Sunday we arrived in Yosemite National Park. It was somewhere in the 60's and partly sunny. Not too bad of a start to the day. There was a whole new land awaiting our exploration over the next two days. I remember thinking that if the rest of the park was as beautiful as the drive in, it was going to be awesome!
At one pullover spot we counted six waterfalls we could see from where we stood. Later on, during one of the evening Ranger progrmas, it was disclosed that all the waterfalls we saw now would be dried up by late August. That just didn't seem possible...but, it also didn't seem possible that it would ever warm up enough for people to enjoy the swimming pool they have in the park, either. If you saw and heard the amount of water flowing over these falls, you would have a hard time believing that just like I did.
Only as I posted these first two pictures here back to back did I realize something pretty cool...I took a photo of the very spot that's on the park sign. Isn't that awesome?!!
We spent the day driving and walking and enjoying the park. Our check in time for Curry Village was at 5 pm. We had all afternoon with no schedule but that of wherever our footsteps led us.
We hiked to Vernal Falls...the hike there was just as much fun as reaching our destination. We saw so much along the way. One of the favorites was this Stellar Jay that flew along with us. He'd fly from perch to perch and lead the way to the falls. Those birds are beautiful...and fast. It's almost as if he knew I was preparing to take his photo for he wouldn't rest long enough for me to get a really good photo of him.
The waterfalls we saw from the pathway were beautiful. As were the mountains, the stunning views of the valley, and the cute little squirrel who was sitting on a rock munching on a nut.
Creation exploded with God's glory everywhere you looked. Only the things that man added along the way would take away from what was otherwise perfect.
Yosemite is huge! The things we did were in the Valley part of the park. You could easily spend days there and not run out of hikes to take or new things to see. We had some funny moments along the way. After checking into our Curry Village tent cabin and placing everything that had a fragrance to it in a the bear proof locker, we set off to go to the evening church services at the Valley Chapel. We had about 20 minutes to get there and on the map it seemed that it would be enough. We had passed the chapel coming in earlier in the day. It was just past the "Swinging Bridge". On our park map we could see it...in reality we couldn't get there from here. Seriously. It was on a one way road and from where we were the road went in the wrong direction. After missing the acceptable time to even arrive late to church, we took the road that led you to the park exits and finally had gone far enough north to head back south and pass the chapel. All we could do was laugh at that point. At least we knew we weren't crazy for not being able to read a park map.
We had two nights in Yosemite...one in Curry Village and the second in the Yosemite Lodge. Our tent cabin was a tent on a platform with a lightbulb hanging from the ceiling, 3 twin beds, and one full sized bed. A padlock kept out others when you weren't home and a bear proof locker just outside your door held all of your food/toiletry items to help keep the bears out, too. Our tent cabin was a stone's throw away from the Village Lounge...a room with a fireplace, outlets, couches, tables and chairs...people were in there eating, chatting, going online, charging their whatevers, and just relaxing. We invited some other kids to join in an UNO game with us...it was fun meeting new people and sharing about our adventures.
The boys and Scott went out for the evening Ranger program while I stayed in the lounge to wait for my camera battery and cell phone to finish charging. By the time I went out to join them, I could see the lightning off in the distance. Alex was up on stage being the Ranger's helper during his talk about rock climbing. I could see Alex liking rock climbing one day...just so he could say he's done it if for no other reason.
Yes, indeed, the forecast was correct and rain moved in overnight. A cold (in the 30's), rainy night in a tent cabin with no heat does not make for a great night's sleep for me. Not at all. It was a long night and I was awake for most of it. I probably should have gotten up to see if the lounge was still open just so I could warm up, but I was afraid I'd be getting up and wet for no reason, so I just shivered where I was.
Morning did come finally and after some hot cocoa and shower I felt like life was returning to my body. I had packed for chilly weather, not necessarily for wet and cold. There's a difference. On my way back from the shower, I saw Scott and the boys at the morning Ranger program. Tim had just gotten off stage from helping with this one...he played the part of John Muir in a play narrated by the Ranger. He was pretty excited about being the helper!
I went on back to the tent and started packing up our belongings...it was time to get moving or the tiredness would catch up with me. I packed up our few things and walked them out to the car while Scott and the boys walked around for awhile. The rain had subsided and it was trying to warm up...by the time we left Curry Village, it was in the 40's. Oy Vey!
We drove over to the Village visitor center area where there's more to see and do. The boys picked out some postcards for family back home so they wrote them and we went to the post office in the Village. They thought that it was pretty cool that Yosemite had it's own post office...and I did, too.
By the time we were through visiting the Village area, we could check in to our Lodge room. Oh, I was so excited at the thought of being warm that night!!!
We moved our things into the room and then headed out to the trail that led to Yosemite Falls. It was just a short walk from the Lodge. You could hear the falls as well as see them from the parking lot. The sound reminded me of a low flying jet's rumble as they pass overhead. One of the rangers said that there's more water in the falls this year than there's been in 30 years. Perfect timing if you like waterfalls...which, thankfully, I do.
We walked with the rest of society to see Yosemite Falls up close and personal. I had thought that a Monday would be less crowded than the weekend, but it seemed more so instead. A lady who visits the park every year said that the crowd wasn't anything like it would be in another month or two. Probably 3 times the people will be there then. I can't imagine where they'll all fit.
As for the Falls, it was still hard to believe that what I was seeing won't be visible in a couple of months. Unbelievable is putting it mildly. As you came closer to the Lower Falls, the breeze created by the falling water carried with it spray from the Falls itself. Between my fingers freezing and my camera lens being covered with water in just a couple of seconds of being near the Falls, it's needless to say I didn't stand there and ooh and ahh for very long at all. Just long enough to snap a few photos and hope the lens wasn't too speckled with water.
After Yosemite Falls, the boys and I went for a bus ride in order to walk to Mirror Lake yet that afternoon. There's a free shuttle bus that takes you from point to point to point in the Valley so you don't have to drive yourself or walk everywhere. It had cleared up some and the temp was in the 50's by that afternoon, so it was a nice time for a walk.
The photos you see of Mirror Lake must be taken when the water stops flowing. There wasn't much of a mirror reflection happening because the water was flowing into and out of the lake rather quickly. Still a gook hike and beautiful part of the park to see.
An interesting turn of events took place upon our arriving back at our room at the Lodge. We had to change rooms due to a water main break which left us without water. It took some time and patience, but Scott managed to get the manager to understand that staying in our current room without a working bathroom even at a lower c
ost would not be a good solution for our family nor would putting us up at a hotel 30 miles out of the park. Moving to a new room worked out just fine. I'm glad they agreed. From our new room's porch you could see Yosemite Falls and even hear them when inside. It was the perfect sound for drifting off to sleep.
We were up and at 'em the next morning and off to our last stop, Reno, via another scenic route. Not the first route we had mapped out because there were a few roads still closed due to snow, but a scenic one nonetheless. Brief stops off along the way at Silver Lake and Lake Tahoe were refreshingly chilly and beautiful.
Truthfully, I was tired of living out of a suitcase and ready to be headed home. The kids enjoyed the Circus Circus Hotel's Midway games and shows. I enjoyed the idea that I'd soon be back in my own bed.
Turns out it was one more night in a hotel in Phoenix before that would happen. 4 flights and 39 hours after arriving in the Reno airport to fly home did we land in Atlanta. Flying standby always has its ups and downs.
It was good trip, but it was great to be home!