“Show me your driver’s logbook, please.”
“Here you go.”
“It seems to be filled out incorrectly. That will be a $700 fine.”
I really wanted to hate Yosemite National Park. As a tour driver back in the 90s driving a 13-seater van, I took 2 separate groups of people to Yosemite in the same summer. In each case, I had assiduously marked down every time I stopped, where it happened, how long it happened, etc. Filling out a driver’s logbook a requirement for tour drivers and I took the responsibility seriously. And each time I visited Yosemite with my tour group, for some reason I still can’t fathom, the Yosemite traffic police dinged me $700. Not only did I have to pay the fine out of my own pocket, but I also had to make a separate trip up to the park at a later date to attend my day in court in front of the judge. At the time, I swore, “I will never visit this park again! They are out to get tour drivers!” – which may well be true. There are way too many buses and vans chugging around the Yosemite valley, expelling noxious fumes (and equally noxious tourists). Still, it was my job! I wasn’t one of those “bad” tour leaders!
Over the years, Yosemite has worn me down. My tour leader days well behind me, I’ve been back to the park a bunch of times and never had a problem with the police. It seems that they like tourists just fine – just not tour guides. I can live with that. For the lay visitor, Yosemite continues to be one of the most spectacular natural sights in the world. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant of 1864, declaring the park a federally preserved land. 120 years later, in the 1980s, Yosemite was designated a World Heritage Site, internationally recognized for its cliffs, waterfalls, sequoias, lakes, mountains, meadows and glaciers. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness!
There are many ways to experience the grandeur of Yosemite. You can stop at the lookout just beyond the Wawona Tunnel. You can drive up to Glacier Point. You can grab a photo of the valley from Northside Drive before Pohono Bridge. For my money, the best thing to do in Yosemite is to hike. My wife, Donica, and I loved the Bridalveil Falls trail, a gorgeous hike along a large, spectacular waterfall. It’s where we stumbled upon a bobcat, prowling along the trail. Was he looking for tour guides, I wonder? “Here’s my logbook, officer. Take it, and please don’t eat me.”
Yosemite is a must-see for anyone traveling to California. Just don’t go there driving a tour bus.
(It’s hard giving up grudges, isn’t it? I know people in their 70s and 80s who still won’t talk to so-and-so because of some slight they committed 50 years ago! But as we all know, grudges don’t hurt the other person; they harm us. They fester. Let’s all do ourselves a favor and make peace with our “enemies.” End the cycle of anger. It’s the only way to have true peace of mind.)