We had big plans for my birthday weekend. The Saturday after my birthday, we woke up at the crack of dawn to get ready, grab our Zipcar minivan (holla!), and head downtown to grab Ammai, Ranjeet, Yakov and Mirai for a roadtrip! Hello, Yosemite!!!
I’d been dying to get out of the city and see Yosemite and since Anish’s family was visiting, it felt like the perfect time to do it. I do have to say, I don’t recommend doing one day in Yosemite to anyone. It was a taste of paradise and absolutely not enough. But we only had two weekend days to use, so we were going to do it! Their time in San Francisco was dwindling fast, so we needed to pack it in. Saturday for Yosemite, Sunday for Napa. We’re not crazy, right? (Yes we are.)
Anyway, we went barreling out of the city like a herd of turtles and made it just over the Berkeley Hills before it was mandatory to stop for a Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuit breakfast. Tasted just like I remembered and the first-timers loved it!
With that rock in our stomach (that’s what it feels like!), we headed east through the land of golden rolling hills (drought), windmills, and ranches. Feels like an alien land out there between Mount Diablo and the Sierra Nevadas. It’s HOT right now out there and it’s a dry, dry heat. I was loving it, but applying chapstick like a madwoman.
After a few hours, we found ourselves driving up winding roads into the hills, heading for forests. I wasn’t sure what it would look like out there at all, honestly. I was picturing that we’d drive in from the bottom of some valley entrance or something, and it would be all Jurassic Park-esque. It wasn’t quite that… It was better.
We wound our way through forests before finally coming to an entrance to Yosemite National Park. We passed through with our National Parks Pass ($80 for a whole year for you and your partner, plus entire vehicle with ppl – WORTH IT!), and drove by a sign that said 25 miles to Yosemite Valley. WHAT! We were in the park already and it was still so far. Sigh…
Winding roads followed for ages and then BAM.
All of the sudden we rounded a corner and there in the distance was Half Dome. My mouth dropped into my lap and I was yelling, “Look! OMG! There it is!” We quickly pulled into the overlook to get out and take photos.
Land Before Time – that’s Yosemite. Just like that, the valley was visible from the road and the peaks of all the impressive mountains and cliffs were staring down at us. Mere mortals in an immortal land. Half Dome, El Capitan, Sentinel, Three Brothers. All there in front of us. The Merced River winding its way in the valley beneath us. I was (still am) in awe.
In that moment, all the dry heat and driving and Chick-Fil-A rock-in-the-stomach breakfast was worth it. We scrambled back into the van and excitedly headed down into the valley.
We spent the day stopping wherever we felt we needed to along the way. We stopped at overlooks. We walked in meadows. We visited Yosemite Village for a sandwich, while gazing through the trees at Yosemite Falls. We walked out to Mirror Lake to sit beneath Half-Dome and wonder how all those crazy people scale the rocks. We saw some deer, freaked out about potential mountain lions, and wished for a bear sighting.
It was the best darn day.
On our way out that evening, on the Glacier Point side of the valley, we watched the sun set over wildfires in the distance. It was hauntingly beautiful, and we left Yosemite in reverence to the almighty power of nature.
I’m already planning my next trip back.