I’ve been itching for a family vacation this summer. We haven’t had any big plans on the calendar this year so I threw out the idea to take a road trip and everyone embraced it with open arms. HOO-RRAY! I’m really excited, can you tell?
We like to throw together last minute trips. Do you? Even though it causes me undue stress, that’s how we roll over here.
So lets take a trip.
How about Yosemite?
What’s there to do at Yosemite?
I dunno. I know there’s a great big granite mountain face named El Capitan that’s famous for rock climbing. Didn’t that one guy free climb it? Isn’t it one of the most awesomest, beautifulest national parks in the US?
Well, lets go.
After much research in the few short days before our trip, I learned that all campgrounds and lodgings fill up months in advanced; like February-advanced; like when-they-first-open-the-camp-sites-for-reservation kind of advance. BUT there are a bunch of camp sites that are first-come-first-serve. That made me a bit nervous not knowing where I was going to lay my sweet babies heads but I set my sights on a couple campgrounds that sounded nice and away from the crowds, hoping there would be a site available.
Boy, did we luck out. We first stopped at White Wolf because it had tap water and I wasn’t too keen on pumping or boiling all our water. It was a fun looking place but it was full so on we went to our next pick.
Love! Love! Love! this campsite. It was 3 miles down a rugged road (which made it all the more quaint) and didn’t have tap water but my goodness, I didn’t care. We packed plenty and could fill up at the gas station later. This place was so dreamy and perfect. We found a cute little site near the end of the campground and near a stream. We had nothing but forest behind us and only one neighboring camper from the way the site was set up. It was perfect for my noisy little family.
One day we explored the trail that ran along the stream leading from camp. It lead to the most delightful set of granite pools and little waterfalls. It was heaven and we didn’t see a soul. (Who said Yosemite was a tourist trap?)
We didn’t make it down south to Mariposa Grove to see the biggest grove of sequoia trees. Instead we checked out the little one closer to our campsite. We were trying to eliminate the amount of driving we had to do for the littles.
Here is one of the first giant sequoias that you come to, Big Red.
Tuolumne Grove only has about 20 some mature giant sequoia trees, though I counted just 10 or so, but we didn’t mind. All the trees there are big and pretty.
The hike consists of walking a mile down an old road to the actual grove then meandering around the grove for a half mile and then trudging back up the steep-ish old road to the car for a total of 2.5 miles. The kids complained a bit but in the end it really wasn’t that bad.
The kids favorite part was climbing in and around the old fallen giants.
Their centers are hollow and make a cave like tunnel to explore. The roots make for fun bouldering problems.
This old dead tree has been around for years and I can’t imagine the number of people that have walked underneath it. I think I read that they carved it out in the late 1800′s or so to encourage travel through there. There was an old picture of a stagecoach going through it.
We even saw a little troll along the way.
Despite all the reports we’d read about “The Valley” being full of tourists, we didn’t think it was all that bad. Perhaps it was because we were there on a Thursday so if you’re planning a trip, try a weekday instead of a weekend.
Beautiful. Breathtaking. Yosemite valley is all those things and more. No wonder it’s famous. The granite cliffs are towering above your head and too big to fit in your windshield as you drive through. The green meadows and forests are divine and the Merced River is delightfully pretty.
We gave ourselves a full day to explore and ended up going back for another half day to play in the river.
Bridalveil Fall was our first stop. We knew that, being July, that there wouldn’t be much water pouring down. And well, there wasn’t but as you looked up you could see a misty kind of fall catching in the wind and blowing around the cliff and eventually finding its way down. It was late morning and the sun was positioned a few feet from the fall making it difficult to look up and get a good pic.
It was still pretty and as we reached the end of the short walk up to the fall you could see the polished granite rocks in the river bed that were exposed in the summer. They would be completely covered and raging with water in the spring. We, along with quite a few other adventurers, scrambled up the dry but very slippery rocks up to the bottom of the fall. There would be no way to do this in the spring. At the bottom was a deep little pool where some cascading water ended up.
Isaac jumped right in after some short encouragement from Jeremy. But he quickly jumped right out because it was freezing cold water. Take you breath away kind of cold but it was too fun to resist and plenty warm for sunning on the rocks afterwards. Isaac jumped in a bunch more times and all of us ended up taking quick dips, clothes and all. It made for a fun memory.
