Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Visiting Yosemite

What a whirlwind these last few weeks have been, and it's not slowing down until next week!  Someday my boys will look back at these stories and realize how crazy their mom was for planning so much into such a short amount of time.

Two weeks ago we were able to finally visit Yosemite National Park.  Though we've lived in California for over a year, it took us this long just to get reservations somewhere!  And, because I didn't realize you could book a year out, our next years trip will also be in the fall as opposed to the spring, oops.

Yosemite is about 3 1/2 hours from our house.  That's 3 1/2 hours for people without kids.  For us, it took us about 4 1/2 to get there and about 5 to get back.  There were several stops to feed Jesse, grab a bite to eat, and let max burn off energy at a park.

When we first drove into Yosemite, around 1pm, we were immediately entranced by the beauty of the mammoth granite mountains.  When we came upon a 3500 foot sheer granite face, there was no question that we were looking at El Capitan.  Simply stunning.

El Capitan

Because of the severe drought in California, many of the iconic waterfalls were dried up or slowed to a trickle.  There was no point in visiting Yosemite Falls or many of the others.  So we opted to spend our time and take a grand overview of the park.

Our first day we hiked to the Vernal Falls footbridge, about 1.9 miles round trip on the Mist trail.  It was slow going and Max was carried most of the hike.  Not because his little legs couldn't do it, more on that in the next post, but because the sweet simple developing mind of a little child is just as amused with the rock on the trail as he is with the destination and the journey.  Every step, every rock, ever puddle is a journey to him.   I try to sit back and watch and just take in all the little moments.... but at some point you've gotta keep moving!

starting the trail

hiking up the trail

We made it to the footbridge.  Jesse was not amused.

After Vernal Falls we had dinner at the curry village pizza patio and beers from the bar right beside it.  The patio was very lovely, pizza was on the good side, and the beer, Tioga Sequoia Half Dome wheat, was delicious.

After dinner we checked into our hotel, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, and crashed out.  (at 3 months old, we didn't think Jesse was quite ready for camping, so we opted for the lodge).  Our room was small but had enough space for a pack and play and even had a queen bed and a double bunk bed.  Somehow Jeremy or I wound up in the bunk bed and Max wound up on the queen with the other one of us.  Still not sure how that happened each night.

The next day we did the Cook's Meadow hike.  We started across the street from bus stop #6 and more or less followed the directions online.  We had spectacular views of the valley and half dome.  We stopped at Degnan's deli for some lunch sandwiches to go and hit up the gift shop for a shirt for Max and Jeremy.

Cook's Meadow

Loves the binoculars

Simply stunning

After returning to the room to finish our sandwiches, we headed down to the Swinging Bridge (doesn't swing at all) and spent a few hours on the beach.  The Merced river that runs through Yosemite has several small sandy beach spots that are perfect for escaping the heat.  We had just purchased a beach canopy and between the mesh sides and the small portable fan, Jesse was in heaven.  The water temperature was about 70 degrees, but it felt so great.  For a while I just sat in the water looking up at the granite mountains thinking to myself how lucky I was to be able to visit such a beautiful place.  We enjoyed our time at the beach so much that we actually went back two days later to have some more water fun.

Best beach ever.

That night we drove up to Glacier Point for sunset.  It is very beautiful up there, but absolutely terrifying if you have kids.  I made Max stay in the stroller the entire time, only getting him out once to see the view.  And that one time he was out, I had the biggest death grip on him.  No no no no no, just sitting here typing I can't even think about it.

Family photo then back in the stroller

Glacier Point

The next day we headed up to Tuolumne Meadows.  Now, if you know anything about the geography of Yosemite, at this point you are probably wondering why we decided to do glacier point and then Tuolumne Meadows back to back.  The answer is simple.  We didn't fully appreciate how far away Tuolumne Meadows is from Yosemite Valley.... we do now!

After being very ansi in the car, I was ready to get out anywhere.  A quick stop by Tuolumne Meadows visitor center provided us with a map and a plan.  We decided to park at Lambert Dome, eat lunch that we brought (sandwiches from Degnan's again), then walk down to Soda Springs and the Tuolumne river.  It's about 3/4 of a mile in each direction, but it's a nice walk through open meadows culminating at a river and a cool geological attraction.

soda springs

photo op!

one of my favorites.  check out flickr for a better rendering.

Saturday was time to leave, but we decided to spend most of the day in the park and head out closer to dinner.  We stopped by the visitor center before heading back to swinging bridge and the Merced river.  Just as before, we throughly enjoyed our swim time.

We had a great time in Yosemite and will definitely be visiting again in the near future.  Make the jump HERE for the rest of the pictures.

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