Saturday, July 9, 2016

Yosemite {Tahoe Trip Day 2}

We woke up early (not surprisingly), breakfasted, and hopped in the car to drive to Yosemite! Yosemite was a two-hour drive and we honestly debated whether we wanted to spend four hours of our day driving--but goodness are we glad we did. We officially entered Yosemite after only about 15-20 minutes of driving, which meant that the other 1.75 hours of our drive, first way up into the mountains, then way down into the canyon to the hike and visitor's center were absolutely ridiculously beautiful. I lost count of how many deer we saw. There were meandering streams (my favorite) everywhere, waterfalls around every corner, and trees stretching so high we couldn't see the tops. The kids started this thing where they counted the height of trees in how many Daddys it would take to equal the height of the tree. Ryan had to ask me to stop gasping in awe because the drive was a little treacherous and my gasps were making him nervous.

Our first hike--Bridaveil Fall--was short but beautiful. You wind on a short path next to a river and don't really have a view of the fall until you come to the end of the path, which is at the base of the waterfall. There was enough mist to be super chilly--we are used to the desert--but we braved the wet long enough to take an appreciating view of the waterfall, which truly was beautiful. Yosemite is home to many waterfalls, and luckily for us, we visited the park during spring runoff, which is the peak waterfall time. During the fall months, some of the falls dry to only a trickle!

After Bridalveil, we drove further into the main part of the pakr and found our parking spot for the day. We walked to the visitor's center, briefly wishing we'd brought our bikes like we'd originally planned when we saw all the people who were enjoying the bike/pedestrian walkways. But, we did realize that the park was busy enough that bikes maybe wouldn't have been quite so enjoyable. One day we'll go back with bikes. We arrived at the visitor's center and Ryan asked a ranger what we absolutely HAD to see (he's awesome like that and asks this question of rangers at every park we visit), we picked up our traditional postcards and got a stamp in our passport, and we roughly planned our day.

The first thing on our list of must-sees was Yosemite Falls. This was another very brief but very beautiful "hike"--more of a walk with the paved trail. The falls were ridiculous. In a good way. The boys were quite excited by a squirrel we saw, but aghast at the person TRYING TO TOUCH THE SQUIRREL. Hadn't this visitor read the signs about the squirrels carrying the plague? Didn't they know you weren't supposed to touch the squirrels? I love our little rule followers. Ryan dared the boys to give a stranger a high five on the way down from the falls, but neither would try, which wasn't really surprising. I probably wouldn't have, either :)

We were all hungry by this point, so we decided to hop back on to the park shuttle to find a good picnic spot near the next hike we wanted to do. We took an unexpected detour, though, when we saw a cool looking house right next to a shuttle stop. We needed to find out what this house housed (see what I did there?). The house turned out to be a conservation center, where the kids had fun coloring for a bit while Ryan and I talked to one of the volunteers there. Right across from the house was another intriguing looking site--a campground named "housekeeping." We went to check out the campground and decided we'd be returning to Yosemite sometime in the future and camping there. The sites are kind of hard to describe but are basically permanent tents--they are made of a canvas-y material and are enclosed on three sides, with one open side. Inside are a queen bed and bunk beds. There's an eating area right outside and the entire site backs up to the river. We'll be back, housekeeping.

Anyway, we were even more hungry now, after our unplanned detours, so found a good-sized log overlooking the river and enjoyed our picnic. Many squirrels got unnervingly close, so every few bites, we'd have to yell or something to scare them away. We started referring to the squirrels as "plague" rather than squirrels. A beautiful blue-black bird also came to keep us company, I'm sure hoping to be fed, too.

