Since we decided on going to Yosemite only a few months before actually leaving, we weren't able to properly "plan" a trip the way that the guidebook we bought at Barnes and Noble recommended. Yosemite is the oldest established National Park, and, in my opinion, the most beautiful, and therefore receives millions of visitors every year. I heard on the news just a couple of days ago that Yosemite received over four million visitors last summer and is projected to receive even more this summer. With so many people wanting to stand in awe of Yosemite's natural beauty, it's best to plan months (maybe even years) in advance. What I'm mostly referring to are reservations and permits, which apparently go like hot cakes when they are released in the early winter months. We knew that all of the reserved camping areas were long gone, but we did know that there were a few known "first come, first serve" campgrounds in the park. We set our sights on getting to one of those, and reasoned that arriving around noon on a Sunday would be the best possible time. Campers who lived nearby and had just come up for the weekend might be heading home, and maybe we would get lucky. But, like I said in the previous blog, we were far more than "lucky" on this vacation of ours. Every morning Andy would ask the Lord to go before us, and everyday we would see Him move, not mountains exactly, but everything that we needed to get to really enjoy them.
We left Bakersfield about 7:30 and hit the road. We did make one quick stop at a local fruit/vegetable and cheese "stand." Actually, the conglomeration of buildings consisted of a coffee house, ice cream parlor, outdoor grill, souvenir shop, fruit stand, petting zoo and a large courtyard where Andy found this exceptional tree house!
We got some absolutely delicious plums and tomatoes and then headed on toward the Park. We felt pretty good about our timing. As we got nearer to the Park, we noticed scores of RV's and SUV's and other V's loaded down with weekend getaway gear heading in the opposite direction. But, when we made it to the park entrance, the ranger told us that all of the campgrounds were full. Undeterred, we decided to check it out for ourselves. We were directed by another ranger to the campground reservation office in Wawona Village, about 30 miles from the valley. There, a very helpful ranger informed us that Bridalveil Creek Campground, up in the high country above Yosemite Valley had 88 available campsites! We were ecstatic! When we arrived, after circling the campground just once, we found the PERFECT site- #70. Surrounded by trees on three sides, but close proximity to the restroom and water station, it looked divine in the noon light. We took it and started setting up camp!
Yosemite is bear country, so all food, toiletries and laundry has to be securely locked up in the bear locker at night. Yes! We did see a bear. Will tell that story later...
Andy is a great person to camp with, because he has lots of experience from his days in Boy Scouts and his Army training. He can make a good campfire and can fix anything- given enough duck tape. Here he is patching a hole in one of our tarps.
But sometimes he underestimates his own strength, like with this hammer. He beat it to death. The same thing happened to our ax a little later on in the trip!
After adequately setting up, we headed down to Yosemite Valley Sunday afternoon to see the sights and pick up some supplies. There are no words, nor do pictures do justice to what it's like to make the turn around the mountain and see Yosemite Valley for the first time. All you can do is hold your breath.
I think even Daisy was impressed.
Bridalveil falls in the background.
Once in the Valley, we drove to Curry Village, a very crowded, bustling little place where visitors can find stores, restaurants, showers, a pool and other amenities. We paid several visits to Curry Village during the trip, but this time, we just got the "essentials." :-)
Somewhere on the road, Andy said to me, "You aren't going to decorate our campsite are you?" I think I replied with something like, "Do you know me at all?" I am always out to make things as cute and cozy as possible- even when camping. I did learn some lessons on how to make things both cute and efficient on this (my first) overnight camping trip, but I am undeterred on my mission to make life in general as cozy as possible. I thought our little candlelight (true, it was a Citronella candle) dinner was cozy as could be. :)
On our way out of Texas, we stopped at a gas station in a tiny town where I found these "fresh picked" okra. I was delighted that they stayed fresh until Sunday night. I fried 'em up in Crisco like my momma taught me. ;) This was feasible only because Katy & Anthony graciously let us borrow their camp stove, which we couldn't have done without. Thanks guys!
While I was cooking dinner, I realized how quickly it gets cold at Bridalveil Creek! Once the sun goes down, temps drop fast into the fifties and then the forties. Yet, the mosquitoes are still looking for a banquet until it gets completely dark. I admit, I was a little unprepared for temps that low, so the first night I layered up in this silly outfit. I sprayed the handkerchief with bug spray to keep the 'skeeters away. I guess the campsite was relatively cute, but this outfit, I admit, was anything but. :)
In addition to the fried okra, we had hot dogs, which we roasted over the fire, and canned chili, to which I added those fresh tomatoes we got from the fruit stand. Everything was delicious! Full, tired and excited about what was to come next, we rested by the campfire for a little bit that night, then crawled into our sleeping bags for what was mine and the doggies first night sleeping in a tent!
Continued in part 3...