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Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Filtering by Tag: Yosemite

Yosemite National Park - Exploring Tioga Pass

Paula Gaston

A couple weeks ago we drove through Yosemite via Tioga Pass. On our earlier visits to Yosemite, we have been to Yosemite Valley, like most other visitors I guess, but we had never driven Tioga Pass, Route 120 before. Even though we were just passing by, we were excited to see what this part of the park had to offer. The road is closed most of the year due to snow, so if you plan to visit, you should plan your trip somewhere between June and October. And I can promise, it will be worth it! This is the highest mountain pass in California and in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.


These are the places we recommend:


Olmsted Point is a viewing area with an amazing view to Yosemite Canyon. People at Olmsted Point walk around on the rocks, take photos and enjoy the view. From Olmsted Point you can see both Half Dome and Clouds Rest. Tenaya Canyon is in between them far away. If you walk down on the path leaving from the left side of the parking lot, you can find these glacial erratic rocks that I am standing on. They are there due to this area once being a glacier. When the ice melted, it left behind many of these rocks. Unfortunately there were also a lot of wasps around this area when we were there, and our daughter got stung by one. That cut our visit to Olmsted Point short, but luckily she got better quickly. And the vista can’t get any better than this!

Olmsted Point in Yosemite

Olmsted Point in Yosemite



Tenaya Lake is right by the road and is an absolutely beautiful, clear water lake. The lake got formed by the Tenaya Glacier which also shaped Half Dome. Many creeks and springs bring water to the lake. We saw a lot of people there swimming, kayaking, fishing and just having a picnic. There are also trails you can take from Tenaya Lake if you are interested in hiking. Unfortunately we were not able to stay there for long, due to our daughters wasp sting, but this would be one place I would love to return in the future.


Soda Springs is a short hike which will take you to see carbonated cold water bubbling out of the ground. Park your car at the Lembert Dome parking area and follow the signs. The trail follows Tuolumne River and is very scenic. You will first arrive to the Parsons Lodge which was constructed by the Sierra Club in 1915 in honor of Edward Taylor Parsons. He was the club leader. From the lodge, just turn to the right and the spring is right there. People used to drink the water from soda springs, but they do not encourage it anymore.

The trail to Soda Springs

The trail to Soda Springs

Soda Springs at Yosemite National Park

Soda Springs at Yosemite National Park


Tuolumne Meadows must be the most known place in this part of the park. Melting snow always keeps this area wet and it is a perfect spot to see some wild flowers in the spring, the road would be already open. There are many hiking trails around the meadows and you can see several domes arise in the distance.

Tuolumne Meadows

Tuolumne Meadows



There are not a lot of services on Route 120, so make sure you enter the park with a full tank of gas, and some food and water. However, there is a visitor center in this area. Both Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center and the Wilderness Center are open in the summer months until mid-October. Soon after the visitor center there was also a small temporary restaurant, but make sure to check the opening times since it doesn’t open at the same time as the road. We brought our own snacks and there are many beautiful places to enjoy a picnic along the road.. There are also several camping grounds on Tioga Road.

Also, be aware of altitude sickness, since going above 8,000 feet (2,500m) quickly can cause some symptoms for many people. They include headache, shortness of breath, insomnia and loss of appetite. Tioga Pass at it’s highest point is 9,943 feet (3,031 m). If you are one of those people to get symptoms, it might be better for you to take it easy and enjoy the views rather than go hiking. It is always a good idea to learn how to recognise and treat altitude sickness before heading to the high mountains.


After spending a day in Yosemite, we headed to the other side of the Sierra Nevada, to Mammoth Lakes. More abou this in my next post. Have you been driving in Tioga Pass? What was your favorite thing to do there?


California's Most Popular National Park Threatend by Fire - Yosemite

Paula Gaston

At the same time as we are excited and waiting for our new baby to arrive in the world, we are also watching news from the recent forest fires around California. There are 15 fires around the state, and the biggest one of them is right next to Yosemite National Park. This fire, which is called the Detwiler Fire, has not spread to the park yet, but it is in Mariposa County and very close to the redwood forest in Yosemite, called Mariposa Grove. People from Bear Valley have been evacuated and some of the roads are closed. Yosemite is still open, but there is some smoke around the park and the visibility is not very good (you can check the web cams for that). 


We visited Yosemite and the Mariposa Grove a few years ago. We even stayed the night in Mariposa, very close to where the fire is. On that trip we got a reminder of the seriousness of these fires by driving through an area that burned in the 2013 Rim Fire. This was the largest forest fire in the Sierra Nevada mountains in its history and seeing it was really sad. 

The saddest part of these fires is that they often could have been prevented. Even the Rim Fire in 2013 which was started by illegal camp fire set up by a hunter. 