Instead of going back to our originally planned hike after lunch, we decided to explore where we were. There was a bridge not far from us crying out to be crossed, so we did that, then followed a trail through the trees. The boys, of course, immediately found sticks to carry. Reed has this thing with sticks. He's always loved them and always find at least one to carry on every hike we go on. Ryan showed off, balancing a rather large stick vertically on his hand for a few steps. We were the only people on our "trail," which was refreshing after being surrounded by lots of people for the better part of the day. Our trail eventually crossed the road, then led to a huge field with a terrific view of half-dome. We kept following the trail, eventually crossing another road and coming to a T. We decided we'd probably better figure out where we were, so pulled out the map and remained thoroughly confused for a good few minutes. Finally, we kind of figured out where we were and decided to walk up to the next shuttle stop. On the way, we saw a really cool rock structure on the side of the road as well as more views of half-dome. Our unplanned detours were my favorite part of the day. We had so much fun tramping through the trees (on a path, we're not barbarians!) without anyone else around, kind of in our own little world. I feel like we really got to enjoy Yosemite by walking around and taking in the animal sounds and the river rushing by us and the enormity of the trees we were walking among.

We were pretty tired by now, so decided not to go on our next planned hike (Mirror Lake), but to finish the shuttle loop, then head back to our camp site. The drive in to Yosemite was pretty crazy and we didn't want to be anywhere near that road in the dark. We did make a brief stop at the stables to see the horses, then walked to the next shuttle stop because it wasn't far off. On our walk we got to walk through this really cool rock tunnel built into the bottom of the bridge--and, of course, throw rocks into the water. We eventually finished the loop and made our way back to the car.

We made the drive back to June Lake without incident (and with me withholding from gasping every few seconds) and decided to eat at a restaurant in two instead of roasting hot dogs at our campsite--we were all hungry and possibly approaching hangry so we knew we shouldn't mess around, haha. We noticed that a storm appeared to be rolling in, and a quick check on the weather app confirmed that it was supposed to rain MOST OF THE NIGHT. We'd had a close on the weather in the days leading up to our trip and hadn't seen a hint of rain in the forecast, so this was an unexpected twist. We were tent camping, planning on leaving the next morning. We knew we'd have a miserable night if the rain brought on the insanity winds of the day before. And all our stuff would be muddy in the morning--stuff we'd have to pack in the car, leave in the car for our week in Tahoe, then clean back in Vegas. Yuck. So I hopped on priceline, found literally the cheapest hotel in Carson City, and as soon as we finished eating we hopped back in the car to drive another two hours. The kids were good sports and, because they were so tired, zoned out to Curious George for the first hour or so until we turned off the movie and encouraged them to sleep. They were almost all soon sleeping. (Someone stayed awake, but I can't remember who it was. Either Lila or Reed.) We gained a lot of elevation on the first part of our drive, so enjoyed the setting sun for a long, long time--many times, just as the sun appeared to be going down, we'd crest a hill and have a clear view of it again!

Finally we arrived in Carson City to find that I'd booked a room with one king bed. In my defense, I'd gone for the "special deal" and didn't realize until after I'd booked it that the listing had no detail on bed arrangements. We made a bed for the boys on the floor (they're good sports) and a bed for Lila on this weird little built in bench that was next to the sink. It was the perfect size for her, really, and worked out well. Once we'd tucked the kids in, I went to the grocery store in search of ice cream for Ryan and I. My search was successful. I even remembered to buy spoons!

Now on to the part I have the most trouble with: ending a blog post. Let's just say THE END and call it good.

 These trees were about "15 Daddys" tall.

 Bridaveil Falls

 Bridalveil behind thug-life Lila.

 Yosemite Falls.

Our friend Plague, the squirrel a visitor was trying to touch.

 Our most successful shuttle seat--the whole back row!

 The bird friend who wanted lunch.

 The view from our picnic spot.

 Reed and his "little" stick.

 Counting tree rings.

 Ryan showing off.

 Wow! This was the meadow we walked across.

Before we left our campsite, we had to take a picture of the kids in the bear box. Ryan had told them scouting stories involving bear boxes and they were pumped to see one in real life!

 Part of the never-ending sunset.

 Jae Jae's special bed!

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