Sunday, October 23, 2011

CA vacation part 2: hiking up and down the 4 Mile Hike

It has been difficult to divide my pictures into appropriate, but brief blogs. I decided to capture the 4 mile hike by itself in a blog. Barbara mentioned to me that she wanted to hike a long hike on Wed of our vacation and wanted to know if Abram and I and others were interested. Of course Abram and I wanted to jump at the opportunity! It worked out that many of us could hike up while Mike hung with the younger crowd. He would drive up to the summit and meet us for lunch.

The hikers for the 4 mile hike were:  Tobin, Abram, Ryland, Barbara, Leah, me (taking the photo!)

Cora and Theresa.  The hike was really called "4 mile hike" because the elevation of the hike was 4 miles upward! 

When you drive into Yosemite park you can see upper falls or lower falls, but not both together.  At multiple points during the hike we were able to see both the upper and lower falls together.  I didn't realize how lucky we were this year to see the falls still running in August.  The snow fall the past winter had been at a 30 year high allowing the falls to flow rapidly even in August. 

I believe this spot is called Cathedral point.

This is half dome.

Barbara took this picture of us.  I do beleive she has one of Tobin and Ryland.  When I have that I will update this blog with it.

No idea what this is really called, but  I affectionately call it "Pig Face Point".

This is a panoramic photo of Glacier Point.  This is what we hiked up to from the Yosemite valley. 

Here is a great photo of all of us who made it by foot or car to the top.
Mike graciously stayed back at the cabin with Sarai, Carmen, Rachel, Joey, Julie, Thomas and Faye.  He drove everyone up to Glacier point with lunches so we could be together for part of the day. 

Rachel, Julie and Joey on top of some big boulders.

These are the hikers who climbed up the 4 mile hike.  Cora offered that Mike could hike down and she would take the car.  He accepted.  Sarai also hiked down with us.

Our family photo on top of Glacier Point.

This walkie talkie has a fantastic story!  Cora and Mike brought walkies to use between the cabin houses.  Cora thought it would be good to take one on the hike and she intended on Mike having the other so they could find each other when both arrived at the summit.  As Cora and Theresa were hiking up they were often hearing a kid yell into the walkie.  Multiple times they would say "Joey, we cannot hear you.  Talk slower!".  It became more frequent and more annoying that at one point they told Joey to shut up.  Well, low and behold, Mike forgot the walkie and Cora realized that she had been yelling at a different kid who was not Joey!

On our hike down I learned that Barbara and Paul were going to have celebrated their 20 year anniversary that month.  I also learned that they had gone to Yosemite for their honeymoon and this was a huge reason why Barbara suggested this area for our summer vacation spot.  We knew Paul had cancer while were making plans for the vacation and all hoped Paul would be able to join us.  Unfortunately, he died before our visit to Yosemite.  Barbara had his ashes and per request of Paul, she spread some of his ashes at beautiful spots on our hike down.  It was a tender moment to witness.  This truly was and is a beautiful park.  We miss you Paul!

Abram has the camera again and caught me and Tobin.

We took a break so Tobin could do some weight lifting!

Sarai join in on the super sibling show!
This is like a National Geographic picture.  Abram saw this small lizard with a meal in its mouth.  Great shot hunny!

Barbara and Ryland took bikes with them to the valley and biked to more spots to spread Paul's ashes.  We headed back to house and found out that all the family was coming for dinner at the cabin.  Many of the photos I took from the fire pit happened that night. 

A not so funny story about the cabin:  Tobin intended on running daily while we were at Yosemite.  After hiking the 9 mile rigorous trail up to Glacier Point he said he was going out to run a few miles.  Isaac told him that the owner said there were trails behind the house that led to the main road. Tobin took off.  An hour later, I realized he wasn't back.  Abram took off in the car to look for him and soon Isaac left in a car too.  The difficult piece of all of this was that there wasn't cell reception for AT&T carriers (which is our carrier).  Within 5 minutes of Abram and Isaac leaving Tobin shows up.  I did not know how to contact Abram.  I tried his cell number with the house phone, got his voicemail and absently held the phone away from my ear exclaiming my frustration that I couldn't tell Abram to come back.  Somehow his phone recorded my voice and when he was in a particular spot on the road with cell reception, mind you this was a miracle since we had no service the whole time we were in Yosemite, he heard me say "Tobin's back, but I cannot tell Abram to come back".  After that scare we told Tobin to run on main roads only, no trails and well before dusk. Oh yeah, forgot to mention he began running at 6.  Dusk was at 7 with potential of bears in the woods!  Ah!!!  Tobin drove home with Ryland that night and they saw a mom and baby bear outside of the house Barb, Jennie and Justine's family were staying in!  They ran at 6am and then encountered several deer on their run.  Beautiful sites and wildlife to see.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

CA Vacation Part 2: Yosemite, cabin and family time

I referred to the cabin at Yosemite in my previous post.  We arrived at the cabin late on Monday night.  Barbara invited those staying at the cabin to have dinner at their place.  This was a blessing since we were all traveling to get to Yosemite making it difficult to buy food for dinner as well. 

