So it was our 2-year anniversary this past weekend (April) and I planned it per our agreement. I’ll take the even years and DB will take the odd years. BUT, I remembered that I planned our 1-year anniversary when we went to Calistoga for mud baths at The Golden Haven Spa Hot Springs Resort and checked out Old Faithful. Regardless, he did plan a trip to lovely Leggett, CA where we got stranded in his other white BMW. Anyways… I’ve been wanting to go to Yosemite for the longest time. I’m not a big camper but I will camp. DB has never camped so I didn’t expect him to tent it out there, so I made sure we had a motel/hotel room. And I wanted to bring Bevo. I don’t like having to pay extra so he can get boarded. I’d rather he come with us on our adventures. So we did.
After reading blogs online, following a Yosemite park ranger on Twitter.com, reading reviews on Yelp.com and checking out trails, shuttle routes, weather.com, I planned our two-night stay in Yosemite. We had sushi at our favorite spot in Hayward before we hit the road. (We looooove sushi.) The sushi chef, Shawn, and Sarah, a server, know us by name. Sarah was envious that we were headed to Yosemite and was even thinking of going that weekend. She mentioned she was going to stay in a hut-like set of accommodations. By the sound of it, DB wouldn’t be down with that. But I think he’d rough it if I begged him to. Although, I like nice things and being comfortable too… maybe next time.
We went home, grabbed Bevo, and threw him in the back of the M5 for the first time as DB laid out a comforter in the back lining the entire backseat so the Beeves didn’t ruin them like the bottom of our black leather couches. He was a happy camper. I was glad he was with us. Bevo is a well-traveled dog.
We hit some traffic on 580 heading into Tracy as usual, and took 99 South to Merced. Night has fallen and radio stations began to fizzle out a little ways down 120. We passed thru Mariposa, CA and the two cars in front of us slowly pulled into a diner. The next day, we found out that this place was Happy Burger and we decided to clog our arteries a little more. We began the windy road thru the valley that ran beside the Merced River. It was dark and all I could see to the right of me were the drive-bys of the incredible sedimentary rock formations. Although it was dark, I was excited to see them. The layers were thick and all over the place. I took geology in college and I enjoyed it much more than biology. To the left, all DB could see was a dark hill reaching for the sky. Bevo was trying hard to fall asleep but wasn’t able to get comfortable. We were stopped at a red light on a two-lane road and the white sign on the post said “Expect 15 Min Wait.” Say what? OK… Then saw headlights slowly crossing the bridge. It must be our turn soon.
We finally arrived at our hotel. I booked a room at the Yosemite View Lodge and I couldn’t be happier. I checked out the other two hotels IN the park in the valley but they were way too expensive and the Ahwanhee wanted to charge $75 extra per night for Bevo to stay there. When we took the shuttle around Yosemite Village and drove past the Ahwanee, I was glad we didn’t stay there. As soon as I stepped out of the car, I heard a constant roar. “Babe, do you hear that?” It was the river. It sounded so close. So calming. I went to check in and they had a huge gift shop with food and even wine and liquor. Marked up of course. I did not partake. The Yosemite View Lodge was wonderful as you can read on my Yelp.com review. It had a balcony, closet, a stove, microwave, large bathroom and stocked with plates, bowls, cups, utensils and even a sharp knife. And of course DB was happy there was a flat screen and ESPN. We had absolutely no cell coverage in El Portal. You mean, we only have each other to speak to? HA! No Facebook or Twittering for me? Oh my. We had a long drive so we turned in. I was really excited about the following day.
I woke up first with Bevo sitting in between us, staring at me. It was 7 AM. Yup, right on schedule. “Mommy, wake up! I have to poop!” It was no longer dark outside and I bundled up as if I were about to hit the slopes. I opened the door of our room and the fresh air instantly woke me up. And it was not cold. It was absolutely beautiful. I saw the green of the grass below and again heard the river. But where was it? Bevo and I continued to walk around the grounds and I followed the sound of the river. To the East, the sun was behind a huge mound of slick rock. That’s one huge rock, Man. To the South, there was an iron gate that was unlocked but with a sign saying to keep it closed, and behind the gate was the river, powerful enough to take Bevo and I far, far away. It was absolutely amazing. I stood there for a seconds as Bevo sniffed the grounds and plants and took in the natural beauty. I was envious of the folks that had a room and balcony 15 feet away from the edge of river that got to fall asleep to the sound I was soaking in. I made Bevo sit for a few seconds so I can take a photo of him calm, as if he’s also soaking this all in. And off we went towards another gate, back to our room. Surprisingly, I went back to sleep. DB was still asleep: not a surprise. He's been working so hard.
