Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 2, Day 11 (Tuesday, July 23)

Not surprisingly, given our busy day and late night the day before, we slept in on Tuesday!  I hate to waste vacation time sleeping, but if you have to do it, you might as well do it at a nice cabin in the woods in one of America's most beautiful national parks.  We wanted to see the famous Yosemite Valley and get our national parks passports stamped at the visitor center, so after poking around the lodge during the morning, we loaded up in the car and headed south around 1 PM, after dropping a few postcards in the mail.  It was around a 45 minute drive through more beautiful scenery to get to the valley.  We stopped at one of the parks leading into the valley so that we could walk up to the Merced River.  Standing there on the bank, I was reminded of an antidote I read about John Muir.  Some 19th century tourist came up to Muir and told him that he only had an hour in the park, and asked if Muir could recommend what he should do with his limited time.  Muir replied, "if you only have an hour in the park, you should sit by the Merced River and cry."  The boys, once again, wanted to wade in the water.  This time, Sharon went with them.

Sharon and the boys wading in the Merced River

They waded all the way across the narrow river.  We could see the fish in the crystal clear stream.  It is stunning to stand by the river, and look up to see the gigantic granite walls all around.  After the boys had their fill of swimming, we headed on to the visitor center in search of a late lunch.  After parking the car and taking a healthy walk to the center of the action, we located a cafeteria style eatery that looked like it wouldn't take too long.  Eating at the cafeteria, and being in the valley in general, made it easy to see why the valley has such a reputation of being overcrowded.  It's just harder to enjoy the natural beauty when there are thousands of other souls milling about.  However, nobody should be deprived of the chance to see these spiritual sites.  After lunch, we walked around some of the souvenir shops, visited the Ansel Adams gallery and got our passports stamped at the visitor center.  Ben bought a few more stuffed animals to add to his minagarie.  Unfortunately, because of the summer weather, we were not able to witness one of the park's most famous landmarks--Yosemite Falls.  There was barely a trickle coming down off the mountain.  We could only use our imagination to see the Spring water bursting forth over the granite precipice hundred of feet to the valley below.  We bought some postcards and a few books at the visitor center.  I had almost purchased the book, Death at the Grand Canyon, when we were in Arizona.  It sounds macabre, but it's actually a really interesting account of the many deaths that have occurred at the park.  Now, here at Yosemite, I did purchase the book, Death at Yosemite.  I also bought a John Muir biography.  We eventually took the shuttle back to our car.  On the way out of the village, we drove down by the Ahwahnee hotel, where I had considered staying.  I'm sure it's nice and all, what with presidents that have stayed there before.  However, I think the Evergreen Lodge was perfect for our family.  Before leaving the valley, we stopped at a pullout at the base of El Capitan.  Sharon and I walked far out into a meadow to get a breathtaking view of the gigantic granite monster.  We were trying to spot climbers through the zoom lens of the camera, because the wall is so huge that you can't make out the humans with the naked eye.  Some climbers take multiple days to get to the top, sleeping along the way.  And, there are plenty of entries in the Death at Yosemite book for those that didn't make it.  The walking and the crowds had made the boys a bit restless, so we started to drive back toward the lodge.  On the way, we stopped at an overlook which offered the best view of Half Dome that we had seen.  We made some, "is there coffee on half dome jokes", and Ben had to go to the bathroom (#2), so he and I climbed down over some rocks and slipped away into some brush.  I'm glad we didn't get eaten by a bear.  After Ben was done with his business, we climbed back to the overlook, and took some great pictures in every direction before driving back to the lodge.
Yosemite Ben (Half Dome in distance)

Yosemite Dominic

We arrived back at our room at around 6 PM.  We took a bit of a breather, but before long Sharon and Dominic headed up to the pool.  Ben wanted to rest a little longer, so I stayed in the room with him. Eventually, he and I walked a portion of the trail that goes all around the Evergreen's property.  We were looking for some souvenir sugar pine cones.  It was a nice hike, and we snuck up on Sharon and Dominic at the pool.  We all stayed at the pool from around 7-9, hanging out in the hot tub, swimming in the heated pool, cooking some poolside s'mores, drinking a few mudslides (adults only!), and generally relaxing in this rustic paradise.  The pool closed at 9:00, so we went back to our rooms to change clothes, and then headed up to the resturant for a late dinner on the deck.  I had tenderloin with polenta.  After dinner, we hung out in the recreation area to play some more shuffelboard and ping-pong.  Eventually, we went into the rec room so that I could try to use the wifi to look at driving directions for the next day, but to also check the Pirates score.  We went back to our rooms around midnight.  It was another great day in the park.

Lodge living!


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