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Biking trip to Yosemite

Oct 16, 2014 • family

We spent the weekend at Yosemite, camping two nights at "Housekeeping camp." Here are some pictures from the trip:

Yosemite 10/2014

I decided to start a log of what worked well and what didn't for each trip.

From Lucy's point of view

What worked well

  • Playing in the lake -- wading in river, catching crawdads, climbing on the rocks under the bridge
  • Sleeping in the beds in the housekeeping structures
  • Seeing fat squirrels
  • Riding bikes on the trails

What could be improved

  • More water needed for dried-up waterfall / river
  • Vernal Fall waterfall needs to be bigger

From Callie's point of view

What worked well

  • Climbing the rocks on the dried-up waterfall

What could be improved

  • Need to spend more time at the beach

I never got around to asking Avery and Shannon. Next time...

From Dad's point of view

What worked well

  • Taking the bikes. The trails are about perfect length for family riding. However, one can easily exhaust all the trail space in about an hour, so if you're a serious biker, there really isn't enough space unless you break out into the open winding mountain roads, which don't seem that safe to me.
  • Sleeping in the Housekeeping camp (small open cabin structures). These structures were fun and made it easy to store the bikes.
  • Walking tacos, cheesy potatoes, and the monkey bread. These turned out perfect, and the dutch oven worked well. It's getting super easy to make dinners with this.
  • Catching crawdads in the lake. I had no idea this could be so fun. The crawdads were kind of scary to grab. Shannon showed us the way, catching the first one. Then we caught about 10 more between that day and the next. They look like mini-lobsters. The trick is to grab them by the lower back.
  • The "beach" areas. Kids love water, even just wading in the shallow water and exploring the rocks, sandbar areas, the algae, and more. Avery especially liked this area. She liked to explore and discover different parts of the beach. This was by far the best part of the trip, and each time we left, none of the kids wanted to go. They always wanted to stay. Avery especially had strong feelings about thoroughly exploring the area. We returned to this beach area near Housekeeping on both days.
  • Climbing up rocks in the dry creek bed. The Yosemite Falls are dried up this time of year. As a result, we climbed up the large rocks in the dry creek bed for about half a mile, heading straight to the rock cliff face. Callie bruised her tailbone on a fall when she and Avery wandered off. We couldn't keep up with them. Avery again really took off on her own (with Callie joining her). Avery likes her independence and the ability to explore and discover things on her own, and her sisters follow her. Of course this is what I like best about the outdoors too -- exploring things and making discoveries on my own.
  • Seeing all the wildlife. We saw a couple of coyotes, lots of deer, plenty of squirrels, raccoons, and for the first time ever, a bobcat. (Avery spotted the bobcat.)
  • Early morning bike ride. I woke up early and rode around the valley area about 7 miles before anyone else (in the whole camp, actually) seemed to be up. Riding early in the morning was fun, and not pulling the child trailer, I realized how light and fast my bike was. It was an interesting ride, but again, there aren't that many trails. Surprisingly, the only wildlife I saw was a couple of deer. I kept expecting to come across a bear or bobcat and so was fully alert on every turn.
  • Taking Friday off. Taking Friday off seemed to be a lot better than taking Monday or Tuesday off, at least from the kids' point of view about missing school. Much time is spent driving there and back, so I'm wondering if a closer natural park might provide a similar adventure without requiring the extra day to travel.
  • Just going on the trip. Just getting out there and going on the trip was awesome. I don't know why we don't go camping more often. The kids love it, for the most part. So does Shannon. We have all the equipment, and fitting 5 bikes on the Odyssey plus one inside seems to work fine. The trick is to put the Burley inside.

What could be improved

  • Peach cobbler in dutch oven.  Two reasons why this didn't taste so great. First, our dried ice froze the whip cream can entirely (because we had too much dried ice). Second, Shannon substituted (on the sly) pancake mix instead of cake mix. Third, I didn't add sprite or raspberries -- it needed more fruit.
  • Playing with sticks in the fire. Avery played with sticks in the fire, hence all the other sisters did. Finally, after numerous times when we thought Molly was going to trip into hot coals or into the fire, she burned her thumb (in a small way) on a stick when no one was around. I had to get ice and Molly was unhappy for a while. (The burn turned out to be pretty minimal. By morning everything was back to normal.)
  • Laissez-faire attitude toward some things. I tend to adopt a laissez-faire attitude toward some things, like cooking and organizing of eating supplies. However, this means that I generally have little idea about where things are kept or what meals are planned. As a result, I can't be that helpful during some situations (like finding ice machines for a burn). I think I adopt this attitude because I think others will enjoy having full autonomy to do things how they want. However, I think sometimes it's better to jump in and be an active participant even if it means negotiation and compromise.
  • Pessimistic attitudes. Avery (and the other sisters) can sometimes be tough to please. Sometimes they really don't want to do something (like go into a gift shop, or go on a hike), and it's hard to persuade them. But other times, like with the river and rock climbing, they're more than eager. I am not sure how to turn around their attitudes when they're not into something (for example, Avery refused to be photographed most of the time, even though she's on Yearbook). I guess it's best to piggyback on interests, doing more of what they like. Avery certainly liked the freedom to explore the river area. I need to look for more opportunities like this, which the kids naturally latch onto, and follow them in the direction they want to go.

Other details

Also of note, during the trip I saw a guy with a long-distance bike setup (meaning, tent, sleeping bag, double panniers, etc. on the back). I think he was from Norway (based on his accent). He traveled from Modesto to San Francisco to Yosemite and Santa Cruz, or something like that.

Looking at his bike all decked out, I drooled over the idea of a long distance ride. I will have to experiment with day trips to see how much distance I can cover. Shannon and I brainstormed how to make a long distance ride to Santa Cruz work.

I want to start keeping better logs of trips. I have a better method for posting photos now, which I think was a big slow down previously. One thing I can't figure out is how to get the photos to be a bit larger in the albums by default.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.