Last Thursday morning I left with my dad in his Prius. Following behind us in his Chevy truck was his cousin Dirk. We would later that day be met at the park by my Uncle Kim and the next day by my dad’s other cousin Kris and his son Justin. It was what is becoming our yearly “Guys” trip. The drive for me went so fast as the passenger. Probably seemed to take forever for my father, I will explain why, later. Our arrival and meeting up with Dirk and Kim was a little frustrating. However, by the end of the day we were all sitting down together having a crappy, overpriced dinner.
My dad has an amazing record collection and the past several years he has been converting those albums to MP3’s. He has a thumb drive filled with a thousand or more songs he mistakenly thought that he would be able to listen to on the drive to Yosemite. I, on the other hand, wouldn’t shut up the entire drive. I literally only stopped talking to breathe or if my dad had a response to something I said. I must have been driving him crazy but the drive went by so damn fast for me.
At one point though the traffic was stopped due to rock slides. They would only let one direction go at a time. We had been stopped a few minutes and my dad put the car into park, this automatically unlocks the door. I didn’t know this, I thought it was just my dad unlocking my door. I started to laugh. I thought for sure my dad had, had enough and was going to turn to me and say, “That’s enough, get the F$%K out!” The thought just had me laughing hysterically.
It very briefly started to drizzle when we entered the park but that was the last we’d see of any rain the rest of the trip. It was hot and sunny the rest of the time. The drive down into the valley scenic of course. You can’t really beat Yosemite in the scenic department.
Just a few miles from the Village area of Yosemite there is this open stretch of road that allows for parking on both sides. It’s just an amazing view on both sides of the road. In fact, the view is so stunningly amazing that people were always just stopping in the middle of the road to take pictures. A couple of decades later you can park on either side of the road.
The trip was amazing and it was fun getting to meet a couple of members of the family I didn’t really know that well. I would love to rant and keep getting into details but I just don’t have the time today so I will just cut it short and post the photos from the trip. However, below the photos, if you care are some personal thoughts and reasons as to why it will be a white before I return to Yosemite.
I have always loved Yosemite. It truly is an American treasure and one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I have been going there most of my life with my parents. However, more and more, I have found it to be just way over priced. So much so that it actually takes away from the experience. Something it’s taken us decades to learn and finally came to terms with it this trip. Yosemite is an amazing place to stay but that’s it. It’s the place that should be the focus. By that I mean, if you want to see Yosemite get yourself a room at one of the few motels located in the park and then take a guided tour. From that tour you can get a good idea of what you want to go see and spend more time at. If you love to hike. It’s a great place for that if you want to hike the various trails specifically at Yosemite. If you just want to go hiking, go some place else and save yourself some money. However, if you just want to place to be out in nature, maybe camp, have a fire and do some fishing. Unless you have a lot of money, Yosemite is the last place you want to go.
Yosemite is so damn expensive. For example, my father and I got what’s a called a “Tent Cabin”. It was 125 a night! What did it include. A metal shelving unit, a wood chair and two really uncomfortable things to lay on. I can’t really call them beds as “bed” implies comfort and sleep. This sort of cot type things, didn’t really let you enjoy either. And remember, it’s 125 dollars a night for this crap! Here’s a couple of pictures from above to refresh your memory.
You are not allowed to cook here. No open flames at all. If you have a vision of having a nice hot cup of coffee to have while enjoying your view, forget about it! Well, you can have it but you have to walk about a half a mile down the path to buy coffee from the store. If you want to eat, you walk the half mile. You can have an ice chest with you. They also have a “bear box” that you must keep your ice chest and food in. Things like health bars or whatever you want to eat that doesn’t have to be cooked. If you leave anything out of it and one of the Rangers walk by they will take your stuff. You go to bathroom and don’t close that bear box and they will give you shit. They won’t even identify themselves first. They will just walk up and start taking your shit. We found this out one night. We were all outside, we had a total of three tent cabins. Two next to each other and one directly across from the two. All of us were sitting in front of the two tents that were side by side.
It was dark out, when we notice a coupe of people walk up and try to get into the tent across from us. One of the people, we heard say something like kinda rude, I honestly don’t recall what it was but whatever it was, we replied to it the potential thieves, “That’s our stuff you’re not taking it!” Then they shout back with something like, “Yes we will, we’re Rangers!” My first thought, was to jump their shit over that. You don’t disrespect people because you are in a position of authority. And, these two assholes never announced themselves as Rangers. They just started talking shit. My Uncle is a retired police Captain and has his Glock 40 in his back pack. I am an ex-cop not armed, I don’t really like guns. The situation could have very easily turned to shit if my uncle was some kinda gun nut. I felt they were rude to us and condescending. We however, were nothing but polite. It was all sorries and thank you sirs.
