We rolled down the rocky road to the Tamarack Flats. Beth wondered aloud if her U-haul trailer would make it down that hill. We didn’t know it then, but that road would be the least of the U-haul adventures. It was a pretty campsite, we told ourselves, even if it didn’t have running water. It had compost toilets which were just fine with us especially if they are working properly and don’t stink to high heaven. Finally, we reached the box with the envelopes, and we knew this was the place for us. The trees were tall and there were many. The creek was just big enough, and there was a giant tree that had fallen beside the creek that would be perfect for exploring.
Securing Your Campsite
by Katie Sciba
1. Get a lot of envelopes. You might mess up one. You don’t want to have to run back to the box to get more, frantic that some other freak might rip the perfect campsite out from under you. You should plan to have a pen. I had to dig through Beth’s side pocket in her door and came up with a pencil and a red sharpie.
2. Drive through the campsite eyeing the campers to see if a) they’re awake b) they show any signs of leaving and c)what their envelope says under the campsite number (this is important). Also this is all in pen and paper which fit our lack of any phone service or online reservations.
3. Stop and have a nice chat with some sleepy Dutch couple who are trying to eat their cereal. This is important because they might give you the low-down on who might be leaving that morning in the campsite.
4. Hopefully, you will find the perfect place with no one there with sites for your family members right next to them all complete with creek access. Look for a good place to set your tent. Consider the placing of the picnic table. Decide how much bear box space you need. Put YOUR ENVELOPE WITH THE CIRCLED AMOUNT OF DAYS ON THE CAMPSITE NUMBER NOW. Then go pay for it at the friendly box.
5. At this point, you might want to exhale, pat each other on the back, and smile knowing you are the cause of a great place to stay for your family’s vacation!
This is how it happened for us, and it could be like this too for you. But you need to get up early, and you need to not mind asking folks if they are leaving. We also didn’t mind looking stupid running back and forth from the car and up and down the road. Anxiety of not knowing where you are sleeping that night helps the motivation level. We were determined. As we were paying, my brother-in-law Clay and my father-in-law Bill pulled up beside us. “We got ’em!” Clay said. “No, we got ’em!” Beth and I said. They had arrived late that night and stayed at Curry Village. We couldn’t believe that we ran into them. They had procured three sites also, but ours were better. So, they yielded to our greatness. We told them we would see them back at the great sites, and we all went back to where we slept the night before to break camp.
When we got back to our first night camp, our people were starting to break camp. We hurried as quick as we could, and got on the road back to Tamarack. On the way back down the road to the new sites, our car started freaking out again. After setting up camp, we made a decision we needed to get to the garage in Yosemite Valley first of all. We also needed to check on Wilderness Permits for a possible backcountry part of our trip. Matt dropped us at the Wilderness Permit place, and the girls went with their Nana to look at some of the sights in Yosemite Village. Beth, Cole, Bill, and I listened soberly to the Forest Ranger tell us our group was too big to back country hike together. “But, I have Half-Dome Day Permits,” I said. He went on to tell us that we had to have backcountry permits to sleep out there regardless. He told us our options and that we would need to be back at 11am tomorrow to secure separate permits that we probably wouldn’t be able to get.
Matt came back and said our coils needed replacing. He said the mechanic could temporarily fix it and we could try driving it. We agreed to try this, and then we all hiked Mirror Lake. It was a nice hike that was somewhat crowded. Some of our kids swam in the cold water, but I could only put my feet in. I tried hard to relax into my surroundings, but the dilemma with the car and the permits were competing. I breathed in deep. What now?
Even vacations have bumps in the road, and even on vacation you have to adjust your attitude at times. We challenge the kids to choose a good attitude even when it’s hard, so I pushed myself during this hike to make decisions and let go of the frustration. I could appreciate where I was and what we were doing even if I didn’t know how my car was going to get us home. I could. Really. And I did. And then I sat next to my kids and nephews sweating with them taking dumb pics. And I was so glad to be in the place I was in. I was. Even though the mechanic had said the temporary fix would probably get us as far back to Texas as Vegas. Still happy. P.S. Mr. Yosemite Mechanic: Vegas isn’t very close to Texas. Thank you.
To be continued…