Spring time after all the rain and snow

Wow, what a winter. Rain was late in coming but then hit most most rain ever records. And for sure, more snow than we usually see. A lot of fun though. We only got actually snowed in once, and through some smart juggling of dates, guests kept coming all winter and managed to each find at least one clear day in Yosemite.

Our big pond dam overflowed many times, but of course it is now leaking badly again. We have found a big leak in the main wall, apart from the hundreds of gopher trails. The biggest joy about the pond is watching the small groups of birds arrive. I can now tell whether they are ducks, geese or herons just by the way they come in for a landing. Why are the ducks always in such a hurry? How does the heron signal to his mate that he while he is patiently swimming in circles he is waiting for her in that particular pond?

Indian Rocks in the snow near Yosemite National Park YNP

The little round holes in the snow on top of these rocks are because the Indians were here before.

And, of course, with all this rain the falls in Yosemite are gushing like crazy and will be doing so for most of summer. Plus the big trees trails that were recently refurbished  are now open as of April 12th. So barring any disasters I think we are looking forward to a record year of visitors to Yosemite and the surrounding Mariposa areas.

Your Super Host.. Martin

Posted in Cottage Items, Seasons Tagged with: , , ,

Sunshine days as we wait for the rain

Our grass is all dried up, our pond and river are all dried up. When will the rain come? Meanwhile most of the falls are still running in the park so my guests are enjoying the sunny days for hiking and exploring. Plus a quick side trip to the winery below us, as shown here. If you keep going down our lane you will come out by the big red Spanish style house in bottom left of the picture.

Butterfly Creek Winery Mariposa Yosemite
This is what Chris and Paul recently posted:

“If you want a perfect place to stay – right between the two main entrances to Yosemite – this is it!! We had just three days and we wanted to do it all. One day was the Valley floor and the next day was Sequoia forest and up to Glacier Peak. One evening we watched 7 deer eat and play in his field in front of the house, then one morning a flock of turkey entertained us. Place was clean, had emergency items if you forgot something, and the charcoal grill was all set for our use. If you love quiet, good Internet, with all the simple home needs – like washer and dryer – you need to make Martin’s place your next home away from home. Thank you.”


PS Have another extra pair of snow chains to loan out for those of you planning winter trips.

Posted in Seasons, Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is all open again, and so are we.

Many thanks to all the firefighters from around the state who helped control the big recent Ferguson fire. It raged in the canyons between our property and Yosemite Park itself.  Only a small edge of the park itself burned, as well as sides of the approach roads and surrounding hills.  But very few structures burned and we even never had to evacuate, though it was close at times.

Mariposa Grove Big Tree YosemiteHowever, bigger problem was actually the smoke.The few brave tourists who found a way in surely did not enjoy photographing the magnificent sites of the valley through a cloud of smoke.

But that is now history.  While I am just happy to breathe clear mountain air again,  recent guests from London made a point of telling me how impressive the great Yosemite Valley is. Plus the Mariposa Grove of big trees is also open after its 3 year renovation.

AND it is finally starting to cool down from the record months we have had this year – so I look forward to meeting you here at the cottage and out on the trails. We will be open every day for as far as we can see at this stage.

PS I have chains to loan out for  your rental car when Winter really arrives – a stunningly beautiful time in the park when it is covered in snow, especially if you get out on foot or cross-country skis or snow shoes.

Posted in Seasons, Yosemite National Park

Snow and Rain at Last

After one of California’s driest Februaries on record, it sure was great to get a drenching yesterday followed by overnight snow. First time the pond has had water in 9 months. Now you start to see how big it really is – over an acre I reckon.  As to why it is there, I have no idea. And it leaks like a sieve as there are gopher and other burrowing critter holes every few feet.

But spectacular scenery this a.m. I really love the snow especially when the sun shines too. Remember this is dry California country and snow doesn’t usually come down to this level (2800′). But amazing to watch on the radar map. You see this almost regular straight line of where the snow starts, and you realize it is exactly where the Sierra mountains reach a certain height – usually 4000′ – which happens to be the elevation of the valley floor in Yosemite.

Yosemite vacation rental Airbnb or VRBO

Snow brings us more visitors too, so another reason for me to love it. If you can find an empty date why don’t you come experience this great scenic time in Yosemite. We are close to the main West gate which is usually open most of the year and usually without snow chain controls – but I have a set for you to borrow just in case.

Posted in Garden trails, Seasons Tagged with:

Warm Dry Winter now Ending

Finally it gets winter cold and some rain comes in. It is all very welcome. Up here in the Sierra Foothills we really need the winter rain and associated snow higher up in the hills to provide California’s rain for the long dry summers.