I woke up early Tues morning and took several pictures of the two cabins and surrounding area.This is the main cabin.  It had the kitchen, two large bedrooms on the main floor, a living room area and a huge loft with 5 beds. 

A view of the deck that wrapped around the main cabin. I love how the the owner made the deck around the tree near the house. It was a new definition of tree house!

This is the bunk house. This house had three bedrooms on the main floor with two lofts. Each loft had three twin beds, which two on each side being trundle beds. this house had room for 10 kids up in the loft and three couples downstairs. It also had an entertainment center with a great train set and couches.

The place gets even better. Here is the BEST outdoor fire pit I have ever been privilege to use. You had your regular fire pit, which was huge. Then there was a fire oven with a pulley system to cook food on, plus a special pizza oven. Notice also that all the seats and benches are made from logs.  There was plenty of room for our family to sit around the fire. There were even seats for the younger crowd like Aidan to use. 

Joey showing us how to make the perfect marshmallow.  First roast it in the oven, then hold it over the flame.  He enjoyed making the smores.

Sarai, Theresa, Tobin, Leah and Carmen chilling around the fire pit.

Cute picture of Carmen on Rachel. 

We were able to have all the family over one night to enjoy the campfire atmosphere.

 Smores were definitely a hit with all. 
Another great feature of this cabin area was the rope swing.  Here is Rachel on it.  Most people tried the swing Tues morning in their pj's, it was that cool.

Joe, on  the swing in his pj's too.

I even caught Mike in his pj's!  Many more enjoyed the rope swing, but were not photographed.

Rachel is enjoying it before dinner time and dusk.

There is more to this great outdoor playground around the house.  There was a swing set with this great cocoon swing.  Caught Abram in it one evening.

Monica swinging Mateo.

A hammock for the girls to hang out on.  Thanks to Jenna for this great shot of Theresa, Rachel and Carmen.

The yard even had a see saw.  Here are Theresa and Thomas using it. 

Thomas was playing around with someone's shoe.  He would not smile for my with the camera, so I had to be sneaky and catch him having fun.

 Sierra found a baby and was playing with it and th toy bus during our large family dinner at the cabin. 

Cora has two little ones: Thomas and Sierra.  Sierra was playing peek--boo with me while I was trying to get this picture.

Aidan with his great smile and many bug bites. 

Kierra, Sophia and Aidan

Ryland, Barbara and Jennie

Carmen, Sarai and Tobin.  I don't usually get them in one picture so I used this.  Tobin found humor in the fact that they are all looking a many of pictures I am posting now.  Each day the kids would ask to see what photos I took. 

Sophia and Mateo eating with us.  I believe Chris and Monica stayed over one night to enjoy the cabin, outdoors and the bunk house's train set. 

 Abram got hold of the camera one night and took my picture.  As photographer,  I don't often make it into pictures.

The house even had bikes the kids could use.  Here is a great picture of Rachel and Joey on the deck playing with the bikes.  Joey is wearing a bandanna I got him. Carmen dressed him up as bandanna man!
I know there are so many more photos to use.  I will try to add more.  The cabin time was amazing.  I loved that there were people doing many different things on the same day. This allowed me to do hikes with Abram and Tobin while the girls hung out here and relaxed.  One day Cora and Mike took Rachel rafting while Abram and I found a beach and swam there.  I am so grateful we were able to show this amazing national park to our children. It was also my first time coming to CA.   

This cabin is my ideal grandparent home. I have been dreaming of a place that Abram and I could build so that our kids and their families could gather and enjoy growing together at and vacationing at. This has everything I could imagine and hope for. What a wonderful place to have been able to visit.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Visit to San Francisco

We planned a great summer vacation that began the first week of August.  This summer was the year we were gathering with Abram's paternal family.  The tradition had been to gather in Emerald Isle, NC the last week of August.  This timing was going to be difficult with high school sports beginning that week.  Barbara suggested we come to CA and visit Yosemite park.  This was a place close to them and a favorite spot for Paul. 
Barbara and Cora did a lot of research for housing and found a great cabin in the woods just outside of Yosemite National Park. (I believe Barbara wanted this for her family, but it wasn't handicap accessible so she found a great ranch nearby.) The downside was that we could only have it from Monday through Saturday.  In order to make the most of our vacation and try to get reasonably priced plane tickets, we extended our visit on either side of the cabin time.  Our vacation plans were to fly into San Francisco on Saturday.  Spend Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning there, then drive to Yosemite which was only 3-4 hours away.  Monday through Saturday morning we were staying at the amazing cabin.  Saturday we would begin to drive to Las Vegas via Death Valley.  This leg would be the longest drive, it was predicted to be 8 hours from cabin to hotel.  We had a red eye the following Monday to fly back to MA from Las Vegas.  A week prior to leaving for CA, Leah called and asked for our plans.  She had an unexpected change of plans and was able to join us in CA.  She came along for our whole trip.  Thankfully, her presence gave us many chances to get good family photos on this vacation.  There were a few changes to our original plans, as you will read through multiple blogs, but it was an amazing vacation.

