Saturday, December 31, 2011

Yosemite National Park: New Years Eve 2011

Our friend Jen gave us a generous gift of money so we could enjoy California while we waited for our baby to be born.  This was very thoughtful because we were beginning to get stressed out financially, knowing we were staying longer than planned.

After sleeping in pretty late (we had been up since 2 am the night before), we decided to drive 2 hours to Yosemite National Park.  The drive there was nerve racking because we kept losing cell service.  We were so afraid that the birth mom would go into labor and not be able to reach us.  We did talk to Cole on the phone while we had decent service and caught him up on our visit with the birth parents.  The drive there was really cool because we got to see a different landscape then we were used to.  It had been foggy in the morning but as the afternoon wore on and we were further northeast, the clearer it got. There were rolling hills along really curvy roads with steep descents as we winded through the valleys.

As we got closer, we still keep going in and out of service and were frustrated.  As we actually got into the park, our service got much better and we were able to relax and enjoy our afternoon there.  It was pretty chilly, about 40's in the shade and low 50's in the sun.  It was a great thing we had our fleece and jacket. We hiked around and found a visitor center where we asked a guide about an easy, yet scenic trail we could hike on.  We wished we could have done one of the longer more strenuous trails, but we didn't have the appropriate shoes (flew out there with my Toms and Brett's casual brown shoes) and my back was bothering me from the plane and car rides.

We decided to hike to Lower Yosemite Falls where we could see the view of the tallest waterfall in North America and actually hike up to the lower portion of it.   It was a very easy hike to the falls and was stunning to see the waterfall from a distance!   We then saw we could hike up the rocks to get super close to the lower portion.  We ventured up the rocks climbing over all of these huge boulders.  I only slipped twice!  (didn't hurt myself though :))  I camped out on this great boulder I found that had a stunning view of the falls.  Brett decided to be more adventurous than me and climb closer to the actual water.  He made it up to the lower pool and took some awesome videos.  I stayed back and photographed the falls and him climbing around.

Brett climbing around. 

Brett is the little white speck on the left hand side in the middle. 

Walking back from the falls, we saw these calm domesticated deer that were just hanging out in the tall grasses near the trail.  They let us come extremely close to them and never budged.  There were signs that said do not feed them!  We saw 5 in total and one was huge according to Brett.  He had a big rack that was like 16 points. :)

We also stopped at Ansel Adams photography gallery located in the park.   We picked out a small black and white photograph of the falls we hiked to for Owen's nursery.

We were on a hunt for a penny machine where we could get a souvenir penny.  We have been collecting these pennies since we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii.  We have pennies from vacations and places we have been throughout our almost 9 year marriage.  We found a penny machine at the souvenier shop.  The pennies we collect on this trip will one day be the most special to us!

After grabbing a snack, we decided to drive around the park and saw the half dome mountain top that was pretty amazing.  It started getting dark so then decided to head home.  It was so refreshing to be out in the cool air getting some exercise after traveling the whole day before.

We arrived back at our hotel in the evening and where exhausted but decided that it was still New Years Eve and we needed to go out and celebrate.  We got ready and went to Cool Hand Lukes Steakhouse and Saloon next to our hotel.  There signature dish they served with every meal was Jalapeno Baked Beans in a iron kettle which were surprisingly very good.  We had a great meal and watched some football on TV.  We went back to our hotel, watched New Years celebration in New York City on TV, and feel asleep before the ball even dropped (California time)!

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