Out ‘time out’ session after Pebble Beach was to spend three days in Yosemite Valley. We saw the giant sequoia in Mariposa, which were really wonderful. We drove to Glacier Point and looked down over 3000 feet to the valley floor below and were bowled over by the awesome ( a much overused word, but in this case, totally appropriate) result of glacial action on the granite rock.
We then went on the trail up to two waterfalls, the Vernal and Nevada. I say we, but actually Nick decided that an 800 foot climb was enough so I got to the falls alone. At Vernal, about a 1000 foot climb from the trail head, I removed excess clothing and lept into the waterfall pool, chilling, but very refreshing. Another 500 feet later I was at the base of Nevada Falls. Whilst these are mere kittens in the late summer months, you can better appreciate the gigantic granite rock faces over which spring melt waters would be deafening.
We left Yosemite and travelled east, up to near 10,000 feet and then headed south to Lone Pine. Although not a lot to do for a traveller just passing through, it is quite impressive how many film were and continue to be made using the special rocky characteristics of the area.
Next on to Needles, via Death Valley. And how appropriate is that description. Arriving at Furnace Creek, the temperature aptly mirrored the town name. Mining brought people here, to find borax and talc…the latter is the rock source and not any fancy parlours which no doubt inhabited the area, as there is not a lot else to do in these there parts. All part of the drive to move west because of the Californian Gold Rush. We end up in Needles at 6pm, too late to enjoy any of the sporting fun here, but early enough to have a very nice dinner siting outside by the water, cooled by micro water sprays and waited upon by some very attractive and efficient waitresses. Hello boys!! Needles was just about as hot as Death Valley…it was 103 degrees when we arrived, and by the time we turned in at 11pm, it was still 95….and it was pitch black!
So, Monday, 25th August arrives and we head off to Flagstaff at 7:45am. The car immediately starts to make the same strange noise somewhere and se stop to gas and I open the hood to do a fluid check. The first one I pull out is as dry as a bone. It is the auto-transmission level. Oh, no! We bung 2 quarts in, check the level and drive off. It seems to have done the trick as eventually the noise peters out.
We stop off briefly at Seligman on the old Route 66 . Well, one just has to! Back in the car for the hour or so drive to arrive at out destination.
We had agreed with the forward party that I would call as we took the exit ramp, except the wonders of modern technology failed us at the critical moment. No cell signal, right at the exit cloverleaf. Marvellous.
We eventually get to the Marriott and meet all those wonderful people who have given us so much time and effort, all on our behalf. It was truly great to meet them all.
We roll the Toledo out, fill up the boiler, gas up and are ready for the press and media at 3pm. We get changed into period clothes and when ready, steam off to central old Flagstaff. The car is not running particularly well. The Stephenson Link changes don’t seem to be good, so that will have to be altered tomorrow before steam is up.
It was wonderful to have such a warm reception outside the Weatherford Hotel. We are also absolutely delighted to meet Richard and Sherry Mangum, local historians who wrote a book about the old stage trail, and to receive copies of same, in which Lippincott’s journey is recounted. Of course they were invited to take a trip around town in the car, duly accepted.
We got back to the hotel and Nick then found that the cap of the steam oil inlet had not been tightened properly and had nearly come off! This was one reason that steam seemed to be rapidly escaping.
Tomorrow is test day, so without further ado, I shall say good night as tomorrow is a busy day…