Apart from the fact that two of us have streaming colds (selfishly I am glad that I'm not one of them), we are devilishly well prepared for this trip. Or at least we have the kit. We have a super-sized SUV having been upgraded from the standard one. It is very large and very comfortable and very lovely and it is very very bad of me to like it quite so much. But I salve my conscience by knowing that "the Beast" as Tom calls it, will be going home to Hertz on Monday.
We also have lots of cold weather clothing and I now know that bringing my thermals to the US was a good idea.
So earlyish this morning and a lot earlier than most other people got up, we loaded the Beast and headed east. The road took us over the Bay Bridge and out east through some rather deadly looking suburbs, all modern identikit estates and shopping malls set in mildly rolling but very dull green hills. Then things got a bit more interesting as we headed through some hills, past a wind farm and down into what I think is the central valley. This is farming country and we drove for miles through flat country covered in groves of apple and nut trees. I guess that many of the trees were almonds as California produces most of the world's almonds. It must be gorgeous during blossom time. Gradually the landscape got hillier and felt more remote. We saw our first non-ironic Stetson in Oakdale, and I think it and its owner were heading into the Poker joint.
Then the road began to climb. The landscape got more interesting, the names more evocative - Chinese Camp, Moccasin - and soon we were really climbing. The road to Groveland was very wiggly with nearly sheer drops on our side and we rose and rose passing signs that said 2000 feet, 3000 feet, and so on.
Then the satnav decided to have its merry way with us. The one bit of our trip that wasn't planned was the maps. We hadn't got any and were rather relying on electronic hardware, satellites and sheer luck to get us to our first destination. Having turned us off onto a side road from Highway 120, Jane - the English guide, calm, authoritative if not a bit bossy - tried to get us up a private drive. My faith was rather shaken in her last week when she attempted to get us to drive into a cliff on the way to Muir Woods. Today, I knew almost at once she was wrong but as we had no map we couldn't really tell. Luckily we finally decided to ignore her, despite her telling us repeatedly to turn around, and headed back to the 120 which is much easier driving.
At least the route she took us was very picturesque and we saw a deer very close to the road. We bought maps at the first store we passed (and were told by the lady there that you should never follow satnavs up here as they think every track and trail is a proper road) and so found Evergreen Lodge very easily after that.
So here we are. I'm sitting in the second upgrade of the day. We had booked a small cabin, all in one room but now have a sitting room and two bedrooms. It's lovely and very civilised, set in pine forest, with lots of paths winding between lots of cabins. There isn't much snow but there was enough to make a couple of snow angels and a small snowman.
Tomorrow, we head into Yosemite Park itself where we are staying at Curry Village in a less plush cabin but I imagine more dramatic surroundings. And with more snow.
Oh, and lastly, Tom and I had our first burgers and fries tonight. We've been here two months and somehow managed to avoid them. Very good they were too.