Monday, September 14, 2015

And we're back! Yosemite was pretty awesome and I think we're calling first family vacation a success!

Getting some early morning breakfast in.

I would say Therese qualifies as a morning person, but this baby is happy most of the tine.
Since our hotel didn't start check in until 4pm, we drove straight into Yosemite Valley from Berkeley.

We parked and used the shuttle to get to the visitor center. Therese was so happy to be out of the car seat!
 I really love visiting ranger stations. We also got John one of these little Passport to Your National Parks books that you can stamp like a real passport at the ranger station at all of the parks/monuments, etc. in the National Park system.
Here I am thinking the mountains would be cooler than our little Berkeley heat wave...
 We drove over to swinging bridge and had a picnic next to the river. It was pretty hot already, so the breeze and shade felt so nice! Therese decided she had had it with the heat and put herself to sleep.

John enjoyed some rock throwing. Probably the most scenic rock throwing picture he will ever have.
 We did the Falls hike, but there are no longer falls. There is a moistened sliver of cliff and a rock garden. I'm deciding it still counts as finding the falls on our letter F scavenger hunt since the name of the hike was falls.

We also found a fawn at the end of this hike! A total of three fawns were seen, but this one was REALLY close to the path so John could really tell what it was.
Sad result of the drought.
 Matt was super husband and arranged for a babysitter with the hotel for our first night so we could have a date night!

We took the kids for dinner first. They got to order off the kids menu for the first time! Typically they just get a smaller plate of what we're eating.

John got mac and cheese and Therese got a quesadilla.
 We decided that it was probably our most productive date night ever due to the zero travel time. We got to go to dinner, get drinks, play pool, walk around, and STILL have plenty of time to get back.

We left early the next morning for Glacier Point. We had learned our lesson that earlier in the day would be better for babies need to beat the heat.

Plague is endemic in California, but there have been a few cases lately. Put a whole new importance to my rule about not sticking your hands in dark holes.
 On all of these hikes people were so nice! I'm pretty convinced that Yosemite gets really nice foreign tourists.
They were all very impressed with Matt for wearing the baby. He got so many "atta boy" type remarks.
Busy being super dad in front of Half Dome.

I should have added fog to the scavenger hunt but it became difficult to tell the difference between the fog and settling smoke from the forest fire.
John liked looking the waterfall that WAS actually flowing on the other side of the valley. It was one that required some serious hiking to get to. Maybe we'll do that when he's 5.

This is the best picture I could get of the forest fire.
 The Tenaya Ridge fire had been reported the day before we arrived. Conditions were not too bad in the main parts of the valley, but North ridge hiking and backcountry sites were evacuated and closed.

Pretty feather! Check that off the scavenger hunt list.

John was having some deep thoughts here.

John called this "the castle".

Dirty shoe contest! I think I win.
 We made sure to head back on the earlier side the second day. On the way back we stopped in Wawona to check out Pioneer Village.

Therese had never seen string cheese before, but she decided they made fine teethers.
 Pioneer Village was neat. To get there from the parking lot you have to walk over a covered bridge built in 1857.

The whole place is filled with representative buildings from this earlier period of valley history. John's personal favorite was the Powderhouse Jail Cell.

They actually did keep prisoners in there sometimes back in the day. However, the one time they put two auto thieves in there they just dug their way out. So maybe not a high security option. 

He found the chain and started trying to hook it on. He has great aspirations. 
 We spent the rest of the day at the hotel. We stayed at Tenaya Lodge and they had a pretty great pool area for little kids. Think giant wading pool with zero entry, mushroom dripping water structures, and built in water guns!
Built in water gun in action!
 We checked out early our last day so we would have enough time to stop at the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County.

It was eerie throughout the valley. The combination of farm activity and smoke from the fires made everything look yellowy-orange and hazy.
Eerie sun. This picture doesn't do it justice, but the sun looked very red.
 The fossil center was a big success with John. It's next the Fairmead landfill which apparently happens to be the site of one of the largest middle-Pleistocene fossil excavations in North America. It's still an active site with Paleontologists following the earth movers, staking flags were they seeing anything promising, and excavating it. Once the excavations are complete, they fill the hole as landfill.
John was very impressed with these sculls.

The magnifying glasses to look at small bones, shells, and rocks were also  big hit.
 For $4 you can participate in a mock dig! They give the kids a bucket, shovel, and brush and teaching them some unearthing techniques. They also give the parents an identification guide to you can tell what animal the mock fossil is meant to be.

Therese got some tools to play with for free.

So much dusty dirt!
 They also had a native plants pond where we found frogs (check on the scavenger hunt list!) and a replica Yokut building.
Apparently if you set Therese inside a Yokut shelter and leave she is not fazed.
It got really really hot on the last leg of the drive through the Central Valley. Here's proof!
We had a lot of fun doing this. Here's the review of how we did on the scavenger hunt list.
ü fossils
ü flowers
ü fawns
ü fire (forest and fireplace)
ü flying
ü forest
white fir tree
ü ferns
ü feather
ü fog
ü frog
ü falls (as in waterfall)

Pretty good!


  1. I can't imagine why you didn't find frost! ;)

    Looks like it was a wonderful family vacation! And I've heard Tenaya is a wonderful place to stay. We've never done Yosemite as a family, but it is definitely high up there on the list of places to visit. I'd love to camp there but I think most of the sites are done by lottery. Hard to grab a spot!

    1. Thanks Laurel! Since we went the week that a lot of school started, there appeared to be a lot of camp site available. I think it depends on what type of camping you want to do. If you're going to really cool site backwoods, it's going to take a while.

      Your girls would probably love it!


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