Talk about a case of the Mondays – after four packed days in California and a much-delayed flight that got us home after midnight last night, today was loooong. But my droopy eyelids are a small price to pay for all the fun on our sun-shiney getaway. We made the trek down to Turlock primarily for Amanda and Josh’s long-awaited wedding day, but were able to squeeze in a couple of fun detours, starting with our Thursday trip to Yosemite. It had been years since either one of us had basked in the glory of Half-Dome, so we jumped in our little rental car (a Mazda 2, aka ‘The Rollerskate’) and headed east for the day. We arrived at the park late in the morning and decided to avoid the crowds at Mirror Lake and Lower Yosemite Falls, instead choosing to make the climb toward the Upper Falls. I raised my eyebrows when we picked up the trail guide and I saw the word “strenuous” next to the route Shane had chosen, but I was high on Vitamin D from all that California sunshine, so I played the part of a good sport and agreed to give it a go.  And good Lord, the combination of the heat (90 degrees!  do you know what 90 degrees feels like to a Seattle-ite?) and the steady elevation gain had us both huffing in about 8 seconds flat.  But we plowed ahead, determined to make it to at least the first lookout, and…wowsers!

And five minutes later…double-wowsers!

Energized by being able to see how high we’d already climbed, we kept on going, knowing the extra distance to the falls would be well worth it.  And nearly 2 hours and 2 liters of sweat into our hike, we arrived at a picture-perfect spot to grab a seat on a big flat rock and enjoy our lunch:  Yosemite Falls on our left side, Half-Dome on our right side, and a sea of blue sky overhead.  I have often raved about the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, but Washington ain’t got nothin’ on this place!

By the time we had finished our lunch and sufficiently soaked in the sun and the view and the roar of the water, it was time to head back down the mountain.  We made it to the trailhead in about a third of the time it took us to get to our rock (yes, I am claiming that lunch spot as ours) and decided to swing by Bridalveil Falls on our way out.  Bridalveil was beautiful but packed with visitors, making us doubly glad we’d spent the better part of the day getting off the beaten path (“strenuous” must be a major crowd-deterrent).

And with that, it was time to point the trusty rollerskate back toward Turlock.  What. A. Day.  And the fun was just beginning!  But dang these droopy eyelids – stay tuned for part 2…