Sunday, June 30, 2013


Meet our new furry family member, Bindi! The kids (mostly Shawn) have been wanting to get a new dog for a while now but I said we needed to wait until after vacation. Well the day after vacation Shawn somehow got me in that car again and we were out searching the valley for pet adoptions going on that day. I have to admit I was not really looking forward to the work of having a puppy and was kind of hoping to find a dog that was about a year old instead but when I saw her adorable little face it was love at first sight. She has such a mellow temperament. She was playful without being too spazzy and we didn't hear a peep out of her until she had been in our house for a few hours. I was wondering if she was part Besinji and would never bark. The shelters guess at breed is Australian Cattle Dog (or Blue Heeler) she is just adorable and seems very smart. I have to laugh though because we were warned by the folks at the shelter several times about how high energy this breed is and that she would need a family willing to give her lots of play time and exercise, but this is how she spends about 80% of her day.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Yosemite Part 4

Lets take a picture here (really means I need to catch my breath)
This is about the 1/2 way point, see the fall way back in there?
Day 5: Up and on the trail again this morning. This time along the Mist Trail to Vernal Fall. The book we bought about Yosemite last year says "if you only do one hike in Yosemite make it this one" so even though my feet were aching I had to do it. It was a nice paved trail most of the way but very, very steep. I had to go really slow and stop a lot to catch my breath. If you want to find out how out of shape you are do this hike. The view at the end was well worth the effort though, by far my favorite of the falls we saw on this trip. I made it to a great spot to see Vernal Fall but Shawn and Athena went up even more steps to get closer to it, while I headed back down to a less crowded spot to rest and have a snack. While eating my apple I was surrounded by squirrels, I felt just like Snow White. Going down the trail was a piece of cake and seemed like it only took a few minutes.
The stairs start. Me and Athena are the purple and blue spots in the middle of the picture.

This is as far as I made it

They got even closer, I love the mist in this shot

 The rest of the day was spent looking through the gift shop and museum. My feet are sure ready to head home but I think my soul will be staying for a while. Shawn and I both said we could have spent a few more days just sitting in a meadow doing nothing but staring at nature all around us. It really was a great vacation, probably in my top 5 of all time. The drive home was pretty crappy, stuck in California traffic for several hours, but our last stop hotel had free WiFi so we all got to stare at our screens for the evening.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Yosemite Part 3

Day 4:Today we head to Mariposa Grove to see the giant Sequoia trees. I have been looking forward to this since we decided to visit Yosemite.I remember all the Sequoias and drive through trees we saw on a trip along the west coast with my parents as a kid and the trees always stuck with me. I am just amazed to think of all that went on in the world all around them as they just stood there and became even more beautiful. Can you see tiny Athena at the base of this tree? Just to give you an idea of how big they are she is close to 5'3" now and she looks like an ant next to it!

The roots of a fallen sequoia

The Grizzly Giant
The Grizzly Giant is the largest tree in the park. Some things we read have it at about 1,800 years old while others say 2,700. Either way that is one old tree! You may have noticed some haze in the pictures from yesterday. There were 2 or 3 fires burning in the park while we were there. We learned that the Sequoias depend on fire to grow so big and live so long. Their bark is very fire resistant and their branches start very high up the tree so the fires help to burn out other types of trees that would fight for space with them. Pretty amazing that fire can actually help trees.
Another shot of the Grizzly Giant

 This is the California Tunnel Tree. Can you believe a horse drawn stage could pass through that hole. I bet it would be hard to find a modern car that could make it, it seemed like such a tiny space.

I had to get a "tree-hugger" shot!
One more to show the massive size of these things

Another crowded shuttle ride back down to our car and then a beautiful drive to Glacier Point. Wow what a view. I could have sat and stared at it for days. Got another great panoramic shot here. They just don't look right on the blog though, I will post them on flickr at some point too so you can get a better idea of the beauty. Although there isn't really any picture that can do it justice. Saw a shirt in the gift shop with a great quote on it "you can't carry the weight of the world on your shoulders when you are standing on top of it" didn't like the shirt but love the quote :) Had a crappy lunch of wrapped sandwiches but at least the view was nice then headed on to another hike.

 Not sure why I took so many shots like this but I just love a tree lined trail that twists and turns through the forest. This is what most of the hike out to Taft Point was like. Again a beautiful hike and another less crowded trail. Which was nice after the crowds we had at Mariposa Grove and Glacier point for most of the day. My feet are starting to feel the work they have been doing and I'm pretty sure my blisters have blisters but wow this view at the end of the trail, sure made it worth it.

 Shawn and Athena by the railing I stood at to take the picture above. I was shaking and heights don't usually bother me at all. Holding on helped. And the last shot for today is looking down over the railing, I think Shawn read it is a 3,000 foot drop.

