My last post came to you from my bed. this one is coming from my sofa but that's only because the Dodgers game is on and I don't have a TV in the bedroom. Las Vegas post to follow (I have to get photos from other people AGAIN. I did remember my camera, and even to take the camera outside with me. Then I realised the memory card was still in my laptop. I am NOT GOOD at cameras.)
This post is all about Yosemite National Park, which I felt at the time was completely exhausting but with a week of perspective that involved a wedding in Las Vegas, I now think it was actually pretty relaxing... The drive was LONG. Husband is a total hero. We set off at 9-ish, and finally arrived at 4.30-ish. This was through the agricultural heartland of central California (ie. big, flat, hotter than Hades.) There was absolutely zero view to enjoy and nothing but low vineyards and shimmering desert as far as the eye could see. That actually makes it sound better than it was. My other main problem with this drive is that American radio is TERRIBLE at the best of times, but because there is no national service a la BBC Radio 2, it is constantly losing signal so you have to hunt for ages to try and find another mediocre station that will last you 20 minutes before it becomes fuzzy again. Part of the reason we got our car so cheap was that the CD player has the Oasis album 'Standing on the shoulders of Giants' stuck in it, which everyone knows is just terrible. *sigh*
All the complaining aside, the minute we arrived in Yosemite national park, it was all worth it.
The weird thing for me is that it was really hot, even though we were in amongst mountains and trees and therefore it should have been cool. At the time, I said 'God, it's really hot' a lot, but with the benefit of a hindsight/a weekend in Vegas, I'm going to say it was beautiful warm weather.
We made our way to the campsite, to be greeted with what I can only describe as a canvas Butlins. I think all three of us (husband, Pauline (the intern from his department and taker of all these photographs- thanks Pauline!) and I) were pretty disappointed. Being European rugged types, we all normally like our camping with less wifi and Starbucks. The tents were SO close together and there was literally thousands and thousands of people there. Once the rest of our group arrived, we got settled into our canvas cabins (this is probably the best description, sort of half tents/half cabins, with proper beds and a wooden floor but canvas walls) it turned out that we didn't actually have anyone right next to us, but they were still pretty close.
Unlike every other camping trip I've ever been on, you were not allowed to cook on the site. This is because of the bears. Yosemite is full of bears who really love barbeque. Apparently they can tell the difference between a Trader Joe's bag and a Target bag from the colours, and they know Trader Joe's = food. They make Yogi and Boo Boo look like half-arsed amateurs. You can't even leave food in your car, because they have been known to rip the doors off to get at it. Once the initial terror died down, we realised this would mean eating all our meals at the various restaurants on site. This turned out to be pretty good, especially for husband who had a beer at the bar as soon as we arrived, but we probably wouldn't stay there again. I like my nature a wee bit more... natural.
After a Shabbat meal (we went with husband's boss and his rabbi. Yeah, seriously) and an early night, we got up early to go for a hike. I'd like to take some time to discuss the difference between the US and UK definitions of 'hiking'. Now generally, in the US, 'going for a hike' is pretty interchangeable with 'going for a walk'. In the UK, a hike is a hardcore walk, one stage down from involving actual climbing. This meant that when husband's boss suggested 'going for a hike' I wasn't worried, I wanted to go for a decent walk, to enjoy being outdoors and enjoying the beautiful scenery. I was wrong.
|The deceptive easy bit at the start...|
Husband's boss obviously subscribes to the UK version of 'Hiking'. It was 8.5 miles of hardcore walking, involving a 3000ft ascent and more 'natural' stairs than I ever want to see ever, ever again. The group also included an 8 year old, and two woman in their 50s who had no desire to hike, so I was in pretty good company. Despite being at least fifty times fitter than me, husband stayed with me the whole way. He gave me all his water to make sure I didn't dehydrate (even though he was really starting to suffer by the end.) It was seriously intense.
Perhaps the scariest moment of all it for me was looking at the above view and realising that I was going to have to walk to the top of the waterfall. And that this was only the half-way point. It was long, sweaty and my legs were BURNING, but I did it. It was so completely awesome to just be me for the day, not some delicate pregnant princess who needed to avoid too much exertion. I just walked and climbed and walked some more and drank 5l of water. In the end I actually chose to walk an additional mile beyond where I had to (there was a bus service back to the campsite) because I felt like I could keep going, even though the mile before I had been at breaking point. It was so totally worth the effort. Especially for the feeling I got being in the shower once we'd arrived back. If I could bottle that feeling, I would.
|The view from the top of the final waterfall. Unfortunately, we still had to get back down...|
|Us at the end- still smiling, but probably from sheer delirium|
After a shower and some pizza it was definitely time for a seriously early night. I felt so sorry for the Jewish members of our group- the wait for Shabbat to end meant they couldn't eat pizza until the sun set at 9pm. I was basically asleep by then. I lay in bed (admittedly, rather thankful that it wasn't an airbed in a tent at this point...) listening to husband and Pauline drink whisky and discuss the days events. Rather a nice way to drift off.
Yosemite is on my list of places to go back to. We'll take the tents and a camping stove and a baby carrier to do a more leisurely walk, splash in the river and eat ice-cream from the campsite store, introducing our wee girl to the great outdoors. I can't wait.