We got up, grabbed my Camelpack, etc. and went to go have breakfast at the restaurant. It was buffet style with bacon, sausage, eggs, oatmeal, fruit, pancakes, etc. DB decided to grab his own orange juice as it was in the adjacent area. I didn’t stop him but I assumed it was a server station. The server coming around the corner, just smiled and we all laughed. Breakfast was OK. We needed something in our bellies before we started out adventure. We were in a good mood.
Then we hopped in the M5 and headed to Yosemite. I completely missed my first opportunity to take a photo of the Yosemite National Park sign as it was 200 feet from the end of the lodge. Ah man, my whole collection of photos will not be in chronological order. We stopped off at the first area that had signage with bits of educational facts. This first one spoke about the way people used to travel this same road but with wagons and horses. We approached the first booth. A few gals were passing out the Yosemite Association information (www.yosemite.org) and until April 25th, they’re waiving the park entrance which was $20 per car. Awesome! We gathered more information from the ranger and she gave us a blue pass to get in and use all weekend. DB decided to shoot the shit with her and ask her a few questions, such as “What if you’re color blind and can’t tell this ticket is blue?” She laughed and said her husband was color blind. Of course his attempt to be hilarious sort of backfired but it was still pretty funny. Get your cameras ready after you pass this post because immediately your car will drive thru a rock formation a little wider than the Drive-Thru Tree. We moved onto the first waterfall, Cascade, and it was two tiered from where we could see it. Very cool.
Driving along, we continued near the river and you have to tilt your head back to see just how far you are away from the summit of the hills to the right and left of you. Farther down the line, you’ll see El Capitan. All 756 stories of it. HUGE!
To the right, you’ll see Bridalveil Falls.
We continued to drive, saw Upper Yosemite Falls to the left of us and found a parking spot. Though we didn’t have cell coverage in El Portal, our phones beeped and vibrated about the same time and we looked at each other and reached for our cell phones at the same time. Bars! I took a photo of our view of Half Dome from where we stood at that moment and posted it on Facebook and sent it to DB’s mother. We searched for the shuttle stop and DB sat down. I agreed, we might as well sit down on a bench while we can. We’ve got a lot of walking to do. We hopped on the free shuttle and were followed by a couple with a black lab attempting to also join us on the shuttle. The driver only allows guide dogs on the shuttle and the couple continued to ask for assistance, therefore delaying our departure and get this adventure started! I did my homework.
We were dropped off at the Yosemite Lodge and we began our trail towards Upper Yosemite Falls. We walked thru the parking lot, passed the sign of what to do if you encounter a bear and up a little bit towards a small sign between two boulders saying “Upper Yosemite Falls.” DB already had to take a break.
We often referred to the maps I printed from the internet and highlighted our trail. We followed the trail towards Bridalveil Falls and knew we had to cross the street but the trail diminished and we ended up trekking thru some dried brush, thin, fallen trees and we encountered what could’ve been a well. Naomi Watts and the freaky girl from The Ring comes to mind. Not sure what it was exactly but if you had to go potty you might as well go potty there. And that’s what DB did. We crossed the field and ended up on the path next to the Swinging Bridge. Ah man, we’re already lost!?!? DB then took the initiative to take the lead to get us back on track. We went one way and it was a little creek. We had to cross it and DB found a way. We saw a sandy island in the middle of the river and DB found our way to it. We took a photo there on the ‘deserted’ island and I had to feel how cold the water was. I placed two fingers in the river and yes, it was downright cold. We made it back to the field completely dry. Baby gets points for being adventurous less than an hour into our trail. While in the center of the trail between monstrous rock formations, I look to my right and standing still, a single coyote faces Half Dome. DB stands closer to me and tells me to keep still. It was probably about 100 feet away from us. It saw us, calmly came towards us for a second and continued on the same trail we were towards Bridalveil. It stopped another short distance, peed and continued on the trail. We saw trees that thin or burned and I read that some trees need to be burned and shredded so their ‘droppings’ can fall to ground, blend with soil and create new trees. I think that’s how it goes. I obviously didn’t pay that much attention to that portion of my reading.
