Day 106 – 12/14 Yosemite National Park – Day 1

We are at the foothills of Yosemite National Park, just before it gets too high and snowy, in Groveland.  Our campground is called Yosemite Pines, we are far enough to not be snowy and freezing, but close enough that it’s colder than our prior stops.

Bia woke up quite quick today.  And as is the norm now since Rosie (the elf) showed up, the first thing she does when she wakes up is go look for Rosie.  The smile on her face when she finds the elf is priceless… It’s like this magical thing just happened that makes her all happy inside.  This is great.  I hope it will last a little longer.

Also, our windows were very wet this morning, all of them… with water from condensation running down and piling up on the window frame.  We are going to be in colder areas for some time yet and I just dont want this much condensation anymore, it is not good and it won’t take much for mold to start, so I ordered a small dehumidifier on Amazon this morning.  It should be here on Friday (could not get it sooner, bummer) and I hope it’s as quiet and efficient as all the reviews say.  It looks pretty small too, almost the size of the little coffee maker we have.  More on that maybe Friday or Saturday 🙂

Bia got her school work done as usual, and when she was done she wanted to read her book.  She’s really into this book, it’s about some kids and the story plays in Yellowstone, she is reading this second book already and is finishing the whole book in a week.  Carol is now looking for the third and final book of the series, but it does not look like it’s easy to find.

Bella did not start the morning well.  She didn’t wake up in time, then her class was doing math instead of ELA, and that threw her off further. Then, when she joined ELA they were doing this story related book cover activity which we didn’t have printed, and that was it.  She broke down… started complaining and whining and throwing a tantrum.  I told her to hang up the call and change, and I’d take her on a break to the petting farm.  She complained a bit, but changed and we left.  I got the walkie talkies and left one with Bia as she wanted to stay in the trailer and continue reading her book, she’s determined to finish it today. 

As soon as we stepped outside, Bella’s mood changed and she was back to normal and calm.  We walked to the petting farm and took a short cut through some camp sites, as the place is right down from us, but the street makes a huge turn.  They had 2 Donkeys and 2 Llamas, and Bella was happy and excited.  She walked around there, tried to pet the animals, and just observed them eating.  These are bigger than the animals from the last campground, so they were a bit intimidating as well.  She got to touch a donkey while it was chewing on some food.  Then she went to touch the Llama, and as she extended her hand slowly towards its face, the Llama sneezed on Bella’s face. Hahahahaha… she jumped back, we started laughing and she said, ok, time to go. Hahahaha.  We walked around the area before returning, checked out the small playground, and some old style cabins.  When we got back, she was in a good mood and got started again with the school work, focusing on doing math and checking off the easy stuff.  She also wanted to eat, so she had one mini apple and two regular apples!  She did a nice job continuing and finishing her work.  All she left for later is some coloring for that book activity.

Bia finished reading her book soon after Bella and I got back.  She’s so happy to have finished another chapter book, and is now excited to read the next and final chapter.

Carol came back from grocery shopping, and I had the girls help her put things away so we could leave ASAP to Yosemite.  We had a lot going on at the same time for a little while… Carol was putting some food in the InstaPot for dinner later, while I made sandwiches to take on our day trip, and for us to eat now for lunch.  Bia and Bella were helping out, and putting some of their stuff away.  As soon as I was done, I went outside to get the propane tank Carol got filled back in the trailer, and have the system setup again.  I loaded the truck with our stuff for the day, got all our winter jackets out of the storage area and into the truck, got all the hiking shoes, etc.  Carol and the girls finished everything inside, and we left just after noon.  Our drive to Yosemite Falls Trail head was about 90 minutes, and I wanted to stop and fill up the truck as well.

I think all the rides around this area are the same, hills, mountains, lots of turns and pretty views.  Our drive to Yosemite was just like that.  We got to the park within about 45 minutes, and as we passed the Ranger station, we showed our national park pass (yes!  one more down) and the ranger asked if I had chains for the truck.  He said they are in R2 status, which means 4 wheel drive is good, but you should carry chains.  I was surprised that he would not be ok with a big truck, with All Terrain Tires and 4 wheel drive.  I told him I didn’t have chains, and he said “ok, I won’t turn you around, but if you see a sign that says chains are required, turn around”.  Yeeee… we are in.  Carol and Bella were a little spooked with that conversation, I told them not to worry, but they did… until we hit some snowy area on our way up the mountain, and I could demonstrate how easily the truck would stop.  I just found an area that was straight and no cars around, and while doing maybe 20mph, I hit the brakes all the way…. Truck just made a stop without loosing control.  Carol was happy then.  Bella was still unsure. Hahahahaha.  Bella was good once we made it to the other side of the mountain and were out of the snowy area.  On the way back, she didn’t even remember this.

