Monday, March 21, 2011

The Tunnel with a view

Thursday, March 17

We left Ridgecrest, CA early on Thursday morning and set out for the drive to Yosemite National Park. This would be our longest stretch of driving yet, about 5 hours. It actually went by really fast and Jonah did great. It really helps that we have a portable DVD player in the car. I don’t know how my parents survived without one. It’s really the greatest thing. Jonah watches various DVD’s, such as, Thomas the Tank Engine, Elmo or Sesame Street, and Word World. So, for the most part, the DVD’s keep Jonah entertained. We also have some books that he looks through or I read to him. We have his travel sized Doodle Pro which entertains him for quite a while as well. We also listened to some of Jonah’s CD’s, you know kid appropriate music that he likes, mainly the CD’s we’ve gotten from his Music For Aadvarks classes.
During the drive to Yosemite, we had to cross over the lower part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was a very scenic drive. We saw several signs warning us of potential wildlife crossings for wild cows or bulls and even wild horses. I was keeping my eyes peeled for some wild horses, but we never saw any, unfortunately. Towards the end of this drive, as we got closer and closer to Yosemite National Park the roads got more curvy and more mountainous.

We arrived to Yosemite National Park in the early afternoon. The weather on Thursday was nice. It was in the mid 50’s, so we headed down to Yosemite valley to see some things and do some hiking. Along the way, right beside the road, we saw a coyote. It was just chillin’ beside the road. I was literally about 10 feet from it in the car with my window rolled down taking a picture. I guess maybe the wildlife is somewhat used to visitors? It didn’t act like it was bothered by us at all.

Our coyote friend

Our first stop in Yosemite was Tunnel View. It is called Tunnel View because you drive through a tunnel, approximately ½ mile long, when you come out of the other side of the tunnel, you have a view, and when I say a view, I mean an AMAZING view. I really cannot put into words how beautiful this was. Just gorgeous. This view included El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls, and Yosemite Falls. Jonah was asleep in the car at this point, so Mark and I alternated getting out and looking at the view.

Tunnel View

Next up was getting a closer view of Bridalveil Falls. Jonah was still asleep in the car, so Mark and I alternated again to go out and see these falls. It was a one half mile (round trip) hike, so it took each of us like 10-15 minutes to go see it. It was a pretty amazing view too, you were basically right at the base of the falls and could feel the mist of the falls hitting you.

Bridalveil Falls

After Bridalveil falls, we went down to Yosemite Visitor’s Center to look around at the museum and to get some more information on the hikes that we could do in Yosemite. Since Yosemite is at a much higher elevation, some of the trails are still not passable this time of year due to snow and ice. Once again, Jonah loved the little museum… it had several stuffed, real animals and also had a model of one of the giant sequoia’s with a little tunnel he could walk through, so of course, he did that over and over. Mark was able to find out about a hike we could do, which would be about 3 miles round trip, and was safe and passable this time of year. The hike was to Upper Yosemite Falls.
This was definitely the most challenging hike we have done this whole trip. We gained 1500 feet during this hike, so it was strenuous. I do not know how Mark did it with an additional 40lbs + on his back. It was basically zig-zagging up a mountain, climbing over rocks and crossing over small water falls. About 1000 feet up the hike was Columbia Rock. I climbed down below Columbia Rock and Mark was able to take my picture as I stood out on the rock. Even Mark got a little nervous when I was climbing out there… usually it’s the other way around :)

Jonah playing around at the visitor's center

Mark and Jonah on the hike to Yosemite Falls

Me on the way up to Yosemite Falls

View on the way to Yosemite Falls

Upper Yosemite Falls

Not the greatest picture of the 3 of us, but I love how Jonah is giving a cheesy grin

Lower Yosemite Falls

view of Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls together
Although the hike was strenuous, it was well worth it. The view at the top was amazing. We could look up at Upper Yosemite Falls and look down at Lower Yosemite Falls. This water fall is technically the highest waterfall in America. It’s kind of cheating though because they add the distance of the two falls together. Its technically one waterfall since it’s all in the same stream of water. Mark felt somewhat hurried to turn around and get back down the mountain because he was worried about it getting dark. We hadn’t started the hike until about 4pm, so he did not want us to get stuck coming down the mountain in the dark. Going down the mountain went by a lot more quickly than going up and we made it down before it got dark.

For dinner we stayed down in the valley and ate at a restaurant in Yosemite Lodge. We then headed back up the mountain to exit the park and go to our hotel. The drive back up the mountain at night made this Momma a bit nervous. It was very dark and the roads were very curvy. We also saw 2 more coyote running alongside the road. We made it though… and checked into our hotel, the Tenaya Lodge. This hotel/resort has a big lodge where you can stay and also has individual cabins. We chose an individual cabin. Each has its pros and cons obviously, but overall we were happy with our choice. Our little cabin had a fireplace, which we especially enjoyed. Once we got our stuff in and settled it was pretty much time to hit the hay… we were tired from that hike!!

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