We’ve been out of touch the last few days because we’ve had loong days, hoping to squeeze the most out of each amazing area we’ve visited and because we’ve had limited internet access. At this moment, we are driving through beautiful Sonoma-like farmland on our way back north. Evie is listening to an audio book (The Penderwicks, a great read about four sisters on summer vacation) and the rest of us are enjoying the views.
For the past three days, we’ve been exploring Yosemite National Park. It was the first time to Yosemite for all of us and it did not disappoint. Being from Washington State, where we are spoiled with an amazing array of natural beauty, I have to admit I approached Yosemite with a “How much more amazing can it be than Mount Rainier or Olympic National Park?” But that is really the wrong attitude to approach any natural place with because they each hold their own kind of beauty. The soaring, sheer granite faces of Yosemite are truly amazing and unlike anything I had seen before. We took the advice that we heard many times and made sure to arrive in the park before 9am each day in order to beat the heat and the crowds. This meant Tim and I using a strategy that we’ve used multiple times throughout this trip – we get up early and pack everything up except the tent, then pick up the girls and place them in the car in their sleeping bags. This allows us to get an early start and them to get a little more sleep and eat breakfast along the way.
I won’t give a blow by blow of our time in Yosemite but suffice it to say, we enjoyed exploring the Yosemite Valley extensively and made it to a few other parts of the park. Our girls were reluctant hikers (helped by the fact that I have a broken toe and am not supposed to be doing any extensive hiking) but enjoyed the time in nature quite a bit. One of the greatest delights has been Abigail’s seriousness about being a “Junior Ranger.” The park system offers a great program that encourages kids to complete some nature challenges, attend a ranger-led program, etc. in order to qualify as a Junior Ranger. Once given this challenge, Abigail was single minded in her mission. This morning, she was “sworn in” by a ranger.
Our girls have really amazed us in the way they are so present to every location and moment we experience. No matter where we are, they immerse themselves in imaginative play, relevant to the location. Every campsite we have stayed at, they are off within minutes, pretending to be explorers, or pioneers, or naturalists. Their frequent complaint, which has challenged us adults, (who enjoy each new place but are often in a hurry to get off to the next location, cognizant of schedule and the distance we need to travel) has been, “Why can’t we play a little longer?” or “Why can’t we stay longer and get to know this place?” Interestingly, the only place they didn’t want to stay longer was San Francisco, our one urban stop.