Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yosemite - Day 6: July 28, 2010

editorial note: decided I should finally finish this up.  It will come with a lot fewer photos and links because I'm tired and sick of the photo uploading situation... made a Yosemite photobook online yesterday and it took me ALL.DAY. and I am desperately sick of dealing with the photos.  You can see the photobook here (I think).

Today was our trip to the Valley.  Everything that we read prior to coming out here said that the Valley is very busy and crowded.  And it was.  We had been told by several people in the area that we should at least go see the Ahwhanee Hotel, so after talking with a guy at Glacier Point, we decided to go there for breakfast.  This required us to leave the room early to get down there for our 9:15 reservations.  The goal was 7:15, but we got out at 7:40.  We missed our reservations by 15 minutes, but they seated us without question in their grand dining room.

I have to say, the hotel is beautiful, BUT, because I'm not a visual, artistic, architectural person, the amazingness of the place was a little lost on me.  I could definitely see why people think it is so incredible, however, I would not have missed out on anything if we had skipped it.  And the breakfast, while decent, was not worth the price we paid ($80 for the 5 of us to have the buffet).

After breakfast we parked the car in Yosemite Village and began our walk to find a place to swim in the Merced River.  This was not pleasing to the girls at. all.  This was not a hike in the mountains with areas to explore, this was walking down the road or on a bike path to a place and they were sick of it and none too pleased.  We managed to ignore them well enough to reach our destination and everyone changed into their suits and we got to the beach.

The beach was very rocky and the water was very cold.  That didn't hinder Cornbread and Nodie from doing a little swimming, although they didn't swim for long.  Bugly also got in eventually, but was much more hesitant in doing so.  Skipper and I decided that going into the water to our knees was quite enough.  Cornbread tried to teach the girls how to skip rocks and I don't think he was successful, but he skipped several really well.  At one point Bugly and Skipper had asked him to bring them to a tree in the middle of the river and during the transport Bugly's flip flops came off of her feet and started floating down the river.  Realizing that lost flip flops would equal a barefoot trek back to the car - or a piggy back ride to the car - I took off after them as fast as I could and got much wetter than I originally wanted to in the process.

From the Merced we took a different route back to the car and stopped at a gift shop in the Village to buy some souvenirs.  Nodie's whole life became complete when she was allowed to purchased a small stuffed raccoon (earlier in the week I had told the girls that a souvenir did NOT = a stuffed animal, so she sat in the store for a long time and longingly played with the stuffed animals while the rest of us found our souvenirs... I finally got so sick of her attitude and the crowdedness of the store that I told her to just pick it out and lets go.  Her world brightened and she was happy for the rest of the walk).  We made our way back to the car and out of the valley, with a quick stop to snap some photos of Cathedral Rocks and El Capitan.

On the way back to the car it was decided that Cornbread would take Nodie fishing near the lodge and I would take the other two swimming in the pool.  This plan pleased everyone.  The girls and I hung out at the pool with Grant and Jana and Lane & Josie, while Cornbread and Nodie tried to fish at Bass Lake, but ended up swimming instead.  We all met back at the room for baths and showers and went down to the firepit area for our Farewell dinner.

The girls actually ate some of the dinner this time around as it included a kids buffet, and we sat with the McGraws again and asked them way too personal of questions :)  They are a wonderful family from Iowa whom we really clicked with.  Nodie and Lane (6 1/2) spent the evening climbing the hill and sliding down, Bugly and Josie (4) spent the evening trying to lick each other (and succeeding) and dumping dirt on top of each other (did I just mention they took baths before we went?)  Skipper was in on the Bugly/Josie thing, but also succeeded in getting Daddy to make her the perfect s'more - and then wouldn't eat it or let anyone else eat it.  It was a fun night, we met a few other people, but mainly hung with Grant and Jana.