Our next stop was Vernal Fall. This waterfall is not seasonal and has enough water rushing down to still make it spectacular year round and thus it continues to draw a crowd. This is one of the busiest trails in the park but the scenery makes it well worth all the people passing. Just nod and smile as they walk pass your whining, screaming, silly kid.
At about 1 mile there is a bridge that goes over the river and gives you the first view of the falls. There is also a drinking fountain to replenish water bottles. I think quite a few people stop here and call it good but getting close up to the falls was worth the uphill for us.
The pounding sound of the fall is amazing. I need to go back in the spring and experience it in all it’s glory. The trail leading up to Vernal Fall is called The Mist Trail but in July we could barely feel the cool refreshing mist blowing over to us. No ponchos needed.
The trail is steep and a bit of a haul for the little ones. But they made it. Even if it took some jolly-rancher-bribing to get them to the top. We counted 667 granite stairs. (You can keep going up more stairs if you want to continue on to the Nevada Fall.)
The hike goes right to the top of the fall for a great view of where you’ve come from.
Thank you for handrails.
At the top, the river is swollen into a pretty little pool called Emerald Pool.
Isaac jumped right in. At the far end of the pool the river comes sliding down a gentle sloping granite slab making for a perfect natural water slide. After watching a few guys slide down, Isaac braved up and went down about a dozen times. I had so much fun watching him. I could just see all the thrill of childhood adventure in him. He’d talk to himself about where to enter the slide and how to land. In the end, Emma decided to join in and loved it too. Big fun.
Including the walk back to our car we went just over 4 miles. The kids did great but were pretty bushed by the end. I felt pretty beat myself.
If you combine the Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls it is 2,425 feet tall. That is one tall waterfall. That makes it the tallest in North America and the 5th or 7th tallest in the world. (depending on which site you read) In July there was more water coming down it than it’s neighbor, Bridalveil Fall, across the way but it was still a thin looking thing.
Again- Must. Come. Back. In. The. Spring.
It’s only a quarter mile stroll on flat paved ground to the bottom of the lower fall. It’s a short section (320 feet high) but worth the little walk. You’ll get a great little view of the whole thing along the way. We arrived there right at dark so this is the best shot I have.
The Merced River runs right down the Nevada and Vernal Falls into the valley. There it meanders past the forests and granite cliffs and makes for a beautiful river with pleasant beaches and pools for swimming in. (I took some fun videos of the kids jumping in the river and posted one at Instagram.)
The kids were really excited about floating the river (because it didn’t involve hiking!) so we had brought our tubes along. I was weary about the water levels but driving by, we had seen plenty of people floating by. Althought when we set out, we learned that in July there isn’t a whole lot of floating to be done though. It was more like we went for a paddle down the river. The current was SO SLOW and there were several low spots that required getting out for so our bums didn’t drag. We took off our shoes and used them as paddles for steering and maneuvering and getting some momentum. We had to play catch up with the kids a few times. It was still really fun and a nice change from hiking.
We were rewarded by finding a rope swing at the end of our journey. I didn’t note which bridge it was near though and I didn’t get one picture from the float either… I didn’t want to risk my camera getting wet. Boo.
Just south of the valley is a road that wraps up and around to a point that looks out over Yosemite Valley. Jeremy absolutely loved this place. This is probably my favorite picture from the trip. You can see Nevada Falls right by my back and that’s half dome by Jeremy’s head.
The Views Are Spectacular!
It was fun to go up there near the end of the trip and identify all the places we’d been. There was even a handy map identifying all the major sites, domes and waterfalls. I could point out where we floated the river to the kids. “This bridge to this bridge.” and the kids thought it was pretty interesting.
We arrived near sunset and watched the sun creep up the prominent Half Dome and disappear into the sky.
There had been a lightning strike earlier in the month so there was a fire near Yosemite Creek. They fireman were managing it but you can see the dark cloud in the picture below is actually smoke. It never bothered us or got in the way. It’s really interesting how fire is important to these trees, helping the new seeds grow.
