Monday, June 2, 2014

Yosemite, to cleanse my spirit

I've been kind of in a blah mood lately. We've recently lost a friend very unexpectedly. It's been a very difficult loss, as he was an awesome person, great friend, great dad, amazing husband. And it was so unexpected. And he was so young. And we miss him. And we live far away from his family, so we don't get to see them often. And when something like this happens, you question things. And there are no good answers. And that is hard. Especially for someone who likes answers, and fixing things. So sometimes, you just need to get away and go somewhere that makes you stop thinking so much. And for us, that is going deep into nature.

 One of my favorite things about our new home is the proximity to such great camping. We all got the "wander bug" early in the week, and since I was in a blah mood (see above), when my man asked on Thursday if I wanted to go to Yosemite for the weekend, I leaped at the chance. Most of our staple supplies are already stored in the rv, so I quickly gathered the food that we would need, and packed some clothes and we were ready to go!
Since it's nearly impossible to get reservations in Yosemite even when you try six months in advance, we decided to try a nearby RV Resort. We selected Yosemite Pines , a quaint r.v. park just 24 miles from Yosemite's entrance. It was great! Easy access, full hook-ups so we could take showers after our day out exploring, and almost our choice of sites since we were still technically in the off-season at the beginning of May. Full disclosure...our site's cable connection was missing the splitter so we couldn't hook up to it, but since we don't really watch cable while camping, it was not an issue for us. The employees at the park were very friendly and I'm sure would have been accommodating if we would have pressed the issue. Sites were pretty close together, but since it wasn't crowded at all, there was plenty of privacy. We still would stay during peak season, since we would most likely be at Yosemite all day anyway, just returning to the park for showers and sleeping. 
Our site was perfect, with plenty of room for the Winnie.
You can see the cute cabins in the background that are also available to rent.
A typical site. Each space had a picnic table, fire ring, and hookups (if applicable). Very pretty trees surrounded the place.
My kids were thrilled (Me: not so much) to see that the rv park has a petting zoo!! Fearing some weird petting-zoo borne illness, I told them they could watch the animals from outside the pens.
Well, along came the friendliest farmer, and you can see how long it took me to give in and allow them inside the petting zoo. I'm glad I did, as they had an awesome time, and I'm thankful to report we all survived without any bizarre side effects.

Saying hi to the donkeys, which were a little shy.
The kids and I were lucky enough to be there for morning feeding time. We visited the cute animals for a bit, then it was on to the park!
It took about twenty five minutes to drive to the park from Yosemite Pines. It took almost that long to wait in line to pay to get into the park. Seriously, there were quite a few cars and rv's lined up, but it was worth the wait. It's $20 to enter the park in car or rv. Here is a listing of other fees in case you are interested in a membership or other passes.

Determined to find a parking spot near Yosemite Village, we meant to drive directly to a large lot we remembered from our last visit. However, THIS stopped us in our tracks. Yosemite Falls in all of its glory! We pulled right over on the side of the road to take a closer look. Since we had arrived at the park so early, there was ample street parking. On our last visit to Yosemite, the waterfalls were barely existent, and we'd been in this very same spot with no water flowing. We were mesmerized by the falls. It was truly beautiful.

Even our little adventurers were moved by the scenery and kept posing for hilarious photo ops.
 I finally begged for a traditional pose, but I have a feeling in later years, I'm going to look back on their crazy antics and laugh at the fun memories. At least I hope I will. These are the thoughts that keep me (relatively) sane these days.
In case you're wondering, our little guy broke his collarbone (on the first day of Spring Break, and the first day of my In-Law's visit). Not a good day. But he's a tough little trooper and is already all healed.

 Our sweet kiddos with El Capitan behind them.
The kids' vests were a gift from their Grandparents. Our kiddos have formed their own adventure club, and their "Grammy" was so supportive, she bought them adventure vests with their club logo embroidered on them. We all love them!
 After taking in the gorgeous views of Yosemite Falls and El Capitan, we walked just a few steps away to see Bridalveil Falls pouring down. It was so pretty. The falls reflected so much of the bright sunlight that it was hard to look at; and even harder to photograph. You truly can't get the full beauty of these falls without a visit. I really recommend taking the short hike to see these falls. It's a simple walk, and at the end of the hike, you are rewarded with the cool mist of the falls soaking you. It's invigorating.

