California Adventure

A few weeks ago, I traveled with my boyfriend and his family to Yosemite National Park in California. I realize I keep calling him my boyfriend, as if he doesn’t have a name. So y’all know, his name is Zach. So back to my train of thought, I went to Yosemite with Zach and his family. My general response to this trip OH MY GOD. INCREDIBLE. The things I did, the things I saw, simply incredible. Zach’s family members are hikers. My family and I have tried out some nature walks etc., but we’ve never considered ourselves hikers. Needless to say, when I was first invited on this trip, I was a bit nervous as to what I was getting myself into.

The one time my family and I tried camping, we ended up in my aunt’s backyard in upstate Pennsylvania. I can remember waking up in the tent…in a wet sleeping bag…and everyone had already gone inside to eat breakfast in the house. I decided at that young age that my camping/hiking days were over. As I got older, my brothers and I didn’t show much interest in those things so I think that’s why we never did them. My close friends never did anything like that either and kids will typically do what their friends want to do, at least that’s how I was for a while.

When his parents first invited me, the trails and mountains of Yosemite weren’t the only thing that intimidated me, the fact that I was going to spend a week with my boyfriend’s family made me a tad nervous as well. Don’t get me wrong, they are great people. I really like them (I hope they’re reading). His parents and his sisters are great and I get along with them very well (if any of you are reading this do I get brownie points?) Any time I have spent with them has been a blast. They remind me of my own family, very easy to get along with and easy to talk to. But, let’s be real here, when you’re dating someone who you care about, family get togethers can be somewhat nerve-wracking, particularly a week long trip across the country. After the first day though, my nervousness of being with the family subsided. I was put to the test, but I think I passed.

When I told my family I was going to Yosemite and we’d be hiking a lot, they all laughed. I laughed too. My family knows how I enjoy adventurous activities, but they also know the lazy side of me who can sleep until 1pm. But I figured what the hell, we’ll see what happens. I wasn’t sure what I would think of it.

Well, as  I previously stated, it was INCREDIBLE.

First day hike

The trails led us to a place I never thought I could walk to, the sky. Nothing makes you feel more grounded than being on top of a mountain. I felt minuscule and gigantic. I felt humbled, yet cocky and powerful. It was hard on me physically, but not as bad as I thought. I’m pretty active, a little less active than I used to be, but overall pretty active. I play sports, run occasionally, and attempt to keep up with some sort of work-out routine. But I can’t deny, it was a good work out. It’s funny, we watched the movie Frozen, (or Fronan as my adorable 2-year-old niece likes to call it), when we were in the car driving from Oakland to our cabin in Yosemite. The first day of hiking, a few of the lyrics of the hit song Let It Go came into my head as I made the climb:

“Don’t let them in, don’t let them see.
Be the good girl you always have to be.
Conceal don’t feel, don’t let them know,”

I didn’t want them to know that I was tired towards the end of the climb to the top. I was definitely feeling the burn.
However, once I reached the top of our first hike, I was singing this part the rest of the week:

“It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small.
And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all!
It’s time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through.
No right, no wrong, no rules for me, now I’m free.
Let it go, let it go! I am one with the wind and sky.
Let it go, let it go, you’ll never see me cry!”

I was ready to conquer anything that was thrown at me after our first day. Each day was more incredible. (Zach, how perfect is the Frozen reference haha. Zach loves Frozen. Sorry Zach.)

One night, we went to a nice dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel, very cool place and delicious food too. Mom, don’t worry, I was very polite. I only occasionally spoke with my mouth full, but I kept my elbows off the table and put my napkin in my lap.

The hotel was surrounded by mountains.

Ahwahnee Hotel

So after dinner, we were walking back to our car and we got to see the mountain El Capitan in the moonlight. OH MY GOD. It was amazing. The way the moonlight blanketed the peaks was so graceful looking. And the stars were speckled in the sky like jimmies on ice cream. It was majestic. We also noticed, there were little specks of light here and there on the sides of the mountain. People were sleeping on the sides! I wanted to try and capture a picture but I couldn’t get it with my iPhone. Too dark. If you google “El Capitan at night” you can get somewhat of an idea of what it was like. But a picture really can’t do it justice.

To pick my favorite moment is pretty hard. Each day was memorable in some way. But if I had to choose, I’d say Thursday and Friday were my two favorite days. Thursday we woke up early and hiked up Glacier point. Glacier point has about a 4.6 mile hike up to the top (7,214 feet above sea level), and it’s pretty much all up hill. This one was challenging, and the elevation started to get to me as well. High elevation is no joke on the body. My breathing intensified and at times I felt lightheaded, but I was well hydrated etc, so I was fine. A little lightheadedness was totally worth it though.

Panoramic Glacier Point

Me and Zach - Glacier Point

Group Shot - Kids

On Friday, we went to the edge of the park to a secluded area. A local suggested we go. We found a secluded lake and Zach and his sisters and their boyfriends went swimming. I refrained because it was hailing! But it was so beautiful and peaceful. We were the only people there which made it even more amazing.

Z, Sarah, Hannah, Brian

After we hung out at the lake, we climbed another mountain. This one was the highest we did. The elevation was over 12,000 feet above sea level. The view from the top was mesmerizing. It was hard to believe I was that high up in the air. This one was the most scary for me. There wasn’t exactly a set trail so we were climbing up rocks.

Top of the world

Zach’s parents didn’t climb this one with us, which in retrospect, I am sort of glad they didn’t for one reason: I went ahead of everyone and go to the top first. I thought the top was flat, but it came to a point with a little flat area then it dropped on the other side. I got to the top and screamed “holy shit!” I can’t have his parents hearing me curse. But, now that I think about it, I’m going to assume they’re reading so they’re reading me curse. Can’t spell class without ass, right?

I was mesmerized by this one. It was hard to believe what I was looking at. It really did look like a movie set. I couldn’t fully comprehend what I was seeing, I just kept staring with my jaw dropped. I was in awe. It’s an overwhelming experience. Moments like that are why I have grown to love traveling. Once you get that feeling, you begin to yearn for it. Getting away for a few days and experiencing something completely different from the every day norm is so enriching. I’ve lived in the same city my whole life and while I do love it, it’s so refreshing to get away for a period of time and see what else is out there. I feel like the Little mermaid, I get a cooped up feeling and I find myself singing, I want to be “part of that world.” Evidently, I sing to myself a lot in my head. Better than signing out loud. I’m tone deaf.

Queen of the world

Cuties on a Mountain

King of the world

It was really special to be able to experience these things with Zach too. I think we’re an adventurous couple and adventures like this can bring people closer together. I mean, I literally climbed a mountain for him. Ain’t no mountain high enough! I know he’s cringing right now at my corniness, but cringe away man.

Those are just the highlights that I thought of from the trip. I have a lot more stories, like the day when we jumped into a freezing cold pond. Freezing cold doesn’t even describe it, it was mind numbingly cold, but it was awesome! Zach and his family are from Massachusetts, so they’re used to cold water. I on the other hand vacation in South Jersey, where the ocean is typically lukewarm, and I consider that cold.

Cold water

And I can’t forget the day we spent walking around the Sequoia trees. I never thought I could be so shocked

by trees. Trees are pretty amazing.

Sequoia Tree

Me, Z, and a Sequoia

Fallen Tree

I also can’t leave out the photo of the squirrel attacking me. I pretty much asked for it.

Squirrel attack!

The entire week was eye-opening, fun, adventurous, and a great chance to get to know everyone better. Thank you to Zach’s parents for an amazing experience!!

Group Shot

A little something I threw together. I had to do it. I crack myself up.

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