This is GREAT, everyone! I love it! I love reading about regional details! Thanks! Keep 'em coming!!!
I have some more directions: Getting from Sunland CA to Yosemite National Park (Yosemite Lodge, in the Valley). Heck, with my username, you had to see this one coming! (And I’ve added certain emphasis for Bearflag! )
Take the 5 North. Get over into the middle lanes. Keep going North. Make sure to not get trapped getting on the 14, it’ll take you to Palmdale, and you don’t want that.
About an hour out of Sunland, look for the Gorman offramp. (It’s a small little town, but they have a big sign on the side of the road so you can’t miss them.) Get off at Gorman, and get a drink and fried zuchinni at Carl’s Jr. (Or is it Burger King?) Well, get your food, and then fill up your tank at the Chevron station. Get some film if you didn’t take enough with you.
Get back on the 5. Keep driving and driving. You’ll soon hit “The Grapevine”, a steep, trecherous strip of road that always is trouble for large trucks. If your car has a sewing machine motor, get over to the right lane and crawl along with the rest of the big trucks. If you have a faster car, get over to the left lane and try to go a little faster.
After you finally get past The Grapevine, (whew) you’ll hit a big flat expanse of land. This is where you need to be on the lookout - you need to switch to the 99. It’s hard to miss, but be on the lookout. Get on the 99 going North. Drive and drive. It’s boring, and flat. Lots (and lots) of oleander is planted in the center divider. LOTS of oleander. Marvel at all the oleander. Keep driving. If you need to urinate, get off in Tulare or another town and find a gas station. Otherwise, just keep barrelling on until you start seeing signs for Fresno and the 41. Get over to your right, as you will be taking the 41 (East).
When you get on the 41, you’ll pass Fresno. If you need a break, get off at Bullard Ave., and find the McDonald’s. Otherwise, just keep on going. You’ll start to get into more hilly and mountainy roads. Eventually the road will narrow down to one lane each way.
Keep on going. You’ll hit the (rather largish) town of Oakhurst. If you need to pick up some food or soft drinks, stop at Raley’s (to your left). Then pass through Oakhurst. After a while longer, you’ll approach Coarsegold. Outside of Coarsegold, you’ll see a Texaco station on your left. You have to be looking for it, because it’s nestled back a bit. YOU MUST STOP HERE. You must get your gas here. Don’t ask why, it’s just how it’s done. (And remember, there is no gas in Yosemite Valley!)
Keep going. You’ll pass by Fish Camp, a small town. If you like, stop and smell the bearclover (an aromatic plant that grows along the road). Soon you will get to the South Entrance. Pay your $20 to the nice ranger, and get your maps and brochures. As soon as you pass through the gate, turn LEFT. Don’t go right, that will take you to the Mariposa Grove. It’s great, but you can’t go there today.
After a few minutes, you’ll pass by the Wawona Hotel (on your right). Yes, it’s gorgeous, isn’t it? Keep going - you’ll see Wawona later. About 20 minutes of twisty road, you’ll pass the Badger Pass turnoff. Don’t take it. Keep going. About 20-25 minutes later, you’ll come around a bend, and you’ll see it - HALF DOME. Try to keep your composure, you’ll have a turn off soon enough, where you can stop and take pictures.
Keep going. A few minutes later, you’ll approach a tunnel, and you’ll see a sign telling you to turn on your headlights. Do it. As soon as you pass through this tunnel, you will see Wawona Tunnel View on your left. Make sure to remember to turn off your headlights, and be Johnny on the Spot to turn into the parking lot (there are parking lots on both sides of the road.) Take your obligatory photos of Wawona view, and then keep driving. After a few minutes, you’ll see signs that direct you to Yosemite Valley, turning left. Turn left. You’ll pass by Cook’s Meadow, which shows a stunning view of Half Dome. Stop and take pictures. A little way past Cook’s Meadow you’ll see a parking lot on the right for Yosemite Falls, and a parking lot on the left for Yosemite Lodge. Turn left, and find a parking spot near the Lodge lobby. Go in and get your room key (you did make reservations several months in advance, didn’t you?).
That’s it, you’re there. Enjoy!