Going up the mountain in the middle of the woods, with snow, is amazing.  Such a great feeling and beautiful views.  Once we were over the mountain and started coming down, right after the thick of the trees was over, there it was… Yosemite Valley.  Wow!  What an amazing view.  This immense valley in the middle of massive rocks, with lots of trees, water running through it, is stunning.  And the mix of areas without snow, and then snow on the mountain tops is just cool to see as well.  We took our time driving down into the valley, stopped at a few places for pictures.  We drove down Big Oak Road, and it merges with 140 way down by Merced River.  On the way down, and as we drive through the loop, we saw all the major “attractions”: El Capitan, Half Dome, Cathedral rocks, Bridal Veil Falls, the Yosemite Chapel (not in order). 

Our Gypsy app was telling us all about the history of the area and the places to stop.  It was also saying how busy this area is, and traffic is crazy, and it takes forever to do the loop, and recommended that if you’re lucky enough to find parking, that you should park and take the bus around.  Well, here we are on 12/14, it’s in the 30s, with R2 road conditions… state COVID restrictions so shuttle service is closed… and there’s no traffic at all. hahahaha… As a matter of fact, there were very few other vehicles in the park, and very few people, which is great, it made our drive that much easier, and we didn’t have to worry about running into too many people.  Our plan was to walk the Lower Yosemite Falls Trail as it is a small trail, and would be enough for today before we headed back. The park is closing at 5pm, so we needed to be out, and I also wanted to be out before dark.  We made our way towards the trail, while stopping for pictures wherever we wanted.  We did make a stop at the Yosemite Village Store so the ladies could use the restroom.  Then we went to our trailhead stop. 

We had a nice little walk through the trail, and the view of the Lower Yosemite Falls is nice, though there’s not much water coming down, so I’m sure it’s less impressive than when it’s full.  It was a bit cold too, around 30, but it’s so humid that the cold chills you to the bones.  You can see all major views from there too, so we took our time and walked around a longer loop enjoying being in the middle of the big trees with awesome views of the cliffs above and around us.  I posted the walk on Strava, it was a nice and easy 2km/30 min walk.  By then, it was already 3:30 or so, so we decided to start driving back and call it a successful first day seeing the park and doing reconnaissance. 

We took our time driving back, continued enjoying the views.  Way in the distance we could see a heavy cloud formation, with a big round opening letting sun rays through, it’s such an awesome view.  Oh, I had engaged the 4×4 on the truck as we passed the entrance on the way in, and then disengaged as we were out of the snowy mountain range and were making our way down to the valley, so we stopped in the same spot and I reengaged the 4×4 so we could go through the snowy area.  Again, made our way out with no problems.  It’s awesome to drive the truck with the engine brakes on and 4×4 down the snow, the actual brakes don’t engage, and the truck remains in total control while going down and keeping a slow speed.  I did limit the gear to 2 a few times and the grades got steep, and it was super nice and easy.  Once we hit the ranger station on the way out, I put it back into 2wd.

The rest of the drive back was good.  Girls had their electronics so they were busy and didn’t see much from there. hahahah.  We made it back by the trailer by 5, and we started getting things cleaned up, girls ready for bed, Carol finished dinner and I worked on posting yesterday’s post.  We had a lot of stuff all over, so it took a bit to finish cleaning up for dinner.  We had dinner around 7, the watched some TV with the girls, and put them to bed just after 8.  Carol was posting stuff after that, I did some work, and we watched a bit of TV before going to bed.  It was getting pretty cold, so I turned the furnace on to 66 before going to sleep and turning the space heaters off.  I’ll put the new power cable and power surge protector on tomorrow as they arrived today.

Nice first day here, beautiful area, and I love the view from our camp site.

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