Steve's partner Natalie with the Apollo Euro Tourer at Indian Flat RV Park in Yosemite National Park

Steve's partner Natalie with the Apollo Euro Tourer at Indian Flat RV Park in Yosemite National Park

STEVE ADAMS is touring California in a motorhome for a feature that will appear in Camping & Caravanning magazine later this year. Here’s his first report from the road.

On 30 June 1864 President Abraham Lincoln took a break from attending to his duties during a particularly bloody period of the Civil War to sign the Yosemite Grant Act, a document that set aside the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias “upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort and recreation”.

The hugely important Act effectively signaled the start of the National Park movement – even though Yellowstone ultimately became the United States’ first official National Park – and provided a blueprint for other states and countries to follow.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Act, and the good people of Yosemite National Park are making the most of it, with a number of activities celebrating the park as well as the work of the visionaries – including as many writers, artists and photographers as conservationists – who led the campaign to preserve it for the enjoyment of all.

The fascinating history is re-enacted in a lovely 25-minute documentary being shown at Yosemite Theater (please note American spelling, not my error) near the park’s Valley Visitor Center (ditto). My girlfriend Natalie and I enjoyed every minute of it that we saw. Which on my part was probably no more than half the movie, as a near-terminal lack of sleep finally caught up with me in the comfy seats and cooling air of the auditorium.

I’ve never been the greatest of sleepers, so three days into our trip I was in borderline zombie state courtesy of early mornings (we were up at 4am on departure day for our flight to San Francisco, and 6am for our bus journey into the park on this day), a smattering of jet lag (California is eight hours behind the UK) and a good helping of anxiety-induced insomnia prior to driving a motorhome – or RV in this part of the world – for the first time.

Thankfully the latter was largely a case of mind over matter, as our Apollo Euro Tourer – the smallest model carried by Apollo Motorhome Holidays, which we booked via the Club’s Worldwide Motorhoming Holidays – turned out to be a fairly easy ride… even though I probably left my fingerprints embedded in the steering wheel gripping it so tightly during our four-hour drive to Yosemite.

Our destination was Indian Flat RV Park, the nearest RV site to Yosemite with full hook-ups (none of the National Park’s sites have hook up facilities) and pitched up in blazing temperatures and glorious sunshine at around 5pm. The beautiful weather was more than matched by the scenery and we both agreed life couldn’t get any better. The following day it did. But I’ll save that for the next instalment…