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Thursday, August 11, 2016


      People reading this journal often write things like, "Lucky you. I wish I could  see Yosemite". Well, what's stopping you?  It's all there, five hours from San Francisco.
   Drive up to the gate and hand the ranger $25. Its your ticket to Magic Land. If that seems too difficult, simple take The Tortoise.

    I discovered Green Tortoise Bus Tours in the 1970's. My buddy Tom took one to Mexico and had a great time. He explained, "It's an adventure for hippies with no money. We traveled in an old school bus. The seats had been replaced with mattresses. It was terrific, a rolling 6-day party".
     I hadn't thought of communal travel for forty years until I saw my first Green Tortoise bus in a Yosemite campground two weeks ago.  The days of the hippie buses are over. The vehicle looked big and comfortable. It's thirty inhabitants were sitting in the shade, a wide variety of ages, energy levels, and nationalities.

     They were traveling together for threes days.  Their tour included Yosemite National Park and  amazing places nearby. Their driver, Ollie, explained that they ate communally (he was the head chef) and slept either on the bus, in tents, or under the stars. Most of the folks were traveling solo, their ages ranged was 19 to 74.  This excursion, which included transportation, room and board, and park admission fees, costs about $350.  Most of their tours begin in San Francisco.
  Ollie invited us to come on board. We could see how the seats converted into 36 bunks.  Much of the long distance travel is done at night while everyone sleeps.
 The bus had a bathroom as well. It is small but Ollie explained there are regular stops for snacks and the use of public bathrooms.
     On this trip you could swim in June Lake (south of Yosemite), Mono Lake,
 or the Tuolomme River.

Taking the tortoise could be your best chance to go down roads you might not otherwise travel.

     The Tortoise Tours look like great fun and are priced at half of what such a trip would otherwise cost. Ollie told us the company has nine buses.  
Five of them are taking 160 people to Burning Man at the end of the month.
    You can ride the turtle to tour Alaska, Mexico, or travel cross-country. Most of their excursions are the western states, they have the highest concentration of fantastic places.
    It seems just right for any age, anyone who doesn't mind sleeping in a tent for a few nights. One of the backpackers told me, "Why go on a vacation when you can go on an adventure?  It's terrific, I've made so many new friends".  
   If this sounds good to you check out . Lucky you, it might be your ticket to Yosemite and beyond.

         Another tour,  mule train crossing Tuolomme Meadow        

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