The city is not everything and one of the most famous national parks in the USA is on the doorstep of San Francisco: Yosemite National Park. We rent a car and I am once again surprised how unbureaucratic car rental is in America. The price is cheap and it only takes ten minutes to get from the counter to behind the steering wheel.
We also get a bigger car than booked, as the smaller cars are all somewhere on the slope.
Let’s go: the American road trip begins, yeah!
American traffic is also legendary. In the absence of well-developed public transport systems, every American uses his car for every little excursion, which can be as big as our truck. In the land of unlimited possibilities, the dimensions are different and you like to drive three hours there and three hours back to the next town at the other end of the state to visit your aunt.
Accordingly, we also get the American feeling of being stuck in a traffic jam in the four lanes in our direction out of San Francisco in the direction of San Jose.
Finally we can take the descent that brings us back onto the free highways and can set off into the mountains undisturbed.
We come through the small villages of California and cross no man’s land again. Everything is far from each other.
First of all, in the heat of July, we reach the grove of sequoias. These titans of flora can be as wide and as deep as a house, and as tall as a television tower. One of these giants was once tunneled through. The cones are also the size of a human head.
However, the heat takes its toll. As so often, there are forest fires again this year. The smell of smoke is in the air and creeps of smoke wander in the distance over the mountains.
We will also witness a number of helicopters fly out to extinguish the fires and haul large containers over the fires to be dumped on the flames.
The landscape is wonderful, but it looks more like a desert than a wooded area and entire landscapes are made up of deserts of black stumps, a huge graveyard of trees.
We drive through the oppressive landscape that has already fallen victim to the flames – not this year, but the last one or a year before. Every year a little more burns up.
In the end we reach the heart of Yosemite: The valley of El Capitan, the great rock that rises vertically into the sky. This mountain is both the symbol of the national park and an icon for climbers. Only the very best dare to climb this wall without safety.
The traffic has increased and we get into a real traffic jam of day trippers, scouts and nature lovers.
In the traffic chaos, a coyote comes out of the branches and trots for a while between our car and the vehicle in front of us, until it disappears again into the bushes. He looks stressed.
Here, too, in the end I find the right junction that brings us calm again. We’re never really alone, I have the impression that every corner is teeming with boy scouts, but it’s a big difference from the hustle and bustle before. We get a taste of the clear rivers and wilderness around us, even if it’s just a major traffic island. We can even see a few raccoons playing. It smells wonderfully of pine needles in the sun. Very dry pine needles.
We hike and enjoy the time in the national park. We find accommodation on the way in a motel that looks exactly how you imagine it when you expect a crazy serial killer in front of the window at night. The house is made of wood so thin that it gives the impression that opening a door is minimally less than simply walking through it. With the knowledge of another priceless American experience, we sleep in the wilderness.