Day 6- We woke up this morning in our wet-dog scented hotel room, wandered past the cold hot tub and the dirty pool, and enjoyed the nice breakfast the Best Western put on in their mini-bowling alley dining area. That cute, little bowling alley really was a nice touch, even if the hotel had a persistent stench and the pool area was unusable.
While loading the car for our next long drive, we bumped into a fellow guest who was carrying his bicycle down the hotel steps. As it turns out, he had started his bike ride pretty near to where we started off in our suburban and was bound for the west coast as well. He was 62. Very, very cool.
The drive to Yosemite Village was pretty uneventful. We looped back around Vegas, rode I-99 through Bakersfield and turned off onto I-41 in Fresno that lead us on an hours-long drive deep into the mountains.
We arrived at our Best Western, and a very nice one at that, early in the evening, unpacked, wandered the grounds, and decided on the restaurant next door for dinner.
On the way to the restaurant, we bumped into an anti-gay priest on a horse named Gumby who gave the kids carrots to feed his steed and spent 20 minutes explaining to us how the legalization of gay marriage was the reason for the terrible drought California was in the midst of. If not for that, Cali would be rolling in water. He also made it his life’s work to rid the area of homeless people, who I think, must have migrated to Venice Beach (more on that later). So, he didn’t really rectify the issue of homelessness in the area, he just forcefully relocated them. Classy guy.
We actually ate breakfast and dinner both nights at the restaurant next to our hotel because breakfast was included with our room and dinner boasted a really sweet $6 salad bar. The take-out containers were massive which meant we could take, what amounted to, a solid half of the salad bar offerings back to our room and enjoy our feast there. That was super helpful for the kids that had ants in their pants and would have struggled with the hour-ish long sit to polish off our dinner.
The day ended with a swim in the pool inside the giant cabin on the top of the hill. The pool was clean and warm, and the hot tub was almost skin-melting hot. It was the perfect end to another long day on the road.
Day 7- Yosemite National Park was such an amazing experience. There really aren’t adequate words to do our western national parks justice. We have plenty of great national parks to explore back east but they are so very different. The amount of land encompassing the parks out west is almost unfathomable. They are MASSIVE and so incredibly diverse.
When we first rolled into Yosemite, we stopped at a pull off half-way down the hill to grab some pictures and to take in the awesomeness that the area has to offer. It was breathtaking!
We pushed on to a little railroad station which had a train just firing up to chug-a-lug up the mountain. It was kind of pricey and we wanted to spend our day hiking anyway, so we stood there watching it pull away instead of hitching a ride.
Before we even made it into the visitors center, we passed the by Bridalveil Falls trailhead. We couldn’t resist so we popped out of the car and off we went. Our morning was spent climbing the mountain beside the falls….which weren’t really falls at all because it had been so dry for so long. Bridalveil Falls was more of a mist that trickled over the edge of the mountain top and formed a rainbow as the sun hit it as it fell. It was beautiful and the perfect place to rest and have a snack…and head back.
After that we drove on to the visitors center, picked up Junior Ranger books for the kids, and wandered the vicinity checking off the work they needed to do to earn their Junior Ranger badges. To date, we’ve done the Junior Ranger activities at 34 of our national parks. Yosemite has the most fun swearing-in process of any that we’ve done. A couple have come close, but Yosemite definitely takes the cake. They even have the wooden badges too. Silly, I know, but those of use that do this a lot get a real kick out of things when they’re just a little different.
The kids finished up their books and were sworn in as Junior Rangers just as the visitors center was closing at 5:00. We had a quick potty break, hopped in the car, and kissed Yosemite good-bye. The day was wrapped up with a round of giant salads from the restaurant beside the hotel, and a swim in that beautiful, perfectly warm pool at the top of the hill.