Friday, September 17, 2010

Post 10: Yosemite National Park --> The Cheesecake Factory in Fresno

Early next morning, after having our complimentary breakfast at the hotel, we started our drive to Yosemite National Park. We all felt really refreshed after a good long night's rest and were ready to do some nature-y stuff and enjoy the outdoors. The whole ride there was very scenic and beautiful. We were essentially on mountain roads the whole time; the turns and the hilly ups and downs made the whole ride anything but boring (huge contrast to the boring straight highway roads we were used to). It definitely kept my brother awake for the whole 1.5 - 2 hour drive!

A picture of the mountains (taken from inside the car).

Yosemite National Park is one of the first wilderness parks in the United States and is best known for its waterfalls.  Within its nearly 1,200 square miles, there are also deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, and a vast wilderness area. 

Because the park is so huge, there are free shuttle buses that takes you to 21 different stops including stops at or near overnight accommodations, stores, and major vistas. This shuttle operates from 7am - 10pm.

Quickly snapped a picture of a deer in the shuttle bus. It was just roaming around minding its own business.

There are over 12 miles of paved bike paths at Yosemite National Park. Bike rentals are available.

Our first stop was at Yosemite Falls. You can see that not much water was flowing because its time of peak flow is in May (it flows from November through to July). 

Yosemite Falls is one of the world's tallest and is actually made up of three separate falls: Upper Yosemite Fall (1,430 feet), the middle cascades (675 feet), and Lower Yosemite Fall (320 feet). It's also possible to hike to the top of Yosemite Falls as a strenuous, all-day hike (no thanks, I'll pass).

There were countless beautiful rivers, lakes, and creeks throughout the whole park. 

Here is the Half Dome. It s perhaps the most recognized symbol of Yosemite. Rising nearly 5,000 feet above the Valley floor, it is one of the most sought-after landmarks in Yosemite. Some people even hike or rock-climb to the top (which you now need a hiking permit to do so).

This is Mirror Lake (in Yosemite Valley). It is famous for its reflections of Half Dome and Mount Watkins when the water level is high enough (in spring); it's more a pond than a lake really. Evidently the water level in August is extremely low.

The water level is so low that "Mirror Beach" is more fitting than "Mirror Lake".

In Yosemite Valley, Sentinel Bridge is famous for its views of both Half Dome reflected in the Merced River (the Half Dome picture above, on the left, was taken from Sentinel Bridge). You can also see Yosemite Falls (a bit left of the sign in this picture).

Let's zoom in a bit. There we go.

Tunnel View provides one of the most famous views of Yosemite Valley. From here you can see El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall rising from Yosemite Valley, with Half Dome in the background. 

I cannot, for the life of me, point out to you what piece of rock is which one, but since this Tunnel Viewpoint is so popular, here is a picture of me there.

We spent the whole day at Yosemite National Park and we walked a lot (very good exercise). The weather was perfect; sunny, not too hot or humid, with a nice breeze at times. Couldn't ask for a more perfect day for strolling around the park. There are really tons of stuff to do there besides just walking around like how we did, you can go: backpacking, hiking, biking, camping, auto touring, bird watching, fishing, horseback riding, rock climbing, picnicking, water activities, etc. Depending on what time of the year and how long you plan to stay, there are numerous different things that you can do at the park.

Our next stop was Fresno. It's really just a stopover to stay the night before we head back to L.A. the next day. The drive from Yosemite National Park to Fresno was a couple of hours, and after we checked into the hotel, we went for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory at The Fashion Fair Mall.

I'm still waiting for the day when The Cheesecake Factory will open in Canada *sigh*. Not that I particularly love cheesecake, I don't mind it at all, but I surely wouldn't mind having another option for desserts in Toronto. 

I ordered a sangria (since no Caesar in the US, and no, Bloody Mary to me is not the same) and my brother got himself a "Fat Tire Amberale".

Not only do they have an enormous selection of delicious cheesecakes available, I find the food at TThe Cheesecake Factory to be pretty good with decent prices and portions. 

Pear and Endive Salad - Grilled chicken, pear, endive, radicchio, arugula, butter lettuce, roasted pear, blue cheese, candied pecans and tomato served with low-cal vinaigrette. I was feeling healthy that day so I ordered this. I've had this salad before and I love it. I find that I tend to love things with cheese or pear in them. Pear can be so....refreshing.

Tomato Basil Pasta

Shrimp with Angel Hair - Large shrimp sauteed with herbs, lemon and garlic combined with angel hair pasta, tomato and fresh basil.

Everyone ordered pasta but me. They all loved their pastas too. Had to pack some to-go since the portions were so big. 

I gotta say I was very disappointed with myself. After the salad I was extremely full (salad was huge). I was so stuffed that I could not imagine myself eating cheesecake. I KNOW! I GOT FULL FROM A SALAD. Of all places I chose to do this at The Cheesecake Factory *sigh again*. Everyone knew I purposely ordered a salad too so that I would have room for dessert. =(

By the way, I blame this on the worm which resides in my stomach. It must've been sick or something.

My Virgin America Trip to Los Angeles, Caifornia