Day 107 – 12/15 Wards Ferry Bridge and Tuolumne River

We got to see the super interesting Wards Ferry Bridge, and the Tuolumne River.

Cold morning, 30F… windows were soaked again, dripping… can’t wait to get the dehumudifier on Friday and run it and see if it helps with this.  This is crazy.  I bet the water container will be completely full overnight, every night.

A little bit about my early morning routine…. Most mornings I don’t get to do much until both girls are in full swing.  I wake up at 5:30, then get Bia up at 5:45 and she logs in to school at 6.  I make my coffee and get Bia her breakfast, then books or what not.  Then at 6:45 or 7am I get Bella up, then help her get started, get her computer out, the books and any material she’ll need for the day (based on what the teacher sent which I can see as I login on her computer), get her food… and start my calls either at 7 or 7:30.  And next thing I know it’s mid morning and some days I have calls most of the morning.  Then in between I try to write, do some work, pay bills, etc… but it’s not very productive time, so I usually need to finish stuff later at night, after we get back from our daily adventures.  But for sure, two things that need to be there for a “normal” productive morning are my coffee, and internet 🙂  In the picture is the hotspot we use, which has been great, we can use an AT&T SIM card we have, a T-Mobile SIM card we have, or we can use the “data offloading” function, which gets a wifi connection and uses that as the internet, and then as others connect it all works.  Some campgrounds only give you one connected device, or when we buy wifi it’s only for one device, so with this, I can buy one and let all our devices use the same connection.  I love it.

Bia had a fast day of school, she got going right away as usual and was done by mid morning, all done.  She did some PhyEd to dos she was behind on, watching videos and doing a workout.  Always interesting when they do it inside the trailer…   Then she joined Carol doing stuff outside.

Bella had a good day.  Her ELA changed to 10:35CT, so I’m still waking her up at 7 here (9CST) which means she has plenty of time to gear up before her live class.  I showed her the material she needed for today, then talked to her about what she should tackle first and she got going.  She had breakfast and changed as she went.  She got her math, daily work sheets, and some of the online stuff all done before ELA.  Then logged in and listened to the ELA story with the class while she was crocheting something.  Then she started the ELA work and finished it a bit after the call was over.  I checked her work, she only had 2 more things to do, which she did quick.  She was pretty much caught up and done for the day right before lunch.

Carol opened the black tank today while I was helping Bella, so I got a picture of her waiting for the tank to finish emptying.  :). Carol also did laundry today and worked on some project she wanted to do with the pine cones she’s been collecting since Eureka.  The laundry here is kind of far, by the front office, so she had to take the truck there.  At some point Bia joined her and they walked around looking for pine cones.  Then they were working on the pine cones project together right outside.

I had some work calls in the morning, worked on posts, did some work and tried to find a place close by for us to go check out.  In one of my breaks, I went outside and installed the new power cable and power surge protector.  The surge protector is exactly the same as the one I had, the cable is a more generic Camco branded one.  I kept the old ones as I think they are fine yet, so will have them for emergency and will keep them in the truck.  I made some sandwiches for the girls and I to eat for lunch, and Carol came in and had a salad.

We ate and cleaned up a bit then left for our adventure of the day.  I picked a place I found online as I was looking for stuff around us, and told Carol and the girls it was a surprise.  The place is the Wards Ferry Bridge, which sounded interesting as the posts I read showed a ton of graffiti all over the bridge.  That’s the “thing” about it, it’s completely covered in graffiti.  The views from the bridge into the valley are also quite amazing, and the drive down is supposed to be unique (and a bit scary) with one lane, narrow and next to a cliff pretty much all the way down (and then up).  We left with all our gear, hiking shoes, jackets, etc and drove towards Groveland, than we pass it a bit, and turn right after a brewery. 

