By Rem O'Donnelley
The recent shutdown of government services has affected a wide variety of services for the public. Driving home from vacation today my mind considered the fate of those visiting Yosemite National Park.
Last week I had visited Yosemite for my first time. I spent two nights in one of the quaint, unheated tent cabins at Curry Village located in Yosemite Valley.
There are several hundred of these tent cabins. Visitors can also bring their own tent to camp in but there are also varying levels of accommodation moving up to the Yosemite lodge and the high end Ahwahnee Hotel. There is something for every price range and comfort level.
Eating our meals in the large Curry Village canteen we recognized several different languages of other diners there. I could believe that there were people representing at least half of the 50 states and probably tourists from every continent. Yosemite is a World Heritage site and rightly so with its breathtaking scenery.
Hearing today that Yosemite was closed was hard to believe at first. That was followed by disappointment. New visitors are being turned away at the entrance gates. Then there are people there already on vacation. Day visitors were told to leave the park today. Those camping are being told to leave the park by Thursday. Park officials have stated that this could take up to four days. Commercial services will also cease, which will include the dining hall where breakfast and dinner are served.
Google honored Yosemite's 123rd birthday today with a one of their doodles. The irony is that the park is closed to visitors. This is a frustrating time for visitors already at Yosemite or on their way who have had to make other plans. Where does a tourist make plans to go to when they only had one destination on their itinerary? Visitors could go to Reno, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco or one of the small towns outside of Yosemite. However, these just aren't the same thing when they're expecting to experience Yosemite.
It is a sad day for US citizens who have to shrug our shoulders and don't have an explanation why the tourists' vacations are ruined in this political bickering and stalemate.
I feel for the tourists and wish I knew what else to say but “I'm sorry.”