Christmas, Part Two: Yosemite -potentially boring.

Let’s start here: I love Yosemite. This is my second trip to the floor, and I went one other time to the big trees. It is amazing. You know the old saying about leaving a place still wanting? That’s how I feel about Yosemite.  Someday, I’ll come for a whole week, and maybe get a little more filled up. 

So, when my sister agreed to be cruise director for an overnight trip to Yosemite, I was thrilled. We brought snow gear to California–but we didn’t expect to need it!

We took off at 9ish, and made it to Oakhurst without incident. About twenty miles after our soda and bathroom break, however, things got more interesting.  First there was some confusion about whether or not we needed tire chains. Then there was the expectation that chains could be rented by the side of the road. Both hopes were dashed by a police officer who sent us packing. We stopped at one small store: nothing. At the second small store, chains for ABIL were found, but none for Sister’s car.  We had to drive back to Oakhurst to buy chains for Sister’s car. Once that was complete, we retraced our path.  We pulled over to the side of the road with approximately 80 bajillion other people and tried to install the chains. My mom stayed in the car with Selam, and the remaining four adults attempted the chains thing with little success. Luckily, the same police officer began driving up the highway and using her megaphone to urge us up the road to where there was a pullout for such things.  Fortunately, at the pullout there were these awesome guys in yellow jumpsuits who put chains on for a fee. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the pullout, they’d changed the status of the chains rule, and sister’s car no longer needed them. Twenty bucks and about 60 seconds later, we were back on the road.

A person could die happy just having driven into the park.  It’s stunning. No, not stunning. I don’t know. There is no word to describe that drive in, even more so in the snow.  It takes your breath away, trees are frosted, it was magical. It is the stuff that inspires cliched writing. I actually understand the use of cliches better now. Sometimes there are just no words left.Image

We stopped on the way in for family photos.  That was our first taste of how icy it would be in the park.  I wished I had brought my cleats.  Snow, then melt, then snow, then melt plus lots of people walking over the same path over and over again=ice. It was slippy. But worth it.


When we finally got to the floor of Yosemite, we tried to stop for a bite, but couldn’t find a place to park.  Sister and ABIL dropped us all off at the store, and circled and circled and circled. Eventually, they got stuck in the snow, and had to back out of a not-yet-plowed parking lot. Once they were freed up, they called us, and we abandoned the plan of trying to eat in Yosemite Valley. We all piled back into the two cars, and drove to our lodge. It was three by then, so we expected to check in. Poor sister waited in line for forty minutes only to discover that a) check-in was at five p.m. (are you kidding me?) and b) the desk staff were um, practicing a form of tai chi customer service.  She got one set of keys, so we went in that room and unloaded all of our luggage, being careful to get every scrap of food out: bear prevention 101. We went to dinner while we waited to be fully check-in-able. Dinner–oh my goodness. First of all great food, and second of all, spectacular view.  I tried a photo with my cell phone camera. It didn’t turn out much, but you get the idea: AfterImage

After dinner, we slip-slided to our rooms and moved in for the night.  Selam put herself to bed at 7:30.  I was on hold with the front desk trying to get them to help my sister get into her room (they gave her the wrong keys).  I looked up and she was out cold. This is the first time EVER that Selam has put herself to bed–and early! At about ten, the whole Yosemite valley lost power, so it got a bit cold in our room, but the power came back on a few hours later.

The next morning, we got up and the sky was clear and blue. We dropped my mom and Selam off at the Awahnee, and then parked the cars in the village, and walked back.  Amazing.

The Awahnee is this beautiful, fancy hotel in the park. Breakfast was seriously yumfest, and the dining room was like living in a madrigal dinner. Image

The rest of the morning involved stopping at the Ansel Adams gallery, the American Indian Museum, the Visitor Center, and lots of mountain pictures. It was very slippery but just so achingly beautiful.

The trip out of the park was slow, and involved more chain drama (of course). Getting the chains off was as challenging as getting them on. Since the chain requirement was lifted, the men in the yellow jumpsuits were no longer there to be paid to remove the chains. So ABIL tried to take them off himself. He was almost done when this crazy trucker started honking and pointing to try to force us out of the pull out. It worked. We raced out of there with the chains still half on the car…where they remained for the next hour or so. Let’s just say that by the time we got to Oakhurst, the chains were toast.  So, they ended up being sort of rented after all. At least the car wasn’t damaged.

When we finally got home, I asked Selam her favorite parts of the trip. They were: playing with everyone, the bear-proof garbage cans, and seeing the mountains that scrape the sky.


I was a fan of two out of three of those myself.


“…full of God’s thoughts, a place of peace and safety amid the most exalted grandeur and enthusiastic action, a new song, a place of beginnings abounding in first lessons of life, mountain building, eternal, invincible, unbreakable order; with sermons in stone, storms, trees, flowers, and animals brimful with humanity.”
John Muir

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