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Old 09-05-2012, 07:19 AM   #91
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I've been missing you. Glad you are back to finish! Those trees are just amazing! Hope I get the chance to see them one day.
Awww, Thanks. I hope you do too.

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I love all the great pictures you guys got with all the huge trees! It looks like such a great trip!

After reading your 10 MORE reasons, I wasn't able to deny that I suffer from ALL the symptoms, including the new ones). DH and I got back from our honeymoon to WDW and now my mom and I are taking a "girls' trip" to DL at Christmas... after I said I wasn't going to make a trip for at least a year! Disney twice a year is becoming the new norm!

So excited to read the rest of your TR, and the newer one with the whole Suzy and Perla clan!

Oh, and I hope Boo is liking kindergarten and that the big girls are having a great school year so far!
Ha ha to you sharing my addiction. The scariest part for me is Boo is more addicted than me. Last night when we were picking a movie for her to watch (so we could play a board game without her destroying it) she chose a Disney promotional video from 3 years ago.

She is finally enjoying K. She struggled the first week. She felt it a big waste of time to learn to sit quietly and obey rules. She can already sit quietly and raise her hand and could not understand why they would waste a whole week learning such dumb things when the only reason she agreed to go to Kindergarten was to learn to read. But this week it's gotten better. They started learning about the letter S and how sneaky it is and that is productive enough for her to forgive her teacher for wasting her time last week.

I've been delayed a tiny bit by Donald's computer breaking and having to be sent to Apple. He's the one with all the pictures on his computer. I've tried to decide if I should wait for it or just carry on with only my photos. I've not 100% decided yet, but I probably will just use mine. You won't even know what you're missing. And I won't have to have even more delays.

As for our other trip, I've decided to write my TR differently for that one. Instead of day by day hour by hour, I'm going to do chapters on subjects. We'll see how it goes.
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Old 09-06-2012, 09:09 PM   #92
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Glad Boo is liking Kindergarten now. Can't wait to read about the rest of this trip and the next one!
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:26 PM   #93
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I'm so sorry for being such a loser. Clearly my life is no longer my own. I have done this little video of our WDW surprise, however. I think you have to watch it on a computer, not an ipad for some reason. But hopefully it is a small condolence for me being such a bad blogger as of late.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCb-Y...are_video_user
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Old 12-09-2012, 11:00 PM   #94
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I'm so sorry for being such a loser. Clearly my life is no longer my own. I have done this little video of our WDW surprise, however. I think you have to watch it on a computer, not an ipad for some reason. But hopefully it is a small condolence for me being such a bad blogger as of late.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCb-Y...are_video_user
I was doing fine, until that darn "Good Life" song, and then...I cried. Ugh! It gets me every time!!
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:54 AM   #95
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Very cool! Looks like you had a wonderful trip!
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:38 PM   #96
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I was doing fine, until that darn "Good Life" song, and then...I cried. Ugh! It gets me every time!!
I love that song. The original version of our video had the Wreck it Ralph song When Can I See You Again on it but YouTube wouldn't let us do it with copyright issues.

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Very cool! Looks like you had a wonderful trip!
Thanks. We had a great trip! Especially for a cheap on the fly trip.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:10 PM   #97
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Fresno and the great Yosemite.

First and foremost, before I start this chapter, I lost my notes in an iphone debacle. So from here on out you are all on your own as far as the accuracy of this report. My memory is not what my iphone's memory is. Though clearly it is more resilient. But not as prone to accuracy.

As we headed down the mountain from Sequoia my poor little ears were freaking out. I am deaf in my left ear and have always had inner ear issues. So dropping such extreme altitude so quickly was not good for me and I swear I thought I was going to vomit. I looked up on line altitude sickness and they were all in unison. DRINK WATER! So when we stopped for gas, I grabbed a bottle of water and sucked it down as fast as I could. I was so surprised that when I was only half way through that bottle I felt better.

