The highlight of our trip so far is definitely Yosemite. We could have stayed here a few weeks and still not have experienced all the park has to offer. We will definitely be returning when we can devote more time to exploring! We stayed at Yosemite Lakes RV Park which is a few mile from Yosemite's entrance. The park itself was crowded but nice. However, the drive to Yosemite's main valley took 45 minutes each way and cell reception was nonexistent.
When we return we will be staying in Yosemite National Park itself. There are numerous lodging options including rv campgrounds, a tent village and cabins. Also, there is reliable cell reception in the valley. Parking can be a bit of a challenge. However, there is a bus system that runs to all the various destinations within the park.
Even in the short five days we were at the park we managed to see and do quite a bit. The first morning Clara and I attended a watercolors demonstration and class given by resident artist, Catherine Tirr. The class was appropriate for both beginner and experienced artists. I highly recommend this activity for anyone who enjoys art and nature! The park has a new resident artist in a variety of different mediums every week.
We went on a number of easy to moderate hikes as well. Including hiking to the Yosemite and Vernal falls, the Mist Trail and a hike and bike to Mirror Lake. The most difficult of these hikes due entirely to a very steep ascent in combination with a very hot day was the Mist Trail. One of the easiest but more informative hikes was a ranger led geology hike through the valley. I recommend this or another ranger led hike the first day to get better acquainted with the park.
Avery, the most adventuresome of the five of us, went to Mountaineering school for rock climbing and repelling. He had some experience at indoor climbing walls but had never done anything quite like this. They placed him in the intermediate class because they had no availability in the beginners class. This was very fortuitous as he was paired with only two other climbers of similar experience and the instructor. The beginning class had twelve climbing students to one instructor so they had less individual instruction time and were able to do fewer climbs. If you are considering mountaineering school and you have any experience at all you may want to consider the intermediate class!
While Avery was climbing rock faces and Dave was working remotely I took Clara and Oliver on a float trip down the Merced River. The park has rafts for rent or you can bring your own and there is a stretch of the river that is a few miles in length that is safe for a leisurely float. You also get some great views of the surrounding waterfalls and peaks from the river!
Yosemite was no only my favorite destination but also the children's favorite. We had only been there one day when Clara decided she wants to be a park ranger when she grows up, granted she changes her mind about her future career frequently. (After our visit to the Jelly Belly Bean Factory she decided she also wants to be a jelly bean flavor creator.) She did, however, ask a few of the rangers about why they decided to follow their path and how they became a ranger at Yosemite. She received a lot of good advice including learning about a program called the Youth Conservation Corps that she can join in a few years. One ranger told her that there are about 750 applicants for each ranger position at Yosemite but this did not deter her.
Yosemite is the kind of place that leaves a lasting impact on a person. It may have even influenced our children's future career paths. At the conclusion of our trip all I have to say is "GO FORTH TO YOSEMITE!" You will not be disappointed!