Coming from Utah, the shortest route to Yosemite is to enter through the north road. Tioga road was absolutely stunning. The views were amazing! I would recommend to anyone to make time to drive this scenic route. Coming over the pass at 9,945 feet in elevation was stunning. Driving from the dessert of Nevada into that oasis was shocking. Marveling at what a difference water can make is an experience in itself. I’m sounding completely nerdy but I think my jaw was dropped during that whole drive. I was bouncing and giggling over my excitement. Jeremy may have even joined in too. I think we might have shared a high five or two. I was driving so there is a lack of pictures and we only stopped at one pull out though there are plenty. This is Olmsted Point below.
On our last day and on our way out of the park, we stopped at Tenaya Lake for one last hurrah. This may have been my favorite place.
There is a delightful little trail that goes along the whole lake. We didn’t have the time or the umph to walk it but this little section had me breathing in the sweet smell of Lodgepole pines and wishing we didn’t have to go home.
We stopped at the beach with our suits on and washed off the last of our camping grime and basked in the sunshine. That’s Isaac out there. He was such a little fish they whole trip.
We ate lunch and watch the climbers ascend the dome across the road.
Did I mention it was heavenly?
Yes. It was.
This is Mono Lake on our way out. It’s a salty lake but still really pretty. Love the sky, yes?
So that is my full report. Perhaps my mom will read all the way through or perhaps you’re interested in Yosemite for yourself and will decide to plan your own family vacation. Let me know if you do? Maybe you have already been? What was your favorite part?
This wont be my last trip there, for sure!
I’m in love.
I looked over the other day to my husband who was on his laptop. I noticed he had Mandagirl opened up and I said “Hey, why are you looking at that!” He easily replied, “Just looking to see if you’ve posted anything new.”
Nope. I haven’t.
In fact, I hear crickets over here.
In fact, I’ve been thinking of reinventing things over here. Total Overhaul, people! Something new and Jazzy! Yes, I just said Jazzy.
My scrapbook templates are just as sad and tired as this old blog. I love digital scrapbooking and will never quit but I’ve run into a bump or two. No creativity going on here! Plus I don’t have a photoshop program. I never figured out how to transfer it over to this new computer (some mac vs pc problem). So… I either need to buy a new version or continue to dream about fixing it somehow. Sigh.
So while we dream about me actually scrapbooking…
I’ll entertain you with some favorite photos from our rock’n summer.
Actually, a lot of these are photos that didn’t make the Instagram cut. I worry about posting to much on instagram because I don’t want to Overgram anyone. “Oh my gosh, is she climbing AGAIN!” I don’t want to make anyone sick. I personally know most the people on Instagram so I try to hold back a little. Betcha couldn’t tell. Hah! I don’t want people to think I have some strange outdoor problem. Here I either don’t know you or you are my mom or my sister. You probably already know I have a problem.
Hi Mom. Do you like my lavender plant? It’s taking over my front yard.
Addiction? I might in fact… is it possible to spend too much time outdoors? Hah! No way!! I Need More! More, more, more! There’s nothing wrong with choosing to breathe fresh air instead of going to a movie. Is there?
Mom, our next picnic destination is Silver Lake up by Brighton Ski Resort. Purty, eh? I guess there is always a moose or two munching around.
In the rock climbing department I have been working really hard to improve on harder climbs. I discovered a couple new places near by and have been happy to test some of my skills outdoors instead of in the gym. It’s been really fun.
See… I’m making you sick aren’t I? This is some really cool white limestone and it has fun pockets to jam fingers into. This was my birthday climb. Loved it!
Here is pretty view looking down at Alta Ski Resort from the rock.
Sometimes my kids enjoy exploring the great outdoors with me.
And sometimes they don’t. I think she wants to pinch me with those sticks because I’m taking to long.
Rock Climbing hasn’t made my bottom any smaller so for my cardio workouts I have started mountain biking regularly. No thank you to treadmills.
I got a new bike as my Mothers Day/birthday/Christmas and next Valentines gift. I used to hate going up hill and now I still do but I’m faster than I was. I had no idea that a 15 year old bike would slow me down so much. It’s made riding much more enjoyable.
I heart the trails by my house. They are the perfect morning workout even if my legs feel like jelly for the rest of the day.
I know that I’m super silly… so when I say that I not only wanted to go climbing for my birthday but I also wanted to go for a nice long beautiful bike ride for my birthday, I give you permission to laugh at me (or roll your eyes.) My good friend’s birthday is the day after mine so we always declare a Birthday Ride.
