Way back in the day my husband used to spend a lot of time hiking and camping. He's backpacked through parts of California, Colorado, Australia, and New Zealand. He loves spending time outdoors. Camping is the only time when he will willingly rise at the crack of dawn without complaint or effort. The mountains seem to have a calming effect on him, especially if he's able to get in a good, long hike.
So, it's no big surprise that he's been itching to share this love of the great outdoors with his child pretty much ever since we had one.
Last Friday morning we packed up our gear and drove towards the mountains to spend 4 days at Yosemite National Park. No, we didn't camp-- we chose to stay at the Yosemite Lodge, with its walls and roof and beds. But, it was a bit of a "test run" to see how D handled the traveling, the hikes, etc. Zach is already asking when we can go on a "real" camping trip, sleeping in a tent and everything. I may have to push for us to wait till he's out of diapers...
The drive up went great, the kiddo slept a good bit of the way, and we stopped halfway at a truck rest stop a friend had tipped us off about to let him stretch his legs. We arrived friday afternoon amidst a mild rain storm. That didn't stop us-- we donned our water-"proof" gear and went on a short hike anyway. Donovan discovered the complete and utter joy of stomping in puddles. It was love at first sight.
Friday night it got cold enough so that the rain turned to snow, and a couple of inches had accumulated by morning. That morning was just plain stunningly beautiful. The sky was already clearing early in the morning, so that the sun's early light peeked over the mountains and lit up the snow-covered trees. The pictures I took that morning are among my favorites of the entire trip. We gave D a chance to run around in the snow a bit, taught him how to make his first snow balls (which he promptly tossed at Zach and me), then we loaded him up in the backpack carrier and walked the short hike up to Mirror Lake. Which was also incredibly beautiful. On the way back we made a quick stop at the Ahwahnee, then back home in time for a nap... for all three of us. In the afternoon we went by the Lower Yosemite Falls trail, took some pictures of the waterfall, then let D lead the way for a while before heading back to the room to change and go to dinner at the Mountain Room restaurant. It was a great meal, both in terms of the food and also D's patience in allowing us time to eat it. We even got to roast s'mores by the fireplace (D refused to try any of them, though).
Sunday morning we had a quick breakfast at the food court at the Lodge, then tried to hike the Vernal Falls trail. Most of the snow in the valley had melted, but this trail was still shaded enough, and the day early/cool enough, that the trail was still pretty icy and we didn't feel comfortable trying it so instead we walked along the Merced river for a while, then played some more in one big patch of snow we came across. That afternoon D took a looong 2.5hr nap while Zach went on a solo hike to burn off some energy. Upon D's waking and Zach's return, we walked along a trail right behind the building our room was in, had another snowball fight in some not-yet-melted patches of snow, then had dinner at the Mountain Room again, and finally tried to get some sleep.
Our room had a king bed in it, and alongside it we requested a cot, took the mattress off it, and laid it on the floor by our bed to give D a place to sleep. This set-up worked really well Friday and Saturday night. Then Sunday night came. I think that long nap we'd enjoyed earlier that day sabotaged his nighttime sleep, and at about 9:30pm we let him get in bed with us and he finally fell asleep. Luckily, with a king bed, there was plenty of room for all 3 of us (normally I have a really hard time sleeping if he's in bed with me... which is why we hardly ever do it). Then there were some issues in the middle of the night with D's nose being too stuffy so he couldn't breathe through it. So not the best, but then again 1 bad night out of 3 while away from home is pretty good.
Monday we managed to get up, get dressed, pack up, have breakfast, and check out by about 9:30am. Not sure how that happened, honestly. We drove to Tunnel View to get the classic pictures overlooking the whole valley, then went to the Tuolomne Grove to check out some giant sequoia trees. The trail leading in was high enough that it was covered in snow, a good couple of feet of it. We didn't quite get far enough to see much of the actual grove, but we got a good hike in and D had fun playing in more snow. We even found one tree that had been partially hollowed out with a hole just big enough for D to fit inside (yes, I got a ton of pictures of this). Soon enough we headed back to the parking lot, where we had a small picnic lunch to tide us over, and where D got to drool over 3 very large snow-clearing trucks parked on the side, before getting back in the car and driving on home.
Other than a couple of meltdowns when he was getting tired and/or cold, D was in a great mood the whole time. The stars aligned for us or something, that or he just takes after his daddy so much that he's happy just to be outside. We did get him to say "Yosemite National Park" and he kept repeating it over and over. All in all, it was a pretty awesome trip. I'm hoping we get to do stuff like this on a fairly regular basis.
I still have Monday's pictures (wherein D discovers the joys of eating snow!) to tag and upload, but here are the pictures I have gotten to so far: