds that parking lot look and feel to the site. The individual sites are quite close together so you simply have to hope that your neighbors are quiet and friendly, and aren’t serial killers. But in October there are mostly retirees that just quietly hang-out and go to sleep early. Well, it’s not Animal House but it’s good from a naturalist point-of-view. Peace and quiet in the forest is always welcome. Enjoying the evening sounds of nature is always a great thing until your campsite neighbors decide to turn on their generators; now that’s camping! Lucky for us our neighbors were very conscientious about their generator so every night was peaceful.

 

Yosemite Falls and the Valley

If you are not an aggressive hiker or climber type, Yosemite Valley has many beautiful areas to visit and enjoy. Yosemite Falls is a short walk from the main valley shuttle stop, so most visitors will stop at this site. The shuttle system is handy way to get around the valley, but I found they don’t run exactly on schedule so sometimes you are waiting longer than the 15-20 minutes that the park states.

View of the Merced River in Yosemite ValleyThere are some beautiful meadows in the valley to relax in, have lunch, take a nap, and enjoy views of Yosemite Falls, Half-Dome, and the Merced River that meanders through Yosemite Valley. Since it’s very easy to get around the valley, there will be a lot more people around, but in fall the human traffic is not a problem.

When you come to Yosemite during the summer, you have full rivers and streams with hot dry days, but during the fall you have less water, cooler days, and amazing fall colors to see, so it just depends how you like it.

Yosemite Valley has some beautiful and great features to visit and see, but we always prefer the longer hikes and follow the trails to more distant attractions.

 

Glacier Point

Glacier Point is a great place to get views of Yosemite Valley, Half-Dome, Nevada Falls, and Vernal Falls. This is where you can start a hike on the Panorama Trail which eventually hooks up with the John Muir Trail. There is a small parking lot at Glacier Point, and there is a shuttle service out of Yosemite Lodge that can take you on a one-way or round trip ride to the point. We paid $25 for a one-way shuttle ride because we were starting our hike along the Panorama Trail and working our way back to the Upper Pines campground. Unfortunately, the first shuttle of the day does not get to Glacier Point until about 10 am, so the early risers will need to have someone drop them off at the parking lot in order to get an earlier start. Even so, the later start still gives you plenty of time complete the hike before it gets dark.

From Glacier Point you get views of the Valley, Half-Dome, Nevada Falls, and Vernal Falls. And from this point you can begin a longer hike along the Panorama Trail and hook up with the John Muir trail and make your way up into Little Yosemite Valley, and further.

 

Panorama Trail

As you walk the Panorama Trail you will see excellent views of the east side of the valley. Half-Dome dominates the background as you descend 1300 feet down to Illilouette Falls which continues past a small tributary and starts to ascend the 800 feet up the next ridge line that will eventually lead you to Nevada Falls and the John Muir Trail.Half-Dome along the Panorama Trail

We did the 8.3 mile hike starting at Glacier Point and looping back to the valley and the Upper Pines campground. The hike had a couple of strenuous sections, but it wasn’t too difficult, and there were plenty of retirees making the same trek, so I think most people would not have too much trouble with the hike. As usual, take plenty of water and some kind of snack or a lunch because the hike could take 5 to 6 hours. If you are staying in Yosemite Valley and are in reasonable shape, I would highly recommend doing the Panorama Trail.

 

Food and Showers

When camping I like cooking over the fire-pit and enjoying the campsite atmosphere. The large bear boxes allow plenty of room for food and coolers, so food storage is not a problem. However, I know some prefer not to deal with cooking and the clean-up afterwards, so there are a couple places to get prepared meals. Yosemite Lodge has a cafeteria like eating area that has decent food at a reasonable price (considering we are in a National Park). It was nice to see the park was not gouging visitors with highly inflated prices. Curry Village will have a more limited menu, and the Yosemite General Store will have groceries and some packaged sandwiches. For me, I think part of the camping experience is the enjoyment that comes from cooking around the campfire with your friends, and just being in the outdoors. Also, there is nothing like the taste of a burger or steak grilled over an open wood fire.

If you feel a bit dirty after your day in Yosemite Valley, there are some showers available in Curry Village. We found that the showers are free unless you need to rent a towel then they will charge you $8 for the towel. We could not find any specific information regarding these showers and after asking around we learned that many people were not aware of the showers, so they were not busy at all.

 

In the end

This was the first time I have visited Yosemite Valley in the fall. I’m glad I did visit during this time of year because the fall colors are simply beautiful, and of course, the smaller crowds make it all much more pleasant. I’m not big on campgrounds that have that “parking lot” feel, but the hikes and views around the valley are well worth it. At this time of year the weather can get a bit unpredictable, but I think we were lucky. The temperatures were in the mid 70’s during the day, and got down to the low 40’s in the evening. So I recommend if you get cold easily, than make sure you have warm clothing and sleeping bag for the night chill, and build a good fire.

Share

Castel Del Monte – Amazing World Heritage Site

By

Castel Del Monte is a really great historic monument located in the Apulia region of Italy. The combination of Gothic and Islamic architecture makes the castle amazing and huge. It is declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO and annually is visited by thousands of tourist ready for adventure.

Castel del MonteCastel Del Monte is a wonderful example of well-maintained medieval fortress-castle at the crossroad of Byzantine, Arab and Western influences.  It was built in 1240 and the castle is one of the most impressive buildings of its kind in Italy. The castle is located on top of a 540 m high hill whence its name of Castle Hill.

The castle was built by the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Frederick II. He used the castle for his vacation as villa, but the great position of the castle requested an upgrade. Later the castle was a prison and hospital. We all can see this beautiful building thanks to the efforts of the Emperor, who proved to have great vision about the future and perfect knowledge of medieval astronomy, mathematics and philosophy.

The architecture of Castel Del Monte is fantastic. It is octagonal prism. There are 8 amazing towers ready to guard the castle from the enemies of the empire. When the castle was built it was really beautiful because the walls were covered with marble. Stairwell in Castel-del-MonteThe floors were also decorated with beautiful looking mosaic. There are also many bathrooms in the castle because of the Arab influence. Many beautiful parts of the castle will free your imagination about ancient knights and beautiful princesses.

The castle is really huge. The walls are more than 20 meters tall and the diameter of the building is more than 50 meters. Nowadays, it is still great symbol between the different religions, but as you will see if you visit Castel Del Monte, the cultural heritage of the castle is simply enormous.

If you have a time to visit Italy, the country rich in many great historical evidences, make sure to visit and the beautiful castle. You will like the trip, because you will be able to see a lot more beautiful landscapes and buildings. Italy is great vacation destination in Europe. The country is beautiful and you will definitely remember your vacation there.

Share

Guam Island – Beautiful as Never Before

By

Guam island beach view

Guam island beach view

The territory of Guam Island is located in the western Pacific Ocean, in the region called Micronesia. The island is an organized, unincorporated part of United States and so the inhabitants of the island do not have the right to vote in national elections. Actually, the population of the island is really small. About 170,000 people live on the island, which is the largest island of the Mariana Archipelago. The island was first discovered by Magellan, ruled by the Spaniards, and today, it is important military base of USA.

Interesting fact about the island is that the southern part of the island has volcanic origins and the north part of the island was formed out of coral. Not far from the island is located the deepest ocean trench- Mariana Trench which is 11,022 m. deep. This is one of the main attractions for many explorers and adventure lovers during your visit in Guam Island.

Scuba diving around Guam island

Scuba diving around Guam island

The island is really great travel destination, where thousand of tourists have fun on the beach; enjoy the beautiful nature and all the summer entertainments which can be found on the island. Most of the tourists are from United States and Asia. The beautiful waterfalls and the sandy beaches can really make your vacation memorable and pleasant. Some of the most visited places on the island are the popular waterfall Talofoto and the beautiful and the amazing beach with many palm trees called Ritidian. Diving is one of the most preferred attractions on the island. The underwater world is fantastic and you will definitely be astonished by the beauty of all the fishes and corals.

Guam island bay view

Guam island bay view

The beautiful beaches with its clear turquoise water are the best place where you can run away from the daily stress of your life.  You can go fishing, surfing, playing golf, scuba diving or just take a walk among the beautiful palms. The wonderful nature and the friendly people will make your vacation pleasant for sure.

One of the most popular and attractive tourist centers in Guam Island is the brilliant Tumolo Gulf. There you can find many great hotels, restaurants and bars. The beautiful Beach Park is located in the southwest part of the gulf, while at the other end you can visit the Cannon beach. It is named this because of the hidden Japanese weapons in the jungle during the World War 2.

Guam island sunset view

Guam island sunset view

Agana is really beautiful city and is among the most visited on the island. There you can see many beautiful historical buildings and parks. You can see many ancient ruins of the Chamorro people – the regions great ancient civilization. Another place which you can visit is Inarajan. It is an ancient settlement of the Chamorro people. The complex preserved the unique culture of the local people and is represented by a bamboo homes.

All the lovers of scuba diving can visit the nearby Cocoas Island. It is just 3 km. away from Guam Island. The barrier reef, the beautiful beaches and lagoons will make you feel like you are in heaven. And actually, you are in Heaven. Plan your vacation to Guam Island and you will surely have a great time.

Share