We were so bummed that our annual October Yosemite trip got cancelled thanks to the government shut-down that Paul booked us a room at the Yosemite Lodge for a long weekend trip in November. We missed having family there with us this year (no cousins, aunts, uncles, grandma Nash, siblings, nephews, or parents like other years) but we still had a good time with just the three of us.
That night we ate dinner at the Cafeteria (yuck, so gross) and had a little family movie night watching "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" until 9:00 when we had lights out so that Clara could fall asleep. Our room just had two beds and Clara didn't buy into the idea that she could go to sleep while we were hanging out with minimal lights on next to her so we were all in bed by 9 each night (which is way late for Clara and earlier than normal for us, but whatevs. It was honestly kind of fun.)
The next morning we got up bright and early and rode the shuttle bus to Happy Isles to do the hike to the top of Vernal Falls. It was cold so we were pretty bundled up, at least at first.
This is one of the first times we have really tried to get Clara to do some of the hiking on her own. She did okay for about the first 1/4 mile, even going uphill. It was slow going, but because there were lots of signs to read with pictures of animals along the way she kept moving forward rather than wandering off and getting distracted.
Plus we kept stopping at every interesting rock formation or bend in the path to take photos with her because she is so dang irresistible in her little knit hat.
We also stopped to observe the not-so-wild wildlife like this squirrel that gobbled down an acorn right in front of us. It was SO darling watching him eat and Clara (and okay, I) were puddles of mush at the cuteness.
When he finished eating, the squirrel stuffed the leftovers (about half the remaining acorn) into his cheek then stood straight up and looked at us.
Once we hit a particularly steep part of the trail, though, Clara was through with hiking and started whining to be held. We kept her going a little further but finally had to put her in the hiking backpack and I carried her up to the bridge below Vernal Falls where we stopped for snacks.
After refueling with applesauce pouches and Sunchips, Clara was ready to try hiking on her own again.
But she was back in the pack by the time we started up the Mist Trail, which was completely dry this time of year.
Last year it was not really a big deal carrying her on my back but holy cow I was dying this year with our not quite 30 pound Miss in the carrier. Those stairs are brutal enough as it is and it felt like they would never end, but we finally made it to the top of Vernal Falls where we stopped for lunch. You might notice that Clara is wearing weird white leggings in some of these pictures. I didn't realize her pants were way too short and while it was okay while she was hiking, they rode up practically to her knees in the carrier and her poor calves were freezing so Paul sacrificed his socks to keep her warm. Such a good dad.
Clara was SO done with hiking on the way down, but that was mostly because she was ready for her nap. She kept saying "go home! go home!".
Clara hiked some of the downhill too, although I will admit that we bribed her with fruit snacks to do most of that and finally she just got too tired but didn't want to be back in the backpack so I carried her in my arms the last quarter mile back to the bus stop. But mostly she was happy, and really, for this being her first major hike and it eating well into her naptime, she did a great job.
This is my new favorite picture of Clara and Paul.
Or maybe this one.
Or this one. I can't decide.
While Clara was napping, I stayed in the room and read while Paul went out to take photos. Here are a couple that I just love.
After naptime, we went for a nice family walk and took some photos trying to get one for our Christmas card. I have been doing quite a few photo shoots lately (so fun!) for other families so it was fun picking clothes and a location and poses for our own little photo shoot. I just used the tripod and the self-timer function and kept running back and forth. I really love the photo we ended up with for our card but won't post it here yet. These are our two runner-ups.
Afterwards, since we were all fancy and cleaned up anyway, we ate dinner at the Mountain Room, which is a nice restaurant at the lodge. Paul and I split a ribeye steak and salad and Clara had the kids grilled chicken (which she hardly touched because she filled up on bread and the brussel sprouts that came with her meal), then we had razzleberry cobbler and ice cream for dessert.
Saturday morning we drove up to Glacier Point, which is one of my favorite spots in the entire world. I mean, look at the view! Clara wasn't scared in this photo - she was just annoyed that Paul was holding on to her and that we made her pose instead of just letting her climb on rocks like she wanted so this is sort of her half-smile/half-grimace look.
Oh my goodness, Half Dome is just amazing, isn't it? If you haven't seen it in person, you really need to make plans to visit Yosemite. It is just awe inspiring and so amazing to realize that this valley filled with waterfalls and sheer granite faces like this was created by an ancient glacier.
I wanted to hike the Panorama Trail, which is my favorite hike in Yosemite, but we knew starting out that Clara wasn't in the hiking-est mood, even though she is all smiles in the picture at the trailhead.
Things started out fine for about the first 2 minutes.
And then a tantrum happened. Like, a full-scale throwing herself on her back, kicking her legs, and crying tantrum. These don't happen all that often with Clara and we have never documented one so I'm posting pictures to keep it real.
Seriously, you would have thought her world was ending and that I was the worst mom in the world. This lasted maybe five minutes while Paul and I encouraged each other not to give in to terrorist demands.
Sure enough, when the worst was over I helped her up, we chatted about using our words, I wiped her face, and then she was happy again. Here's the proof (and notice the trailhead sign in the background to the right of Clara's head - that's how far into the hike we were, sheesh):
Still though, Clara clearly wasn't in the mood for a major hike and it was almost her naptime (I knew she had reasons for her tantrum) so we only did two switchbacks, stopped for our picnic lunch, then headed back to the valley floor for a bike ride, where we ended up seeing quite a lot of deer.
We rode the bus over to Curry Village for pizza for dinner on Saturday night and Clara almost fell asleep sitting on my lap on the way back to the Lodge.
On our last day, we decided to splurge and do breakfast at the Ahwahnee since we have never done that before. The restaurant there is absolutely incredible with huge rustic ceilings and wooden beams and stone pillars everywhere. Paul ordered the raisin brioche French toast (it was SO yummy) and I had the eggs, sausage, hash browns, and bran muffins so that I could share with Clara (since she eats eggs better than anything when it comes to breakfast food). The only thing that was disappointing was the sausage, which was sort of yuck. Clara loved the bran muffin with raisins though and I wish I could eat hash browns every day of my life. Clara was given a little Yosemite Ranger Rubber Ducky by the maître d' to add to her rubber ducky collection at home.