I had gotten most everything packed before dinner, so we are set to go.  We decided today that we are definitely Yosemite'd out.  Had enough.  Every one of us.  And we're missing our Woof.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Yosemite - Day 5: July 27, 2010

Today's plans were to drive out to Tuolumne Meadows.  Tuolumne is in the high country of Yosemite and we knew to expect a long driving day - possibly 3 hours to drive there.  We decided to go in via Yosemite Valley (this is the big touristy area of Yosemite and is very crowded and busy) and out via Mariposa & Oakhurst.  The drive there was not bad.  We hit some construction and had a short wait, but because we were reading Harry Potter, it went by quick.  Right at the start of the valley we stopped at Bridal Veil Falls.  This is a gigantic waterfall and I have no idea why it was named Bridal Veil Falls.  At any rate, we hiked the 1/4 mile to see it and then climbed the rocks near the bottom to get a better look.  There were a whole lot of people there and it was quite crowded for 9:30am.  We stayed for a while and then continued our journey to Tuolumne.

The rest of the trip took about 2-2 1/2 hours.  We wound through some terrifying turns on Tioga Rd, but had some great views along the way.  My favorite view was approaching Tenaya Lake.  We could see a bright turquoise patch near the road up ahead.  It was beautiful from afar, but it was spectacular on the shore.  The water was dark turquoise and the lake was surrounded by granite mountain walls and distant mountain peaks.  We stopped and had lunch on the small beach and then Cornbread and Nodie went for a swim while Skipper, Bugly and I took a small walk along the shore.  We also collected a bag of sand because it has flecks of gold flakes and sparkled brilliantly in the sun.  I plan to put it in a pretty jar on my book shelf as a book end.

From there we got back in the car and drove to Lyell Fork, which is a fork of the Teneya river.  Cornbread and the girls wanted to do some fishing and the book we were using said this fork would be particularly good.  But alas, there was no fish to be found by our family.  And I was very irritated... not so into fishing, especially when it doesn't look like a fish could survive in the current of the river.  I'm sure there was probably some fish in there, but in my opinion it was a waste of time and the two little ones were antsy to go back to the lodge and go swimming (which was 3 hours away).  Skipper and I did some exploring along the river looking for a watering hole that they could swim in, but we didn't find anything without a current that was too strong for me to risk letting them go in over their waists.  I had to take the time to explain the situation to Skipper (that if she went under the current could keep her under and carry her away) and I think when she asked if I could survive it and I told her that I probably couldn't, she finally got it and resigned to the fact that she wouldn't be swimming in this river.  She was fine, but I think she was bored because the fishing was less than exciting.

On the way home we read some more Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets and I could not be happier that we brought it along with us and have been reading it in the car.  The drives are going so smoothly, with little to no complaining and no one asking if we're almost there or how many more minutes or any of the fighting or horsing around that usually happens in the back seat of the car on long road trips.  This book has been a miracle worker!  In the time that I am taking a break from reading they are even playing Harry & Ron and Hermione back there :)  AND, I <3 Harry Potter and Ron and Hermione and am more than thrilled to have an opportunity to read this with the girls. 

The weather today was 100% perfect.  The sky had 2 clouds in it - I actually looked around for some and saw just two off to the side.  It was a brilliant shade of blue, the sun was out, but it wasn't hot.  It was gorgeous.  We have been blessed with spectacular weather this week - not too hot at all.  It is lovely out here.

Cornbread and I have said several times that it would have been cool if he had gone on to grad school and gotten a job working in a national forest like this.  It is amazing to be completely submerged in God's creation.  Everywhere you turn you see something of incredible beauty and wonder.  It would be a haven for someone like me to spend significant time in these trails alone talking with God.  

But then again, if he wasn't working for Jones, we wouldn't have the opportunity to see God's creation at Steamboat or Cabo.  Both places that are equally as spectacular and beautiful albeit in different ways.  We really are blessed to be treated to these amazing trips.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Yosemite - Day 4: July 26, 2010

This morning we picked up our friend from home, David, to join us in Yosemite for the day. We were thrilled that he wanted to come with us as the girls - and we - absolutely adore him. After Cornbread and the girls picked him up we headed out to the park. Our plans were to get to Glacier Point today, but Cornbread had stopped at the concierge to find out if there were any kid friendly hikes near Glacier Point and had gotten a couple of ideas of some hikes to do before getting to GP.