If you want to eat dinner you either need to drive to the one restaurant in the Valley or at one of the many lesser places to eat. We stayed in what is called Curry Village part of Yosemite. They have a pizza place, some kind of grill with a limited menu and then there’s an indoor eating place that is way over-priced and the food sucks. It’s set up like a cafeteria only you can’t rally pick and choose what you want. There are a lot choices but you can only pick one them. For example, you want the chicken. Great, you get a drumstick with the thigh attached. But, it’s tiny. It’s with almost no meat on the thing. Three nights in a row and it was total shit each time. You get a choice of two sides and that’s it. 20 bucks! That doesn’t include a drink, so if you want a coke that you have to pour yourself, it’s of course extra and unlike almost every place in the world, you can’t a get a free refill. You want a refill and you have to go back through the line again and pay for it.
There is no excuse for this. I can expect the prices if they at least made an effort to cook decent food. They don’t, it is shitty. We did have pizza one night, very expensive but it wasn’t too bad. However, if you want decent food than you need to drive out to the Village and eat at the restaurant they have there, also very expensive but they serve you and as I recall, the food was decent. There’s also what’s called the food court in the Village. They have some really food good if you order it and don’t get the premade stuff. The premade stuff isn’t bad, but like the scrambled eggs for example. Scrambled eggs should never be scooped with an ice cream scoop. They lost any resemblance to scrambled eggs after that. It was just an odd looking ball of yellow on my plate. I honestly didn’t know they were the eggs at first.
I am not being petty about this stuff. I have been going to Yosemite for nearly 40 years. It’s always been a little expensive but those tent cabins used to be about 40 bucks a night and now you pay 125 or more a night. It’s just that nothing is worth what you’re paying for it except for the park fee to enter. It’s damn expensive, like 20 bucks a day. But, to drive around a place as incredible as Yosemite, it’s worth it.
What I suggest is that if you want to see Yosemite just go get a room, take a tour and drive around the park and look at stuff in more detail that you saw on the tour. There is a lot to see. If you want to go camping or fishing, seriously just go some place else. Like Mammoth Lakes, just south west or east of Yosemite. For like 15 bucks a night you can park your car next to your tent, that has a fire pit and I believe a grill and you can hike, bike and go fishing and it’s all within a short walk. You can throw a stone to one of two lakes. There are also a multitude of motels and hotels down in the valley and at the actually Mammoth Lakes area, if you don’t want to camp, or don’t have some kind of motor home you can rent these little cabins! I’ve never in one of those so I can’t quote a price on that.
You can cook food right at your tent. You can wake up in the morning and brew some coffee, you can go fishing for dinner. If you don’t want to or don’t like fish you can drive down the hill and in 15 minutes pick any number of fast food places or restaurants of every kind. Mammoth isn’t quite as stunning as Yosemite is but it’s so much more convenient if what you want is some family time in the woods.
I have learned that Yosemite is a tourist attraction and sadly it’s price tag just isn’t worth the repeat business. Go once and take a lot of photos or buy some of my dad’s at scenicsettings.com (New Website designed be me is coming soon! 🙂 ) It’s great for hiking but if you plan to do anything else like eat or go to the bathroom or shower, you’re going to have to walk and trust me, there is nothing fun about walking half a mile to eat breakfast after you just got out of the shower. You sit down to eat and you’re sweating. By the time you finish eating, you’ve finally stopped sweating and now your poor ass has to walk all the way back and start sweating all over again!
I urge you to see Yosemite if you never have. Just looking at pictures doesn’t do it justice. You have to see this place in person to appreciate any photo of it. Just be prepared to pay through the nose because there is nothing cheap about it at all. You have to pay to get into the park, you have to pay to camp, everything has a hefty price to it. So just really think about why you’re going there before you go. You want to see it, great. Go. You want to hike around it, go. You want family time and fun? Go someplace else. You want nature and to see bears and deer? Pick almost any place else because you can have family fun outdoors and see wild animals like bears and deer almost everywhere else in the High Sierra for a ton less.