Quiet yosemite area vacation self catering holiday stay

This picture shows my very big pond that leaks like crazy. The whole floor is a sieve of gopher and other critter holes. Good news is you can walk all around without having to risk wet boots at the inlet and overflow areas. Because of angle of this photo you can’t appreciate how big it really is. About one acre I reckon. Maybe I can fill it in and build a baseball field or cricket pitch one day. But a fishing pond would be nice in the meantime.

Also on the water front, I had help to carefully empty the swimming pool when I realized the cover was not going to work. We got it down to the last few splashes. But unlike the pond, it doesn’t leak so I can use it as a rain gauge given its flat bottom. About a foot so far this season I reckon, but that was way back when.

Nice thing about warm dry weather is that when we finally got 6 days without any guests (first time since opening), Louise could do the annual heavy wash of bed covers, drapes, etc and we could dry them on the clothesline in the sun. So all fresh and ready for the coming season.

Posted in Garden trails

Local and International Guests keeping us full up

I love it when I get reviews like this:

Altamente recomendable, una maravilla en mitad del campo y muy cerca de Yosemite.

(Translation: Highly recommended, a wonder in the middle of the countryside and very close to Yosemite.)

And that was from a US based family who had an extra kid tag along at the last minute making for a very tight fit!

My German guests are now family friends. They did not want to leave until the last minute. My Spanish students, via San Diego thought they had died and gone to heaven – it really is a different experience for city people, especially poor students who have not lead the high or exotic life. My French visitors left me a fine bottle of French wine.  My Chinese visitors that barely spoke a word left a big comment in my guest book all in Chinese! Oh how I love you all.

FoxInHoleApart from the usual deer and wild turkey sightings, my guests report skunk (luckily he kept going) and bobcat too while my son and I have seen two different foxes in the  street side late at night. The one I saw looked like this guy which I had earlier photographed at my old house up the street.

Waterfall in Yosemite

The heat wave continues so hiking Vernal Mist trail in Yosemite is popular as you get the cool misty breeze on yourself at all times – if you make it high enough. But all the falls are still running despite no rain all summer. And now the river has become safe to play in and many guests are using that option to cool off in the park before returning to the cabin.

Posted in Cottage Items, Garden trails, Yosemite National Park

All Safe – All Clear – Lights are on

As friends, family and guests from across the country and around the world contact me to see if I am safe during the big Detwiler fire in the region, please be assured I am fine and was monitoring it continuously.  In fact, electricity is back on so great to have a real shower again, even as we continue to monitor situation.

My first concern is always my guests. This time I could not send them on their way immediately as two of their party were climbing Half Dome, and then had some bus issues as roads got rerouted. But we worked together and they only had a short night by flashlights and water containers.

While you are all watching national news and hysterical reporters, we were in touch locally. The fire never made it into town per se, though town was evacuated to make way for firefighters and tanker bombers (a lot of it is reddish now from the retardant).  But we are 10+ miles up the hill away from closest point.  Also, a community like this has many local ways of communicating, including CalFire and Sheriff etc that the world never knows about. Like traffic marshals who close off roads tell you a whole story. My cottage housekeeper is used to buzzing all round town so she spreads the word and of course we are all checking with each other.

member of Yosemite Gateway PartnersPlus I am a member of Yosemite Gateway Partners and Mariposa Chamber of Commerce and all these sources are giving us updated info, as does the national park service and many locals on their Facebook posts (often the quickest spot for news). I was even checking on my old house as the new tenant is a Park Ranger and she was busy being a ranger on overtime. My former landlord and I stay in touch… especially when he can see the fire from Merced, but all I saw was smoke across the valley.

Now you know why my new garden hasn’t been planted. I have been too busy cutting grass and clearing downed trees. In fact, first 6 weeks I was here last year I had the lumberjack bring down all big dead trees resulting from the drought and beetle bark infestation.

Many years ago I lived on a small farm in South Africa. I fondly remember doing my homework by candelight or hurricane lantern when the electricity was out. (I still made it to Silicon Valley as a techy). And no water. Who cares until you get thirsty.  We often used to fill the bathtubs at the first sign of a big storm.  So this past week I was happy to finally test live my backup 300gal water tank. Takes some manual switching of a valve to reverse water flow, but then works great to drive a small trickle to house but plenty into hosepipes to fill up buckets and containers – for me and some neighbors! And since I have my own big propane tanks, all I had to do was find a match to do some cooking.