Ahhh...a sweet family photo...with a built-in clown who likes to make faces at the camera. Let's see how long this "endearing" phase lasts.
 As you can see, I just couldn't get enough of these falls. I wish I could describe the majesty of it all to you, but it is something you really need to experience in person.

On the way back to the Winnie the kids did a little rock-climbing.
Great parking right along the road.
The view just does not get any better than this!
Or does it?!
You've just gotta love Yosemite, where there's a breath-taking view around every corner.
So, we finally tore ourselves away from the falls for a few moments to park in the large lot (Day Use) in Yosemite Village. I highly recommend this as a central location for RV parking. From Yosemite Village, you can hop on any of the park shuttles (free of charge) to get to various trail heads or destinations within the park. It's extremely convenient.

The attendant even waved us into the adjacent lot with larger spaces for RV's and we didn't have to wait in the line of cars. Woo-hoo!

We walked out of the parking area and looked at one of our favorite views of Half-Dome and the Merced River. So pretty.

 Inspired by the view, I spent a good ten minutes propping up my camera on a boulder to get a timer-shot of our family with Half-Dome in the background. My patient family just hung out, knowing how I love to get a good family photo. Do you see it? What a great shot of..."HEY LADY, YOUR HEAD IS BLOCKING HALF-DOME!!" haha. That figures. But, we enjoyed the view anyway.

We hopped on the Valley Shuttle. Look at all the places it goes! Valley Shuttle Info It was VERY crowded, and I'm just gonna be honest here, everyone's idea of personal space is very different. Remember there are many international visitors to the park, who are much more used to packing into public transit, so you may have some very friendly tourists practically sitting on your lap. Oh well, it was free, and very convenient. So smile, and try to enjoy yourself.

Our first stop was for the Lower Yosemite Falls hike. We were not disappointed. It was truly beautiful.
 This is a shot of both Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls. Water was just pouring down over the granite cliffs. I could have just sat and watched for hours. Sadly, this is not an option with three active kiddos, but we enjoyed it anyway.
 The kids were amazed by the falls too.
 I felt the hike up to the falls was very easy, but it does have a slight incline. There were many people huffing and puffing up the hill, but it was a short hike and the reward at the end was phenomenal!

And there's our little clown again. I guess we are just going to have to get used to this. Christmas cards should be interesting this year!
I love these little munchkins.
At the base of Lower Yosemite Falls
 We stopped in the forest for a little picnic lunch. We were playing with the kids, and watching them explore the brook/creek/river? as we finished up. Suddenly, a tourist with a very nice camera walked right up to us, and started snapping photos. We turned around and saw that we could see another gorgeous waterfall behind us. Ha! With the sound of the water next to us, we didn't even notice the falls behind us.
 There are just so many gorgeous views in this park. Thank goodness for digital photography. Can you imagine the film I'd have used up in "the olden days?"
 We walked back to the Village, and were sitting down talking when we noticed a little spec on one of the cliffs. I used my camera lens to get a closer shot. Yes, it was a man up there!
 We kept watching as he rappelled (I don't know if this is the correct terminology since I'm not really into rock climbing and semi-afraid of heights).
 I watched, spell-bound, until my family dragged me away. But I am really in awe of any of you brave enough to do this sort of thing. It's definitely not my thing, but I admire those who can do it. Simply amazing.
 Just to give some perspective on how high the guy was, here's the cliff he was climbing on. You can see that little protrusion he's climbing from is insanely high up there. It was amazing.
So Kudos, little rock-climbing dude. You definitely got my award for bravery today. I'm still in awe. My palms were sweating from the meadow below.
As the sun was setting, and we were driving out of the park, this was our last view before darkness engulfed us. And it was so beautiful.

So we left Yosemite, and we still didn't have answers, and we still don't have our friend back, and we still can't keep his family from hurting. But the roar of the waterfalls crashing over the granite, the peaceful meadows with golden wildflowers and fleeting deer, and our goofy kids enjoying the scenery and playing, have given us a momentary respite from the constant questioning. And while I'm watching the beautiful waterfalls, with sunlight filtering through the trees all around me, I somehow feel closer to my loved ones...both the ones here with me today; and the ones that are now only in my heart and memories.


  1. Great post! I love Yosemite and can't wait to return someday. It looks like you all really enjoyed some time away. Very sorry to hear about your friend. Please take care and keep writing. I'm reading!


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