Tipis, Bears, and High-Speed Impacts


Those three things didn’t happen all at once, but they were definitely the hi-lights of this weekends trip to Yosemite.

A good friend of mine was in town this weekend, and we decided to go on a little road trip to Yosemite National Park. We left Saturday afternoon with the intention of camping in the park Saturday night, and possibly Sunday night.

We left a little late, and took a wrong turn at one point so we didn’t get up there until late. We hit the town of Groveland, which is about 40 miles outside the park, at about 9:30pm. We decided to stop for dinner, and that stop quickly turned into a decision to stay in Groveland for the night.

All the hotels in town were booked, but we did manage to score a tipi at the Groverland Motel & Indian Village. We stayed up late playing the guitar and drinking beers. It was a cool place to stay.


The next day we drove into the park. We stopped at a campground to make lunch when a bear and her cub came strolling by. Yosemite is crawling with bears. We hadn’t yet broke out the Peanut Butter & Jelly, so we decided it would be best to move down the road a bit. We were just a little too close for comfort. The bears were maybe 100 feet away, and they can smell food from over a mile away. When you camp in the park you are required to keep all of you food in bear boxes.

After lunch we pretty much just tooled around the park for the rest of the day. At that point we had to make a decision on if we were going to camp, go back for another night in the tipi, or head home. I had some work waiting for me, and my friend was kind of ready to head back home, to Portland. He had actually been on the road for a few weeks already. So we decided to head home Sunday night, and it was on the way home that things took a really bad turn, literally…

upside-down suv

Fortunately, this is not a picture of our car. It is however a picture of one of the cars that slammed into us. We were approaching San Francisco on the 580, minding our own business, when someone plowed into us from behind. The impact sent us spinning, and we ultimately ended up skidding / rolling backwards down the freeway. That’s when the SUV hit us. As you can see it ended up flipping. When we finally stopped (still facing the wrong direction) we could see quite a lot of debris behind us. At least 4-5 cars were involved in the accident. Luckily, no one was hurt in any of the cars, which is simply amazing. We still aren’t sure exactly what happened. We didn’t see any of it, it all happened behind us. Interestingly, I distinctly remember seeing the SUV flip, and I remember it coming towards us, and smashing into us (because we are facing backwards at that point), but I can’t put those two events in order. Did it hit us, then flip? Or, did it flip then slide into us? I’ll probably never know… it all happened so fast. We were just afraid that every car on that freeway was going to pile into us.

Although my friend’s truck was pretty smashed up, we were able to limp home. It’s in the shop now, my friend should know tomorrow if the insurance company is going to declare it a total loss. We will be surprised if they don’t.

I sure wish we had stayed in the park for another night. ;)

5 thoughts on “Tipis, Bears, and High-Speed Impacts”

  1. WOW – I am glad to hear that you guys are ok – but in hind site comming to our TP party could have been a little bit less of an adventure. Glad that everyone is ok and doing well. Take care.

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