We set out to climb Sentinel Dome:
We set out on the path, but quickly veered off in our own (Bugly lead) direction.  She definitely lead us astray:)  We had fun exploring, though, and thought we had gotten to the top of Sentinel Dome (we had no idea what we were doing or where we were going) and were thinking, really? so what

But as we went back to the parking lot, we found the actual trail and went in the right direction.  We met up with some hikers who had done the climb in the past.  He told us that it was the second highest peak in Yosemite (other than Half Dome) and that it was the best payoff of a mile hike and well worth the hike.  We were a little bit leary because of the girls and the size of the Epcot Center looking structure ahead of us, but as he said, we had to persevere - because it was worth it.

Once again, three little girls continued to amaze us.  It was not the hardest hike, but it certainly was not an easy hike at all.  And each of them breezed through it like it was a piece of cake.  As we got near the base of the dome, I got pretty nervous with wiggly children who like to run and one especially who tends to fall all.the.time.  But they were great.  I think they understood our nervousness and the potential danger of the situation and really stuck close to us and listened when we told them to stop doing something or to come by us.  The base offered some pretty cool views of the Yosemite Falls, El Capitan and of Half Dome, but the best was definitely yet to come.  

At the base of Sentinel Dome.  David looking over the valley, Nodie making her way to see what he was seeing.
David and Nodie at the base.  Upper Yosemite falls in the background on the right.
View of Half Dome at the base of Sentinel Dome.

We continued up the dome... it was a pretty steep climb that was completely on rock.  We were so happy to have David with us because he was an extra person to hold one of the girls' hands and help them climb up - we each had one girl to help.  

When we got to the top, it was breathtaking.  Seriously.  Honestly.  Breathtaking.  Like nothing I could actually describe.  We could see the whole Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Half Dome, Cathedral Rocks, Yosemite Falls, another waterfall, the Sierra Nevadas on the other side.  Mountains and peaks as far as you could look.  Nothing but mountains and God's creativity.  Nothing but amazing creation.  
The first thing I saw when Bugly and I finally got to the top.  My heart almost stopped:)

Our hiking team: Me, Cornbread, Skipper, David, Bugly and Nodie.  Half Dome in the background.
We stayed on the top for quite some time, just enjoying the view and taking tons of photos and finally decided to make our way back to the car and lunch.  Since we hadn't used the actual path for most of the hike, it seemed like a whole new hike on the way back and it was fun.  
Nodie taking in the view of Half Dome.
Cathedral Rocks on the left and El Capitan on the right.  El Capitan is the largest granite monolith in the world - just a giant wall of granite.
View of Upper and either middle or lower Yosemite Falls from the top of Sentinel Dome.

After eating lunch at the car, we got in and drove to Glacier Point, which was another spectacular viewpoint of the valley.  This view was a little lower, so we could see the layout of the valley a little bit better.  It was also beautiful and we were happy we did it after Sentinal Dome because we may not have taken the time to hike the dome otherwise.  
This is the actual point of Glacier Point.  Years and years ago, people used to dance on this formation, do handstands and all matter of life threatening things.  They have since been cordoned off and you cannot climb on them - which is good, because there is nothing to catch you if you fall.  You can also see Yosemite Falls to the right.
Yosemite Valley as seen from Glacier Point.
View of Half Dome from Glacier Point.

On our way back to the Lodge, I read a few more chapters of Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets.  We have been reading whenever we're driving for more than 10 minutes and the girls are completely engaged in this book.  It has made the driving portion of this trip so incredibly enjoyable.  The girls have been remarkably well behaved and good - I was definitely not anticipating things to be this great and easy.

We ended our evening by having dinner with Dave and Gramma at El Cid, a Mexican restaurant in Oakhurst.  We are again going to crash before 9:30. 

