Thursday, April 16, 2015

Yosemite (Our Babymoon?)

I grew up in the Central Valley which means I lived in the shadows of Yosemite but I had never been.  Sean grew up in Southern California and also had never been.  This is a perfect example of how people don't take advantage of their local attractions and it is something that I am consciously trying to not fall victim to.  I was 6 months pregnant but I was determined to get up to Yosemite on our next available weekend off.

Sean doesn't get many holidays off of work but he does get Good Friday.  This holiday always takes us by surprise as it comes up each year (we're not Catholic so we don't think about it) and I always lament that we didn't plan a getaway weekend.  This year I was on top of it, sort of.  We were only a couple weeks out from the holiday but as soon as we confirmed he had it off we booked our trip to Yosemite.  There aren't a lot of hotels near Yosemite (unless you want to pay super bucks for it) so I decided to go a route that I've always wanted to do but hadnt had the opportunity.  We tried out a Bed and Breakfast.

There were a couple that had AMAZING reviews so we ended up with the Poppy Hill B&B in Mariposa.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes quaint B&Bs.  I'll digress from our Yosemite adventures to describe this gem.

I wanted character with our B&B and Sean wanted to feel like he was out in the woods.  We both got what we wanted.  I thought Mariposa would be more like the foothills, dry barren and not very pretty, but it was still in the mountains where there were plenty of woodsy trees.  The property is gorgeous with cute wood benches among bird baths and bird houses.  The house was super quaint.  As Sean put it, your typical B&B.  The service was great.  Amazing yummy breakfast in the morning with cheese and crackers and dessert put out at night.  I'm not a socializer with people I dont know so I was a little worried about the interactions with the other guests, but we all had our own schedules that we rarely saw each other and when we did it was easy to make small talk.  Our room had the best view in the house.  Our only complaint was that the wood floors creaked a bit when you moved around but other than that full marks!
View from our room
Our very cute and quaint bedroom
Part of the sitting room
Isnt this gorgeous!
Very pretty gardens

Ok back to Yosemite.  We drove up there on a Friday and came in from the southern entrance.  From my research I learned the more beautiful entrance was along Highway 140 but since we were headed to Glacier Point Road first, this made more sense in our itinerary.  We would be leaving the park that evening via Highway 140 so I was happy to see everything.

Glacier Point Road typically first opens at the end of May or the beginning of June because of the snow.  Since we've been lacking in that department we were so lucky to have it open the weekend before we arrived.  Based on a friends recommendation we did the hike to Sentinel Dome.  It was a 1.1 mile hike to the top of the dome where we had great views of El Capitan and Half Dome.  It was everything I wanted in a hike.  I loved breathing in the fresh mountain air and hiking over the dirt and rocks (all our other hikes ended up being on paved walk ways so this hike was great).  Afterwards we headed to Glacier Point.
On top of Sentinel Dome
I like this photo of Sean taking a photo of the valley.
And this is the shot that he took.

Glacier Point is around 7,000 feet altitude.  The valley floor is around 3,000 so you can imagine our views of looking DOWN on Yosemite Valley or STRAIGHT AT some of the other attractions like Half Dome.  There are no words to describe it.  I've seen pictures of Yosemite but there is just something about seeing it in person.  Simply put, its so much more epic than you can imagine.  On our way down from Glacier Point we stopped at the Tunnel to get the very typical Yosemite View.  We hit it at the perfect time, it was nearing sunset and the lighting was great.  Afterwards we headed out to Mariposa to our B&B.
It was scary looking down because it was sheer cliffs!

You can see Yosemite Falls in the background.  Also back in the day very gutsy people would take pictures out on that rock ledge, including a person who would drive a horse-less carriage out there, crazy!
Vernal (lower) and Nevada (upper) Falls.  We hiked to the footbridge below Vernal Falls the following day.
The Ahwanee Hotel.  The next day we sat in front of that hotel and looked up to this cliff and spend a long time trying to find where we were standing.
Some day we'll come back to hike this.
You just have to see it to believe it.
We decided to bring a tripod so we could set up the shot how we wanted it.  The sun was kinda in our faces and we definitely were not wearing complimentary clothes but it was still nice to get a photo of both of us.

Saturday we got up early to make sure we had plenty of time to see everything we wanted.  Even though the sun had been up for hours it wasn't reaching the Valley so it was freezing when we first pulled into the park.  We stopped to look at El Capitan and put on our thick jackets.  We were bummed to not be able to see anyone climbing but a small compensation was seeing deer right along the road.
Merced River, can you believe those boulders!

Such a pretty drive to the park.

These guys were taking selfies with the deer which was NOT shy
Almost too big to get in your shot

Yosemite Falls
My very handsome honey!

We parked in their visitor lot and took their recommended shuttles to various locations including the visitor center and museum, Yosemite Falls, and the Yosemite Lodge.  Afterwards we headed to Happy Isles where we would start the hike to the footbridge below Vernal Falls.  Vernal Falls was labeled as a "moderate" hike so I knew it would be a little tough for me (I am 6 months pregnant).  It ended up being a bit more difficult than I expected because the short .8 mile hike rose by 400 ft.  We saw a lady being accompanied down by paramedics because she overexerted herself.  This got Sean nervous because he knows I have a tendency to push myself beyond my ability.  He suggested a couple of times that we turn around and not complete the hike.  I wasn't going to let that happen.  I started something and I wanted to complete it.  I knew my weaknesses so I consciously told Sean to stop and rest much more than I would have done normally.  I think we stopped about 6 times before we finally made it to the bridge.  How glad I was to follow through with it and not give up.  I'll have to save this story for when my kids want to give up on something.

An Indian replica village outside the museum.
Lower Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls
From the Vernal Falls Footbridge.  This hike was steep but had some amazing views.

Our next stop was the Ahwanee Lodge.  It was a gorgeous lodge built in the 1920s with amazing details from decorated wood beams to hand carved restroom stall doors.  It's pricey to stay there (I told Sean 2 nights there would pay for a plane ticket to Europe) but were glad we could walk around and enjoy it.  We ended up eating at their Bar and Lounge (you had to be dressed up for the dining room).

Inside of the Ahwanee
Expensive hotel but in a great location
6 months pregnant and sitting with my feet up
This is taken from our chairs outside the Ahwanee.  Up there is Glacier Point.
Taken with my long lens, if you zoom in more you can see the rock ledge and people hanging out at Glacier Point.  It is so far up there!
The last thing we wanted to do was to get some good shots of Half Dome.  We made our way to a meadow where we had a great view of the Dome.  It was nearing sunset and the beautiful view was a great way to end our trip to Yosemite (minus the 45 minutes it took to just get out of the parking lot).
We had to wait for a very long time to just get out of the parking lot.
We waited so long that I had to stop and use the restroom on our way out of the park.  As Sean put it, even the Outhouses had amazing views.

Our visit was perfect.  Glacier Point was open (HUGE bonus) and it was still spring time so there was water in the falls (dries up in the summer time).  It was spring break which I think led to the crowds so that wasn't as enjoyable but hey, we can't have the park all to ourselves!  Summertime is suppose to be even worse which just makes me think that it would be miserable to visit at that time.  We have already talked about returning to hike Half Dome which is something that I've been wanting to do for years and am now excited that Sean is totally on board.

It was a very enjoyable trip and probably one of the last ones until our baby girl is born.