Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Break in Yosemite National Park

Spring Break in Yosemite National Park
March 26-April 1
(It's gonna be a long post :)

We were so excited to be back on the road again!  We have been very busy with family since Feb. 5th, and got to see and do so much.  However, we were ready for more adventures!!  

And we found it sooner that we thought we would!  
We decided to stay in a campground outside the park of Yosemite...for the number one reason of:
TIGHT AND STEEP MOUNTAIN ROADS!!!

Well... we didn't know that there are about 8 miles going UP just to get to the "outside the park" campground!

This picture just can't capture the steep and twisting road we traveled up...
we've been wanting to find the bumper sticker to put on the RV that says,
"If you think this is slow, wait until we get to a hill!"

We made it up the hill fine...a little stressed, but ok.  We're not looking forward to the DOWNHILL trip in a week :)

We stayed at Yosemite Pines RV Resort-
another GORGEOUS campground...all to ourselves!
We wish y'all were here!!
DT is keeping us safe from bears and mountain lions :)

Our little spot of heaven...#B19.  Plenty of room for friends :)
The next day we headed into Yosemite National Park!
I'm the only one in the family that has been here.  I was last here when I was Daniel's age, about 10 years ago....hee hee hee

Yup, there is still snow on the mountain tops of Yosemite, but not in the valley.

When you drive down the mountain road (Hwy. 120), the views are a-ma-zing.  Then you get into the valley and the views are amazing!  Everywhere you look takes your breath away.  I was snapping photos all over the place, but my camera just can't do the park justice.  It's times like this that I really wish I had a fancy camera...or knew how to edit photos!
Until then...enjoy the park through Coolpix, straight-out-of-the camera shots :)
---Unfortunately, on a cloudy day....

First views of the Yosemite valley...breathtaking!
Bridalveil Falls is off in the distance and that is the Merced River down the middle.
It was a cloudy day, so the picture of the sky/mountain tops kinda washout :(
At least in person we were able to really enjoy the views.




On our way to the visitor's center to start our time in the park, but it's really hard not to get distracted by the views!
Half Dome

We stopped by the visitor center to pick-up trail maps and junior ranger books.
I don't know how they can concentrate :)
Hanging' out with John Muir
Learning all about the native peoples.

Ok...enough time at the visitor center.  We have our trail maps and ranger books so... let's go explore Yosemite!!

First trail we decided to tackle:
Mirror Lake

I have fond memories of hiking to Mirror Lake in the summer with my mom and brother.  We were so hot and tired by the time we got there...we jumped in and swam out to the rock in the middle.  Problem was, the water was so C-O-L-D that we didn't want to get back in to swim back to shore!  I couldn't wait to show the kids:
Mirror Lake Trail
Half Dome in the distance
But first...the kids have to climb every rock and feel how cold Tenaya Creek is :)
I wonder if my brother and I did that, too??
Mirror Lake under Half Dome
It's funny...the hike didn't seem that long this time?  Hm...and Mirror Lake is much smaller than I remember.
Actually, Mirror Lake is smaller now because it is a seasonal lake.  As the snow really starts to melt, it'll get bigger and deeper.
I hope Yosemite NP ignites my kids' sense of adventure and provides lifelong memories...like it did for me.




We decided to hike a different trail back to the shuttle.

Goin' on a bear hunt...

What do Florida kids do while waiting for the shuttle?
They were being "lumberjacks", chopping away at the snow :)
They did this for-evah...and at every pile of snow!
We had a great first day in Yosemite...Jolie was snoozing before we even made it out of the park :)

The next day we knew was going to be raining, so we decided to hang-out at the camper and campground.  We had a wonderfully relaxing day.  Our campground is really great...they have nature trails, a playground, a volleyball court, a pool (that was closed), petting zoo, horseshoe pit, gold panning, and a real gold mine!  After a rainy morning, the sun came out in the afternoon...so out we went :)


This is a real gold mine!  They allow campers to explore it!
You go... no you go!
Hiking the trails around our campground.
We're a long way from all these places :)
The definition of hope:  gold panning believing that they are going to find real gold here.
There was a geocache right at our campground.  We drove past this a couple of times without realizing the treasure that it is:
This is the old Hangin' Tree from the gold rush days!  There isn't much left now, but in it's heyday this is where all the scalawags met their fate.
A close-up of the hangin' tree.  The woodpeckers now use it as their pantry!
Right across the street from our campground we found a new thing...
this is a benchmark.  They are all over the country.  The US Geological Society placed these when they originally surveyed the land.  We found these on the geocaching.com website.
Checking out the petting zoo.  Donkeys, alpacas, goats, and chickens.

