Last month, I had the most human-infested nature experience in my life.
It was amazing and awe inspiring~ full of ooohs and aaahs.
It was also full of more time sitting in traffic than I'd spent in 2019 altogether up to that point.
Anyone who has been to Yosemite... and also been to other places where you can actually experience the natural world without a bazillion other people next to you, well, you can probably understand what I'm talking about.
Yosemite is like one of the Disneylands of the National Parks.
Most of the time, nature is my retreat from peopling, but in going to Yosemite, I knew the two of them would be intertwined quite deeply.
I'd found a pre-season deal on Travel Zoo for a cabin just outside of the park and chosen the last weekend it was available, hoping that the weather wouldn't be freezing and that some combination of our combined offspring could join us.
We scored on beautiful weather and two out of six kids were available.
I'd only been through Yosemite once, my Partner hadn't been in years, and the kids had never gone.
I LOVE exploring new places, and was pleasantly surprised that the kids were excited to spend a weekend adventuring with us, despite the known likelihood of spotty wifi.
My previous trip went around the valley rather than into it, and while I thought that it was pretty and all, I live near beautiful mountains, so I didn't really grasp what the big deal was.
This time, I got it~ Holy Cow~ those valley views were spectacular.
I can only imagine how wondrous it must have been to gaze at all the granite and water before all the people and cars and buses invaded.
Speaking of which, if you hear that it's a good idea to go early in the day and take the shuttle buses, it's no joke.
For real- driving there was lame.
The number of cars trying to navigate the village area was absurd. We were literally stuck in traffic for probably 2 hours to go less than 5 miles. Thank Goodness my SweetHeart is a patient man and he was driving, so no one had to endure my Road Rage.
Also, we had snacks, and the views were lovely.
I got out several times to walk ahead and move my legs since my butt was falling asleep.
I've never really experienced "nature" in such a way where I could actually get around 10 times faster on foot because there were bumper to bumper cars.
But, being surrounded by gorgeousness made it better, at least
Had there been some sort of natural disaster where we needed to move quickly though,
say a wildfire or Zombie Apocalypse,
well, it would be mayhem and most people would be toast.
These scenarios in my mind always give me a moment of gratitude and hope that the early homeschooling years of playing with swords and bows & arrows all day instead of sitting in classrooms would give our pack an advantage, but who knows...
Anyhoo, seriously, if you go to Yosemite, for the love of all things holy,
take the freaking bus.
You'll be really glad you did.
This was at the end of April, so I can't even imagine how much more crowded and difficult to maneuver it would have been during summer.
Frankly, that sounds like it would kind of kill the joy in the whole thing for me.
It was a Saturday as well, and one of the first sunny and warmish weekends of the year, so we clearly weren't the only ones out enjoying it.
It made me look back fondly on the days when mid-week excursions were easier to pull off (and started causing me to scheme how to get back to more of that)Eventually, we made our way out of the madness and managed to park the car. We had to walk on a narrow road where cars had just gotten their speed back after being stuck at a standstill, so that was a little nerve-wracking, but thankfully no one was squished or maimed.
Our wet winter had made the waterfalls ginormous. Every direction there was another one, too, and they were all explosively flowing ~ no little trickles at all, just full force thousands of gallons of water raging over rock.
When you got close, it was like the waterfalls made their own climate zone with wind whipping and so much mist it was pretty much raining.
Despite my preference for being around fewer humans when I'm in the outdoors (or indoors, really, most of the time at least) I was in complete awe of the showy displays of the power, force, and beauty of nature.
So. Much. Wow.
We came back to our cabin tired and grateful for a real kitchen and a shower that we didn't have to share. Since it was such a short trip, we didn't get to play with all the amenities on the property, which was really an RV park with cabins and yurts, mini golf, volleyball and the like.
We did get to walk along the creek and enjoy a nice fire.
It was a big step up from camping, but a ways below glamping- a good fit for a fast trip with teens.
Also, all the tent sites I saw in the actual park were packed in tight, something like an apartment building with fabric walls. That kind of thing makes me feel like I'd need to be medicated to get anywhere near relaxed, which is not what I expect to need on a camping trip.
So, the next day we hit the road to check out the southern section of the park, which was delightfully less populated. At least in the morning.
But by the time we exited the southern entrance just around noon, we could see crowds forming lines there as well.
I pondered how many people in the crowds had only ever experienced this version of nature where you waited in line and contended with so many other people and cars and trash.
I imagine for some, this is as "wild" as they will ever get, which is sad in a way, but I'm glad they at least get that.
We all need nature.
It made me thankful for the whole National Parks system and the people who want to actually make sure there is still some nature for people to experience, because even if there are other humans everyplace the eye can see, it was still pretty magnificent.
Most of all, I was thankful to live in a place where I can see nature on a regular basis without so many people or cars or trash.
On the way home, we came across this random obelisk monument in a tired-seeming small town with farms and boarded up shops.
I just so happened to have read about it on Atlas Obscura while looking for oddities on the trip.
Basically, we learned that a wealthy man chose to spend a bunch of his money to have himself memorialized in this way when he died. Some locals asked if the money could go to the library in his honor, but the family apparently said, "Naaaah- what he wanted was a huge tower in the middle of nowhere." And so, he got it.
I know it was his money and his choice and all, but I'm pretty sure books and literacy would've been a more meaningful legacy...whatever...
Anyhoo, all in all, we had a lovely time exploring despite the 12 million other people who had the same idea.
These kids are getting to be great travelers and I'm looking forward to the next adventure.
Writer, Artist, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, FunSchooling Facilitator / Former Goat-Herding HeadMistress for our Mostly Happy Homeschool, Semi-Crazy Chicken Lady and Mamacita Extraordinaire to a couple of Cage Free Kids.