Wasatch Crest, baby, here we come!
When it’s mommy time and I still want to be outdoors we plan little fun picnics by the river and try to convince someone to join us. Wanna come? I know some cool places.
This one didn’t make the Insta cut because I have some salad in between my teeth. Gaafaah.
We occasionally try to hike but it more often than not, it turns into playing by the river. There are a “whole lot a” trails that we’ve only seen the first half mile of.
This next one didn’t make the Instagram cut because Isaac’s arm is growing out of Leah’s side. I still love it though, bare feet and all. Leah was so brave and wanted to cross the log all by herself.
Love this one too. Sam can be a real stinker but makes up for it in cuteness. I’m biased, of course. Note his dirty feet.
That’s it for now. I will make no promises for my next post.
Hello dear friends. Summer is in full swing and it’s time to play, play, play.
We started off the hot months by heading down south to the hottest part of Utah… St George. My climbing friend and I have been wanted to check this place out for a while we we convinced our family to join us on this wild, fun packed weekend. We had so much fun exploring and learning are way around town. Here are some of the highlights from our trip.
Green Valley Gap.
There is both climbing and mountain biking around Green Valley Gap. We were really just scoping out the area, figuring out where the trailheads and routes were. We ran out of time to really do either but the kids had a lot of fun climbing around on boulders and spotting wild life. We saw a road runner, couple bunnies and lizards. Emma also found a left behind Easter Egg with $5. Score!
Saturday morning my friend and I woke up early to beat the heat and the crowds to the best climbing wall in town. I was super excited because I’d heard so many great things about this place.
It didn’t disappoint. The sandstone pockets were amazing and created the perfect climbing wall. Don’t be fooled though, it was a lot tougher than it looks. The kids joined us later at the crag and spent the rest of the morning hunting lizards.
Next stop was Snow Canyon State Park. We grabbed a map and planned out a little loop hike involving the Lava Tube hike and the Petrified Sand Dunes hike.
The lava tubes turned out to be better than expected. The kids had a great time exploring the dark underworld and luckily I had had enough sense to grabbed some flashlights.
Sam had a major tantrum/freakout under the ground. I’m not sure if he was claustrophobic or just didn’t understand where we were or what we were doing but he screamed the whole time. Not so fun, although he does looked pretty happy in the above picture. It must have been in the beginning before he realized he was trapped.
Walking around the slick rock/petrified dunes was fun. We climbed up to a little look out point that felt airy and exposed. Sam must have wore himself out for all his crying because he’s catching a few zzz’s in this pic.
The wind was rushing past us making it a fun wind dancing sort of place. Don’t wear any skirts here unless you’re under the age of 5.
(I’m sorry if you’re following me on instagram, you’ve already seen a lot of these pics.)
The biggest highlight for the kids (and husband) was spotting two rattle snakes. I know most people would be slightly freaked out but this was a big time moment for my reptile lovers. I made sure to keep my distance.
After our hike everyone was pretty beat and the only thing the kids wanted to do was head back to the hotel for a dip in the pool. Sam tried out his new life jacket. Independence at last. I’m in love.
This cute little boy didn’t realize that it was his birthday. (On second thought, maybe he did and that is why he wanted to try being a Terrible Two by throwing a tantrum in the lava tubes. Hah!.) We celebrated by getting some custard ice cream cones and singing to him. Not very celebratory of us but it worked.
Sunday was low key for us. We went to church with my aunt and uncle who live in St George. The crazy thing was, so did the rest of the town. We walked in the meeting and found the place completely filled up to the back of the cultural hall. Crazy vacationers. The rest of the day was spent visiting with family and checking out the Brigham Young Home.
Monday was our last day so we wanted to cram in the last bit of fun we could get. We took turns mountain biking the Bear Claw Poppy trail (big fun!! but no pictures) and hurried and packed up before check out time.
One our way back north we stopped in Kanarraville, Utah to do this hike we’d heard about. Oh my! This place was so cool. It was awesomeness I tell you. It is a river/slot canyon kind of hike and perfect for a hot day and my little hikers.
The only problem was that we weren’t the only one who had this idea.
There is this waterfall that requires climbing up a ladder in order to get past it. There was a bit of a traffic jam and we had to wait in line for our turn.
