It's hard to believe another year at Yosemite has come and gone. This was Rose's first trip to Yosemite and Clara's 4th. We definitely forgot how much more difficult it is to visit Yosemite and share a room with family when you have a baby. Although Rose is usually a good sleeper, there were some rough nights in the park for everybody in our room (we shared with Paul's parents - next year we will just get our own). But by and large, it was a wonderful trip with perhaps the most perfect weather I have ever experienced there. And we got this family picture that is my new favorite.
We also took a big group picture of everybody who went this year, except for Great Grandma Nash who stayed back at the room. This was taken behind the Ahwahnee where we always go to sit on the beach and throw rocks into the river. The boys are always perfecting their rock skipping skills to impress the girls and they always come up with targets to hit like a floating log or the opposite bank or through a root that jutted out of the water and then back in creating a little arch (Paul nailed that target first). It was especially nice having everybody this year since last year's regular October trip was cancelled thanks to the government shut-down (remember that?) and Paul, Clara and I just went on our own in November.
Clara is OBSESSED with throwing rocks. But she also loved building river forts with Mia (who was amazing with Clara on this trip and so, so good about being her friend and making Clara feel special) or just digging with a stick in the pebbly sand.
I had to include this photo of Gracie because she is just so darn cute. It was her birthday while we were there. One of the very best things about our move to Dublin has been giving Clara the chance to be around Gracie and her older sister Mia.
One morning we all got up to head to Glacier Point. It is the start of the Panorama Trail (my favorite in Yosemite - I'm sure I have mentioned that like a thousand times before). The girls were all set with hiking poles and backpacks because the Ambrose family decided they were going to hike all the way down to Happy Isles (a day-long hike) while the Nashes knew we wouldn't make it very far before we had to turn back because our girls are so much younger and not seasoned hikers like the Ambroses.
We quickly fell behind, which was fine, especially since we had to coax Clara along by pointing out various trees and rocks and landmarks to keep her going. Eventually we admitted to her that we had a bag of jellybeans and when we took breaks we would give her 2 or 3 jelly bellies to keep up her motivation. Rose did pretty well in the baby carrier, especially once Paul gave her a stick, which she promptly stuck in her mouth and chewed on for a good 20 minutes (apparently her diet was lacking fiber).
The most amazing thing about this particular hike was that we saw a huge, dead tree fall over right in front of us. We were hiking back after turning around and a big gust of wind came up and all of a sudden, not 20 yards ahead there was a big cracking sound and this giant tree just came crashing down, hitting another tree on its way. It was very cool and something we have never experienced in the park.
Paul identified deer brush for Clara (its basically everywhere on this trail) and showed her how it can be eaten and then she was tearing off leaves and chewing on them the whole time.
We wish we had made it to Illouette Falls but we gave up after about an hour or so of hiking down because we knew the return journey was uphill the whole way. I think we were a little more than halfway to the falls when we took a lunch break and then turned back around. We switched carriers so that Paul could carry Clara (she did the whole first part of the hike on her own but whined to be carried a lot of it, which we knew would happen) and I put Rose in the Ergo carrier and carried her in front where she promptly (and expectedly) fell asleep. Amazingly, what took us well over an hour to hike downhill with Clara walking, we were able to do in about 25 minutes going uphill carrying both girls. Since it wasn't nearly long enough for Rose's full nap and I was pretty sure Rose wouldn't fall back asleep in the car, we just walked around Glacier Point and had another snack and enjoyed the view until Rose woke up. Clara had fun climbing the granite rocks.
One of the absolute best things about Yosemite is how bikeable the valley floor is. There are so many different places that can easily be biked to - waterfalls, caves, hikes, lakes, rock climbing areas, meadows, etc. - even on beach cruisers with few (or no) gears. The girls LOVED riding bikes and Rose found it so relaxing that she fell asleep in the Ibert bike seat that is attached to the front of my bike. We brought the bike trailer for both girls and they used it some but it is much easier to spread their weight between both me and Paul while we can. Rose would just rest her helmeted noggin' against my left arm while I pedaled and doze off.
