Open Road

Open Road

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Never trust a ranger with a bad haircut OR a concierge at a second rate, tourist trap hotel

So much to catch up on! We're back on wifi so let's get y'all up to date!

After all the rotten weather we had, we were excited to head into Yosemite National Park knowing that warm weather was awaiting us. The drive to Yosemite took forever it seemed. As you may remember from Jason's first post, taking his family here has been his dream for the last 10 years. Expectations were VERY HIGH! This entire trip was built around Yosemite and we had LOTS to cover.  Also, Grandma and Grandpa were meeting us there and we were all looking forward to having company! Plus, nobody spoils the kiddos like the grandparents, so the kids were especially thrilled to have them join us. Mom and Dad's rules go out the window.

We pulled into our campsite at 11:00 pm and it couldn't have been darker. Fortunately, Jason's getting really good at setting things up so, no worries.  Grandpa and Grandma joined us early the next morning to visit and bring us some things we needed from home. Daylight brought us what we had been waiting so long for - utterly breathtaking views. Seriously. There is nothing like Yosemite. Hands down, the most beautiful place we've seen. Jason was like a kid in a candy store, spending as much time looking at the kids' faces as he was at the scenery. A memorable moment for sure.

Glacier Point was our first stop. I have tons of pictures to share, but have a pretty slow connection tonight, so I may just do another post tomorrow with just those. Grandma and Grandpa decided to head down to the valley and see all there was to see there. We, however, needed to do some hiking. Please say you remember what our last big hike was like. Yeah, fun. I wasn't going to fall into the same trap, so when Jason suggested the hike to Sentinel Dome saying it was only 3 miles round trip, I didn't take his word for it.

Off I went to find the ranger and get the REAL scoop. Enter Bad Haircut Ranger. When I asked her what the increase in elevation was, she quickly replied "it's totally flat". Wow. How could this be? So, I put on my happy face and we headed across the street to the trailhead. And, that's when I looked up. As in STRAIGHT UP! Lies. That's what the bad haircut ranger told me. Total lies! It ended up being 1-1/2 miles to the dome with a change in elevation just under 1000 feet. You do the math. The angle we were hiking was not made for humans. I had made the decision not to complain about hiking anymore, but this was just too much. Bad haircut ranger (aka Sadist, Jr.) apparently felt that a 1000 foot change in elevation was "pretty flat" when compared to what? The hike to Everest base camp? Jason hauled out the videocamera more than once to record my extreme distaste for her. Kids learned new words. Oh, and did I mention the temperature? It was 102 degrees, no wind, and the trail was 75% in the sun.

Finally, we reached the summit and my endorphins that had abandoned me two hours earlier finally showed up. We had made it. And, I'm sorry to say, the view was totally worth the grueling hike. Wow. That was hard to type. You could see everything. The whole valley. You were nearly eye level with Half Dome and El Capitan was gorgeous in the distance. Wind blowing like crazy, we took tons of pictures and ate yogurt pretzels to celebrate our accomplishment. And please know, the reason I complain about the elevation is because thanks to two major knee injuries in high school, the arthritis I have to deal with makes hills and steps challenging. The hike back down took almost as long as going up, but we had cooler temperatures coming and a shower to look forward to.

Yosemite Day 2 was a sleeping in day, with the remainder spent exploring the valley.  It was only 111 degrees that day, so we took the top off Toad and enjoyed the breeze. Since our campsite was on the banks of an adorable creek, the kids enjoyed playing on the rocks and cooling off before convincing Grandma and Grandpa to give them more s'mores than their parents would. A quieter day spent just taking in all the beauty that is Yosemite.

However. Day 3 we were back on the trail after an early wake-up. Beating the heat is beyond important. If you haven't started your hike by 8, forget it. No Camelbak in the world is going to give you enough water to keep you hydrated enough. Vernal Falls was our destination and 3/4's of us made it there. I stopped at the bridge to avoid the strenuous steps to get to the top of the falls. Kids were doing just great until they reached the top. Jack started cramping and Katie developed blisters. Sounded like a not so fun walk back down. It was time to say our goodbyes to Yosemite and move on.

Which meant SAN FRANCISCO. Staying in a hotel. Eating at fabulous restaurants. Relaxing. Enjoying the diversity of the city. Celebrating Independence Day. But there was none of that until we found a place to park Harvey.

I had planned ahead. The concierge at our hotel assured me that Harvey could be parked in the parking ramp across the street. I even double checked - "Harvey is 12 feet tall." "No problem, Mrs. Woods. It can accommodate 13 feet." Sweet! In addition, we had over a week's worth of laundry to get done that night, so the shuttling of dirty clothes between Harvey and Toad began. In the midst of all this, we took another look at the parking garage where signs that said "Height Limit 9 feet" were posted EVERYWHERE! Umm, how did the concierge miss that? We tried to get Harvey in there, but banged the sign. Not cool. Back onto the street we went, which in downtown San Francisco is a nightmare. Thankfully, my parents had taken the kids to the pool, so Jason and I could figure this all out. The closest campground was 25 minutes away and no one was answering the phone. Other suggested parking lots weren't even remotely big enough to accommodate Harvey. We were panicking by this point. The hotel valet wouldn't let us park in the entrance (where other large vehicles had been allowed to park) and the concierge just kept on apologizing. On our last nerve (and three hours into this mess), we finally went to the hotel manager asking for help. She was able to get someone on the phone at that campsite and offered to comp us the cost of keeping Toad in the hotel garage. We were making a little progress. The campground cost per night was $89.00. Insanity but we had no choice.

We headed back down to the parking garage to get Toad and I was introduced to the shortest parking garage I've ever seen.  Height limit - 6 feet. Toad = 5 feet, 11-1/2 inches. I even managed to bang on my head on a metal pole coming down from the ceiling. We scraped our way out of there, hooked up to Harvey (AGAIN) and headed out. The nighttime security guard at the campground took at least 5 minutes to write down our credit card number and we were convinced our identity would be stolen in less time than that. By the time we returned to the hotel, we had been dealing with this problem for over 6 hours, were starving and slap happy. All we wanted was a bed.

A good night's sleep was had by all, and we were ready for our San Francisco adventure. And, knowing us, that could only mean that were going to take the city by storm. Stay tuned. We'll post about that experience soon! Thanks for reading!

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