Now, you know you have to go back to the beginning, right? I know you want to know what happened at Half Dome, but I’m backing you up a few days. It usually starts with happy kids and grouchy parents. It takes a lot to prepare for these vacations, but we are getting pretty good at it. We finally got on the road about lunchtime, and we made it to Lubbock by dinner to meet my brother-in-law Cole and my sister-in-law Beth and their three sons. We ate calzones at a restaurant there, and they were very delicious. I had worked in the car a lot of the way to Lubbock so I was pretty tired. But, I started my driving shift and lasted a puny 2 hours. Matt took over for a long time. He woke me up about 3:30am, and I took over. My favorite driving time is while the sun comes up.
If you drive from Texas to Cali, you have to want it. It’s far. We did pass the Hoover Dam, but there are too many security checks with all our stuff and they wouldn’t allow Beth and Cole to come down to the dam with their U-haul trailer. So, we went up to the lookout and took some dam pictures.
We drove all day and all night and still we were only in Las Vegas by 10am the next morning. We watched Vegas pass by our windows and kept going. After that city, you head into the desert until you get to Yosemite. There is nothing. It was at this point that our car began to hesitate a little. I was driving and we were on a two-lane road with desert all around and the hills were up and down. I received a message from Beth, “We are now riding the Texas Giant.” I laughed out loud. I think I might have snorted. But everyone was asleep except Lydia in the way back. She was on the edge of her seat waiting for the next hill with her beautiful grin. She and I giggled as I went over hill after hill. Finally we saw trees, and I knew we were almost there. The oil pressure gauge began to drop, and the car’s hesitation increased. It was not great news, I tell you. It was not pleasant driving either.
Matt stared at the gauge, and I said, “I don’t like the feel of this!” as I saw the National Park entrance come into view. We paid the park fee, entered the park, and pulled over to check the oil. Ugh. Nothing was wrong with that. We surveyed the options, found that there is a garage in Yosemite Valley, and decided to go on to our campsite for the night. We had a site reserved in Crane Flat Campground for one night. After that we were planning to get an awesome, perfect, wonderful site at one of the first come-first serve campgrounds. The kids ran around relieved to be in the forest, free to explore nature. They took off up the hill, and we reminded them to look out for wildlife. We made Frito Pie, and then we had camp donuts of course. It was a healthy supper.
You want camp donuts too? Too bad. Just kidding. I’ll leave you the recipe at the end of this post cause I’m nice like that. We looked at our maps. We discussed who was going to get the campsites in the morning. We wanted to go to Tamarack Flats first. This campsite was supposed to be pretty. It only has compost toilets and a creek for water, but it’s location was the best. The rumor is that they fill up by 10am, and we were not going to miss out. We had alternative site choices, but we were determined. “I think you guys should go,” I said to Cole and Matt, “Last time we did it, Beth cried.” The last time we had tried to get first-come, first-serve sites was a couple of years ago at the Grand Tetons. It was stressful. We didn’t know what we were doing, and we didn’t get any sites. Beth nodded. It was getting dark, so we put every thing in the bear boxes and went to bed not really deciding anything.
Camping Tip #1: The way to enjoy an awesome first night’s sleep in your tent is to drive 30 hours in your car just prior to. Anything flat you can lay on will feel like luxury.
I slept like a baby that night until I heard outside my tent Beth say, “Kate! Are you awake?” I squished my eyes open and said yes. “Let’s just go now, okay? You want to?” “Sure, let me get dressed.” I said. Thankfully, Cole had made coffee. We had no phone service at all. Cole and Matt looked at us. “I guess, if you aren’t back by noon, we should be concerned?” Cole asked. I shrugged my shoulders. Beth laughed. I grabbed yogurt out of my cooler, put my sweatshirt on, and we left. I had a lot of questions.
Would we find the perfect campsite? How would we ever find our other family group who had arrived last night also? Would the Tamarack Flats be fun? Where are we going to sleep tonight if we don’t find a campsite? The pressure was building.
To Be Continued…