I almost forgot we stopped at Tunnel Veiw on the way back to the hotel, don't think we will make it back to this area on this trip so I am glad we stopped. Even though we are all very tired. A nice guy offered to take a shot with all of us in it, we look beat but at least we have one picture with all three of us in it. As I am going back over my journal and posting all the pictures I am amazed at how much we did everyday. No wonder my feet hurt for days after.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Yosemite Part 2

Day 3: Time to hike. We started the day at the Yosemite Valley visitors center and picked up a trail map and a shuttle route map. Then headed Lower Yosemite Fall trail head. The trail was a little crowded but not too bad, we were expecting crowds. Weather is just perfect! The falls are beautiful and seriously the smell! I'm starting to understand why someone invented those pine air fresheners. On our way down from the falls we decided to hike along the Yosemite Valley loop. It was just gorgeous and we felt like we had the park all to ourselves while we were on this trail. Only saw a handful of other people. Most just ride the shuttle these days I guess. I took a lot of pictures during this hike, there was so much beauty all around us I couldn't help it. So I will shut up for a bit and just label the pictures :)

Lower Yosemite Fall

Cool rocks
My loves
Most of the trail was wandering through the forest like in this shot, and then every once in a while there would be this opening in the trees and we would have this glorious view. I got a lot of use out of the panoramic setting on my phone on this trip :)
A little friend we made while stopped for a snack.
Athena loved this view.
Being silly
I could spend the rest of my life in that spot right there.
In awe.
Just for fun

Seemed like a good spot for a picture.

More beauty

This was the payoff for several miles of hiking. We stopped to check our map to decide where to go next and told Athena she could go down from us a bit to look at the river. She yelled up all excited "hurry there are deer!"

Tired and hungry we found our way to a shuttle stop. Rode a very packed shuttle to Currey Village to wait in a long line for cheeseburgers. It sure tasted good though after that long day of hiking. After we were rested and fed we decided to check off a second waterfall so we drove to the Bridalveil Fall parking area and took the short paved 1/4 mile walk to it. It was very busy but another beautiful spot. Shawn and Athena climbed out onto the rocks so I could take their picture, along with several other people. It was difficult to get them and the falls in the same shot.
You can kind of tell there is a fall behind them.

El Capitan
We even stopped on the way out of the park for the day to get a shot of El Capitan. This was a perfect day of vacation, still can't believe how much of the trail we had all to ourselves today. Tomorrow, really big trees!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Yosemite Part 1

I had great intentions of blogging our vacation this year while we were on it. We always have some down time at the hotel in the evening and I thought it would be fun to blog as we went, I even added  extra data to my cell plan before we left. So wouldn't you know, there was no coverage in our hotel. None! And the only way to get WiFi was for $9 a day in the lobby. So I didn't blog along the way. But I did keep a journal (just like my mom) and am going to break down the trip into a few parts so I don't have to sit at the computer for so many hours at a time :) Some of this will be wordy, just in case we ever get back there again I can look back and see what we already did, and what was our favorite things. So if it gets too boring just look at the pictures ;) Here we go!

Day 1:
Off towards Vegas! Not exactly the fastest route to Yosemite but we wanted to make the trip there part of vacation too so we stayed at the Mirage and had tickets to the Beatles LOVE show. My mom and Craig were in Mesquite and got a deal so they met us for dinner and the show. Wow was that a great show! So much going on at times though I think it needs to be seen more than once. I would find myself mesmerized by something going on in the air and then look down to find skate ramps had appeared on the stage. And I am actually glad we had the cheap tickets in the back because there was part that would not have been the same if we had been lower. If we ever go through Vegas again I think I would see it another time. Had a nice visit with my mom too, it was fun to see her even if it was just a quick visit.

We also got a kick out of all the dumb stuff in the room you could buy. The whole fridge was full! Good thing we didn't need to use it.

Day 2:
Met up with mom for breakfast at Carnegie Deli and then we were on the road again. Stopped for gas in Beatty and and decided to detour through Death Valley. What a waste of time, very ugly but at least now we can mark it off the National park list.

The road between Benton and Yosemite sure was fun,lots of dips. It was like riding the new Cars ride at Disneyland without the line! Entered the park through Tioga pass, I was blown away by the beauty. Nature can really amaze me, it was just so pretty and the smell, I wish I could bottle it and take it home. Shawn pointed out a deer on the side of the road I said "Did you see it Jeans?" she replied "Yes, was it real?" Guess we are really raising a city kid ;)

Made it to our hotel in El Portal, Yosemite Cedar Lodge, nothing too fancy but it is close to Yosemite Valley and has lots of room for us to spread out in. Plus the fridge is empty and super cold! Were surprised to find we didn't have cell service, guess we will be roughing it.

That's it for part 1, the next part will have a lot more pictures I promise :)