Friday, May 2, 2008

What a Day!

Wow! What a wonderful day we've had. First of all, let me say that the theme of this trip has been "perfect timing". We had perfect timing at Disney, great weather and left just as the crowds arrived. We had perfect timing for Mark and Rita's - great weather and before the eggs started hatching and they were doing around the clock feedings (plus the weather was starting to turn as we left). Here at Yosemite we've learned that THIS weekend is the very beginning of "the season" - so we are leaving just as it is becoming crowded. Also - TODAY was the day that Glacier Point Dr opened and, although we had no idea what we were in for, we can't imagine having come all this way to miss the view we enjoyed.

OH! Thanks for the comment, Katie! Congrats on your new baby brother! Wonderful news - the Kuplacks' baby boy has arrived! Brown hair?!? I will have to see that with my own eyes. Send us a pic and we will post it on the blog : )

We wonder what other exciting events we are missing....

We began our day with a nice, long drive into the Wowona section of the park. It has a great historical area and we were able to see the original stagecoaches that brought tourists into the park many many many years ago. There is a darling hotel with a restaurant and a lovely picnic area along the river. We enjoyed a picnic, picked up some souvenirs in the store, and then headed to the famous Mariposa Grove.

Normally you have to take a shuttle into the grove but the shuttles aren't running yet in the off season. So we were able to drive. A 2 mile hike (round trip) walked us through the beginning of a 500-tree grove. It wasn't much of a hike as it was a walking path. It was loaded with tourists although we read in our book that in the summer you can hardly get close enough to see the was nowhere near that crowded. But after yesterday's private time among the sequoias of Merced - it seemed like a party. We were able to see the Grizzly Giant.
It is officially the largest tree in the park, although the ranger told us they believe they have found a larger tree in the grove. It is estimated to be around 1800 years old. Because of the delicate roots, we were unable to hug it. There was a fence around it.

We learned some interesting facts about the sequoias. There are humongous pine cones lying all about - but those do not belong to the sequoias. They belong to the large pine trees. The tiny, itty bitty, little green cones belong to the sequoias. It takes 2-3 years for the cones to mature and then they stay on the tree for 20-30 years. Only 1 out of every million seeds makes it to germination.
We also learned that the older a tree is, the shorter it is. The water simply cannot make it all the way up to the top - so as the tree ages, its top dies off. Let's see....other interesting facts - the oldest trees are not necessarily the biggest. The trees who live the longest are often the slowest to grow -so some of the big trees were merely fast growers. Thre trees are also amazingly slow to decompose. The scene of the uprooted tree (in photo) shows a tree that is believed to have fallen over 300 years ago!

While at the grove, Jasper made an unsuccessful attempt at jumping over a very muddy puddle. This was quite traumatic. We initially thought he was hysterical over his muddy hands (he hates muddy hands) so Jeff washed them off in the stream. This made him cry louder because he accidentally splashed water on him and that makes him literally neurotic. It turns out that he wasn't concerned about the muddy hands. He was worried that his Spider Man shoes would no longer light up because they had gotten took awhile to calm him down and prove the shoes still lit up. Then he went in the backpack to prevent further trauma.

After the grove we decided to see if Glacier Point Rd was open. It was closed yesterday - still being cleared of snow and debris. It was open today! We began driving and immediately were in deep snow drifts on either side of the road. The road was VERY winding and had NO side rails and NO shoulder. I literally could not look over the side - it was so very steep - a huge drop-off. The kids were screaming "Stop the car! We want to play in the snow!" Jeff was like, "If I stop we'll die!" And the kids were like "So? Are you saying we can't play in the snow?" Eventually, we stopped to play in the snow : ) They had a blast and were totally not dressed for it at all. Joel was in shorts, for crying out loud. See movies at bottom of the post.

After we played in the snow Jeff was like, "Should we keep driving or head back?" We were supposed to go out to eat at the country's oldest saloon and so it was a big dilemma. Keep driving or head back? We decided to keep driving. We pulled into the first overlook and about died. Honestly, we had never seen anything like it. My breath was literally taken away and I couldn't breathe. I felt a sob just below the surface - it was so beautiful I wanted to cry. Jasper looked at the scene and said, "This is where God lives." Wow. We have never talked to Jasper about where God lives - he has no previous concept of God living somewhere in the sky, or even of Heaven. He happened to say it in the presence of two nuns who were standing there looking at the scene and one of them said, "You got that right." From our advantage we could see the mountain range and 3 waterfalls down below. WAY down below. A storm was moving in over the Sierras and the clouds were pouring over the tops. Did I use the word breathtaking already?
There were two Swedish foreign exchange students who went past the barricade and were standing on top of boulders....I was videotaping when they popped into view. I panicked until I realized they were not my boys. Neither one of them fell - would have been something for u-tube. The pictures and movies do not do the scene justice, of course. In the movie you cannot see the waterfalls moving. We could see them moving like glimmering ribbons of satin, below.