The saddest part of these fires is that they often could have been prevented. Even the Rim Fire in 2013 which was started by illegal camp fire set up by a hunter. 

Burned trees as far as you can see. 

Burned trees as far as you can see. 

Yosemite is an incredibly beautiful and popular park. In 2016 the number of visitors were over 5 million people. The nature there with all the valleys and water falls reminds me of our childhood trips to Norway. One of the most photographed spots when you arrive in the park is the Tunnel View. Another favourite of ours is Glacier Point which you can reach by hiking or driving. The views don't get much better than this!

The most famous mountains in the park are El Capitan and Half Dome, and the most beautiful waterfall must be Yosemite Falls which is also the tallest of them. Rock climbers are all over the park. Besides seeing these famous places, one should also try one of the less known hikes where you can actually enjoy some peace and quiet. We were thrilled to find a trail where there was no one else except us. 

Tunnel View.

Tunnel View.

Half Dome. 

Half Dome. 

Yosemite Falls. 

Yosemite Falls. 

Hiking with a little miss in her backpack. 

Hiking with a little miss in her backpack. 



There are three redwood groves in Yosemite. The most known of them is the Mariposa Grove, since the other two require real hiking to get into. Mariposa Grove is located right by the southern entrance of the national park, so it is easy to stop by when you arrive or leave the park. The forest has been closed for maintenance work for a while, but it should be re-opening by fall 2017. Now it is of course threatened by the fire. Even though fires also help the redwood groves grow, I'm hoping that it doesn't destroy the whole place.

The oldest tree in Mariposa Grove is the Grizzly Giant which is said to be 1900-2400 years old. It is also the biggest tree in this grove. It is so much fun walking around the forest and wondering what all these trees have seen during their lifetime. One of the most photographed tree in Yosemite is the California Tunnel Tree. The tunnel was carved in 1895 but this tree still manages to live. I'm glad these kind of tunnels wouldn't be allowed anymore!

Grizzly Giant and some people under it. 

Grizzly Giant and some people under it. 

California Tunnel Tree.

California Tunnel Tree.

And off we go!

10 Travel Pictures from My Past

Paula Gaston

We just finished a road trip in California, but before sharing those stories, I decided to participate in a blog challenge which I have seen in several Finnish travel blogs. I got the picture themes from Ne Tammelat -blog (which is in Finnish) and anyone who has a blog is welcome to join.

So here are my 10 (and even few extra) travel photos:


I love Filoli Gardens in the San Franciscon Bay Area. You can find many hidden spots in the garden and they have also filmed the television show Dynasty over there. Both spring and summer time are the best times to visit Filoli, and I did write about our visit there about a year ago.


Is there anything more traditional than this? I think everyone who has ever visited Paris has posed in front of the Eiffel Tower. This picture is from 2008.


When looking for this picture I was first trying to figure out if I should use a picture that was taken far away from my home country Finland, or my current home in California. I think Japan is pretty far from both of those places, so I chose a picture from our trip to Kyoto to see Fushimi-Inari-Taisha. 


Even though I have seen several big cities, I think Tokyo is the winner here. It was just so hectic and crowded, but also cool at the same time. 


You can't get anymore tired than this! I was traveling from Finland via Sweden to Chicago when my flight was delayed over six hours due to thunder storms. Then they added an extra flight on my route so I flew to Philadelphia first. I finally made it to Chicago, but my luggage didn't. Oh well, that happens! 


I can't really use a sunset picture from anywhere else than California. California sunsets are the best! 


I have always liked Mexican food but who ordered all this? Ooops! There is no way two girls can eat all this! 

We like to treat ourselves with some good food and wine on our trips. This picture is from San Diego.


I had to really think about this since I usually always find something interesting in each place. I chose this picture from Jerusalem since I mostly just remember chaos and queues from this place. We did a day trip from Eilat to Jerusalem and we only had limited time to explore the place. Maybe if I had more time there I would have been able to see all the beautiful places in the city. 


It seems like I have a lot of these pictures.. ha ha. The two first ones are from Lake Tahoe, California and the last one is from Yosemite National Park.


On our road trip in Northern California we drove thru this redwood tree. It was such a fun trip! If you want to hear about our newest road trip and where we went... stay tuned! More about it on my blog soon! 


If you want to participate in the blog challenge, here is the list of themes for photos. Please link my blog (Gone with the Wine) in your post and I would love to read your stories, so if you have time to leave a link to your on a comment, that would be great. Have fun!

1. A Perfect Moment
2. The Traditional Tourist pose
3. From as Far Away as You Have Been
4. In the Heart of the Big City
5. Zzz – Tired of Traveling
6. Sunset
7. Treats on Trips
8. A Famous Place Which Was a Disappointment
9. I Would Do Anything for a Good Photo
10. A Picture from a Road Trip