Lesson learned for my next mountainous national park trip. We are taking food and water into the parks, bears or not.

Once in Fresno I found a convenient In n Out Burger so my girls could enjoy the experience.



California had already started putting their calories on their menus. I thought it was wonderful here where the menu is small and simple. But at the bigger menu places, McDonalds and Taco Bell it was downright confusing. Calories are now coming to our local McDonalds and Taco Bells but they have worked out the kinks and it is much clearer. On this trip I actually struggled to find what items were for sale and how much they cost.

Fortunately In n Out only sells three things. Burgers, fries, and shakes. We ordered all three in multiple varieties and chowed down. This In N Out was CRAZY busy. CRAZY. I cannot begin to emphasize that enough. The line was out the door, the people were running around like mad.

It was so hot, though, that despite the madness, we ate inside. It was amazing to think in the blastedly hot Fresno that it was snowing in Yosemite. Boo and I split a burger and fries and strawberry shake. Yum! The only other time I've eaten at one of these place I shared with Donald and when I went to the bathroom, he at the whole burger minus a bite! So this time I made sure to share with Boo. That way I'd have the upper hand in the sharing.

After going to the potty, we headed up the mountain. Now, it was here I made my second mistake because of those stupid bears. I didn't want to bother with food and the bears. So we didn't get any. And as you will discover, that was a huge problem. Oy! These national parks and food.

It was about a 2.5 hour drive. Breathtaking, of course. Boo watched a movie and the rest of us looked out the windows. Before we knew it, we were in Yosemite.

Having just done Sequoia, we opted to skip over Mariposa and head to Wawona. I wasn't sure how entertaining it would be since school wasn't out yet and they didn't have their summer programs running. But oh how wrong I was to be worried.

Across the street and this adorable covered bridge, was a wonderful village.




Can you imagine touring the national parks in the cold in one of these?


I heard a loud, strong voice coming from the first building we came across so being the curious person I am, I stuck my head in. Inside was a man in red long johns and dungarees instructing these boys in work ethics. "What did you call me?" "Sir, yes sir!" Very military instruction.




Yosemite is just one gorgeous photo op after another. And that is not an exageration. It's just silly. It's silly to have a camera. Because you can't deal with the imagery coming in your head, in your camera. You want to say when people are looking at your pictures, "I wish you could understand You just don't UNDERSTAND!"



Look at the sunlight dappled grass, strewn with purple flowers and pine cones next to the authentic log cabin:


What all the kids were doing was working. I guess you in the local schools can volunteer to learn at the village. It was HARD work they had these kids doing but I guess if you really hate math, it's a way to not be in school.



This boy was carrying bucket after bucket of water to the laundry area. I'm not sure he was supposed to let us help him but I wanted my girls to feel just how heavy pumping water and carrying those buckets was. I, also, wanted to know so I too carried buckets. The one laundry supervisor lady saw us but turned a blind eye to my having sweet talked him into letting us help.



Those buckets were HEAVY and the laundry was far away. I know not really, but it felt that way. I couldn't help but ponder the lands where the only village well is a mile from town. No wonder the women learn how to carry things on their heads. And no wonder they bring the laundry to the rivers! It'd be way easier to bring the supplies and dirt clothes to the river than the water to the stuff. I wondered how many people on earth right now have running water. And how many have access to clean water to do laundry. But at least in Yosemite it was gorgeous while you worked. Trade offs I suppose.

Next we went into the kitchen which was quite the funny scene as the teachers really didn't know what they were doing either in the basic little kitchen.



Having been to Williamsburg, Va recently we didn't have too much empathy for the Yosemite cooks. Their stove was downright modern in comparison to the 1775 version. Plus in Williamsburg it is 106 degrees outside. So the kitchen was probably over 120. In Yosemite, at least in May, it was a perfect temperature in the kitchen, perhaps a little warm. But I imagine 9 months out of the year it was where everyone wanted to be. And with thebig windows and beautiful views, you know what? Even without running water, I'd take that kitchen right now (without the full time job and cell phones, of course.) It was a great kitchen.

