Day 16—Monday, June 4, 2018
Today we left the crowded west coast and turned east toward the fabled Yosemite. The central valley of California had fields and fields with rows and rows of food growing to ship all across the country. We stopped at a fruit stand and bought peaches, which were quite delicious. The whole day we talked about T’s birthday—he turned three and was happy to say so.
Our road led us up into the Sierra Nevadas along windy roads until finally we reached Yosemite. The roads were lined with various pine trees. Though in some places the trees stood empty and blackend providing us with a beautiful mountain view. We parked at the trailhead of Tuolomne Grove, ate lunch at the car, and then hiked down the Old Big Oak Flat Road to an ancient grove of sequoia trees. They stood tall, thick, and noble. They like fog and forest fires. The bark was soft and springy as we hugged and smelled their woody-pine scent. I was sad to leave the grove—but we had more things to do.
Our way to our campsite lead us through Yosemite Valley. There we had our first view of El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridal Falls, the Cathedral Spires, and Yosemite Falls from below and then from above as we oohed and ahhed over the tunnel view.
Wawona campground was pleasant as we were near a bubbling brook—it was our first encounter with bear lockers as well. We had a little fire after the macaroni and cheese birthday dinner and birthday cookies with candles for T. All in all, a great third birthday.
I bet by now you are wondering when and how we showered and did laundry. While we could have found laundromats along the way and used showers at various campgrounds, this is what we did. I agreed to this three-week vacation only if we stayed with friends or at hotels every couple of nights. The first thing we did when we got to a friend’s house or hotel was start the laundry. For the six of us with five changes of clothes, laundry took about three loads each time. Everyone would take a much-needed shower before going to bed, and then the professor and I would stay up folding the clean laundry into the suitcase. If we were staying at a place two nights, sometimes we would get to shower two days in a row!
A note about hotels and kids. I am not sure what most people do to keep their kids happy and quiet in hotel rooms, but we could not convince our kids to sit around and look at books. There are no toys, no friends or relatives, a fairly small space, and lots of bouncy furniture. This was the only time on the trip that we caved to the entertainment of screens. For some reason none of our hotels had Netflix available on their televisions so the children all squeezed around my 4-inch phone screen and watched a movie. I do not trust normal TV stations to show my children anything worthwhile or considerate of their innocence.