29 years
Community Service
News Magazine
Operated by couple Eddie Flores and Orquidia Valenzuela
News and Views of the
Filipino Community Worldwide
America the Beautiful: The American West
July 2 – 11, 2011

Wilfredo (Sonny) Valenzuela
Photos: Wilfredo Valenzuela and Eddie Flores


We drove around Yellowstone’s upper loop the next day.  At Mammoth Hot Springs in the upper loop are striking geothermal sceneries of travertine limestone terraces sculpted by flowing hot water.  At higher elevations in the upper loop, we reveled in more spectacular views of green prairies, white mountain tops, and powerful waterfalls.  We had our first bear sighting in the wild during our tour of the upper loop.  That very night, we heard in the news about the fatal mauling that day of a hiker by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone.  Thrilled as we were with our bear sighting, the tragedy reminded us that we must treat wildlife with caution and respect.
Yellowstone park_ white mountain tops

Yellowstone Park-Mammoth Hot Springs

Yellowstone-encounter with a Pinay Ivy Cruz with her Nepalese husband.

We had originally targeted to reach Glacier National Park along the Montana-Canada border, but decided that we did not have sufficient time.  I talked to an officemate who grew up in Idaho regarding places to see in his home state.  He suggested for us to take a route via Twin Falls, Idaho on our way back to California, a route we have not taken during our previous trips to Yellowstone. This turned out to be an excellent recommendation.  There are many interesting places to see in the area around Twin Falls.

On our way to Twin Falls, we visited Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in central Idaho.  There, we hiked an outlandish landscape of lava, descended into a lava tube, and emerged from a narrow opening at the other end of the underground lava tunnel.
Idaho-Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon-Sonny at end of lava tube tunnel

The next day, we watched a couple of daring base jumpers launch themselves from the center of the 500-foot high Perrine Bridge over the Snake River, and with their parachutes, land gently beside the river.  We entered an ice cave. 
Idaho-entrance to Ice Cave

Idaho-Twin Falls-Snake River

Idaho-Twin Falls- Perrine Bridge Base jumper

Along the Snake River, we saw the impressive Shoshone Falls, sometimes referred to as the Niagara of the West.  By the end of the busy day, we were ready for a delicious dinner of Idaho potatoes and juicy steak.

Idaho_Twin Falls-Montana Steak House with Kim, a Cebuana, taking our orders

The following day was a long day of driving from Twin Falls to Reno, Nevada.  We slept in Reno, where we gambled for fun for a few hours, then headed to Lake Tahoe the next morning.  Lake Tahoe, which straddles the border of Nevada and California, is a large alpine lake with surface elevation above 6,000 feet.   It takes a couple of hours to drive around Lake Tahoe.  The scenic views include Emerald Bay and within it Fannette Island, the lake’s lone island.
Reno-The biggest little city of the world

Emerald Bay

From Lake Tahoe, we drove to Mammoth Lakes in California, stopping by Mono Lake along the way to stretch, watch the view, and take some pictures.  Mammoth Lakes, a beautiful mountain town and a popular winter sports resort in California, is situated in a geologically active area like Yellowstone.  We spent the last night of our trip in Mammoth Lakes. 
Mono Lake

Yosemite was the final item in our travel itinerary.  We rarely take the Tioga Pass east entrance to Yosemite National Park.  The south entrance is a much more convenient route from Southern California to Yosemite.  In addition, Tioga is the highest pass in California, and it is subject to closure from October to May due to heavy snowfall.  But we came from the northeast this time, and it was mid-July.  Tioga Pass gave us some breathtaking views of serene lakes, rippling streams, and ice-capped mountains as we climbed from the dry foothills to an elevation close to 10,000 feet towards the alpine zone of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range leading to Yosemite.

Nature’s seemingly tranquil beauty, exemplified by the lovely panorama of Nevada and Vernal Falls across the monumental granite Half Dome viewed from Yosemite’s Glacier Point, belies nature’s savage force.  A week after we visited Yosemite, three audacious young adults who crossed the barricade to the Merced River were swept over and disappeared down Vernal Fall.

El Capitan, a massive 3,000-foot high granite cliff towering prominently above Yosemite Valley, is popular among rock climbers.  Mariposa Grove, near the south entrance to Yosemite, is a large sequoia grove.  Not far from the parking lot in Mariposa Grove are the well-preserved remains of a giant decay-resistant sequoia.  Known as the “Fallen Monarch”, this sequoia redwood fell centuries ago.  A short hike from the parking lot is the “Grizzly Giant”, an ancient sequoia that is estimated to be over 2,000 years old.

Bridalveil, arguably Yosemite’s most popular waterfall, showcased its majestic beauty.  It was July, but with the higher-than-normal rain and snowfall in California last winter, Bridalveil’s heavy flow of water falling 600 feet onto the rocks in front of us befogged our cameras and sunglasses. 
Yosemite-Bridalveil Falls

The American West is beautiful, even through misty sunglasses. 

Group photo with Young Kim, a Filipino (2nd-right), operator of Travelodge,Mammoth Lake, our last basecamp.
Lunch tendered by Ito and Kate(2nd-3rd left)

A few days before Eddie and Quiding left for The Netherlands, Ito and Kate  treated us with a Dinuguan lunch at their residence and on July 17, a farewell luncheon-Family reunion was tendered by couple Boy and Teng at their residence in Torrance City-LA.

And while having our after-lunch merienda, a lively discussion came up….” Saan tayo pupunta sa 2012??

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