Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Lodging accommodations in National Parks

People who travel a lot tell me it's important to plan ahead, making hotel and shuttle reservations early!  Karen and I decided in August that we were going ahead with our plans to tour three national parks in early October -- Yosemite, King's Canyon, and Sequoia.  Karen did all the internet searching, consulting with fellow hiker Margie, google mapping, and phone calling necessary for our 12-day trip.  Neither one of us really like all the work that goes into planning a big trip, but we knew we had to have reservations. We made our airline reservations on August 14th and she booked all the lodging and a rental car shortly after.  The following pictures outline our sleeping adventures even though it's the "off season."
Our first two nights in Lee Vining, in a cute little cabin with a gas stove.  We were toasty warm.
We loved our rental, a Jeep Renegade, especially after cancelling the first reservation of $700 and getting a $300 deal instead!
We went from a nice cabin to 4 nights of tent camping!
 Karen came prepared with her own little propane heater!
Simple furnishings, bed, sheets, two blankets, and a pillow.
We had to travel to community bathrooms and showers in the dark.
The little heater was not enough to keep Karen warm, so she layered her body and her head with five different layers. The propane only lasted about 5 hours per tank.  The two tanks she bought in Lee Vining were soon gone and she discovered none were sold in Yosemite!  
We brought our breakfast, lunch and happy hour food - home made granola, Coastal Cheese, salami, coconut oil peanut butter, bread, fruit, nuts and crackers.  We bought milk, pickles, tomatoes, wine, and ham.  For $54 we figured we each had 4 breakfast and lunch meals, and 4 happy hours!
After our bike-riding day we enjoyed happy hour in the guest lounge at Yosemite, a place with heat and electric plug ins to re-charge our phones!
The dining hall at Curry (tent) village reminded me of a snow ski lodge.  We enjoyed dinners and (not bad) pizza here, along with hundreds of 7th graders on field trips!
One morning a nice employee built a great fire for us to enjoy.  He told me his dad taught him the railroad tie method.  Criss-cross small logs on the bottom of the grate and the large ones on top.  "This sugar pine is so dry, you barely need butcher paper to get it going."  It was in front of this warm fire that we met a couple from California who longed to live in Montana.  She practiced some form of psycho-therapy and was not sure Montana had a reciprocal agreement for her license.  Conversations about mental health and social justice came next.  I wish I could remember all these great conversations which were opportunities to learn more about other human beings.  
Peter, an 87-year old man who invited us to share a table in the sunshine near the Visitor's Center, told us to stop at Big Trees Lodge on our way out Yosemite.  Peter lives in Santa Barbara, worked in research and development for the Aeronautical industry and loved his job because every day was different.  He and his wife came to Yosemite for years, stayed in the Majestic Lodge, hiked and viewed all the beauty in the park.  "She could not come with me and I could not find a room in either of the lodges so I'm staying at the Big Trees Lodge, a lovely place with a great piano player. "
 So thanks to Peter we enjoyed a lovely dinner, mine a pot roast and mashed potatoes!

We gave up our last night of tent camping for a lovely Best Western in Oakhurst!  Had real beds, water, heat, showers, coffee maker, and refrigerator.  We were so happy we even did all our laundry.
 And truly a gift to run into this woman from new Zealand also doing laundry.  She worked as an administrative nurse and quit her job over the phone.  She rented an apartment on an island six years ago, for just three months.  "I'm still there and I love my life."  The landlord has never increased my rent so I'm going to stay as long as I can.  She was traveling with her family and recently visited Yellowstone National Park and she remarked, "it looks bloody well like New Zealand, only on steroids."  She made our day!

Our next stop, the John Muir Lodge in Grants Grove, King's Canyon National Park.  Lovely old lodge and fire in the stone fire place!  Rocking chairs inside and out. We had our happy hour outside and met an interesting man, "city slicker" who first hiked to Half Dome when he was nine years old!

 We lingered by the fire and contemplated the painting of John Muir!

 We spent our last two nights at Wuksachi Lodge in the Sequoia National Park.

We enjoyed our time in a lovely room with a "mountain view."  Karen insisted that our last dinner there was my birthday dinner.  The lovely waitress brought us creme brûlée cheesecake with berries "on the house."

 It was at this dinner that Karen presented me with a book, "John Muir, In His Own Words."  It's full of his quotations and wisdom.  She gifted me with 12 days of wonderful time, in nature, with words of encouragement at every ascent, especially when my heart rate increased and I gasped for the next breath.  Her generous gift truly filled my heart with joy.  Muir's poetry says:

       "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in, where Nature may heal and cheer         and give strength to body and soul.  Every day opens and closes like a flower, noiseless, effortless.  Divine peace glows on all the majestic landscape, like the silent enthusiastic joy that sometimes transfigures a noble human face."

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