Jolie said this was the best.day.ever!  Wow, and this after she spent the day before in Yosemite.  This got me thinking... they just want us.....there.  


We decided to spend one more day at the campground.  Everyone was tired and not feeling too well.  (We later figured out that we had a touch of altitude sickness!)


We had lots to do at the campground...so we took it easy and enjoyed our fun campground.  
Today the kids decided it was time to say good-bye to an old friend.  It was a sad moment, actually.  The kids have spent years listening to Adventures in Odyssey, praise and worship music, the Bible on CD as they fell asleep, and many...many kids program songs they needed to learn for church on this CD/tape player.  The player hasn't been working, so it became an engineering lesson for school :)  The kids took it apart to see how it worked!


Good-bye faithful companion.
After two relaxing and rejuvenating days at the camper... we were all excited about going back into the park.


First hike of the day:  Bridalveil Fall
Gorgeous creek that runs from Bridalveil Fall.

I was Monty's bride 20 years ago... 
The Bridalveil Fall
Time for a picnic!  Hm...where shall we go?  How about Swinging Bridge.  Yes, that's right...picnicking under Yosemite Falls!
Yosemite Falls top left of the picture and the bridge is also to the left, just out of the picture.
After lunch, we strolled across the bridge and played in the river.


This was our view during our picnic.
Swinging Bridge and Yosemite Falls
Boys will be boys...skipping stones.
We decided to spend the afternoon on a ranger led hike along the valley floor to learn about the wildlife.  While waiting for the hike to start, we toured the Ahwahnee village.



We discovered that this tree is called a "California Buckeye".  Seemed appropriate that my "Ohio Buckeye" pose with it :)


Time for the hike:

Our hike ended in this meadow...
Half Dome made a brilliant appearance this afternoon!
After the hike, it was time to turn in the junior ranger workbooks!


Taking the Junior Ranger oath.
Yosemite NP Junior Rangers
We made plans to stay at the campground on Saturday....another day of intermittent rainy weather AND we'd have to be back early anyway.... because Ohio State made the Final Four and we needed to cheer on the Buckeyes to victory!


Every morning at 8:00, they feed the animals in the petting zoo.  So, we went down this day to give them a hand.






The donkeys were Mary and Josephine (all their animals were female).  They were given the names because of the cross on their backs.
All of creation tells the story!
A cross on the back of a donkey!  Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey...wow.

Daniel loved feeding the chickens out of his hands and these two were fast friends.


The rain started a little after lunch...and while we were hanging out in the camper waiting to leave for the pizza parlor and the OSU game...something magical appeared outside:


Oh....SNOW!!!!
A real, spring snowfall!
The kids were so excited!  

Ball game time!  Go Bucks!!!
We were so happy it snowed!  We were saving our last day in the park to play in the snow play area.  It had been so warm all week we were watching the snow melt.  The snowfall made it down onto the valley floor!  It was magical seeing the valley with a coat of snow. 


Chains Required in Yosemite, unless you have 4-wheel drive :)

Cascade Creek

Throwing snowballs over the bridge and way down into Cascade Creek:


A beautiful spring day in Yosemite!




What a difference two days make...this is our picnic table from two days ago!
The Royal Arches


Yosemite Falls


Yosemite Falls...very inspirational :)
Photographer:  Daniel
Lower Yosemite Falls
The spring temps start to melt the snow pack and ALL of the waterfalls are spectacular!
Yosemite Falls Creek
Yosemite Falls Trail


After picnicking and a little morning hiking, we headed up the mountain to Crane Flat and the snow play area.
Thanks to sled run building lessons from Uncle Joey, the kids made amazing runs!






This run starts way up in the tree line!
Spinning all the way down!
Breaking out of the trees and building up speed!


One last adventure awaits us...
the return trip!

The only way out is... down.


Our spring break in Yosemite NP was awesome!  It was full of adventure and we made some precious family memories.


We're leaving our heart in Yosemite :)
Do you see the heart cloud over Half Dome?
This appeared while we hiked in the meadow on our last day...
this is a straight out of the camera shot!

We're spending the next week at Travis AFB to say good-bye to my family.  This will be our last time here.  :( 
We start our trip back east April 9th!  :)

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