Monday, March 10, 2008


"An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered."--G.K. Chesterton

A few weeks ago, friends invited us to vacation with their family in Yosemite National Park. Since I'd rather die a slow and painful death than camp--especially in the freezing cold--we decided that we would go in together on a cabin rental inside the park. My family was excited because we had never been there before.

We drove together in a 15-seater van, which barely fit the 13 of us and all of our necessities and food. Snow clothes are bulky. We left on Thursday for the six hour drive northeast. Four adults and nine children. Nine hours later, we finally had arrived.

It was after midnight and we quickly ran through the four-level cabin that was built on the side of a mountain surrounded by towering sequoia trees. There was plenty of room, but, unfortunately, there were plenty of flying carpenter ants, too.

The next day we all went skiing. Technically, I didn't ski, but I stood around for hours watching the baby eat snow and routing for everyone in our group. That was fun (actually, I use the baby as an excuse not to ski). The weather was nice and, in the middle of the day, those of us who bundled up for snow found that it was quite warm, especially my four year old, whom I had forced to wear a snow suit fit for blizzards in the North Pole.

About 15 minutes before the lifts closed, my snowboarding teenager and skiing husband switched gear. My son flew down the mountain about four times before my husband was able to strap his other foot into the snowboard after jumping off the lift. As the workers started to break down the barriers and line ropes, my husband lay in the snow at the top of the hill unable to get the snowboard to work for him. He'd stand up and fall down. My son skied up and down the mountain a few more times and noticed that my husband hadn't made it once, so he went up to help.

I was so relieved, but, unfortunately, he wasn't much help. I saw the ski patrol zoom up, but they just passed right by him, kicking some snow in his face. Then the lift operator walked over to him as he lay sprawled out on the snow to return a walkie-talkie that my son had lost. My husband asked him if he'd give him a hand, but he was already gone. Finally, after the mountain was deserted and my friends, the kids, and I were shivering cold, my husband flopped himself to the bottom of the slope and we went home. He was sore.

That evening, we decided that the giant flying and crawling ants were too much to take on a vacation, even though it reminded us of home. Our friends, who had made the arrangements, called the management company. The rep said that it's common for the wooden cabins to be infested with carpenter ants. Thanks for letting us know. They offered us another property, so my husband and our friend scoped out a couple and found a suitable replacement. So, on the second night of our vacation, we had to pack 13 people spread onto four levels and move. That was not fun. But the new location proved to be cleaner and not infested.

On the last full day there, our friends, who have been to the park several times before, took us on a hike. That would have been the perfect time to wear our snow clothes, but, since it had been warm the day before, we didn't. On our way to the trail, we stopped here at Bridalveil Fall . . .

. . . and at a lookout where you can see the rock formation of El Capitan (in the left center) and the (tiny) point of Half Dome (in the background on the right center).
Some of the park was closed because of all the snow, but we were able to hike to Vernal Fall. This is a picture of the stream at the start of the trail. The scenery, rock formations, and incredible views of this 3,000,000 acre park is rivaled only by the Grand Canyon. The sheer number and size of the trees can't be compared to anything else that I've ever seen in California.

By Sunday, it was time to pack up, yet again, attend Mass at a church in a nearby town, and head home. We started to experience car problems as we descended the mountain, so we stopped while our friend tried to arrange for a replacement rental, but there were no other 15-seaters available in Fresno. Just as we were about to opt for two mini-vans, our mechanical difficulties seemed to have worked themselves out. We popped into a shop to get it checked out, and were told that it was safe to continue home. Between all the potty, eating, gassing, and coffee stops, we arrived at our house 13 hours after we started. No complaints from anyone (except the baby who screamed for much of the way--I think I lost the hearing in my right ear).
We were sorry to see our adventures end and so thankful to our very patient friends, who planned such a great getaway. It was so peaceful in the park, especially since there is no cell phone or internet service. But it was time to get back to reality.

The kids were so exhausted that some of them slept until 10:00. It's almost 4:30 and they're still sluggishly plodding through their school work. I, on the other hand, have my own tasks to perform. Neither of the rentals had a washer and dryer, so this is the mountain that met me this morning:

Unfortunately, I still had bags of laundry to open, but thought I'd take a break and snap a picture of what I had collected so far.

My husband's birthday is coming up this weekend, so I need to shake off this post-vacation fog and figure out what I'm doing. If anyone has any suggestions, please share.

First, though, we need to pick up 13 more egg-laying chickens. These actually lay eggs, unlike our egg-laying chickens that don't. They're from a friend who's moving, and I've bought her eggs in the past, so I know these little birds can produce.

Anyway, it's back to the daily routine for me. I think next time I'll plan a vacation after my vacation.