Thursday, August 30

Nature at its finest

Tomorrow we fly out of Seattle bound for Los Angeles and onward to Sydney.  Our vacation is almost over.  However, it’s likely to end on a high note as overnight we secured an upgrade to First Class for our flight across the Pacific. Frequent flyer points do have some benefits!

As I reflect on three weeks in the USA is difficult to single out one highlight as there have been so many.  Our accommodation has been consistently good with only one exception.  That one exception was Camp Curry at Yosemite Park.  It’s somewhat ironic to see a news story overnight warning that people who’ve stayed here may have been exposed to the deadly hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.

Since June, four visitors who’ve stayed at Camp Curry in its hard wall tents have contracted the disease.  Two have subsequently died.  The virus is carried by mice and other native rodents.  Park officials warn that at least 1,700 are at risk, potentially including Garry and I.
We've subsequently learnt that the tent zone we stayed in was closed permenantly for the season nine days after our stay. Apparently this particular zone was the hot spot for exposure to the virus. We now have to watch for symptoms of a disease that can take up to six weeks to appear.
Aside from the disappointing accommodation, everything else about Yosemite was truly memorable.  In fact, both of the National Parks we visited have been well worth the detour inland.  Nature has really been on show everywhere we go.  The wildlife has been abundant.  The redwood forests are simply awe inspiring. The USA is a nation of stunning natural beauty.

UPDATE: September 2, 2012
Following a terse exchange with the organisation managing accommodation at Yosemite National Park I've secured a list of cabins used by HPV inflected visitors.  I'm relieved to report that we didn't sleep in one of these cabins.  It's also somewhat reassuring to see that the affected cabins are clustered at least 50-100 metres away from our cabin.  This suggests that the exposure risk for Garry and I is potentially lower than average.
UPDATE: September 7, 2012
News today that a third HPV infected person has died.  The unfortunate victim contracted the disease in June, as did all others who've fallen ill so far.  We also learnt today that health authorities shut down Camp Curry after discovering infected rodents had been nested in insulation the fills void of its hard wall tents.  In other words, earlier attempts to disinfect the cabins were potentially inadequate as the ultimate source of infection had not been removed.

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