We were also allowed to work with these hot coals! They let you get very up close and personal in Wawona. It was great!


After trying several jobs and watching the kids do more, we headed back to car and on up the road. We all voted and agreed to have our scones we had grabbed at breakfast at the Glacier Point overlook. It was about a 45 minute drive, but worth it.

Last edited by estherhead; 12-11-2012 at 07:17 PM.
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:17 AM   #98
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Yay! Your back! Totally missed your report!

The village is amazing. I have always thoroughly enjoyed pioneer villages, the closest one to us is Lincoln's Old Salem and I love every inch of that place. Its neat you got to "help" too.
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:32 AM   #99
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It was quite the long drive to Glacier Point. Halfway down the road I got concerned that it had been a mistake to make my kids do a 1.5 hour drive for just a view. And I remained nervous throughout that last 20 minutes. There wasn't a lot to be seen, it was just forest, and if it was lame, there were gonna be some cranky people on the drive back to the main road.

The parking lot was HUGE. We found a spot quite a ways down near the bathroom. We all went and then headed up the hill. The parking lot was laid out in plateaus. As we crest over the hill to the next parking plateau, there was another potty. Only at that one there was a very long line. Ours had had no line at all. Being the nice person I am, I announced to that line that there was a nearby potty (and pointed) that had no line. One couple started to move, but didn't leave. That's right. No one left the line. I wanted to stay there and convince them but Donald felt it was time to move on.

This was interesting to me and I pondered it. People often ask on here why people do this or that at Disney World. Why do they stand in standby lines that are longer that FP lines? Why do they spend $10,000 and not do one bit of research to discover there are actually 4 parks and Universal is not part of Disney? And so on.

And I think many of these questions can be answered by two truths about many people. One: they prefer to deal with the known that can be seen but is inferior than the unknown that can't be seen that is superior. Because if they can't see it, how can they be sure it's superior? And Two: they struggle with adapting to new data. The way it has been is the way it always is.

I think a lot of confusing things about human nature is summed up in the above. Despite the fact that I had given them new data about a line free potty, they couldn't adapt to such data. They had to continue in the path in which they are already traveling. And, though I had absolutely no reason to trick them and therefore was a believable and reliable resource, they knew they were 10 people back in this line and they could see exactly what this line meant to their life. Whereas what I was offering, though surely superior, they could not see. If they trusted me, and I had lied, they would be 20 people from using the potty when they came back to this line.

Of course, it really is none of business how people take care of their business. It's just that I find human nature so fascinating. And how humans react in crowds is even more fascinating to me. If I had of been more compelling, had I convinced just one person to leave that line, many others would have followed. But because no one did, no one else did. So interesting.

We left the bathroom scene behind, passed a building that I believe housed ice cream since many people had ice cream cones, and walked up to the view.

You be the judge. Was this worth a 45 minute drive?







Curry Village in the valley where we would be spending the night:




Here we are enjoying the view and our scones:


At this lookout there were many, many French. I didn't see any big tour buses so I'm not sure if it was just a French holiday or what. The interesting thing about the French is their photography. We have a good friend who is from France and whenever we go see things with him we get really cool pictures. Because they like to interact with their scenes.

You know how you see people pretending to hold up the Tower of Pisa, or hold the sun in their hands? It's all about depth and perception of the viewer. That is how the French take pictures. It's fascinating. It made me want to take more interesting pictures with my family. But I was so comfortable in my little spot, enjoying my thoughts and the scenery, that I decided to just watch them do it instead. Plus, I'm not French, so I'm not very good at it. You are always able to tell that my kids are really just standing right in front of me and not actually pushing Half Dome.

Here is my creative shot of my family:


Woohoo! They are sitting on a rock. Yup.

But it is a rock in an excellent location if you are wanting to just sit on a rock.


