Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Grandad Visits (and Papa too)

Thanks for the dinner and for indulging Stephen in a trip to Best Buy Saturday night.
My favorite line of Brooklyn's during this visit was, "Granddad, you're fun to play with!"
Granddad's responded, "Most people think I'm too old to play with."
It's best when Brooklyn repeats it and imitates Granddad's voice.
Brooklyn took this one of me and Stephen.
The boys.
Thanks to Papa also (my dad) for leaving home at 5:15 AM in order to meet up with us here at 6:45 AM. Thank you Ted for changing your plans to hop over to San Diego from Arizona to ordain Stephen to the office of a high priest. What a whirlwind weekend!

Brooklyn's Little World

Brooklyn has long enjoyed posing for pictures. Now she thinks it's a really cool trick to sneak around and play photographer. Here are a few of her latest poses, creations, and snapshots. "Mom, take a picture of me"
Brooklyn,"Mom can I please do finger painting today?"
Me, "Okay, but first I need to clean up the patio."
Brooklyn then proceeded to take care of the clean-up herself. Ian supervised.
Here's a very candid picture Brooklyn got of her brother. Kinda funny I think.
Here she snapped one of Stephen working on some pizza dough.
Finally, Brooklyn displays her paintings. Thank you Rebecca for taking the time to do art with my child. Since you've returned home, she has a huge interest in all things art. She now sits and colors for nearly an hour at a time and often invites me to join her.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Yosemite: Day One

None of our trip would have been possible without the help of Rebecca and Taber who kindly cared for our children while we ventured out to Yosemite for 3 days. Thank you!
Can you believe this charming hotel was built in 1870? It was one of our first sights inside the park from the south entrance. So cute!
Cindy, your cottage is waiting...
Again this is for Cindy, in case she was missing a photo from her family tree. Actually this picture was inside the Wawona Hotel for some reason. Henry Washburn, according to Wikipedia, didn't seem too much involved in the history of Yosemite, but he did explore Yellowstone in 1870 and a mountain there is named after him. Go figure.
Inside the lobby of the Wawona...
This was off to the side, where not many people were hanging out....obviously.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mariposa Grove and Wawona Point

Lots and lots of big trees. I really liked the red bark on those giant sequoias. Wawona Point had some pretty cool views.

Sunset on Half Dome from Glacier Point

I know there are a lot of you who can only stand SO MANY pictures of the same view, so if that’s you, skip this post. It is the sun setting on Half Dome from Glacier Point. Each picture shows the shadows growing larger and the visible, sun-kissed part of Half Dome shrinking down to nothing. I am very sorry, but at least now you’ve been warned!

We stuck around for the Ranger Talk at 7:45 PM. It was well worth it. It was then that we laughed at his animated humor and learned quite a few things about the history of Yosemite. I love how Ranger Dave started off his speech with the top 10 dumbest questions he's been asked by tourists there at Yosemite. Some examples: How long is the four mile trail? and "I've looked all over this map and I can't find Old Faithful anywhere!" Another one, "I'm thinking about hiking Half Dome later this afternoon." (The Half Dome hike is an all-day affair, lasting 10 - 12 hours on average.)
One thing that was interesting was that tourists used to come visit Yosemite to watch the very popular firefall started by John Muir. Another cool thing we discovered is that Half Dome, John Muir, and Yosemite Valley are pictured on the back of the California quarter. We also learned that buffalo soldiers were some of the first park rangers here at Yosemite.
We also chatted with a few other people who sat near us on our comfortable rock that we claimed upon arrival. It was a mom, a daughter, and the daughter's boyfriend. The whole time we talked with them, I wondered about the goofy-looking visor that the mom was wearing which read, "Love your dentist," or something like that. I finally got up the courage to ask her about it, figuring her husband was a dentist. To my surprise, she said, "I'm the dentist!"
I don't know why, but it completely took me by surprise. That was just about the last response I expected out of her. She just looked like another regular tourist. There were lots of people who we chatted with there that I wondered about their "real/normal life" because at the park, I felt like we were all on equal grounds as campers, hikers, and observers/tourists.
Amazingly, maybe as much as half of the people at that ranger talk were visiting from another country.
Thank goodness we had driven up here and didn't have to walk home in the dark...
Many a dark, winding roads later, we actually found our campsite .... and those lovely headlamps that Stephen always brings to camp. Mine gave me a headache though because I'm pretty sure the last person to wear it was Ian and I didn't think it necessary to adjust it.... wrong.
So, up went the tent, and out of the car came the food. Then the food, toiletries, and all things scented were tucked safely away into the metal, locking bear-box provided at each campsite.... and out of the tent-doubling VW bug came some neighbors wanting to share our bear box because they actually didn't really have a campsite of their own reserved. They were sort of illegally parking there overnight and didn't want to get their car ripped open by hungry bears I guess.
We FINALLY ate a "real" dinner around 11PM. Thank you, Saiko for warning us that real food would be slim pickin's around here, and super expensive at that. So, a couple cups of boiling water plus a bag of dehydrated mountain man meal plus nine minutes of those two things combined in the thick metal bag, sealed, equaled our dinner. WHAMO! Beef stroganoff, coming right up!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Yosemite: Day Two