But it was well worth it.
The highlight and a good stopping point for us was the natural water slide. More big fun! I have a video of it on instagram if you want to see how it worked. Even Sam took a ride down it.
Just look at this sweet face.
We had a really special day this last Saturday. My second child was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was an amazingly special day. When I watched my son come out of the water I felt a rush of the spirit come into my heart and whisper to me that this was true and good.
Afterwards my sweet boy stood up in front of all the family and friends there to support him and bore his testimony about baptism. He said a few things but the one quote to remember is when he said “I know that baptism is… (slight pause and then a smile crept across his face) …the gateway to awesomeness.” How true that is. It was so cute and funny and sweet and totally Isaac.
I was also able to take a day off from being Mom and headed down to BYU Women’s Conference with my in-laws. For some crazy reason I was possessed while shopping the other day and bought these wide leg pants pictured below. They are comfy and flowy and I even got a compliment from a college student on them but looking at the picture I can’t help regret them. Is it because I’m comparing them to my sister in laws leggings? Maybe I needed to bend my leg in the picture so that I don’t look like a balloon. But really… perhaps I should never wear them again.
I didn’t find my scrapbooking mojo at Women’s Conference but was inspired in so many other ways. It was a great spiritual boost listening to speakers and music. Gosh, we can always be just a little bit better, right? I walked around campus in the most amazing spring weather and had all kinds of college day memories come back to me.
Ah, good times. It would be nice if there were more days off like that.
I’m really lacking in the creativity department. My scrapbooking mojo is just gone. I left it in bed or maybe left it dangling on the last climbing wall.
Wait. Was it there? Blowing out of my brains, through my hair and down the cliff? I think my writing mojo is gone too.
(The depth perception in this next photo is kinda weird. My foot is pushing against the rock, not floating. Can you see my miniscule car down by the road?)
There’s my mojo, blowing down the road. Dunno where it’s going. But it’s gone and here sits a very unmotivated mandagirl. I’d much rather be looking up climbing routes for my next trip. Or how about watching YouTube videos for inspiration.
I had to look up Mojo in the Urban dictionary just to make sure I was using the word right.
:The word originally means a charm or a spell. But now its more commonly said meaning sex appeal or talent.
Not so much the sex appeal but maybe the talent part. How about this definition
:a power that may seem magical and that allows someone to be very effective, successful, etc.
Yes, I want to be effective and successful. Where are you mojo? Heck, I’ll even take the sexy part if I need to. Hah.
I’ve given myself a little kick in the pants to just post a teensy, tiny update for you… Oh wait, I’m already way into it.
I haven’t made anymore progress on the newest vacation template package that I’ve been
slaving way working on. In fact, catching up on Once Upon a Time has been my priority and is mainly to blame. Hum, what to do during nap time? Get comfy and watch a show or work on some templates that aren’t coming together? Good question… but I think you know what I picked.
There is also the fact that my 30 day photoshop trial has run out. I really wish my old photoshop version would work on this new computer. Boo. I’m am trying to get away without buying a new one. Do you think a new one will just magically appear on my front door step?
Me either. Might as well just go to the river and throw rocks.
Now that spring is in full swing I find myself wanting to be outdoors more and more. My hopes of getting caught up on scrapbooking during the colds months have been smooshed into the ground. Oh well. There will be more nap times ahead and perhaps I’ll find it there.
I love little getaways. I was really looking forward to spring break this year and hoping the weather would turn out for us. I’ve been hoping to go down to Escalante National Monument for a while now. I’ve reading about some fun family hikes down there. It’s a bit of a drive for us but we did it.
The first hike on our list was Lower Calf Creek Falls. It’s a 6 miles round trip but it’s nice and flat and absolutely beautiful.
Next stop was Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons. They are two slot canyons near each other. You can hike up one and then come down the other one. Both are family friendly and don’t have anything too technical. But super cool!
We found a lizard on the way to the second slot. My kids love this stuff.
And so do I.
Near the slots there is a fun little area called Devils Garden. We played and rested here for an afternoon. The kids had so much fun climbing around on the formations.
We checked out Escalate State Park and the petrified forest there. Pretty place.