Boo was terrifying on these rocks. They just hang over a giant cliff. And she scrambled all over them like a mountain goat. After me having multiple heart attacks and her not paying one bit of attention to me, Donald decided to just go with her.


We were VERY right at Moro Rock to not let her let go of our hands. She would have died for sure.

On our way back to the car, we spied a penny machine. So we got some for our Disney collection.


People were at both potties when we went back to the car. So perhaps someone with more influence than me stood there and convinced them to split up. Or maybe the newcomers to the park were smarter than the previous tourists. Or maybe no one in the first line spoke English. Who knows?

The drive back seemed quicker as we knew the way and I wasn't nervous it was a waste of time. And then we turned towards the valley.

You drive through a big tunnel (we always hold our breath) to enter the valley. And right at the end of it is another parking lot for tunnel view. This isn't very intelligent as you have to cross the street for the view as people are popping out of a tunnel. I didn't want to cross this street. It seemed like a very bad idea. But you just can't really see the view from the parking lot so we crossed the street and no one hit us.





From there we moved on the Bridalveil Falls. Blissful Sigh.

I love following babbling rivers down wooded paths to raging waterfalls. LOVE. I absolutely love this. I would be hard pressed to decide between spending 4 hours sitting on the beach watching the ocean or 4 hours hiking through the woods to a gorgeous waterfall.

Bridalveil had a well laid parking lot, and a huge, wide pathway to it. An excellent walk for a family.





As you get close the mist hits you. It is such a big and powerful waterfall. Spectacular!




And when we got really close I switched to my iphone as it was more of a soaking than a misting and I was a little concerned for my camera.



Boo in her rainbow shirt under a rainbow. Perfect.


After our short little, unbelievably enjoyable waterfall walk, it was time to do something less enjoyable. Check in.

I read horror stories on TripAdvisor of Curry Village. It's HUGE! Gianormous. With multiple campgrounds and stores, etc. And if you go the wrong way you have to go all the way around as it's a one way loop. But with just a little confusion we found our way to the right parking lot. Kind of. And walked through some trees next to some canoes.

The check in log cabin was packed with a giant line our the door. I stood in line with a couple who lived in Sacramento and came often. They told me that they had planned on visiting Tuolumne Meadows but a heavy snowfall had shutdown Tioga Pass. Wow. And to think it was 100 in Fresno where I had been that day. It's like a different universe just 3 hours away.

The family went to check out the area and see if they could find food. But, alas, no. It was finally my turn and I got the longest lecture I've ever had on any subject while not actually in a classroom on bears. No wonder the line is so long. And I had to sign MULTIPLE papers that said I understood a bear could eat me and my family at any moment. I happily signed and got my keys and hopped out of there.

We drove to the correct parking lot and dragged any and all bags out that might contain any and all toiletries or food. We locked away our toothpaste and terrifying bear bait things like lipstick in our bear box outside our tent and went in to see our room.



I had paid extra for the luxury tent. And was glad as that heater was very handy.

We found the potty which was nearby and easy to find as it was right next to a giant rock and then I wanted to take Boo to a children's ranger program that was happening.

On our way:


Coming up... Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La

Last edited by estherhead; 12-12-2012 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:30 AM   #100
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One of the most enduring memories from this entire trip was just a tiny little thing. Isn't it always?

I wanted to do this ranger program for kindergarteners as I like to do ranger programs. There was no real description in the magazine, just the time and age range. So we didn't know what to expect. And the family was still hungry and the only available food at off times was pizza, expensive pizza, when they were not interested in. But I pushed for the ranger program. It was in the outdoor main ampitheater facing Glacier Point where we had just been. Our timing was excellent and the children were just assembling on stage.

Boo went on up and a girl ranger came out and began telling a story about a worm. It was just a normal story and the girl wasn't that great of a story teller. But about 5 minutes in she ducks behind the wall and comes back as the worm. And this is where things got interesting.



