|The mountains were gorgeous as we drove into Yosemite.|
We drove back toward Yosemite to do one more hike. This one was called the Soda Springs hike at Tuolomne Meadows. We stopped at the ranger station and turned in the Junior Rangers first. The ranger was really excited that the boys had seen two bobcats and bear. He was really cute with them saying their pledge, and afterward he had everyone in the Visitor’s Center give them a round of applause.
|The entrance station is at a pretty high elevation.|
The hike was 1.5 miles roundtrip out to a small cabin and spring. We didn’t push the boys too hard, but we let them stop and look in each of the streams we crossed. They enjoyed spotting fish, playing pooh sticks, and throwing rocks in the water. The hike was across a wide flat meadow, and we saw three huge bucks browsing on the prairie grass. When we got to the spring, Dad decided to try the water. The ranger had called it the Perrier of Yosemite, and it was slightly carbonated. Of course, all the boys tried it, too, but Dax was the only one who dared to like it.
|The Tuolomne Meadows was a beautiful part of Yosemite.|
|Mark and Dad spotted an Osprey.|
|The boys have been great hikers on this trip.|
|Yosemite was amazingly beautiful. Mom couldn't get enough!|
|We have to play Pooh Sticks at every bridge we cross now.|
|Dad makes Mom show up in pictures every now and then.|
|We saw 4 bucks and a doe while we were walking through the meadow.|
|We watched them from across the river for quite awhile.|
|There are a few different bubbling spots in this natural spring.|
|Dax took lots of sips!|
We made the long drive across Yosemite for the third and final time. Then we headed up Glacier Point Road. We weren’t really sure what to expect, but we knew we’d have to ride the shuttle to the three stops we wanted to make. But by some miracle, the ranger waved us through and then set up cones behind us. We stopped at Summit Meadow and took some pictures of Mom in the wildflowers. Then we drove out to Washburn Point, which gave us a pretty nice view of Nevada and Vernal Falls. Finally, we drove to the very end of the road at Glacier Point. Mom whipped up a quick lunch in the van as it was nearly noon, and then we walked over to see what all the fuss was about. Glacier Point stands high above the Yosemite Valley. There is a 270 degree view of the valley, and you can see it all. Tiny cars crowded around the buildings, Half Dome, Upper Yosemite Falls, Lower Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake, Nevada Falls, and Vernal Falls. One felt a little like God looking down on His creations from the crowds. We looked for a long time and took dozens of pictures.
|Glacier Point was stunning. The lower waterfall is Vernal Falls that we hiked to yesterday.|
|We spent a lot of time admiring the scenery.|
|It was awesome to look down at the roads that we drove yesterday.|
|We loved being able to get such an amazing view of Half Dome.|
|This is a panorama shot from Glacier Point. I didn't quite get the waterfalls in this shot.|
|Dad took lots of pictures of Mom today.|
|Mom loves the wildflowers.|
The next leg of the drive was the big one. We drove all the way back to the north end of the park and then turned west toward San Francisco. After a little while, we turned north and Mom began to recognize the towns and landscape from when she was a little girl. Part of the reason we came to this part of the country is that Mom lived in the area from ages six to twelve. She was excited looking at the map and winding roads. Finally, we turned up into the hills of Calaveras County toward Big Trees where she spent so much time as a child. We didn’t get checked in at our cabin until after 6 o’clock, and it was seven by the team we finished dinner, which was pasta and meatballs. The cabin was really nice. It had two big bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and large living room, but it still maintained the feel of a cabin. There was also a large backyard where the boys played stick baseball. We ate on a nice picnic table outside. About the only problem was the heat, as there was no air conditioning.
|Mom was so excited to be back in Calaveras County to show her boys where she grew up.|
|Mom jumped frogs at the county fair every year.|
|Mom has a lot of fond memories of Big Trees.|
|The boys love camping. Pinecone baseball is their absolute favorite camping game.|
We weren’t quite ready for bed, so we drove down to the North Grove of the Big Trees. The boys were astounded at the massive stump of Discovery Tree, which was used as a dance floor in the early 1900s. Mark spotted a white-faced woodpecker, which means this is his new favorite place. Everything was just as Mom remembered it, and she was really glad the boys loved it, too. After reading stories and eating cookies and milk in the cabin, we finally put the kids to bed late. They deserve to sleep in a bit tomorrow, too. We might even let them!
|It's so hard to capture how tall the trees really are!|
|Big Trees was just as awesome as Mom remembered.|
|She remembers the dancing tree stump and loved that the boys were excited to play on it.|
|Walking through the grove was the perfect evening activity.|
|We walked along one of the fallen trees.|
|Mark identified this bird correctly as a White-Headed Woodpecker.|
|Watching the boys run, play, and love Big Trees made Mom really happy.|