Saturday, June 7, 2008

Our Yosemite Stay

We stayed at Yosemite Housekeeping Camp during our 4 days here. It was a cool setup and perfect for camping lite. We had two sites for the 10 of us. Each site was a "tent" of 3 concrete walls a covered seating area with a round picnic table. The tent had one full size bed and one set of bunk beds. To get all of us in there, we also got a cot for each side. It was a snug fit but we managed. We had a couple of bear boxes to keep our food and coolers that served as refrigerators for the trip. We also had two fire rings with a grate on top for grilling or heating up pots. We had electrical outlets on the cooking table and in the tent itself. I had borrowed a bunch of camping stuff for cooking and brought a propane camping stove and a few other electrical things that I knew we could plug in if we needed as well as a couple of power strips to charge cell phones and DVD players. I'm pleased to say that we were surprising good about keeping the technology to a minimum.

During our stay we relaxed, Dad read his books and battled daily with his nemeses, the common grey squirrels that were pretty much running the park. Cute and Fuzzy? I think not, these little guys would boldly enter your food boxes to steal food and would walk on hot coals, literally to grab food scraps tossed there. One morning we left Dad with the kids and went out in search of Mirror Lake. I can't say it's a must see since it is really much more of a swamp than a lake with all of the overgrowth, plus we were all assaulted by the mosquitoes there. A nice hike up to Vernal Falls was taken one morning. Hana and Aubrey became Junior Rangers and were sworn in before we left. Plus there was bike riding and game playing and S'more making and fire building and fishing. Who will forget the time that Bill got stopped by a Ranger for fishing without a license? Luckily he got off with a warning since they weren't using real lures but a big orange plastic fish to play fishing. Bill and HJ hiked up to Glacier Point while Anne and I took the kids and Dad up the easy way - with the cars! But either way, the views were worth the trip.

On our way out, we drove down to the southern gate to check out the giant sequoias at the Mariposa Grove. The curvy road took down poor Kaitie who held on as long as she could. We split ways at that point with Bill and his family going south to Disneyland and So Cal and Jerome and his family along with me and Dad driving north back to the Bay Area.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

On the Road to Yosemite

It was an especially quiet night at the Lighthouse and I slept really well considering I was in the girls room. I woke up and Annie was already awake and starting on the bacon. I found the coffee and started that brewing. At one point Anne was standing by the back door with a big smile on her face. I asked her what was up and she said that she was experiencing the most amazing thing. Of course I wandered over and found myself with the most wonderfully fresh and clean smell of ocean. The seabreeze was blowing in just perfectly. I smile and said, yeah, that's nice. Anne shook her head and said, "no you aren't getting the full experience, wait a second and you'll see!" Just then, the smell of bacon cooking in the oven washed over me. Oh My God! It was the perfect combination. Even though I was very pre-coffee and it was about 6:30 in the morning, I went and grabbed my camera to capture this moment.

So before breakfast of pancakes, bacon and coffee was ready, I went out with my cup of coffee to gather some photos. While I have every intention of coming back here, I wanted to try to capture some of this morning for painting reference photos and my memory at large. It was super quiet and there were only a few workers wandering around. It wasn't until I came back into the house that I realized I was wandering around in my pajamas!

After breakfast, we stripped down the beds, got dressed and packed up and checked out by 10am. Our earliest start time to date. we wanted to be sure to have as much time as possible for our trip to Yosemite given the limitations of the Rossi Rules of the Road combined with traveling with 3 cars.

After a quick grocery store stop to pick up a few overlooked items, we headed East. The plan was to stop for fresh fruits and veggies at roadside stops. The day was beautiful and the driving was fun. We stopped a couple of times, but never found any veggies we liked. Ah well! There were a few scenic vistas and we all stopped to enjoy them. We did a little musical cars and I ended up driving halfway with HJ and then switched at a gas stop and picked up Anne who ended up driving the last part of the way into the Park.

We got into camp around 5-6 pm, picked up our bed stuff a few chairs and got settled in. HJ cooked another big dinner and we made due with a little cook surface area that looked like with would collapse at any moment. It didn't matter because we were finally at Yosemite!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Overnight at a lighthouse

Awhile back, I went to Pigeon Point Lighthouse to see them light the Fresnel light for their 135 anniversary. While we were there, we wandered through the hostel and I thought it would be cool to stay here some time. We had some open time between San Francisco and Yosemite. I told HJ that there really wasn't much between here and there. Then I remembered the Lighthouse. It's not in between, but also not that far away either.

Sunday morning we loaded up the cars with kids, food, luggage and headed south. Since we were following the Rossi Rules of the Road (RRR) I knew it might take a little longer to get there. 1. Never drive faster than the speed limit, 2. Stop for any interesting vista or stop along the way, 3. I can't remember and 4. Drink an icy cold beer at the end of the day. We headed south on 280 from my house on Potrero Hill, over to the scenic Route 1 along the coast. We didn't get too far before we made the first stop at a cherry stand in Pacifica. I had foolishly taken the lead since I knew where I was going. However being a novice at the RRR I wasn't at all surprised to find my caravan abandoning me just 5 minutes into the trip. Luckily I was able to pull around and join the group at the end. This was more appropriate and lead to less confusion. The rest of the trip was relaxing and we made it to the lighthouse and hostel a little before the 3:30pm check-in time.

We descended upon the beach and the girls and Annie wandered through the tide pools looking for sea creatures. Hermit crabs and sea anemones were found and much sand was able to creep into all of our shoes. A little geocaching was done on the way back up to the hostel. Cool items were swapped. We got checked in by our host, Michael who was very cool. We signed up for hot tub times and went back to unload the cars and get some dinner started. Now I should mention that there is no alcohol allowed on hostel property. So we had to modify our traditional end of the road cold beer for "tea" which was discreetly consumed in coffee mugs. HJ made a huge feast of salad and pasta and sausage. Everyone ate at one big communal table, so it was good that we had the entire Whale building to ourselves. After dinner we settled down and the girls played games. We took our hot tub time and were thrilled to see that it was perched on the far edge of the land. So there was nothing between us and the Pacific Ocean but a thin wire fence and a sheer cliff dotted with ice plants in bloom. We watched the sun set and decided that the grown-ups wanted some star-gazing time after the kids were settled in bed.