And so it has come to this: the final adventure.
With just a week to go before we go home, we're cramming as much goodness into our systems as we possibly can before the money runs out. Over the last month we've spent our time justbeing- the Bay Area has accepted us and we have built some sort of a life here. We've been photographing, developing, printing, basking, sauntering, cooking, cleaning, washing, sketching, printing, sewing, cutting, drawing, visiting, socializing. Oh, and eating- lots of that. And subsequently gaining. And fantasizing about losing. But amid all activities was one we had missed on our road trip, and we still desperately wanted to achieve: Yosemite, the Mother of All National Parks. As luck would have it, we have an exceptionally kind uncle who lent us his car (again) with a trunkload of camping gear. Daniel feverishly checked the weather report every hour on the hour before we left, confirming that the spring sun would be shining down on us at incredible temperatures for the time of year. We were set! A few hours, a small glitch in the map-reading, some light arguing and an In-n-Out burger later, we were driving through Yosemite with our windows rolled down, 25 degrees blowing in and Sublime on the stereo. Bliss!
We cruised up to Camp Curry and traversed the snow to the reception in our flip flops. We checked in, and then asked about bears. According to exceptionally kind uncle above, the bears would still be hibernating. We mentioned this to Receptionist, who looked at us like we were slightly mad, exclaimed "Oh no, they're VERY active", and proceeded to give us a lecture about bear safety and ample handouts (possibly known as the "European Pile") with various summaries of the lecture, also in pictures for us special folk. Obviously we didn't look very "Bear Aware". Part of being the latter was keeping anything even remotely edible in a bear locker at all times in Camp Curry (CC). This involved putting oneself in a bear's shoes, who apparently also thinks sanitary pads and deodorant are delicious. "But where are we supposed to cook?", we spluttered. Receptionist looked at us in disbelief. There was a place we could go to by car, on the other side of the valley. Right. She attempted to thwart our cooking plans by giving us yet another handout with "Dining Options" in the park, which we waved off- we are purists after all. So after we settled ourselves in our lovely non-heated canvas lodgings, we headed out to the picnic area to cook some dinner. We initially drove past it thinking it was just a trail head, but after a dead end further on we realized that the desolate bit of park we'd just seen was indeed where we needed to be. Not another soul was there, and it was freezing cold and starting to get dark. We purists opted for the $15 buffet in the end. God punishes: we were lulled to sleep by the sweet sounds of teenage boys in heat and the blood curdling screams of the girls they were trying to impress, and about 600 other excited children of all ages on the first night of a school trip. We also understood the banks of snow around us as we lay there freezing our little butts off under the three wool blankets we initially thought would keep us toasty. With little separating us from sub zero temperatures than a canvas wall, we piled on the thermal underwear, socks and hats and jumped in our sleeping bags under a pile of blankets. I think I cried at some point. We woke up to find bear paw prints outside our tent and locker, which was slightly unnerving. It caused light sleeping in any case.
We took a GORGEOUS hike up towards Vernal Falls the next day (unfortunately the last bit of the trail was closed, we found out at the top), and also saw Mirror Lake which reflected Half Dome beautifully. When we hit the cooking grounds that night the tables were full and thebarbecues were smoking. Karma rewarded us with a relatively quiet but definitely much warmer night's sleep. The next morning we drove down to Mariposa Grove to see the giant sequoias which were absolutely amazing. It was crystal clear and VERY snowy- we were standing on top of 2 meters of snow (the grove had had 3,5 in total this year!) looking down on the information posts that we usually looked up at. The bathrooms had been snowed in completely, as had any other form of housing. That and the trees being abnormally large made for a pretty bizarre but very beautiful scene to walk through. There is also something about walking on a plowed road with a wall of snow on either side, or on top of a thick blanket of snow, wearing a tank top and/or shorts that makes life pretty fabulous. 'Nuff said.
The next morning it was FREEZING cold and snowing! We had timed our visit perfectly. We left Yosemite in a flurry of thick snowflakes, unable to see any of its glory above tree level. It was one of the most breathtaking scenes either of us have ever seen.
And now, for our last week...