We did two big bike rides, in addition to a bunch of little ones. One was to Indian Caves where we climbed on and slid down rocks. The rest of the group went on to Mirror Lake but we turned back because of impending nap times.
Our other big bike ride was south to the meadow in front of El Capitan. We always stop at the meadow to have snacks and give the kids a break and it is fun to try and spot the climbers halfway up the rockface. It takes two days to do El Capitan so the climbers have special gear that they affix to the rock to create narrow platforms to sleeping and they camp up there overnight and do the second half of the climb the next day. Clara got absolutely filthy playing in the dirt, but man alive she had a great time.
Rose can hold her bottle all by herself now. She is even pretty good about properly tipping the bottle to get the milk and keeping it upright so the milk doesn't leak out (although sometimes she thinks that is hilarious and turns the bottle just to make a mess). What a big girl.
One afternoon I took Clara out on a bike ride while Paul stayed in the room at the lodge with Rose so she could take a nap and when I looked back ten minutes into our ride I saw Clara slumped over fast asleep. Poor thing. We really wore out our little girls this trip.
We spent an afternoon relaxing at the Ahwahnee. Clara got the sucker she had been dreaming about (cherry flavored) and Rose enjoyed playing on the lawn in the back.
Riding the Yosemite buses is always a big hit. We rode over to Curry Village for pizza one night. We have never stayed in Curry Village before but I learned on this trip that there are some family rooms there that have a little loft sleeping area and are totally enclosed (most of the accommodations in Curry Village are tent cabins) so I am interested in doing a late spring trip when the water is running high and staying in one of those rooms now. The pizza patio at Curry is one of my favorite places to relax and eat dinner while we are in the park and I always look forward to it. Paul's family used to get pizza at the Loft in Yosemite Village but I guess that they have started closing that location earlier in the season because it hasn't been open the past couple of years, which works out great for me because I way prefer the Pizza Patio to the Loft.
Rose did a little shopping at the Village Store. She was obsessed with an owl puppet that had a swiveling head. We didn't get it because it was super expensive but oh many she laughed and hugged that thing like crazy. We did get a couple cute books about bears and some neat 3D postcards.
Clara and I ate breakfast at the Cafeteria (part of the Yosemite Lodge) every day. Their blueberry pancakes and breakfast burritos were not half bad. Not amazing, but definitely better than cold cereal.
We celebrated Great Grandma Nash's 90th birthday (a little early - its in December) at the Mountain Room restaurant, which is one of the fancy places to eat in the valley. I had delicious trout and Paul had a steak. Rose had a meltdown and Clara had a pretend nap. It was not our most shining moment as far as well-behaved children go but you can't fault overly exhausted girls for a little less than stellar behavior. Usually they are both actually quite good at restaurants.
The Ambroses are total fun-makers and hosted a birthday/piñata party for Gracie one night and a bingo party another night. One of the great things about our set-up at the Lodge is that our rooms are right by each other so we could put Rose to sleep, then turn on the video monitor and watch her from the other room while we played games or watched videos and hung out. Maren had bought a bunch of little prizes and wrapped them so when you won a round of bingo y.ou got to pick a prize. We ended up winning glow-in-the-dark nail polish (so, so awesome and I gave all the girls - big and little - manicures with it), a cute juice cup with deer on it, and a slinky, which Paul traded for a bouncy ball.
The lodge rooms have been remodeled in the past year so these photos are more for Deborah to see how things have changed. The upgrades are quite nice, except we miss the larger rectangular table because the round one is too small for the number of chairs they have and not as convenient for playing games.
The lodge also brought back the Adirondack chairs that they took away a couple of years ago.
All in all, it was a fun trip and we are already looking forward to going back next year and hoping that even more of the family members will join us.