Yosemite is like a slice of heaven on Earth. When we were in the valley, my brain went into beautiful-scenery overload. I couldn't decide which way to turn to my head, which thing to rest my gaze on....it was all so beautiful and postcard perfect.
Jer and I had planned this camping trip a couple months ago with Jo and Clinton. What we hadn't planned on was our washing machine pipe bursting and flooding our downstairs the Monday morning prior to our trip. Instead of packing and preparing for the trip, Jer spent 8 hours with the carpet cleaner sucking up water. I packed what I could, but I had to wait for him to replace the pipe before I could do the laundry, and we needed tons of stuff from town. We finally started shopping that evening, but stayed up past midnight trying to get everything ready in time.
According to Google, the drive there was 7 hours, but with 4 kids and a crippled dog, it took us 8 1/2 hours to get there. The drive actually went really smoothly. The kids didn't complain at all, and Dusty slept most of the time. Our campground was called "Yosemite Lakes." It was about 45 minutes from Yosemite Valley, and it was really beautiful!
Jer and I found a great site set back against the open woods. Jo & Clint showed up a little later, and all combined, we had six tents. Jo and Clint brought their dog "Yang"...totally adorable dog! Later that evening, Jer and I were trying to make BBQ chicken for dinner, but we had forgotten to bring the grill top thingy to put over the fire. We tried to create a makeshift grill by propping up all of our metal s'mores sticks on logs, but we still lost three pieces of chicken after they slipped into the fire. Dusty got a hold of a raw piece of chicken, and later puked it up in the girls' tent.
The next day, we decided to just relax around the campground. The best part of our campground was the river. Part of the river had a small waterfall which flowed into a great swimming area. This section of the river had a massive rock that was great for tanning.
Here is me, Jo, Cass, Shelby, and Jer chilling' on our rock.
Clint and Dylan panning for Gold.
Me when I finally got in the water (well, a little bit)
That was a REALLY relaxing day, and it was also Jodi and Clinton's turn to cook! Cooking even simple meals turned into quite a challenge when you are missing certain items, like a grill, spatula, frying pan...(all items we probably would have packed if our freakin' house hadn't gotten flooded!). Clinton apparently decide not to bother with any of that though. He had the kids cook their own hotdogs with sticks in the fire, and somehow tricked them into thinking this would be a fun thing to do. I think Jo tossed some potato salad and macaroni salad out on the picnic table.
A couple unfortunate incidences occurred that day. Some lady tried to steal my $80 ipod speaker. I stupidly plugged it in the campground bathroom to charge it. Our site was pretty close to the bathroom, and I figured I would see if someone tried to walk out with it. However, I forgot that it was in there, and took off for a few hours to swim with the kids in the river. When I came back, it was gone. I sulked about it for about a half hour, until Jodi approached various campers and actually found it for me.
The second thing was this HUGE group of high schoolers took over a spot next to ours. Their group was so large that they brought a uHaul to carry all of their camping gear. Up until they showed up, it was so quiet and peaceful. After they showed up, it just sounded like a party. Ergh. We decided we were going to have to switch to a different site.
Thursday was both grueling and amazing. We hiked in Yosemite Valley. Clinton found a hike that led to a waterfall, but it was uphill the entire time. The last portion of the hike was made of about 600 steps. These weren't neat, symmetrical steps either. They were uneven, crumbling, wet....some of the steps were so large, I had to use my arms to pull myself up. The hike had the most breathtaking scenery I have ever seen in my life. But my lungs were burning, and I started to feel dizzy. I was downing bottles of water at an unbelievable rate. I don't know how to explain it. Even though physically, I felt like I was falling apart, mentally and emotionally, I felt incredible. I think I can begin to understand why individuals like to challenge themselves with hiking or mountain climbing. Here at some pictures from Yosmite Valley:
I'm excited for the day!
The kids are excited too!
Jodi and Clinton
Jeremy, me, and Shelby
More beautiful goodness
When we got to the top of the waterfall, I experienced another unfortunate incident. I had to go to the bathroom SO bad, and I ended up doing the behind-the-bush thing (it was more like a balanced-on-a-cliff-behind-a-log thing) with Jodi acting as my guard. Somehow, I got a bunch of tiny sharp thistle things stuck all over my butt. Every time I moved, it was painful! Shortly after I emerged with my stinging, itchy, cactus butt, Clinton informed me that there was actually a bathroom I could have used.
During our hike, Jo and I encountered the friendliest squirrels in the world! Not only were we hand feeding them, but they actually sat in our laps.
One of them stole my granola bar right out of my hand.
That evening, we switched campsites. Jer and I actually bought a grill from the country store, and we made fish. After hiking and then moving campsites, we were all pretty dang tired. I barely could move, but Jodi coaxed me into taking a shower, emphasizing how GOOD and REFRESHED the hot water would make me feel. I wearily forced myself away from the warmth of the campfire, gathered up all my stuff, and hobbled to the shower with high hopes. When I turned it on, the water was freezing. I shampooed my hair as fast as I could, skipped the conditioner, skipped shaving, tried and failed to pull the needles out of my butt, and shivered violently the whole time. (Real refreshing Jo).
Friday was my favorite day. We returned to our favorite river spot. We went on a smaller hike near our campsite. Jo and Clint made a great dinner, and we had a really happy meal together. Clinton burst a cherry in his hand, squirting some of the juice on me, which led to an assault of mature "popping my cherry" jokes. We had s'mores (actually we had s'mores pretty much every night), and we played silly games with the kids around the campfire.
A few more pictures from near our campsite:
Jodi and Jer jousting
Cass and Trin battling
Jo and I being silly
Hiking in flip flops and slippers
We got up the next morning, packed up, and made the long drive back home. When we got home, our pig had busted into the house, ate all of the cat's food, and trapped herself in the bathroom. At least my butt feels better now.