Our friendly neighbours at the campsite (from Australia) came over to chat this morning and they had two kids about Sean and Liam's age. We haven't seen too many kids on the trip, they've been a rarity since September. The boys are are so tuned in to each other for play that they were a bit uncertain on what to do when they came across other kids! Eventually the running and tag playing natural kid tendencies kicked in and they were fine. Over the last 3 months, Sean and Liam have developed a nice rhythm to their play together and generally have a lot of fun together, but they are definitely missing their friends back home.
We ventured down into Yosemite Valley where most of the camping, hiking trails, sightseeing and Visitor centre is.. where the action is (all the campsites are fully booked in advance and you have to line up at 5:30 in the morning to get your name on a waitlist!.. so we are staying a campground up a ways). It really was impressive to be in this valley with tall pines and tall rock walls all around. The granite cliffs (El Capitain) , sheer edges, rounded domes (Half Dome) was a bit overwhelming - overpowering with the density of it all in that one valley. The dryness is typical I found out, end of summer and many of the amazing waterfalls that come down these towering granite cliffs are dried up for the season. It seems like spring is the time to visit, with the full roar of the river and the waterfalls. We had a fairly leisurely day, easy walk to see Bridal View falls (the boys loved scrambling on the rocks), visited the visitor centre (I've developed a real fondness for these visitor centres and this one came with a full theatre with a movie on Yosemite.) We ended the afternoon with a late lunch by the river - the Merced River (ancient they say, it carved the valley before the glaciers came and made their mark).. the river was very low and more like stream, trickle in places so it was perfect for the boys to splash around it and the middle of the river bed. And the gravel bar, was a perfect place for a picnic with views of El Capitan. It was very quite actually, not sure where the crowds of people were that we saw everywhere else along the valley.
|Looking down into the Valley - |
El Capitan on the left and Half Dome way in the back
|Bridal Veil Falls|
|the best picnic spot!|
(you need permits to climb the back side -
they only cost $4 but are hard to get, so scalpers have moved in and you pay $50 to climb Half Dome)
Yosemite National Park seems like our Banff.. tonnes of people from everywhere in the world, different languages or European ancients, rented RV's and cars, tour buses, etc. The Yosemite Village was really well organized and a good place to hang out for a few days and soak in the sites and do some hikes. They are very serious about the Bear boxes around here.. we had to sign a waiver stating we'll put all our food in the bear box and not leave any food in our vehicle. There was a sign at our campground warning about a cougar sighting near the campground and keeping your children close. We haven't had much wildlife sightings, but the boys were excited to hang out with a pair of mallard ducks at the river today. And I'm loving the tall pines everywhere.
Tomorrow we drive through the Sierra Highlands section of the park - meaning up and over.. going through a pass (hoping our trusty Westy makes it through), then down to eastern edges of the Sierra Nevada and head south towards Death Valley!