Somehow the worm costumer had changed her from being kind of a loser story teller to being a Yosemite worm. And after a self conscious giggle, she lost herself and became one with the worm.

This, naturally, engaged the children. And they began to truly listen, to mimic what she had to say. And were therefore more than willing to follow the worm where ever she may wander.



The name of the worm is Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La. And while walking around they began to chant, getting louder and louder: "Tu-Tok, Tu-Tok, Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La." And again, "Tu-Tok, Tu-Tok, Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La." And once more, "Tu-Tok, Tu-Tok, Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La." (if you are chanting in your head while reading this, the emphasis is on the Tok. Two-TALK-a-new-la.) All around they walked and chanted, bending their knees as they marched pretending to be the little worm inching his way up the great El Capitan (originally called Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La by the indigenous indians, renamed El Capitan by the Spaniards.)

It was absolutely adorable and Boo LOVED it. We have chanted that chant so many times it's not even funny.

Once the program was over, we wanted to go get some burgers. We hopped on the bus. The buses here are great. Just like Disney World.



Sadly, when we got off at the food court type place, they were all closed. Curse the national parks and their food system!!!!! I can't help it that we are from Ohio and on a different time schedule than you people. We went to the grocery store but it was cost prohibitive for food we didn't really want. So we just got snacks and headed back to our own area to settle for pizza, the only thing open at non-meal times.



Still hungry, we found seats for evening ranger program at the amphitheater and Mulan and I headed over to get dinner. Disillusioned but too hungry to care anymore what we ate. The pizza was very good. Whatcha gonna do? We should have just eaten what was given to us to begin with.

The program for the evening was called Firefall. And it was a movie and discussion and history lesson of when there was a hotel on Glacier Point (which made perfect sense, there should be a hotel on glacier point.) They used to get a big giant fire going and then a guy would use a shovel type pusher thing and in with a rhthmyic motion push the coals off the mountain so that below in the valley it looked like a water fall made of fire. It was really cool and we now also say, "Let the Fire Fall!!!!" Just like Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La, you have to say this just right. You have to shout it, and the "fire" is dragged out with the "fall" super dragged out.

Hope all you readers are playing along with my great verbal descriptions of how to say my TR outloud. Hopefully you aren't reading this from your ipad while watching tv with your families. And they all start looking at you, saying, 'What fire???"

It was pretty cool to imagine Curry Valley mid-century crammed full of even more people. I wish I had seen the Fire Fall. It sounds amazing.

After that, we headed to bed, making sure to lock our toothbrushes up nice and tight. At one point I sat the baggie down on the chair and then Donald set his backpack on them. I then couldn't find them to put them away and was on a crazy rampage searching and searching for them so they wouldn't be in our tent luring the bears to come eat us while we slept. All the girls swore up and down that they hadn't lost them but I didn't believe them. Finally I moved the backpack and discovered it was all Donald and I from start to finish. Then we locked them up and went to bed.

I really do hate bears.

I slept quite well. And when I got up, I turned on the heater so we could get dressed in relative warmth.

I end this chapter with a story that happened 8 weeks later. I was sitting at home reading USA Today on my ipad and there was this interesting article about Hantavirus. I was feeling so bad for the schmucks that might contact such a dreadful disease while on vacation. I was at home because I had a dreadful cough and fever. Which just happen to be the symptoms of hantavirus. And it kills you. So I clicked on the article to read further.

Turns out it was an outbreak at Yosemite for people who stayed in the nice tent cabins in June and July. Wait a minute, that's me. AND it takes weeks and week to incubate. So I could be sick. And dying. And not know it.

I went and checked our dates, and we had actually been in Curry Village at then end of May and were therefore safe.

But here is the thing I found so intriguing. Rats and mice cause Hantavirus. And they come to the tents because there is food and snacks they can smell in those bear boxes.

So the whole time I was rearranging my packing life to avoid bears killing me, I was luring rats to my tent. There have been NO deaths in all of Yosemite at the hands of bears in the past 20 years (at least that I could find online.) There were 3 deaths from rats in the actual 100 tent cabins around me in the month that I was staying there.