That’s the road you keep going pretty much all the way down.  Early on, there was a sign that said the road was closed ahead, but we kept going and the road was open.  Then there was another sign that said road closed, but the sign was turned around, as if the road was no longer closed and instead of taking it down, they turned it around.  Well, we kept going, and the road was open.  Soon, we got to the one lane portion, which is the drive down towards the valley and where the Tuolumne River and bridge are.  Lane was tight, turns were tight, and little by little we started seeing signs, some graffiti on the street, on rocks, on trees.. the first sign was quite weird, and I think set the tone for the rest… then came RIP signs… and other odd macabre signs… Carol sure got spooked, and Bella was too. 

It definitely had the setting of a horror movie, totally, 100%!  This family driving down a mountain, on a one lane road, with all kinds of signs to not go, yet they keep going… steep downhill, big cliff next to the car the entire time, nothing between you and the cliff, sometimes the tires touched the edge of the pavement… and more signs… hahahaha… I wish I had a picture of how Carol’s face changed as we went further and further down.  She kept saying: “I don’t know, I just have a bad feeling about this, where are you taking us”? hahahahaha…..  If you could get your eyes off the road, you would be looking at the amazing views of the valley.  Then, we got there. 

The girls immediately noticed how the road to the bridge, the entire bridge and everything around was covered in graffiti, and I told them that was the surprise, the graffiti covered bridge.  They were excited to get out and check out everything.  The place was empty, no-one else there when we arrived, and Carol was still feeling spooked.  I parked the truck on the side of the road, where it looked like a place to park, out of the way, and we went out to check things out and cross the bridge on foot while we looked at all the different graffiti. 

That was pretty cool.  It was very interesting to see all the different pictures, different sayings and writings.  Some very skilled people left their mark there, and some very amateur and childish as well.  Carol even asked “why do males like to draw penises”? Hahahahah, so you have an idea of all the different things we saw.  As we crossed the bridge and looked at all the graffiti, we also enjoyed the awesome views of the valley and the river.  It is quite amazing that the water marks on the margins of the river and the columns of the bridge are so high, and the water level right now is so low.  I’m not talking inches… it’s like 30-50 feet! 

As we got close to the other side, a car came from that direction and pulled over right there.  A woman and a bunch of teenage girls came out with spray cans… hahaha… they found an area of the bridge and started their work.  We decided to go down to the river bank from that side, so we walked right passed the “vandals” hahahahaha….  As we walked down, there was more graffiti on the rocks there, all the way down.  The river is so low, I think there was maybe a foot of depth, but the water is super clean and clear, and cold. 

We walked around that area a bit, but there was not a ton to see.  We saw that on the other side of the bank there was more to see, including what looked like a smashed car that looked flattened from where we were. 

So, we went back up, crossed the bridge again and went down to the banks from the other side, which is the side we parked the truck.  There is a bathroom on that side, so we peaked in… the entire thing was graffitied… even the toilet seat, and because the window was as well, it was very dark there, even with the door opened.  We just peaked in and continued on, it looked creepy and scary in there.  The walk down on this side was a bit steeper, but there was more area to check out, more things to see, and the view was as amazing.  The first thing the girls wanted to see was the smashed up car.  As we got closer, it actually was more of a car that fell from the bridge and was sunk in the sand, under water and under the bridge.  But, since the water level was so low, we could actually go right to it. 

Carol didn’t go all the way down, she was not feeling it, or feeling like it, so she found a spot to sit not too far from us.  The girls were exploring everything they could.  Bia decided she wanted to bang the car with some piece of wood, and so she did and had some fun with it.  Even the car engine was nearby, or at least a car engine was.  They then found a shopping cart as we walked further from the bridge.  We had a nice time exploring that side of the river, throwing rocks in the water (as usual), etc.  On our  way back, Bia said she wanted to take a few rocks to throw from the bridge and try to hit the car, so she took a few, Bella took some and I picked a big one when we got up there.  The walk up is a bit tough with it being so steep, definitely warmed us up :).

