Got back yesterday evening from spending four days in Yosemite with my friend Kathleen, who was attending a medical conference being held just south of the park. (Apparently one of the ways to induce doctors to get their continuing education credits is to hold a series of half-day seminars in beautiful and interesting locations. It works well for the doctors. It works even better for the tag-along friends or family of doctors.)
The fire just outside the park didn't cause us too many problems. Since we were staying at the south end of the park, we weren't as close as we would have been in the valley. It was a bit smoky on Tuesday, but bearable. Alas, on the day we did get up to the valley, we weren't able to visit the Ansel Adams gallery or the LeConte memorial, because their power was still out due to the fire.
Mostly, we did a lot of hiking: around the Mariposa grove of giant sequoias (which is one of my favorites - unfortunately, it's very popular with everyone else, too. Go early or late to avoid the worst of the hordes.), around Wawona meadows, and around the meadows and up to Mirror Lake in Yosemite Valley. (Mirror Lake doesn't seem to make anybody's lists of "must-do" stuff in Yosemite, but it's a lovely easy hike with beautiful scenery that ends up close to the base of Half Dome. Although you're also treated to views of European tourists bathing in the lake in their Speedos.) Fortunately, Kathleen and I are well-matched athletically, so I didn't have to feel like I was holding her back by preferring the easy hikes.
I would like to go back to the park when I'm in a bit better shape (and maybe when it's less hot), and try a couple of the more ambitious hikes, that involve a little climbing.
We also went horseback riding, or actually mule-back riding. I was given a mule named Preston who, I was warned, would take every opportunity to stop and eat the edible greenery along the trail. I had to fight him quite a lot during the early part of the ride, but by the end, we had an understanding. He'd veer off towards something tasty, and I'd tug the reins and say "No!", and he'd grumble and fall back in line. (Mules really grumble - they make this amazing rumbling noise when they're displeased.) I was even able to keep Preston from eating the grass on the golf course.
It was a great vacation, although I'm now exhausted and sore in all kinds of unlikely places.