California Vacation 2011: Yosemite Arrival

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After our weeklong vacation to California and three national parks, it definitely feels good to be back home. Jason and I saw a lot and experienced a lot over the course of a week. Some of it was really good and some of it was really bad. But that’s how vacations go – they can’t all be amazing, and you have to take the good with the bad.

Once again, Jason and I appear to have gone on a picture-taking bonanza – 826 pictures to be exact. It is less than last summer’s Yosemite trip, but not by much. After a couple hours of uploading, titling, and tagging photos last night, I was ready to smash our cameras…and I’m only a quarter of the way through  😐

But the number of photos is all for the good. So with that, let the recaps begin!

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Traveling to Yosemite National Park, our first stop on our California vacation, didn’t go as smoothly as last year. For starters, our flight was pushed back about an hour due to air traffic delays in San Francisco. While not a huge deal, our only concern was the 4-5 hour drive ahead of us once we landed – we definitely wanted to make it to our destination before dark.

Compounding the issue was my forgetful streak this time around. Last summer, I don’t think I forgot a single thing. This year, while nothing major, I blanked on little items here and there. The one that delayed us after arriving in San Francisco was the audio auxiliary cord to hook up our iPod, with my “great outdoors” mix, to the rental car. So on the way out of the city, we needed to find a store where we could pick one up.

The other hang-up: finding an In-N-Out Burger. This proved more challenging than it should have. My In-N-Out app didn’t communicate very clearly with Google Maps. Fortunately, we weren’t taken too far off course, and we found a Best Buy en route to lunch. The hunt for In-N-Out was totally worth it. My Double-Double, Animal Style was AMAZING!

We wasted about an hour in Dublin, CA.

Finally, we got on track.

En Route to Yosemite

En Route to Yosemite

En Route to Yosemite

En Route to Yosemite

En Route to Yosemite

En Route to Yosemite

This year, our end-point in the park required more traveling. We stayed in the “High Country” and had to drive about an extra hour to get to the Tuolumne Meadows area. At least it’s a beautiful drive.

First glimpse of the mountains.
En Route to Yosemite

En Route to Yosemite

Tenaya Lake!
En Route to Yosemite

Descending into Tuolumne Meadows.
En Route to Yosemite

En Route to Yosemite

Finally, we arrived at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge around 7:00pm. We quickly checked in and were fortunate to still make dinner. The Lodge offers communal dining, and reservations are basically required. Unfortunately, the phone lines had been down for days (I don’t know that they were ever restored before we left), so we couldn’t make contact with the Lodge before arriving. Luckily, there was space for us at the last available dining time. With no other dinner options in the immediate area, it could’ve been a long night.

With an hour to kill before dinner, we explored our home base for the next couple of days.

The Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River runs right along the camp and includes Miller Cascade.
Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

The view downstream: Sierra Nevada peaks in the distance.
Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Closer to the top of the cascade.
Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

We dined that night we a family from Spain. It was nice, but the language barrier made conversation a little more challenging. The father spoke English, but neither his wife nor little girl did.

We also came to learn the cost of dining in the High Country. The Lodge offers the same basic menu everyday with the only variety coming in the form of the “Chef’s Nightly Creations.” There’s a different chicken special, vegetarian special, and mountain trout special every night. That first night, I had the vegetarian special…at $19! Jason had their Sierra Flat Iron Steak for $27!! And unfortunately, neither was very good (we’re talking a teeny tiny steak for Jason and crunchy rice for me). We learned our lesson and made better choices the next couple of nights.

The thing we had to keep in mind is that even though we were staying in a developed space, we were essentially surrounded by wilderness. We were at least a half-hour drive from the nearest town (down a very steep and winding road) and an hour from Yosemite Valley. Unless we brought food of our own (which we found people in-the-know did), we had no other options for dinner.

After dinner, we cleaned up in the communal bathroom facility (which our tent was right next to) and settled in for the night.

Brace yourself for what some of you might find shocking…

No electricity! We lived by candlelight…and a couple of flashlights.
Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Blurry shot of Jason getting our nightly fire going. Temps dipped well into the 30’s that first night, but the fire kept us comfortable.
Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

With the fire burning, we tucked ourselves in – with our sheets, three wool blankets, and comforters – for our first High Country night.

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3 thoughts on “California Vacation 2011: Yosemite Arrival

  1. Shari

    Wow, this looks so fun! We love the outdoors and camping, so this would be right up our alley. I definitely need to add Yosemite to my bucket list.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. Janet

    I’m simply in awe of how my daughter has become such an outdoors gal. Just started to look at your wedsite so I have more pictures to check out . . . so far they are beautiful.

    Love ya,
    Mom

    Reply

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