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Yosemite - Day 3: July 25, 2010

Today our goal was to get up fairly early and get into Yosemite early. We had been told by many sources that if you get there too late, there will be a wait at the entrance. So we were out of the hotel by 8:45am and we got right in. Our agenda was to see the giant sequoias at Mariposa Grove. Initially we planned to hike the 3 miles up to the upper grove and then hike back, but Cornbread found out that there was a tram ride that we could take to the top and hike down. It was not a planned expense, but it was definitely worth it.

The tram ride included radios with an interesting running commentary about the trees and the grove. We learned many things about the giant sequoias: they are weirdly resistant to diseases and insects, after they fall they refuse to decay, they can have the entire center (heartwood) burned out of them and still live, they have very shallow roots which intertwine with other giants to create stability, they fall due to heavy wind or snow storms (can you even imagine what it would be like if one of those thing toppled over?), the largest tree in the grove is The Grizzly Giant, which is 98 feet across and some of its branches are 7 feet across. These things are phenomenal. It is unreal to be near them and to see the girls next to them. I've seen them in books and pictures, but it is simply incredible to be right up next to them.
Bugly next to the roots of a fallen giant.
The girls posing by one of the giants.
Bugly is in this picture... looking for the Berenstein Bears' home.

We got to the upper grove and hopped off of the tram and hiked down. I would guess that we hiked between 3 and 4 miles with all of the meandering we did in order to see some of the famous trees up close and personal (Grizzly Giant, Telescope, Clothespin, Faithful Couple). We all had a great time exploring and following our noses. The hike was nicer near the uppergrove as it was just us and the forest. Near the bottom it was very busy with many tourists. The girls had a great time - we each had a walking stick and we stayed on the path, but had the liberty to veer off to see something cool. We hiked up a hill to see what was on the other side, we climbed giant rocks, we crawled through some trees, we searched and searched for the Bernstein Bears' house:) The last mile was a little rough as some little legs got pretty tired, but overall they did great.
Inside the Telescope Tree. The heartwood of this tree has been completely burned out and you can go in, look up and see the sky through the tree canopy.

We went back to our room to shower and change (it is dusty and dirty in the forest and we were FILTHY!) and then went out to Oakhurst to visit with a friend who lives there. Actually, one of our close friends had been at Calvin Crest Camp for the last two weeks and was at his grandma's afterward. He stayed in CA for a couple of extra days so he could hang out with us while we were here. We visited Gramma and David for a little bit and then they took us to Calvin Crest to show us around.

Calvin Crest is kind of a legacy in their family. Both of our friends, Doug & Jenny, were campers and on staff there, Gramma and Grampa were permanent staff there for 10 years, and both of the boys have camped there every summer since we've known them. Calvin Crest is kind of a big deal and we definitely enjoyed our visit there. Nodie would be old enough to go out there next summer, but I'm not sure we could swing the camp fee AND the plane tickets, but we'll definitely keep it in mind... camp in the mountains.

After our visit at Calvin Crest we went back to Gramma's for dinner. She made us a wonderful Tri-Tip dinner and we had a really nice visit. Again, we were all wiped by 8:30 so we came back and crashed in bed.

This is definitely our kind of vacation - active, up early, to bed early, doing stuff and being exhausted. However, I'm missing the beach vacations that we've done in the past and I keep telling Cornbread that while I'm having a great time, I'm ready for Belize next March LOL:) We'll see what is available by the time he earns the next trip, but I'm thinking a beach resort may be in order for the winter/early spring of 2011. I am definitely, definitely spoiled.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Yosemite - Day 2: July 24, 2010

Woke up and had buffet breakfast provided by Jones. Cornbread had a meeting, so the girls and I went back to the room and they watched some tv while I read my book. I brought them to the children's activities that were provided by Jones while I was supposed to join Cornbread in the meeting, but I ditched the meeting and went back to the room to read. (note: it is Tuesday August 3rd and I STILL feel guilty about ditching).

The girls were done at 12:15. After picking them up we went into Oakhurst to do some grocery shopping. Stopped at a fruitstand for some cherries and nectarines and went to the grocery store to get some food for breakfasts and lunches. (note: cherries at this fruit stand cannot be compared to cherries from the farmer's markets here. I didn't even finish them, they were so unimpressive.)