When we awoke on day 2, I was pleasantly surprised at how cute and woodsy our temporary home turned out to be, since we set up camp in complete darkness. I felt like I had walked into a Disney movie (minus the tent). Birds chirped, squirrels scampered, every friendly creature seemed to ready to great me at the break of dawn. All I needed was the bluebirds to bathe me behind draped towels and squeeze water over my head to complete the feeling.
Now what really happened is my hubby hooked us up with some freshly cooked oatmeal. What was I doing to prepare for my next all-day date with the handsome chef/husband? Actually, I was freshening up with about twelve baby wipes and splashed freezing cold water on my face in the dimly lit camp bathrooms while squeeze-holding my toiletries bag between my thighs, thankyouverymuch.
As we rode toward the Yosemite Valley from our campsite at Hodgdon Meadow (better known as campfire in a forested capsule) we were awed by all the cool scenery that we had missed in the darkness, heading the other direction toward our campground the night before. We pulled over a few times to photo-document it. This is a view of Yosemite Valley, near some cool tunnels.
This however, is not to be confused with the actual spot in the park called, "Tunnel View" or "Inspiration Point." Apparently those views are even better. Not bad though. Each day my hair got creatively more "tied up" as to hide those increasingly greasy roots. It was pretty surprising how cooperative hair can be with a nice thick layer of sweat and grease. Still, I wasn't taking any chances at loose fly-aways, so I tacked down the top side of those two french braids with the elastic head band that usually only sees the YMCA and my own bathroom at face-washing time.
Here was a rare and very bare-looking burned area. I don't know how recent the last fire was at Yosemite, but I heard somewhere that they occur on average every 5 - 10 years. The park people used to think that they were a terrible disaster, but more recently they have found that the fires are actually helpful in reconstituting the soil somehow and in thinning the trees so new ones have a chance to grow. Interesting stuff. (I'm sure the real explanation is much more scientific.)
Here's looking down at Cascade Falls (I think) from the right side of the road.
And here is looking up at it on the left side of the road.
Same waterfall? I don't know...It just shows that the hair which I thought was neatly done, told a whole different story from the backview. Ha!
Here's a view of lower Yosemite Falls. The hike to see/feel the lower falls was a mild 1 miler round trip. The problem with the picture of me actually at/in the falls is that I was getting completely showered, and the shadows were very unflattering as it was exactly noon. Stephen wins the photogenic award out of the two of us.
Stephen humoring me with an upclose view of the dogwood trees. They were so much better in person. I kept thinking how much I really wanted one of those fancy cameras to do this trip any justice.
This is the picture of confidence. We decided after our warm-up to Wawona Point on day one, our goal on day two was to hike up to the top of Yosemite Falls. No big deal, right?
That would be Upper Yosemite Falls in the distance. It's not the most famous and strenuous hike in Yosemite like Half Dome, but it is the tallest waterfall in North America. It's also not the 22-mile Buckskin Gulch in Utah that Rebecca and Tabor conquered in Utah, but it was tough enough for us at 7.2 miles roundtrip with a 2,700 ft. elevation gain. In the end we found that Yosemite Point, where we hiked beyond the top of the falls, was 4.2 miles one way, and I'm guessing that adds at least another 300 feet of elevation bringing it a nice round 3,000 ft. climb. Indeed it was a beast with many rewarding and motivational vantage points.
We saw a few rainbows.
There it is again. This wasn't even the bottom of the trail. We'd already been going a while before we got this view of our eventual destination.
Stephen glowing in the limelight!
After a long haul of nonstop switchbacks, we started to descend for a bit. I was NOT happy about this. It was like undoing so much of the of climb that was already accomplished and knowing that we'd have to reclimb up it again! It's like ripping out a seem in sewing. What a waste of time and a blow to the morale! I guess it's because we had limited options going around this huge sheer mountainside.
Most of the trail looked like this: granite boulders and a steep uphill incline, every switchback of the way!
Again, the prize to be won. Dream the impossible dream, people!
It's waiting for us!
The valley below kept dropping lower and lower for some reason.
I crossed paths with a cute grandpa that at first glance reminded me of someone in the family! Stephen totally disagrees, but does this look like anyone we know a couple generations back in the Ted and Evelyn family? (I can't give away which side. You either notice it right away or not!) I also give props to the junior high gals that can be seen behind the grandpa who packed in their overnight gear so they could set up camp at the top of the trail! Come to find out, they are from a private school in Solana Beach just up the freeway 10 miles or so from us in San Diego!
See the hikers at the bottom of the picture above? They were only on the next switchback down, and already they look so far away!
Rest stop anyone?