Explain to me why I had to repack?

As a final note on this subject, we weren't allowed to keep our lipstick and shampoo in the car as bears might attack the car to get the lipstick. And since it was a rental, I really didn't want to pay for bear damage. However, because I have a 5 year old, when we went back to get in the car she had left an open bag of chips under the seat. Rental car was fine. No bear damage.

When I next go back to Yosemite (and I surely will, it's FANTASTIC!) I will A) bring all my own food into the park. B) listen and be intelligent about bear precautions, but not be militant about it.

Because from my own experience, rats are more dangerous than bears.
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:47 PM   #101
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I'm so glad you're back! You've absolutely convinced me to vacation in Yosemite!
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:51 PM   #102
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Yay! Your back! Totally missed your report!

The village is amazing. I have always thoroughly enjoyed pioneer villages, the closest one to us is Lincoln's Old Salem and I love every inch of that place. Its neat you got to "help" too.
We have a log cabin village very near our home, they are so nice. So much better than dry history from a book.

Knitster: You just have to! Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. Spectacular places I could spend a lot more in.
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:45 PM   #103
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After packing up the car and checking for bear damage, we checked out of our tent officially, no line early in morning (of course) at the check in cabin, and headed to the bus stop. I had spent some time with the maps, and I had downloaded some hikes on my ipad. But I hadn't studied them very well because we don't take long hikes and we stay on the beaten path. So I put all the maps but the most basic one that would help us with bus routes in the car and we headed to breakfast.

We stood near the little bench at the bus stop. It was cold but we didn't want too much clothing as we'd have to carry anything we had on. So we just tried to stay warm. After just a few moments a little old lady came and sat down on the bench. I don't use the term "little old lady" lightly. This lady was tiny, very short. And she had a walker, was bundled up like nothing you've ever seen, and was VERY old. Like maybe 90? Maybe 100. She struggled to sit on the bench so I helped her.

I stood there trying to decide if she decided to get on our bus how I could help her as there is no possible way this woman could get on the bus. With her bag and walker, it would be a formidable task even with me helping her. After just a moment, though, a Yosemite security agent came over. This guy was SO NICE. Seriously. I cannot explain. He asked her lots of very respectful questions but you could tell he didn't really want her out in Yosemite on her own. But I credit this lady's gumption. She was there with some family and she didn't want to do what they were doing so she was off to see Yosemite. We left before her. And I'm glad. She made me nervous. I hope she had the day of her life. She deserved it.

We found the breakfast spot and had two choices. The very expensive sub-par cafeteria breakfast buffet or the very crowded coffee shop. Off to stand in line. What I wouldn't have given for just a stupid Poptart and banana. Next time....

It was also VERY expensive. Like double Disney. But we were a captive audience so we made our choices. I stood in line while the family went to the potty and evidently found a bear.



While I waited for my specialty coffee (which I ordered accidently, American coffee is not evidently just American coffee, it's some fancy thing that took FOREVER to make but was unbelievably delicious) I was standing in this corner with the other women waiting for their fancy coffee. One of the women had a phD. How do I know this? Because she talked incessantly about it. On and On and On about how smart she was. I'm not really sure I've been that annoyed often in my life. I'm a very chill person about other people's idiosyncrasies. But 6 months later as I write this I can still bring the anger up. It's 8 am and we're all standing here PRE-coffee and you are telling a bunch of strangers that you are the smartest person in the universe, and that we are all complete and utter idiots? Because you clearly aren't smart enough to know that everyone here is smart enough to know that you are the idiot.

If she teaches at a college, I hope they pay the students to take her class. Oy!!!!

I finally made it to the coffee where the girls were enjoying their cinnamon roll. They let us pick our own and for the price, I told the girls to get the biggest one. This thing was it's own planet. It was a cinnamon roll loaf!