We landed in San Francisco at 9am so we had a full Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning to enjoy the area.  The plane ride was long, but uneventful.  Leah had to take a different flight then us getting there, but her plane landed an hour earlier than predicted letting her meet us at the rental place.  We rented an Explorer trying to save money.  It had seven seats as advertised, but with all seven seats used it had room for a few backpacks in the "trunk" space.  This made it eventful with bags.  We managed to shove as much as we could in the back and then on top of everyone else!  On Sunday, Abram and I walked to a Target and bought bungee cords so we could strap luggage on top of the car.

We drove into San Francisco, trying to get to a parking lot near the wharf section.  Traffic is horrible, but with two Dancy's navigating I was spared being barked at for not finding the directions quickly enough! 

We saw Alcatraz:

Abram wanted to see a battle ship that was docked at the pier.

Pier 39 has become a home for sea lions  Here they are lying on the floating docks.  They attract many sightseers.  There was an information plaque telling us that the sea lions began coming to pier 39 in 1989.  It is very smelly.  I'm glad we actually did not go onto Pier 39 since it is so crowded.  We used another pier and saw them from another side.  You can see the crowds of people across the way.  We barely had anyone on the pier we were standing on.
My girls...  It was hard to get them to realize that in San Francisco, the weather is very cool.  It was 67 at the high.  We were cool and yet we burned!

We had an amazing lunch on the wharf.  Carmen and Rachel looked at the menu, and said, "we will have the chicken nuggets!"  I was appalled.  I told them they should have some kind of sea food since it was fresh from the wharf.  They decide on Fish and Chips.  The fish used was so huge and thick, it was amazing!  They both loved it and were thankful I insisted they chose something other than chicken nuggets. 

Leah led us around to different places.  We saw some interesting street performers.  Here is a man all in gold.  He stood on top of a box and acted as if he was a robot.  There was a silver guy across the street doing the same act! (I did not get his picture.)
Rachel excitedly grabbed a balloon sword from a street performer not knowing that we were then going to have to "make a donation" for it.

The streets are amazingly steep.  I wanted to walk up them just to say we did it.  Leah had done a medical rotation here and was familiar with the area.  With the time change and the fact that we had been going since 3am Eastern time (I'm sure it was 4 out here) no one else wanted to walk with me, so I did not.

I really wanted to go down Lombard Street with the car.  We must have waited at least 45 minutes to be cued into the long line of cars.  Remember the car we rented, well it did not have a great visibility.  It was more challenging than Abram had wanted to drive down this road, but we did.  As we drove by we saw this new VW Bug and thought of the Herbie movie when the car was seen driving down this road.

I have to say this was the most beautiful house on the street!
The view of the city as we ending our travels down Rodeo Drive.

We ended Saturday, by going out to eat at the Olive Garden.  We discovered that they offer gluten free pasta dishes.  Sarai was in heaven!

Here we are on the beach.

We found incredibly long sea weed.  Sarai placed a crab shell on top and created a dude. We were missing Tobin at the time, so the seaweed dude was him in this photo.  The water was COLD.

I waited a long time for a kid to get off the wooden post so I could get this great shot of the shore.
This is a picture of an amazing plant. This was like a ground cover.  It was succulent and resembled an aloe plant.  I don't know what it was called, but it was covering a large area between the beach and the walking paths.

After we finished our hike and collected Tobin we headed in the car to the Point Reyes Lighthouse.  We had to climb down 300 steps to get to this lighthouse. 

Another great family photo

Another strange plant we spotted.
Here is a view of the 300 steps we climbed down and up to get to the light house and back. 

Just an amazing view around the lighthouse.

As we were returning to our car, a man pointed this boat out to us and informed us that it was a sailing canoe from New Zealand! There were six of them fighting the incredible head wind that day. I cannot believe they sailed from New Zealand!

After a long day we tried to use the pool and hot tub advertised on the website of this hotel.  The weather was so cool, the pool was painful.  So we tried the hot tub at the hotel.  It was luke warm.  After spending 30 minutes in a "not" hot tub Leah, Carmen and Rachel decided to take a hot bath back in the hotel room since the water was so cold. 

Monday's task was to walk over the Golden Gate bridge.  Abram was tempted to suggest biking over it, but later admitted that he was glad we only walked due to the crowds of people.  The biking sidewalk was under construction so both bikes and walkers were on the same path.  It was crowded and a bit frustrating at times. 
Leah took this family photo of us. 
I like this photo of all four of them. 

Leah had read that there were buffalo in a San Francisco park.  Before leaving San Francisco for good, we had to find them.  Here is one.  His coat looks a bit mangy.
We found a playground to hang out in before we traveled out of San Francisco and to Yosemite Park, our next destination.  Sarai made friends with a little girl in the park.
Our vacation was packed with sites that I will be making mutliple posts.  More to come.