Once we were up there, we started walking to the middle of the bridge so we could hit the car with the rocks.  We found the spot that seemed the best and lined up.  Bia on my left, I was in the middle, and Bella on the right.  Carol stayed at the edge of the bridge, close to the truck.  Bia threw the first rock, straight down, and it looked like the rock angled towards under the bridge and missed the car.  Bella threw the next one, a bit too hard, so the rock passed the car.  I had to throw next, so I tried to go in between what the girls did.  My rock was massive too, easily over 10lbs hahahahaha… I let it go, with a slight push forward, and it went… picking up speed, and little by little moving towards the car… and BAAAAAMMMMM hit the roof of the car hard….  It hit it so hard, the rock broke into pieces.  That.  Was.  AWESOME!  The noise it made and the excitement of hitting the car got everyone excited.  There was a couple, teenagers, that had arrived as we were walking towards the car, who were watching us and as my rock smashed into the car, and the boy said: “I am definitely doing that”! hahahah…. Bia went again, and her next rock hit the car right on the front hood.  Boooommm… Then Bella went again, and hit the trunk.  So awesome.  Bia had one more, she threw it… and it actually made it right in the hole where the rear window was, going right into the rear seats which were full of sand, so no major noise, but quite an awesome hit.  She was very excited!  I told her she scored a 3 pointer.  I asked the girls at that point how they liked the surprise.  Bia immediately yelled with excitement that she gave it a two thumbs up.  Bella was less excited, but said “when we arrived I was giving it a thumbs down, now it’s a 3 out of 10” hahahahah tough cookie that one.  Later on she warmed up a bit more and said maybe it was a 5.  The drive down definitely spooked her, and she thought maybe the surprise was that we’d see horses.  Oh well.  

We had a nice drive up the mountain again, the girls were on their electronics and we just took our time going up.  As we got out of the road that took us down, I made a wrong turn and we ended up going down highway 120 a bit, and the little we caught of it was amazing. 

Beautiful view of the valley below with a lake way in the back.  We were going to go to a playground, but at this point it was almost 4pm and getting colder, and Carol didn’t want to go.  We made a stop at the local brewery to get some to go beers.

Then, we stopped by the grocery store as Carol needed some stuff, so I went to a store that sold tire chains, hoping they rented some so we could take on our next stop at Yosemite.  Carol and the girls went to the grocery store and I went to the tire chain store.  As soon as I walked in, there was a gentleman behind a plexy glass window who promptly asked if he could help.  I explained I wanted to rent chains, but they don’t rent them nearby, only had them for sale.  I explained what happened yesterday and that the Ranger just let me in, but told me to turn around if I saw the sign that said chains required.  As soon as I said this, the gentleman perked up and said this is crazy, they never do this, because it’s a big ticket if you’re caught at Yosemite without chains along, if the chains sign is up, and he was surprised the guard let me in.  He said the ticket is $5,000!  Yikes.  I quickly looked it up, and sure enough, the NPS site for Yosemite said that.  I guess I got a pass on Monday, but should not have.  I ended up getting a lesson on how to put chains on the truck, how they work, and spending about $170 on tire chains.  hahahah.. I’ve lived in Wisconsin for over 20 years and never needed those, but, mountain ranges are different… more snow melts and turns into ice quick, which is a big problem when you have steep grades to go up or down.  So, now we are ready for our next visits… and likely for any other mountain situation that may come up the rest of the trip.

When we got back to the camper, the girls started getting ready for bed.  Carol made gyozas for dinner.  After dinner, Carol washed the dishes and the girls dried and put them away.  Great team work!  I worked on posting the day’s post and helped clean up the area.  Then we watched some TV and got the girls to bed by 8:15 or so.

After the girls were in bed, Carol and I stayed up a bit longer.  Carol was reading a book, and I was doing some work.  I also had the tolls from San Francisco that came in and Judy sent me the pictures, so I paid those.  Golden Gate Bridge toll was $34.80 and Bay Bridge was $6.  I went though the Golden Gate Bridge one more time on the trip, so should have another one coming soon.

We had a nice day, very interesting adventure today 🙂

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