The concierge had spoken at Cornbread's meeting and told them about a hiking trail that was very close to the lodge so we decided to do that rather than try to get into Yosemite yet that afternoon. It was awesome. The hike was about 1/2 - 3/4 of a mile and ended at a waterfall with a bunch of pools. Cornbread and the girls had worn their swimsuits so they did a lot of wading and falling and getting wet. I was the photographer :) We explored as many pools as we felt comfortable doing (the higher we got the stronger the current and the deeper the pools were), and went back to the lodge to get in the real pool for a little bit.

Initially we had planned to go on a ChuckWagon BBQ dinner ride on Wednesday night, but after talking to a few people decided that we'd prefer to do a moonlight dinner ride on the Sugar Pine Railway. Two other Jones families with children close in age to our girls were also there. We had a good time eating dinner (of which the girls hardly ate anything) and riding the train through the forest. The train stopped at a firepit and we all got off and had about an hour of entertainment by The SugarPines - a group of three locals who played guitars and sang sing-along favorites. It was totally corny, but everyone had a good time. We then rode back to the station in complete dark/moonlight.

Got back to the room around 9:30 PST and crashed. Everyone is sleeping very, very well here.As of this day, Nodie has hated almost every moment of the trip. We've had to have several "conversations" with her about her attitude... I certainly expected that kind of thing when she was 12 or 13, but not at 8 1/2. Oh well, she can be miserable. WE will not be. She'll get better - hopefully.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Yosemite - Day 1: July 23, 2010

Today promised to be a horrible day... On Thursday, when I was supposed to be packing for a 1 week vacation in the mountains (read: summer clothes AND fall clothes) for our family of 5, I was actually bringing 3 children to the Minute Clinic to find out why they were coughing so much. Five ear infections, 1 case of bronchial spasms, and 12 prescriptions later I was finally home. The babysitter I had planned to have that afternoon to occupy the girls while I got the house cleaned and all of us packed got cancelled and instead I fit breathing treatments and antibiotics in between everything else. I ended up with everything done and that was all that mattered. BUT, our flights were leaving at 6am the next morning and we had to get up at 2:30am... so not much sleep was had by anyone in our family.

Two tired adults + 3 tired, sick children + 4 suitcases + 2 car seats + 5 carry ons + 2 flights + no inflight meals + 4 hour drive = misery. Thats what I expected.

And I was so wrong.

Not wrong about everyone being tired. We all were. But I was wrong about the misery. It was unbelievable. The girls were amazing and were incredible on both flights. They slept a little bit, but otherwise occupied themselves very nicely. The car ride was also fine (probably the worst leg of the trip, but it was still good). I was simply amazed. And very thankful.

We arrived at Tenaya Lodge around 3:30 PST (5:30 our time). The air smelled different. Clean. Fresh. Piney. Awesome! Our room was not quite ready so we took some time to explore the lodge and then went up to our room. Cornbread took the girls swimming while I unpacked EVERYTHING. I thought I had a little time to take a nap, too, but ended up reading instead (stupid Malcolm Gladwell... can't ever put his books down).

We went off to our Edward Jones welcome dinner, where the girls ate hardly anything. They were required to eat at least something before they could have their ice cream treat, so they complied and obeyed, but it wasn't impressive. They played with some of the kids for a little bit while we talked to the grown ups, but we were all exhausted and needed to go. to. bed.

Before bed, however, we went down to the parking lot and took a few pictures. We bought each of the girls a disposable camera for the trip and they were eager to take Day 1 photos. We climbed up a small hill on the side of the parking lot and had a mini-adventure where we found a giant pine cone and a log and a lot of burrs stuck in shoelaces and underpants:)

And then we went to bed and I barely made it past 9pm. It was a good day. We had our moments, but overall it was a surprisingly good day. Apparently, expecting the worst has its advantages :)

  © Blogger template 'Ladybird' by 2008

Back to TOP