One of the advantages of living in San Francisco Bay-Area aka silicon-valley is its proximity to nature, whether one wants to go skiing in Lake Tahoe, head to the beaches, or take off to Sierra Mountains for hiking, there are many options within few hours of driving. Yosemite National Park is undoubtedly one of the topmost attractions nearby, and is a must visit, even if just for a day trip.
I'd gone on such day trips before, often deciding on the spur to head to the park on a weekend. But I'm of the bent of mind that best way to appreciate nature is on foot. Otherwise, sitting inside a car, it is almost like watching TV. So one nice Saturday morning in late July, I decide to head to the park for the so-called 4-mile hike. There are hotels and campgrounds inside the park, but in the peak season (from May to August), one has to book them weeks in advance, sometimes even months. Checkout www.yosemite.com/places-stay/, which allows you to make advance reservations for different hotels and campsites inside the park. So I decide to stay in Mariposa, a charming little town on the way. Plan is to spend Saturday night in Mariposa, head to the park early on Sunday morning, and get back home by late evening after the hike. There are several hotels and motels to stay in Mariposa, and usually one can find a room on short notice but in peak season it is advisable to pre-book them online.
Mariposa is a slice of vintage Americana, with small diners, antique shops and live bands playing in bars. One can almost imagine how it must have been a century ago - before commercialisation - a rugged frontier town, on the way to mountains. The drive from Mariposa to the Park, taking around an hour and half, is beautiful, passing along the Merced River and walls of granite all around. There are five entrances to the park, and I enter through one of the west entrances. From bay area, another option is to take highway 120, passing through another quaint small town, Groveland.