We got back in the car and headed to the next overlook. It was even higher up and you literally stuck out over the nothingness. I took pictures of Ellie and Joel on top of a boulder with the scene behind them - it looks like they are sitting out over nothing but in fact there is a wide sidewalk and landscaping between them and the steps leading down to the landing. But the pics are spectacular. From the angle I shot them, you cannot tell that they are not standing (or sitting) at the edge of the world.

We got back into Groveland around 9:00 and headed to the Iron Door Saloon. The grill closed at 9:00 but they agreed to serve us. Jules and Jeff had their first buffalo burgers and enjoyed them. We were seated in the restaurant section but really wanted to go into the bar where they had a great blues band playing. So we dragged the kids into the bar and got two tables on the dance floor. Jeff went and got us a couple of shots/beers. In the end, I couldn't do a whiskey shot. I am not that kind of girl. So I opted for tequila : ) The band was great and there was a very drunk guy on the dance floor (dancing by himself). He asked both me and Camille to dance. Camille actually considered it for a moment, I could tell. There were also two ladies dancing together. Did I mention we were seated on the dance floor? The kids were mortified. Especially when we toasted, drank and followed it up with a kiss. Where did we get these kids? What prudes! We left the bar to head home, but not before taking their picture beneath the sign. Joel keeps talking about the drunk guy who asked me to dance. I'm like, "Don't tell me that this is the only thing you're going to remember from this vacation." Ellie says, "No, Mom. I'm pretty sure he's also going to remember the lesbians who were gyrating right in front of him on the dance floor."

Ellie is beginning to show signs of stress. She misses her friends. Thank you Katie for commenting on the blog! It made her day! We are down to about 3 loyal readers, I believe. If you're out there - let us hear from you! Dad? Anybody? John Michael and Juliana are our loyal readers. When they stop commenting Ellie will be convinced she has completely disappeared. John Michael - you guys have to head up here. You could take some beautiful photos. I do not know enough about what I am doing to truly capture anything in any meaningful way.

Tomorrow we head out of this area and on to Bakersfield where we'll spend the night.
Time to go get the clothes out of the washers in the laundromat.
Sardine Mama


  1. Your photos are fabulous Sardine Mama. To say reading you blog is just like being there.....well, NOT. However, I do enjoy being allowed to peek in on your great adventure. Jasper, I'm so pleased your shoes did not short out.

    John Michael

  2. Oh no!! What would the world be like without light-up shoes? That would be a true tragedy. Ben is like that with water too. :-) Parents finally decided on a name: Tristan Karl. They had a long list of favorite names to choose from. Among them was Joel. Now, with "Big Joels" and "Little Joels", how confusing would a Baby Joel have been!
    Hey, only one more week Ellie. You'll be back to help pack all our junk in no time! yayeth.

    Oh yes, now I have seven peons to force into servitude under the MPPG. muahahahaha-*hack cough splutter*

  3. Wow, if one was doing a study in contrasts, one might drive from Yosemite to Bakersfield (yes, I have been to both.) I hope life is not too depressing right now. It sounds like you are having an amazing time. And, I will have you know I have read every word of this blog! And continue to be jealous (although not of Bakersfield ;)

    You can read about Karen and baby Tristan at Tristan is having a few hickups getting his breathing going right, but it sounds like he will be fine soon.


  4. I can tell the Pavliska Crew is having a fantastic time. Just what I needed...another pic of you taking a tequila shot!! I'm glad some things never change. :)

  5. I would just like to point out that you spelled "you-tube", "U-tube".

  6. your post and the pictures made me cry. Just beautiful.

  7. hey Sardines,
    WOW, WOW, freaking WOW!!! that was probably the most amazing thing i have ever seen,and i wasn't even there!

    yes, i am faithfully reading EVERYTHING on the blog (i mean, what else can i do? you've all fallen off the face of the earth!)

    we all miss you here, but i'm glad that you all had a wonferful time at Yosemite and everywhere else.

    ellie,you haven't killed anybody yet, right? that would be VERY "unfortunate". :)

    we'll see you all soon!
    lots of love.