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No cutesy name for this blog because I feel like if Yosemite were a person she would deserve honor and a bow and you just don’t give cutesy names to folks like that.  Yosemite was all we hoped it would be and more.  When we first drove into the park from the southwestern entrance it was pretty but a normal kind of pretty.  And then after some bobbing and weaving we went through a long tunnel and came out to a view that literally took our breath away.  There was no way to know while we were in that tunnel what awaited us on the other side.  “Tunnel View” brings you the famous view of Half Dome, El Captain and Bridalveil Falls all in one glance.  It’s hard to know what to focus on because it is all just so beautiful.  When we first arrived at Tunnel View we were there with only 5 or so other people.  A few minutes later 3 charter buses pulled in and suddenly not only was it packed but the kids and I were asked to be in SEVERAL family portraits.  Gray, Kyrie and Phoenix have all gotten a lot of international attention on this trip.  Between the red hair, blonde curls and overall cute baby status it is safe to say that our faces are all over social media in Asia somewhere as we are now honorary family members to the masses. 

Once we got our breath back from the views and the sweet yet suffocating hugs, we headed into the mist of Bridalveil and then down into Yosemite Valley.  We walked through the Ansel Adams gallery and discovered that the photos we have in our living room will be the only ones we will probably ever own because, well, I choose to pay bills and those things cost a lot of power bills! When we ventured into the visitors center the big kids quickly asked for their Junior Ranger assignments and got busy.  By the time we saw more sights we had 3 time Junior Rangers on our hands.  I think this whole ranger thing is going to their heads.  Don’t you dare step off the trail and smash a potential growing tree in their presence!

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A short trail past the visitors center lead us to Yosemite Falls; the highest waterfall in the United States that stands at 2,450 feet.  Yosemite Falls looks like two pitchers making the perfect pour over the gigantic rocks.  I’m pretty sure it’s the most beautiful place I have ever been.  Evan and Gray went farther to the bottom of the falls while my parents, myself and the other two kids enjoyed just basking in the view.  Kyrie played in the sand on the river bank below the falls and it felt like a movie.  There is simply no picture that will ever do that spot justice.  But yet again, we will try.

tunnel view at night

The next day we took our time getting up and headed back to the park with my parents in a hopeful search to show them the sequoia trees that we’ve been so taken with.  Unfortunately it’s so early in the year that several view points and trails are still closed so we ended up with a steep hike and only 1 grove of huge trees.  The good news is that there are no ugly trails in Yosemite so it wasn’t counted as a loss.  After our hike the greatest thing happened.  My parents took all 3 kids back to their hotel to eat, swim and SPEND THE NIGHT.  It was Tuesday and marked the halfway point in our trip.  We might just survive the rest of our journey without killing each other thanks to their kind gesture (plus the kids much rather be with grandparents than us anyway so it’s not like it was a chore for them to leave us).  This was far from their first time spending the night with my parents but it was their first time staying with my parents after being in a car/camper/wooded trail with us for 2.5 straight weeks. Evan and I went to supper for a late anniversary meal where we had THE BEST ITALIAN FOOD (more on food later) and then SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT.  If it seems like I am yelling it’s because I am.  I was more alert and kind on Wednesday than I have been in months. Possibly a year.  Ahhhh, lets all take a moment of silence for the remembrance and appreciation of those who sacrifice so that we might achieve temporary sanity…

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On our last full day Evan went to the park with his camera gear in hand and had a little kid/wife/distraction free time to enjoy the sights and capture them to his hearts desire.  After three solid days in the park his favorite views are tunnel view and a spot looking up towards Yosemite Falls from a field in the valley.  He’s already mentally planning a summer trip back so he can discover the upper realms of the park.  While he lived in Yosemite bliss the kids and I hung around the park and made new friends with a family from Oklahoma, took care of some chores and spent a little more time with my parents before they prepared for their homeward flight.  We also ate up all of the delicious leftovers we had accumulated over the last few days…segue to food talk here…

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Check out the way the clouds spiral off the north face of half dome in this timelapse. 

When we camp we mostly buy groceries and cook.  It is one of the greater perks of pulling your home with you as you travel.  Its great to wake up in the mornings and have a hearty breakfast before a day of adventuring or driving and its even better after a long day of adventuring or driving to come back and have a home cooked meal.  Another perk is to be able to pull over on the side of the road and whip up a picnic like a boss. Anyway, we don’t eat out a ton.  We try things in the cities of course and on the road sometimes but you get my point.  My parents were in a hotel while at Yosemite so it gave us a great excuse to try the local eateries with them.  And let me tell you something, we found some gems!  Yes, I love food but please know that I take my job of recommending places seriously.  I would never recommend something half heartedly or without a great love for it.  All that to be said, if you go to Yosemite stay in Oakhurst at all costs.  Oakhurst isn’t a bustling city by any means but it is big enough to have more than everything you need.  It has several chain fast-food places but no chain sit-down locations.  I like that combination.  While there you MUST go see Judy at her Doughnut shop (self named… Judy’s Doughnuts), get Pizza from the hole-in-the-wall place called Sugar Pine Pizza where you will experience the best crust of your life (bonus for this location because your pizza money also goes to help support ministry) and then enjoy a sit down meal at Di Cicco’s Italian Restaurant.  You can thank me later.  Evan is hard to impress with Italian food and he is still talking about our dinner date out to Di Cicco's.  And now as we drive there happens to be a box of Judy’s sweets at my feet so we can keep on living the tasty dream (sadly no pizza or Italian though because it was all demolished in our leftover feeding frenzy).  

Oakhurst will forever live in my heart.  You can decide if it’s from the glorious views or glorious food.


Bonus Material: There is a lack of boisterous beards in Cali.  Lots of large man buns but not lots of large man beards. Evan has gotten several comments on his.  He is like a mystical unicorn out here.


To be continued because we are Vegas bound my friends...