Look at it! It's half the size of the tray. It was delicious and I drank my wonderful coffee and ate my part of the roll and calmed myself down.

Ready to go see some gorgeous rocks:


Back on the bus we went. And we hopped off at our stop for a nice, easy hike to the gorgeous Mirror Lake.

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth,

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The above words pretty much sums me up in general. It's why I research so well because if you're gonna take a path that no one is on, you better know where it goes.

I thought I knew where we were going. So when we came to these two paths I felt confident taking the less traveled. There is a bridge that connects them. So if we did decide to do a 2 mile hike, we could just do round trip and get to do both paths. I did not HAVE this map with me, mind you, as it was on my ipad. I just had looked at it long enough to be confident that I was right.

The path we DIDN'T take:


The path we DID take:


Ok, now here is some justification. If you wanted a walk through though the woods, which path would you pick? Not the broad path, the path that looks like a road, the well beaten ridiculously well traveled path. No. Of course not. You'd pick the path that looked like a path through the woods. That you KNOW connects to a bridge about a mile down to the wide path anyway.

So off we went. This was a nice path. It smelled amazing. There was no one on it. It was quiet and peaceful and just what I thought a national park should be.



After just a 1/4 mile or so, however, this took a stinky turn. We realized we were on the horse trail. And horses poop. It was a literal mindfield of poop. It was a little lesson in what following in someone's footsteps actually means as it was quite important to watch your feet and follow Mommy as she avoids the poop.

But it was nice just the same and before we knew it we were in the most spectacular clearing at mirror lake. There was absolutely no way to take a picture of this. Every corner added together to create a perfect environment. But one small square at a time does nothing for it.



Sheer cliffs on every side:


A nice picture of Donald:




We had not had enough yet and everyone decided they wanted to press on to the bridge.

Though this was an even less traveled trail it seemed traveled enough:


We walked and we walked. Breathing in, chasing ducks and other animals. It was really nice but there came a point where the trail kinda stopped. And you were just in a meadow.



See the wide path on the other side?




This is not what it's supposed to look like according to my map:


So at this point I pulled out my sad little map that shows nothing and stared at it. This is also the point that another family showed up. So they came up and also studied my map, really more like a bus route that kinda showed the rest of the valley. At least I had more people in agreement that there was a bridge. They, too, had seen a map that showed a bridge. But they turned around. We were having such a great time that we decided to press on and just climbed over the trees.

No path at all:


Donald and I discussing the plan:


The girls being helped over a tricky log:


Boo loving every minute of it:




We climbed over these logs forever and ever. And never did find a path. Nor a bridge. So Donald decided to just cross the river (it wasn't deep so no real danger) and try to find the path on the other side.

He was over there forever. He searched and searched. But no path. So he came back.



And we decided to give it up and turn around. At this point I got concerned. We'd had only sugar for breakfast and we'd already walked 2 miles easily. If you're counting, that is 1.75 more miles than I like to go with 5 year olds. But we were all in really good moods and laughing and singing and having a grand time, including Boo. And there was simply no choice. The only way back was back over those logs and through the meadow and back through the horse poop landmine field.

It was actually a pretty quick walk back for being probably 2 miles. Donald put Boo on his shoulders for about .5 of it. When we got back to the point of decision I stopped to look at the map posted there so I could see where on earth the cursed bridge was:



OOOOOhhhhhhhh..... There was an avalanche. And we went well past the avalanche, where the bridge should have been, etc. THAT would have been useful to have seen. And... we climbed all over that rock slide. With a bunch of kids. Whoopsie.

But as nice and quotable as Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La was, this morning was our favorite in either park. It was quiet and peaceful and just our family battling the elements. And it was nice to know that we have big kids now and just like us, they love the great outdoors. Sometimes I worry with the iphones and ipads and laptops that they won't like camping and hiking and picnics. But this morning is proof that if given the chance, they'd pick a walk in the woods over a video game and that is very reassuring.

Finally back to the bus, we went to get our car.

