We waited a few days at Yosemite Ridge Resort for our van. Finally, on Friday it was ready for pick up. Jeremie, myself and the two littlest drove down to Jamestown, picked up the van and then returned to the Resort, where we hooked up the trailer and drove to Mariposa.
Mariposa is about one hour from Yosemite National Park (via highway 140) and since our plans were to continue going south on our journey, it made sense to take the trailer with us and find a campground down there. After doing a bit of research, we decided to stay at the Mariposa Fairgrounds.
On my roadmap of California, the Interstate 49 is shown as a very straight highway. Well this route, couldn’t be anything further from the truth! There were more switchbacks than I could count. The road was so twisty, so curvy, so steep, lacking in guard rails and shoulders, and so very scary. I didn’t dare to look over my shoulder at the scenery for fear I might drive right over the edge! It was beautiful, but so nerve wracking!! During the descent, the breaks on the pick-up truck were literally smoking and the during the climb, our truck’s transmission temperature climbed to 271 degrees(F)! Exactly why did we avoid going to Fort Bragg? Because the roads were too twisty? Somehow I think this was worse!
We arrived at the Mariposa Fairgrounds RV Park with plenty of daylight to find a great spot. We were parked right next to the California State Parks Mineral and Mining Museum. Unfortunately, it was closed due to renovations. The website for this park lists the nightly rate for both RVs and tents - nothing more. When you arrive at the kiosk where you are to do self-registration, it mentions the charge is based on a 3 person occupancy, with a $4 charge for each extra person. In our case, the $30 per night rate would end up being $54! Fortunately, I found a staff member who told me not to worry about the extra kid tax…Hooray!! (Note: KOA in the area was going to charge us over $90 a night - This I do not understand…It’s camping!!)
The next morning, as we were starting to load all the kids into the van to go to Yosemite National Park, Emma-lee had an unfortunate mishap where she accidentally hit the top of her foot where her surgery this past Fall had been. The pain was excruciating and it was clear there was no way she could go to Yosemite. Since seeing Yosemite was on Emma-lee's bucket list, there was no way we would go without her. Instead we went the following day.
The drive into Yosemite National Park is quite beautiful. It is at a much lower elevation than Highway 49, so although the roads are still quite twisty, it doesn't seem as nerve wracking. Our first impression of Yosemite was one of surprise. Yes, it is beautiful but, it is also so incredibly busy. We had a really hard time just finding a parking spot as we circled in lot after lot. Another thing we quickly noticed was the amount of construction and all the detours.
After finally finding a parking spot, we headed for the Visitor's Centre. The park has it's own transit service which takes you to various points throughout the park. This comes in handy since nobody wants to loose the parking spot they worked so hard to find! Ha!ha! At the Visitor's Centre we inquired about getting a wheelchair for Emma-lee and the paperwork for the kids to complete their Junior Ranger Badges. After exploring the Visitor Centre and the Museum next door, we went by bus to the Lodge to get a wheelchair. By the time we finally got one, it was already time for lunch. We still hadn't really done much and everyone was a little frustrated because they had been waiting to see Yosemite all this time. We all just wanted to go exploring!
After a quick lunch, we headed for the Lower Yosemite Falls hike which is wheelchair accessible. It is a beautiful walk that meanders through the woods before coming to the misty base of the falls.
Everything seems to move in slow motion in the park as things are so spread apart and there is sooooo much traffic! The sheer number of people and cars made it feel like the "Disneyworld of National Parks!!" I cannot imagine what it would be like in the summer time! After the walk, Jeremie and Bethany went to get the van and I took the rest back to the Visitor Centre so we could get the Junior Ranger Badges for Wesley and Rosie. Poor Jeremie. We didn't realize that the place where we had agreed to meet and have him pick us up at, was restricted to bus use only. After many frustrating loops through detours, we all finally connected. We decided to head to Half Dome Rock where there was another trail and a beautiful view of the rock.
Well, after circling twice and never getting where we wanted to go, we decided to stop by a field and have a family photo with the some deer and the Half Dome Rock in the distance. This is the closest we ever got. With time slipping through our fingers and the sun beginning it's descent, we decided to return the wheelchair and head back to Mariposa. It was too bad. We were all frustrated and extremely disappointed with how our day went. But the traffic and crazy detours were beyond our control.