On Sunday we left for Yosemite, but not before I got some surprises for my first Mother’s Day! Nick & Huxley had been out on a little adventure back to Bob’s Donuts the morning before and while they were there they had picked me up a mug as a present! I also got a beautiful card made of Huxley’s hand prints made to look like a field of flowers.
It was a beautiful day in the city and the view driving over the Bay Bridge was amazing. We made a quick pit-stop in Tracy to feed Huxley (which didn’t look very nice) and then carried on through hills that looked like the Microsoft wallpaper before they slowly turned into mountains. It wouldn’t be a drive through California without a strawberry stop!
We stopped for lunch at Sugar Pine Cafe in Mariposa. I had french toast with bacon and Nick had eggs, bacon, hash browns & chicken apple sausage (sounds weird but was really good!)
We arrived in Yosemite just after midday and started by locating our motel. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from the pictures I’d seen online but actually it was rather quaint and charming. Our room was ridiculously massive, as was the bed, which could easily have slept 6. It had a pretty well-equipped kitchen which was part of the same room but the first thing that Nick & I noticed was the enormous pink spa bath sat in the corner in the room with a huge gas fireplace behind it. It was the funniest, cheesiest looking thing I’ve ever seen. The loo was in a room about the size of my lounge, it felt like an epic quest to get the sink, and the shower was about the same size as my entire bathroom at home! To top it all off, alongside the 70s carpet and wallpaper, the bed looked really dramatic with big wooden legs and intricate metal carvings of bears on the headboard. On the upside, there was a heated indoor swimming pool and amazing pizza place on site.
After dumping our stuff we drove 5 minutes up the road to the entrance of the park. It was $20 for a whole week! Absolute bargain! I’m so glad that Nick was driving as I would definitely have crashed. The whole place is completely jaw-dropping. They’ve thought this through though and the drive round the park is one-way with two lanes so that the faster traffic can overtake the gawping masses and there’s loads of places to pull over and enjoy the view.
When we arrived everything was so clear. It didn’t even look real. It looked like a movie set or a computer game. I was a bit worried because of the time of year we were visiting as I’d read lots of stories about the whole place being shrouded in low snow clouds so I think we were pretty lucky. The first site we saw that made us stop was Bridalveil Falls. A few minutes further and you come to the magnificent El Capitan. When you first clap eyes on El Capitan it really is something special. It’s so imposing. I haven’t seen a lot of mountains but I’ve been skiing in France & Austria and trekked round the Himalayas and I’ve never seen a cliff face like that before.
After doing our fair share of gawping we finally parked up and made our way to one of the many disabled-accessible trails (god I love America!). On our way we walked past a family of deer that I could have reached out and touched they were so close, just wandering around, minding their own business. We also caught sight of Yosemite’s other famous site, Half Dome. There really aren’t any words to describe it and my photos don’t do it justice.
Our walk took us along an easy path up to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls. Judging by pictures I’ve seen, the falls wasn’t at full capacity, I think this comes later in the Spring, but it was still spectacular.
It was only a short walk, maybe about a mile, but as we’d stopped and watched the waterfall for so long it was getting late and we wanted to get Huxley into the pool for a swim at the hotel before he went to sleep so we headed back to the motel.
The next morning was much cloudier and grey, it was snowing up in the mountains. The lovely lady at the entrance gate advised on which routes were still open and what the best things to see would be. She recommended that we drive up to Tunnel View which is definitely up there in the list of top things I’ve ever seen in my life. It should be on everyone’s bucket list (especially if proper mountain climbing is off the agenda, as it was for us – although I’d love to go back one day and hike to Glacier Point– think Half Dome would be a bit much for me!). Fortunately the snow clouds were still high enough for us to see the view but by the time we’d left the snow had taken over and it had gotten quite dark and you couldn’t see as much. I wish we had gone the day before and seen it in the bright sunshine but it was kind of cool and moody in the grey. The scale of the mountains and the forest is just unbelievable.
I suppose the benefit of the early morning and the bad weather meant that we pretty much had the place to ourselves apart from two nice American lads who were taking photos of an old hoover for some reason. They offered to take a photo of Nick & I and we both chuckled about how funny it would seem that Huxley wasn’t in the pictures (he was asleep in the car about a metre away) but we could hardly say ‘sorry, can you just wait while we wake up our son’. Luckily, Huxley woke up before we left and we managed to drag him out of the car for a few quick snaps but it was absolutely freezing and had started to snow so we didn’t hang about!
Again, these photos don’t do it justice at all….(this website has some pretty incredible panoramic shots of the place though)
After a little while I started to lose the feeling in my fingers and toes so we decided to get on and start walking one of the trails. The first one was the walk to the base of Bridalveil Falls which was only half a mile so took no time at all. After that we did the walk to Mirror Lake and spent the whole time tripping each other out about bears. We pretty much had the whole trail to ourselves so every crack of a twig saw us both jump out of our skins. All the signs and the website reckon it’s a 2 mile walk but I swear it’s longer than that!
It was a bit weird when we arrived at Mirror Lake as we weren’t really sure if we were in the right place or not. I think because it was cloudy the reflection wasn’t quite as clear and we were expecting there to be a sign telling us we’d arrived or a group of people stood there looking at it but there wasn’t any of those things! Also, I don’t think the lake was quite as full as it could be but it was a nice walk, passing under the cliff face of Half Dome which was pretty cool.
That afternoon we headed back to the city. We were going to take a different route back and stop in a different town for lunch but unfortunately due to the snow, and not being able to use our mobiles, we didn’t want to chance it. We did stop briefly again in Tracy as Nick had read about a BBQ place which was unfortunately shut. We ended up having the infamous Taco Bell Dorito’s taco which has been scientifically designed to hit all the right taste buds and make you want more. Neither of us had ever had Taco Bell before and I can confidently say I will NEVER eat it again. I’ve never had anything so disgusting in all my life. Even the promotional photos on the windows were making me feel nauseous as we went through the drive-thru. (Seriously, look at their breakfast menu….waffle taco…BARF)
We also spotted a rather lovely lady on the side of the road in Tracy which I think summed up the place nicely. It was pouring with rain and not that warm and she was stood flagging down cars in camo trousers and an open camo jacket with a red bikini top on underneath. Classy. I wish I had a photo of that.