The closer and closer we got to El Capitan the more tired DB got. We saw the coyote one more time ahead of us and crossed one more creek overlapping the trail. Since DB was tired, we discussed if we were going to walk all the way to Bridalveil Falls and back or pick up the shuttle after the bridge and take it back to Yosemite Village and get the car to go to Bridalveil Falls. I was a bit disappointed that we weren’t going to go the distance but DB has bad knees. He's had two surgeries already and will have another one this year. I couldn't be mad at him. When we agreed that we’d take the shuttle back to Yosemite Village, we looked at the shuttle map and discovered that the shuttle stop we were looking for is only during the summer time. Oops. So we trekked two miles back to Yosemite Village. On the way there, we lost the trail AGAIN and ended up walking along the road. DB spotted a deer, took some photos and got pretty close to it before it hopped away. Every time I saw a deer, I thought of Ashton Kutcher’s character in Open Season and how it went potty. HA!
Eventually we made back towards Swinging Bridge and I finally got to go potty. It was pretty gross as it was a toilet but it went to the depths of a big hole where everybody else’s waste went. The thought of it makes my stomach ache. I’ve had to use a similar restroom in Truckee at a Los Lonely Boys concert. But hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go.
As I walked back to my resting boyfriend, I spotted a bride being escorted to her groom for a wedding with Upper Yosemite Falls in the background. How beautiful. I had to take a photo. It was simple and probably close to darn free.
We were so happy to be on the last leg of the trail to catch the shuttle back to our car. But first, I was hungry. We stopped off and I had a hot dog and sweet potato fries. The fries were good. I was on vacation so I didn't let the consumption of friend food bother me too much. The Caesar burger on the menu looked tempting but I doubted it would reach my expectations. A woman changed her baby in the middle of the chaotic picnic area and children were running around unattended. People, man your offspring, please! And oh, how sweet is was to be back in the M5. One more stop. I wanted to see Bridal Veil Falls up close.
It was nice. The parking lot was packed and the restroom had a line around the corner. There were a lot of people here and the trail up to the base was a bit congested. The path was paved so I could’ve taken the Beeves. Next time. The water was coming down and it sprayed over everyone. If you didn’t have the right shoes you could slip. Be careful. We posed for one photo. Check! Then we headed back to the Beeves.
We got to the hotel room and he was such a good boy. His plastic bottle was all chewed up and he was so happy to see us. We took a nap and headed out to Mariposa for dinner. The Double Down was recently released at KFC so DB was on a mission to try it, but the closest KFC wasn’t convenient whatsoever. We also needed gas so we kept treckin’ to Mariposa. There we got gas, chatted with a young local about the ‘hot’ spot and she said Happy Burger. Happy Burger it is then. What a place to get a heart attack. Check out my Yelp! review. Link is below.
Then we made the trip back to the lodge to watch ESPN.
The next morning, we packed up our belongings and Sunday was Bevo’s day to explore Yosemite. We probably only walked about 2 miles but he had a good time. We hiked towards Half Dome and it was another nice day out. There’s one of my favorite pictures of Bevo and DB on the trail with Half Dome behind them. Very cute.
Then we headed home… And DB got to try the Double Down. I thought it was disgusting. We had the fried version but he says that I’d like the grilled version.
I love traveling with my boys. Thanks to my wonderful boyfriend for being such a trooper.
Upcoming trips looks like possibly Carson City, Nevada, Carlsbad, California and Seattle, Washington.
Most places have been reviewed on Yelp by me and is on this list: http://www.yelp.com/list/yosemite-national-park-el-portal