Yosemite with Noah

June 10-11, 2012

random trip report

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One of my goals is to show my son the wonders of nature, so I decide to take Noah on an overnight trip to Tuolumne Meadows, with the goal of hiking up to May Lake, and (who knows?) maybe part of Mt. Hoffman.

We set out on a beautiful Sunday morning, and take highways 580/205/99. In Modesto the highway goes by a cluster of baseball fields, and there are some games going on, so we get off the highway and navigate to the fields. Noah and I do some batting practice, then watch a game of hardball being played by a bunch of XL guys with goatees, who are surprisingly good.

The rest of the trip can be described as a sequence of small disasters:

  1. We arrive at the Yosemite Bug a bit past 3 PM. But they say the room won't be ready until 4. Lame. So we go to the Bug Cafe and play 2 games of Sorry!.
  2. After getting installed in the room (a very spartan tent cabin) we put on our shorts and hike to the swimming hole, a beautiful deep pool at the base of a small waterfall. Access to the pool is via a ramp of some kind of slippery rock (soapstone?), worn extremely smooth by the stream. Noah sits on this and starts to slide; I grab him. I get into the pool; the underwater rocks are coated with algae and are, if anything, even more slippery. Noah tries to enter the water but slips and lands abruptly on his butt. He's startled, so I get out and escort him to a more level part of the rock. On the way back in to the pool, I slip too, and land with all my weight on my left wrist, producing a big bruise and contusion (luckily no broken bone!). Noah and I agree that the name should be changed from "swimming hole" to "slippery hole".
  3. We return to the cabin and I cook dinner with the camp stove (pumpkin ravioli and Italian sausage - yum!). I've packed a jug of maple syrup in the cooler, but the cap is not on tight, and there's a small but significant amount of syrup on everything! I clean this up with water and paper towels (imported from the shared bathroom, which is a goodly distance away from the cabin).
  4. After dinner there's supposed to be music in the amphitheater at 8 PM. We kill time in the Bug Cafe. I have a pint of IPA and we play 3 more games of Sorry! (Noah wins the series, 3 games to 2). We go to the Amphitheater; there's a fire there but not music. We get to bed after 9 (very late for Noah).
  5. The next morning I make Peet's coffee and pancakes. We drive to Yosemite, then up the hill to Tuolumne Meadows, and to the turnoff for May Lake. The trailhead is at the end of a 2 mile dirt road. There's a chain across this road: "CLOSED". A worker tells me they're repairing the parking lot at the trailhead. So no May Lake!
  6. Instead, we proceed to Olmstead Point, and climb the hill across the road from there: beautiful low-angle granite slabs. I show Noah glacial polish, which interests him. However, near the top he starts to get whiny.

    The hill

    Looking toward Clouds Rest

  7. I suggest to Noah that we go to the Tuolumne Grove, a group of giant sequoias, and he agrees. This involves walking a mile or so downhill; this goes OK, but on the return trip Noah gets very complainy. I carry him on my shoulders for about 15 minutes, but I can't keep this up indefinitely. I have to coax and cajole him back to the car.

    Me and Noah

    The whining started soon after this

    An expression suggesting bad attitude

    Noah at the Tunnel Tree

    ... and at a nearby Cave Tree

  8. In Groveland we get pulled over by a lady cop, who observes that our brake lights aren't working. Fortunately there's a auto-parts store a few miles down the road. The bulbs are $2.12, but it turns out you need screwdrivers to install them, which is another $8.50. With Noah's help I replace and test the bulbs, and we proceed.
  9. I've promised Noah that, on the way home, we would stop for dinner at the "Golden Corral" in Tracy - an all-you-can-eat buffet, which has seduced me with their TV ads. I've promised him that they'll have Jello. We indeed go there, but the cafeteria-grade food is disappointing. Noah eats enough "real" food that I let him have unlimited desserts: a) cotton candy (his first ever; a life-changing experience); b) "Cookie-on-a-stick" (why?); c) a marshmallow dipped in chocolate-like coating; d) red Jello, as promised.
So, although the trip is a sequence of mini-disasters, each one is overcome in some way, so they could be viewed as mini-adventures instead.

Noah is a very good traveler. He enjoys long car trips. There's no whining, and he's good company.

Side note: in addition to lots of Ray Jessel, we listen to The Doors: "Strange Days" and "Soft Parade". I tell Noah the story of Jim Morrison. Toward the end of the trip he requests "Strange Days" again, to my delight.

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