Saturday, May 5, 2007

Sentinel Hotel

Sentinel Hotel was the best accommodation in
Yosemite Valley until 1927 when the Ahwahnee
was completed.  The tourist girl above is a guest
staying at the hotel around 1920.  

That last leg into the Valley was filled with refreshed memories and eagerness. From the moment I left El Portal I began to plan what I would do the moment I arrived.  I was always torn. I wanted to do several things simultaneously. I wanted to put up my tent, make my bed and just lie down and listen to the sounds. I wanted to run through the meadow. I wanted to go listen to the sound of the waterfalls and look up to the cliffs overhead. They made me feel happy and settled in. I wanted to go look and see what new post cards Uncle had come up with before we got there. And I wanted to see about that ice cream. It was a wonderful moment.
From there the roads joined and turned to the left and the Village laid out on both sides. I always took a long look down the road to glimpse the Sentinel Hotel at the far end.

The Village had been there since Uncle was a small boy. He and my father had gone to Yosemite for the first time in 1895, the same year that Susan B. Anthony visited Yosemite for the last time on a tour of California. Dr. Grandma had been delighted to see her again when she spoke in San Francisco. The work of women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Blackwell inspired a generation of women to break down the barriers to a full participation in the life of America. When Dr. Grandma talked about those years I could see what she must have looked like when she was young.

I remember her sitting up in her chair, eyes on fire, glazed with tears, talking about those women. They were heroes whose lives inspired us. Dr. Grandma seemed older than Earth and absolutely unbreakable to me when I was small. I knew that she was sad that the work, so diligently carried out, was still unfinished.

The family had been at Stanford the last time Dr. Grandma saw Susan B. Dr. Grandma was running a hospital and Father and Uncle were working and studying. Uncle has started a photography & bicycling store there, right outside Stanford. Dr. Grandma thought that was better than his running the illicit darkroom in the unfinished rafters of Encinas Hall. That was when he built the first motorcycle in California. He said it burned his privates a little but was worth the trouble. (Link to bring in sound (inject audio from A.C’s autobiography))
The first year you could bring automobiles into the Valley was 1914. For some reason the Park Superintendent thought concessionaires should pay extra for taking pictures of cars. Uncle thought that was ridiculous, but he was always respectfully amused by authorities of all kinds and thanked the Powers that Be that it had not occurred to them to charge for something else, too.

Uncle kept up a pretty constant correspondence with the Park People and sometimes read particularly pompous missives aloud.

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