Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Yosemite


On Sunday, March 9th, we continued our drive toward the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and arrived at our destination.  (Incidentally, we drove from the Mountain time zone into the Pacific time zone, but the clocks changed to Daylight Savings Time that same day, so it was like nothing happened!)  

One thing we noticed as we descended the mountains into the valley of California was how agricultural it was.  It was so strange to think that just on the other side of the mountain range is the Mojave Desert , yet here we were in the land that produces over half of our country's annual produce.  We saw acres and acres of orange groves, vineyards, orchards, etc.  This was a great opportunity to explain to the boys about how and why this side of the mountain range was so fertile and the other side was so barren.  Gotta love those impromptu science lessons!
We checked into the Escapees Park of the Sierras, and spent the rest of the day enjoying the amenities offered, especially the free internet and cable!  This Escapees park is located in Coarsegold, California.  Coarsegold has its own little claim to fame.  Apparently it was the last stop for the California Gold Rush "Forty-Niners" as the tip of the mother lode was located in Coarsegold.  At one time, a huge gold nugget worth $15,000 (in 1849 money value) was panned out of the Coarsegold Creek.  That creek ran right through our campground!  Sadly, we didn't discover any gold on this adventure.

The next morning, Monday, we drove further into the mountains until we arrived at Yosemite National Park.  We came in through the southern entrance, and it was cold and drizzling when we arrived.  We took in the Mariposa Grove of sequoia trees before driving through the park to the main area of attraction. 

The road was very long and windy and took us the better part of an hour to arrive to the visitor center.  We stopped along the way to stretch our legs and saw a creek running through the park alongside the road.  It was a very quiet and scenic place to stop.  The weather was starting to clear up by this point.

We drove through a tunnel in a mountainside only to emerge with an incredible view of Yosemite.  In the distance we could see El Capitan (cliff), Half Dome (mountain), and Bridalveil Fall – three of the main attractions in the park.  By now, the weather was clear and sunny.  What a view!

As we continued to drive to the main part of the park, we stopped along the way to walk a short trail to the base of Bridalveil Fall.  As you approach the fall, you follow a rocky creek up to the base of the waterfall which was very beautiful.  It was a little chilly and wet as we got closer to it, but it was a stunning view of the waterfall that we had just seen from a distance. 

We drove the rest of the distance to the main area of the park, found parking, then walked to find some lunch.  We ate our lunch at Yosemite Lodge before deciding to walk a trail to the Lower Yosemite Fall.  We walked nearly right up to the base of the fall, and what a remarkable view it was!  The cliff towered overhead of us as the water ran in the river below us.  Huge glacial boulder littered the walkway approaching the waterfall, some much bigger than a house.  We enjoyed our nature walk through the woods before heading off the trail back to the visitor center.

At this point, Steve and the older boys broke off to walk along a boardwalk through a meadow while the younger boys and I went to the visitor center to listen to a Native American demonstrator.  He was showing the boys how to make a necklace out of pine nuts and talking about the ways of his people.  It was quite interesting to hear how the Ahwahnechee people lived in the Yosemite valley.

At this point, Steve and the older boys joined up with us.  We finished up the younger boys’ Junior Ranger badges, then ended our day by watching the park’s last showing of their daily movie.  Then we walked back to our car and started the long and windy drive back to our campground.  Because we had to drive so slowly, our trip home took two hours!  We had a busy day, and our two youngest boys fell asleep in the car on the way home.  I have to admit, their mom was pretty tired, too!  A day at Yosemite is definitely a day we won’t soon forget.