Finally finally, we made it to the top of Yosemite Falls, but had a hard time actually viewing the falls without leaning too far over a very steep rock. So, we decided to continue another .8 of a mile to Yosemite point. It was well worth it.
These pictures are of us at "Upper Falls," but not yet to "Yosemite Point."
Here's Stephen resting at the top of Yosemite falls. The next picture down, I think I just stuck my hand out as far as it would go to try and capture the falls. Stephen got a little nervous about that for some reason.

Look how tiny the pine trees look in the valley below.

Next is my Julie Andrew's look.... The hills are alive.... With the sound of MUSIC! Aa-aa-aaah! My heart wants to sing every song it hears! (echo: Song that it hears!)
Stephen in his rightful place. On top of the world. Aaah to dream!
This is about as much of the falls that we cold see here without risking our lives.
As we continued on to Yosemite Point, we finally crossed over the top of the falls and I just love love loved that bridge! Keep looking below for a better picture of it.
I thought I'd be cheeky and pose on a rock by the white water rapids at the top of the falls. Stephen was trying to tell me something, but I just could NOT hear him above the loud crashing water!
Oh! I guess he was telling me to move out of the shadows.
When I finally moved, some other lady was there also, "intruding" on our photo shoot! Excuse us! J/k! Like we didn't get enough pictures of ourselves already. I know, pretty ridiculous. Speeking of the camera-shy tourists...
Now here is one big, cool, yet simple wooden bridge.
Bridge over Trouble Waters? Inspiration for Simon and Garfunkle?
An arrow to the sun pose.
Yes, that dot in the distance is Stephen. Behind him further into the distance is half dome.
More views from the top.

looking down again
Half Dome in the distance again, minus my human statue.
Cheesy engagement-looking or high-school-buddies sports photos.
Funny sign
Stephen got thirsty on the way down.
Our trek down. Our legs were shaking by the end of it.
Hooray! We did it! The milage is for one way. Funny how long we've been married and how much I still sometimes secretly try to impress him. I think deep down I was just hoping he would have some major epiphany that I'm such a trooper, etc. etc. No such luck!