As a youth I camped at Kodachrome Basin. I have a lot of cool memories. We went to check it out the 60 some spire formations there but got stuck playing on the red rock. Check out my Instagram posts for a video of the cool natural slide we found there.
Next stop was Bryce Canyon. Pretty, pretty, pretty! We did both the Fairyland trail and the Queens Garden/Navajo Loop trail.
We made some awesome memories. By the end the kids were exhausted and tired of hiking. Heck, I think I was too. I think we hiked around 16 miles over the 4 days. It’s always nice to get home after some fun adventure.
I hope you all had a happy Easter. We had a nice little Easter. I don’t go crazy with lots of candy and eggs but I put together a little basket for them to find and we had a family gathering with an Easter egg hunt.
I’m struggling to come up with a clever title for this post. This is really just a hello to let you know I’m still around.
April has been a busy month. As the weather warms up we have managed to have lots of fun.
This little darling had a birthday and turned 5. Is she really that big?
She wanted a Disney Frozen party like the rest of all the 5 year old girls in the world. Luckily her big sister got all excited about it and wanted to plan and host the party. Phew for me. I have a love/hate relationship with parties. We built snowmen out of marshmallows, had a paper snowball fight, had a treasure hunt and makeovers. Fun times for the little kiddos.
This stud muffin also had his 8th birthday while we were on our spring break trip (pictures coming next.) We’ve yet to celebrate it fully but we will.
For his birthday dinner we went to a restaurant on our trip and Isaac ordered a 2/3 pound burger. He ate the whole thing. Then they gave him a free chocolate cake with ice cream. It was huge! We each had a few bites of the cake but I couldn’t believe how fast Isaac ate most of it. Wowzers I would have been sick.
Before we left for our spring break trip I invited some friends down to Maple Canyon for a climbing trip. All these little monkeys had a great time. Can’t help wish for more days off from school.
I have spent a little bit of time scrapbooking. I’m working on some vacation templates. I’m getting a little frustrated with it… hopefully it will come together soon.
Before my computer crashed I had just finished a new template to share with you. Luckily it was saved on my external hard drive. Phew. I’ll share it with you today.
If I hadn’t saved it there you’d be waited a bit longer. I’m still hoping to be able to retrieve all my 2013 photos that are stuck on the old laptop. They were not on my external hard drive nor any sort of cloud back up. I know, very unwise. Big frowny face!
I could take the old laptop in and pay someone to transfer the data for me since I’ve been told the hard drive is still good but I’m going to try to do it myself. Yikes! I’m hoping that learning to do it myself will be worth more in the long run. Ya know, empowering and all as well as saving money! My sweet brother has been holding my hand through the whole thing. He’s so great to have patience with my lack of computer knowledge. So far I’ve tried using the Target Disk Mode for Macs with a firewire and that was a fail. The next thing to try is to take the laptop’s hard drive out and stick it in a Hard Drive Enclosure Case. I’ll be completely stoked if it works!! The case is in the mail. Hurry up, please.
Ok, on to my new template.
It’s pretty basic guys but it sure gets the job done. If you like it then download it by clicking here.
Here are my pages.
That’s it for now. My next scrapbooking project is a vacation with 150+ pictures. Whoo, time to get busy.
The spring weathers has been just lovely around these parts. There has been a little bit of rain but for the most part it’s warming up and the blossoms are starting to come out. I can’t help but just go sit in the sunshine. We’ve been playing outside as much as possible. Sam is overly happy and content at the park. He points and says something like “pay” meaning he wants to go play.
He always wants to go “pay.” I can’t get anything done around here.
While I was fixing dinner one night Isaac and his friend were swinging spider style. I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos of them because I think days like this wont last forever. Such sweet happiness.
This past week we’ve been up and down with sickness. It’s run through most of the family but my little Leah isn’t bouncing back so well.
She’s been getting afternoon fevers for 5 days now. She’ll wake up feeling great and ready to go but later in the afternoon she heats up and lays around on the couch for the rest of the day. Weird. I haven’t dealt with this before. The internet didn’t seem to come up with much. I don’t think there is much call for worry unless it goes on for longer than a week. My mommy alarm isn’t going off quite yet. I could call the nurse. If it goes on for a couple more days I’ll have to take her in.
Hum. Any ideas?
How’s the weather in your parts? Anxious for spring?