It had started to rain and the rain was picking up. We found a great parking spot and splashed through the puddles. We headed into line and all figured out what we wanted to eat. Again, it was way more expensive than Disney World. I got sweet potato fries. That I do remember though I don't remember the rest. I think it was pretty good.

We ate out here:


Despite the rain we didn't get too wet because of the umbrellas. But we didn't linger. We hopped back to our car. The morning had been wonderful, but we were tired of the food difficulties. Next time, we'll be better prepared.
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Old 12-15-2012, 10:52 AM   #104
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So you may have noticed that when given a choice between a broad, spacious road and a cramped, dirt road I prefer the difficult way. As we headed out of Yosemite I asked Donald if he would mind if we just went cross country vs. highway. I had my ipad back now that we were in the car and so had reliable maps again so he, like the nice guy he is, agreed.

The road out of Yosemite followed the river and was just lovely. With the the river on one side and a cliff full of waterfalls on the other, it was delightful driving, or should I say riding.



And once we were out of the mountains and on the plateau, we left the main road and headed toward Fresno another way. The road not taken.



Donald really is a good guy to let me have my way.

The cows enjoying the golden fields of California:






Isn't it so pretty?

Expansive skies with amazing clouds and golden, rolling hills with cattle grazing happily.

Once we were in Fresno, we checked into our Hotwire hotel and using Yelp headed to a mexican restaurant. We really enjoyed our time here, pretty authentic. Our server was so great, she wasn't hispanic but she was about 50 and friendly and so helpful and talkative. We really loved her.

California also has good malls and going to a mall was on our list as they have better clothes in their malls than we do. I know all of you in California don't know this, but it's the truth. You all look better than us and prior to going to California I thought it was because you had a better sense of style. Then I went to California and realized that for some reason you have better stuff for sale. I cannot figure this out. Why? Why can't we have attractive skirts and dresses in Ohio JCPenney? It's no wonder half the country shops on line now. We are just trying to buy clothes from California. You probably ALSO have better style, but you didn't hear that from me.

We spent some clothes and enjoyed ourselves and then headed back to the hotel for some shuteye. It had been a really great day. Really great.

The next morning we got up leisurely (which still being on Ohio time mostly was still pretty earlier) and I found a breakfast place on Yelp again. Gotta love Yelp.

Boo LOVED this place. Absolutely loved. She wanted to call Jack-Jack (her cousin) and fly him out immediately so he could eat here with us.



It had trains everywhere. Trains moving, trains sitting, trains hanging. Trains! It was called the Train Depot.


So happy


They served the drinks in jars and every coffee cup was different. Really homey and jam packed. Mulan and I split again and got fajita eggs. Nice salsa. And others got a mixture of waffles/pancakes/omlets. I can't really remember their food, of course, since I didn't eat it. But I know we had full bellies and were happy.

Which was good because we were planning on about a 6 hour drive down to Thousand Oaks, again cross country on whatever crazy roads I could find. Today would be through wine country. And the ocean, of course.

But for a little while we were still in farm land


California really is interesting in this area, which I know I've already kind of touched when discussing the Serving Spoon in LA. The rich and poor seem to live right next to each other. So you'd have a gorgeous ranch right next to a run down shack. Where I'm from is like that too. Gorgeous house, 1970 trailer no one took care of right across the street. But generally when I travel the rich separate themselves from the poor. So that was interesting.

Driving due west towards the ocean into wine country:


Beautiful winery:


Found it!


The girls hadn't been attention in the back as it was pretty boring scenery for them. But once we got to 1, they started looking. Oceans are always interesting.

Be back in a bit...
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:53 PM   #105
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So glad to see some updates!! Wow, what an amazing trip you took your family on.
I know you say your pictures don't do it justice, but the Yosemite pictures are breathtaking. I can't imagine how awesome it must be to see it in person. Can't wait to read the rest.

I also enjoyed your YouTube video of the surprise trip to DW. Great job on it!
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