Saturday, July 11, 2009

Yosemite - Part 1

I reserved a campsite in Tuolumne in February. Each time I’ve gone with my father to Yosemite in the past several years, I’ve wondered if it would be the last time. This time, I’m pretty sure it is the last time, until it is time to sprinkle his ashes there. I think it has been over 40 years since we stayed in a campsite, though.

My mother rarely went to Yosemite. She always had an excuse not to go, but the truth is, she isn’t the outdoor type. She gardens, but that’s the extent of it. I can count on one hand the times I can remember her being there, aside from when we lived there as Ranger’s Family. Even then, we had beds, a wood burning stove, refrigeration, and laundry facilities. She had a reason to go this time.

Out of the thick miasma of my childhood, Yosemite was the magical place that provided a safe haven, an escape, a positive experience. The smell of the place touches the innermost part of my soul. It is there that I formed my deep abiding love of tall trees, altitude, soaring granite peaks, and crystal clear ice cold water. Everything else is judged in comparison to the impressions that Yosemite made in my brain. It is there that I learned my outdoor skills, which are substantial, and my ability to enjoy myself even while dirty, cold, smelly, and without gadgets or toys or material distractions to entertain me. It has served me well.

I want my daughter to know the places that I love, and this was her second trip to Yosemite, although she doesn’t remember the first one. She has heard the lore of camping, and more than anything, she wanted to roast marshmallows over an open fire and make S’mores. (You can’t come from generations of Girl Scouts and not want S’mores. I’m pretty sure it’s a rule.)

We lucked out and had a beautiful spot. It was far from the road and other campers, yet not so far from the bathrooms that my mother was worried. It got cold at night (about 30 degrees) and the firewood that my dad brought was pretty “wet”; it didn’t burn well. I have good gear and just replaced my tent, got a new sleeping bag for M and brought a great inflatable mattress to sleep on, so we were comfortable, although M was surprised by the cold.
My dad is very bad at what my daughter calls “co-opertating” and I have to constantly choose whether to try to argue with him about something or just resign myself to coping with whatever problem comes up because of his obstinate stubbornness. The wood was one of those things. He insists on doing things his way, and will fight you if you try to interject your own opinion or method. Since I knew my and my daughter’s survival was not at stake, I left the wood to him, though I had my doubts, and in the same way, let my mother bring countless things she didn’t need and she had to fuss over.

The one thing I insisted on having my way about was the food. I have found ways to have great food on very rugged backpacking trips and since we were in a campsite, I wasn’t going to skimp, since weight wasn’t an issue. If I let my parents have their way with the camp food it would have been a disaster, so I persuaded my mother to let me choose the meals, and I argued with my father about how to cook them. It is crazy how much trouble I have to go through to make myself heard. But when it came to the food, I was willing to battle.

So, on the first night we had Rocky Mountain Salmon, corn on the cob, and field greens salad, which they declared fabulous (it was) once it was finally on their plates. The next night we had marinated Tri-tip and grill cooked potatoes and onions, with the rest of the salad. The beef took forever because my father insisted on using this rinky-dink self-contained grill thing that my mother had bought, that although it lighted and burned impressively, never got hot enough. By the time they relented and let me put in over the fire, it must have been an hour, and then it took another 45 minutes or so to cook. Still, it tasted good. The last night, reason prevailed and we went to the Tuolumne Lodge dining room. I loved it and it would have been a lot of fun had I been there with other company. The food is really good and the atmosphere is a perfect blend of funky and fancy. The people at the other tables were interesting and diverse. (By the way, the Lodge is one of the places you can get a shower, should you want one)

I’ll post more as soon as I can. I'm packing for my move, but I'm sure I'll need breaks.


  1. I'd forgotten that the parents went along. Sounds like a really nice time. Nice blog post.

  2. It sucks how it seems that parents get harder to get along with as they get older. I'm experiencing the same thing with my mom. Good work in picking your battles.

  3. Ditto to Frank! The older we get, the harder it is for me to co-exist with dear ol' mom.

    Sounds like you are MY kind of camper! I'd go for the fab meals alone. ;)

  4. Stephen: I wish I could forget the parents went along. Seriously.

    Frank: Thanks. I'd love to blame our difficulties on my parents' aging, but they've always been this way. I just have a slightly different reaction at this point in the game.

    Bev: I am finally learning that they are not my fault. I don't try so hard to make them see me, because they don't.

    I'd love to take you camping! I'd love to go camping again with people that want to enjoy themselves. I busted my ass to make things fun for my kid and myself, despite my folks.

  5. You know, if you tie large chunks of cooked meat around your parents' necks while they sleep, you may rid yourself of the parent problem come morning. Or, throw a couple of unwrapped Slim Jims in their packs and act innocent. "I don't know why all these bears are following us."

    Above all else, you're in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I love Yosemite. Enjoy.

  6. sounds like a good time- in spite of it all...
    seems like any adventure with my parents results in me saying, "it WAS a good time, in spite of mom and dad."
    probably doesn't help, but you're in good company :)

  7. LMAO @ TDW! Now that's problem-solving.

  8. DW: You know that I entertained myself by imagining all kinds of "unfortunate accidents" and "tragic mishaps" while I was there. On the second night, I was pretty close to rubbing that uncooked Tri-tip all over my father! They DID have their own tent...

    But yes, the gorgeous surroundings went a long way in diffusing my level of annoyance. And the Cabernet Sauvignon...

    Mary: Yep, and it does help to know I'm not the only one.

  9. Mmmmmm your idea of camping fare sounds DEEEEE-LISH!!!!!!!

  10. Mala: Hi there! Yeah, I'm not a big fan of freezed dried pseudo-food. Only in an emergency. And I like to surprise my friends with yummy meals despite the rustic circumstances. That's part of the benefit of having done this thousands of times!

  11. You're eating better on a camping trip then I generally do in real life. I'm stomping my foot, screaming "NO FAIR!", and walking right out of hear.

    With much love, of course. ;)

  12. Samsmama: I figure - I'm filthy, I'm smelly, at some point in the middle of the night something is going to wake me up that pisses me off, and there is always at least one thing or person on the trip that you wish wasn't there... you might as well not torture yourself with crappy food! I love to cook, and I've endured countless bad meals by other campers.