Well looks like I now get a short break with no guests. But next week I am encouraging them all to return. I have personally been in contact with all those expected within two weeks, mostly to do with road issues getting here. But we are open and Yosemite is fully open.

PS Thanks to Airbnb for preserving my status despite the forced cancellations.

Posted in Cottage Items, Yosemite National Park

Yeah.. we made SuperHost status

SuperHost on AirbnbJust heard from Airbnb that I have received SuperHost status, exactly 90 days after hosting my first traveling party. Now we will show up in SuperHost searches and also get priority support. Plus we have something to live up to.

I always expected to be asked what to see in Yosemite, which trails to hike, etc. Little did I know that I would have to become a parking expert! Yes, I learn from my guests and all the local media and the National Park media. But on days like yesterday when the gates were closed after the whole place ran out of parking (on a Tues no less), there is not much I can do. Luckily my current guests listened to me even though they said they areChapel at Buttefly Creek Winery aka YosemiteWinery.com not morning people. They made the effort to clear the main gate before 10am and it seems to have paid off.

Separately, on one of my reviews a guest wrote: “And you really should visit the adjacent winery. The wine is excellent and Bob is a national treasure!” If you want a small romantic wedding, do check out their little 16 person chapel in the vineyard.

Posted in Cottage Items

Sold Out with great reviews

Today I discovered Home Away from Home featuring our very own cottage in some of their Facebook ads.  No wonder we are sold out through August. And yes, we did find a number of minor things when our first few guests came by. However, we have great reviews on Airbnb, HomeAway and our own guest book, so my goal and dream is being realized.

Route 120 into Yosemite via Tioga PassIt is so lovely to host guests from around the country and around the world. I love to see how they plan and explore the trails of Yosemite, despite the summer crowds, a brief landslide, a nearby fire and lots of parking problems if you get up late. But it is a big and wonderful park with still plenty of snow at the higher altitudes feeding the waterfalls in a spectacular fashion.

Even Tioga Pass Rd across the top to Nevada is now open, despite what Google says. Can you imagine how much snow was at the top (4 stories high) that it took till mid June to dig the road out for the season.

Posted in Cottage Items

And the Falls kept flooding down

Yosemite double falls home stayWell despite the heat, the waterfalls in Yosemite continue to pound down because there is still plenty of snow up on top that has to melt yet. Can you believe Tioga Pass (over top into Nevada) is still not open to traffic?  And Glacier Point has only been open about ten days for vehicles, with strict warnings for hikers that if they get off the trails up there they should expect winter-like conditions. And the river in the valley is running so high and strong that it is not open for recreation.

But this is the majesty of Yosemite National Park and why visitors from all around the world visit. And a few stay in my little cottage at Frontier Hill where the big trees and location cut off most of the heat. I am really encouraging guests to take some meals out on the deck so they can enjoy the fresh air and view. If you plan ahead it is really easy to cook on the barbecue. I suggest something simple the first night, like hotdogs or hamburgers (including garden burgers and salmon burgers). Maybe shish kabobs the second night. These are very little fuss if you prepare them in advance.  Then something like chicken breasts and thighs the third night.

The barbeque is ready for you with starter block and matches and briquettes when you check in, plus plenty more in the storage room. You can even move to the card table and camping chairs and sit elsewhere in the garden for a change of view – or maybe a picnic closer to the river (now only a trickle). There are even candles and spray to keep the bugs away at sunset.

Do also try taking breakfast outdoors. You probably don’t get that option much in the city. At least your tea or coffee while you fill your lungs with fresh mountain air.

When we tried to add a water filter to the kitchen faucet we found the whole unit was showing signs of decay inside, even though it still looked shiny and bright.  Anyway, with some help I replaced it all, so there are now brand new pipes all way back to the wall, apart from the new faucet with its cute little filter for really pure drinking water. Bottled water is still provided for those who prefer that neutral taste.

Finally a new DVD player has been hooked up, though most guests seem to be warn out from the hike of their lives to bother staying up. Sorry I only have a very small selection of titles so do bring your own, especially if they are needed to entertain little kids and the offerings on DISH TV are not sufficient.

PS Highway 140 is open again directly to the valley floor.  Thanks to our location, guests who had to take the longer route around  for a few days still got to spend full days hiking and visiting.

Hint:  If you only have 2 nights to visit here, why not do a half day in the park on arrival day? You can always check-in a little later if need be. Then you get that extra time plus the whole next day at the park to explore your favorite trails. Maybe even get some sunset shots to add to what is always a great photographic experience.

Posted in Cottage Items, Yosemite National Park