Yosemite, CA

December 21-26

So we had the bright idea of spending Christmas immersed in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at Yosemite National Park. Sounds cozy does it not?

Well, we arrived on a beautiful sunny day after having driven up a crazy steep, winding mountain pass. After setting up our home base we drove over to Evergreen Lodge for dinner as it was highly recommended by the staff. We were told it was only 5 miles away and that it was an easy drive. However, since it was now dark, oddly this turned into a spooky drive. The road was winding (of course), dirt (with occasional pavement), and we were in the middle of nowhere. We tried to turn around twice, but our growling stomachs won over our creeped out minds. Upon arrival we were pleasantly surprised with the lodge. This is a cute resort near the Hetch Hetchy Entrance to Yosemite National Park. The food was fantastic, especially the roasted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower! After filling our bellies we slowly made our way back to our RV. Later when we drove this road in the daylight we discovered that most of this area has been ravaged by recent wildfires, thus giving it its spooky late night vibe.

The next day was spent exploring the local town of Groveland. We needed to stock up on supplies, such as groceries and snow chains! That is right the National Park requires that every vehicle carry snow chains during the winter, just in case. After shopping we had some mediocre Mexican food then a beer in the oldest saloon in the area, the Iron Door Saloon.

Next up was what we came here to explore, Yosemite National Park! We happily drove to Yosemite Valley and no chains were needed. Whew. It was a beautiful, yet cold, day and we really enjoyed hiking Yosemite Falls and the valley floor. Yosemite is a very magical place and we spent the day really soaking it up. We may have even seen some extraterrestrials. Just saying.

Christmas Eve arrived and we decided to stay around home reading and relaxing. On Christmas morning we opened our presents that had arrived from our families and then spent some time FaceTiming with them. After enjoying some home cooked Christmas breakfast we headed back into Yosemite National Park. This day we explored the Hetch Hetchy area of the park. For those that don’t know, Yosemite National Park actually has two valleys. Unfortunately, to John Muir’s disappoint, the Hetch Hetchy Valley was flooded to provide water for San Francisco in 1923. John Muir himself said that he preferred the Hetch Hetchy Valley to Yosemite Valley, so we wanted to see this section of the park for ourselves. It is remarkable of course. Even with the large lake, which is beautiful too, the valley is impressive. Multiple waterfalls rage over granite cliffs and life abounds. Needless to say we enjoyed our Christmas hike in Hetch Hetchy!

As Christmas is supposed to be that night it got very cold in our mountain oasis. We awoke to 18 degree F and were frozen in place. Cold weather sounds romantic for Christmas, but when you live in an RV, freezing temperatures mean disaster or at least repairs. We skillfully unfroze our RV (we have had some experience with this now) and prepared to visit Yosemite Valley again. However, when we got towards the entrance station, actually miles away from it, we abruptly stopped in a LONG line of traffic. We had forgotten that the rest of the world had vacation this weekend and many of them had decided to come to Yosemite. Our second snafu was that chains were required and must be ON your vehicle tires! We were not too worried about it, however when we started talking to all the other visitors, while we were stopped in line, we quickly realized they were. Many were foreigners visiting the park with NO experience with winter driving and rental cars. Thus we made the decision that we did not want to drive over the mountain pass with snow chains and thousands of bumper-to-bumper non-experienced winter drivers. So we headed home. With our extra time we gave Atreyu a Christmas gift with a luxurious bath.

When we awoke for a second morning in a row with temperatures in the teens and frozen in place we decided it was time to leave this winter oasis early and head to some southern California sun. Why? Because we can, it is the perk of having a mobile home! We vowed to visit Yosemite again in warmer months, refilled our propane tanks (as we had used a lot this cold week), and set off down the mountain. Well, after having to off gas the propane tank because the attendant over filled the tank. The RV lifestyle always keeps you on your toes!