Friday, March 4, 2011

Two Weeks Later (Yosemite Trip)

Our first trip to Yosemite was back in July (I blogged about it here), and we fell in love.  We mentioned how cool it would be to see it in other seasons, mainly winter.

Well, since this is our last winter here in So Cal, we decided it's now or never.  We originally wanted to go back in January during MLK weekend, but that kind of fell through.  So we said we'd go over President's Day weekend, but never really made any plans.  About a week before President's Day, someone asked if I could watch their dog that weekend, which made me realize, Hey, are we going, or not?  So Grant got on the ball, and made us some reservations at a hotel outside of the park.  More on that later...

The key part of visiting Yosemite in winter would be, of course, to see it blanketed in snow.  The park hadn't been getting a lot of snow this winter, but in that week before President's Day, a huge snowstorm went through.  Which meant lots of fresh snow for us to enjoy!  I like snow when you don't have to live in it!  So we got some last-minute winter clothes for the girls (thank God for consignment stores and friends with kids the same sizes!) and packed up our newly purchased tire chains and headed out.

We saw snow not too far outside of LA, so we knew we would be in for a treat once we got up in elevation.  And I was right!  Just outside of the main entrance to the park, it turned into just a total winter wonderland.  I had not seen this much snow since our snowboarding trip to Wolf Creek several years ago.  And this was definitely surpassing that.

Kendall was so excited to see snow.  I mean, she's seen it before, but since she was a very, very newborn, I don't think she has too many memories of it.  So, when we pulled off at this store for a second, I rolled down her window and let her catch some snow in her hands.  She loved it!

Before we got to the park, they had a chain checkpoint, where they were making you put chains on your tires.  We have a 4WD, so they weren't as strict with us, but told us we'd probably still need them.  So once we got inside the park, Grant put them on.  While he was putting the chains on, I bundled the girls up (which was work, let me tell you!), and let them go play in the snow.  The dressing part, they didn't like so much.  But the snow play part, they LOVED! 

Once Grant was done putting the chains on, he brought out one of the sleds we rented from the base before we left.  We knew we had a long drive down to the Valley ahead of us, so it was fun to have this little adventure before that.  Oh, and FYI, this was the first time sledding for ALL of us, which was really fun.

So after our nice little stop, we started heading towards the Valley, which is where all the good stuff is in Yosemite.  Don't get me wrong, the whole park is incredible, but it's mainly just trees (huge trees).  The waterfalls and everything that you go to Yosemite to see is in the Valley.

All I can say about that drive is that Grant was so annoyed that he had even taken the time to put the chains on.  There were a few patches that we hit that the chains probably benefitted us, but overall, we really didn't need them.  So he took them off about halfway through the drive. 

Then we finally got to one of the most spectacular views, EVER!  The tunnel view.  You go through this tunnel, then all the sudden - BAM!  God's creation just smacks you in the face.  This was the spot that gave me goosebumps back in July.  I got them again, because with the fog and the snow and the cliffs and the waterfall - it was just so surreal! 

So after we took in the tunnel view, we kept on going.  When we got to the Valley floor, I just couldn't believe how much snow was on the ground!  And I love waterfalls, so they're just kind of breathtaking, you know?  So Grant had me get out of the car so he could get some pictures of me with the waterfall in the background.  All of that deep, powdery snow was just calling to me, so I decided to play in it for a few minutes, until I almost froze, so I came back.

We drove around a little more, then decided we should probably start making our way to the hotel, which was just outside the El Portal entrance to the park.  We followed the Merced River all the way to the hotel, and it was just so beautiful!

The next morning, we got an early start to our day.  The drive in, again, was beautiful (let's see how many times I use beautiful in this post), as you can see...

We decided to go back to the Tunnel View to get a clear look at everything, since it had been so foggy when we saw it the day before.  Um, beautiful?!  As far as the family pic goes, one of the great things about visiting Yosemite right after a snow storm, was the amount of photographers there.  So we felt very confident about asking random people to take our picture, knowing they'd know how to work the camera, and not cut off our heads.

Here's just some random pictures that we took while driving on the Valley floor.

We finally made our way to Yosemite Falls for a little winter hiking.  The Falls were absolutely {beautiful} as usual, and the girls loved getting out and playing in the snow.

Couple of things from this part, first...I realized that there was something not quite right about how Cami was dressed, then I realized what it was.  I'm not saying who's responsible for this, all I'm saying is that I got Kendall dressed.

Next, Kendall really wanted to eat snow, so we gave her a little lesson in, "Don't ever eat yellow snow."  Thankfully, this snow was perfectly white.

Next up was sledding.  Like, for real sledding.  So we went to this place that was just packed full of people, but we still had a blast.  Kendall really wanted to do it by herself, so Grant let her do that a couple of times...not from the top of the hill, though.

Then we drove back to the Tunnel View a third time (although, I think we went this time because the girls were sleeping, so we were just trying to kill time while they napped), but I'll spare you more pictures.  It's an amazing place, though.  I had to talk Grant out of going back there a fourth time.  That view just never gets old.

After they woke up, we did something that was another first for us, and probably the most adventurous thing we've done with kids - snowshoeing.  Again, Grant rented these from the base before we left, and he really, really wanted to try it.  I was more hesitant, but I went along with it.  It ended up being alot of fun, and we were able to kind of get away from the crowds a bit, and just enjoy the snow by ourselves.  And we finally made a snowman which was Kendall's #1 priority, I think, this whole trip.  She also made a snow angel.  We also went sledding again.

After that experience, it was time to go back to the hotel, and our trip was pretty much over!  But I did want to give a little shout out to the hotel we stayed at.  It's called the Yosemite View Lodge.  We got a ridiculously cheap rate ($100/night) for a 2-story room with a kitchen.  And it's only 2 miles from the El Portal entrance to the park, which is only about 10 more minutes to the Valley.  The Yosemite Lodge charges about twice the price we paid, and I'm sure the rooms weren't anywhere near as big as the one we stayed in, and I doubt they have kitchens.  Now, the Yosemite View Lodge is not totally up-to-date (notice the pink staircase), but the bed was comfy, and our girls slept great, and that's all I can hope for in a hotel room these days.  I highly, highly recommend this place if you're going to Yosemite.  There are some mixed reviews for this place out there, so I just wanted to add in my 2 cents. 

1 comment:

  1. This looks like one fabulous, memorable vacation! Fantastic pictures! I loved the ones of you playing in the snow!