We love visiting National Parks, and this is one that's always been high up on our list. Yosemite!
In the past, we've always come in on the southern road, which Theresa didn't like because it would wind and twist and she is prone to motion sickness. This time though, we are getting to enter the park through the road to the west, which was much better! And we're not staying in the RV this time. This time we've got something even more exciting planned!
The road is prone to rock slides though. Look at all those slabs that have found their way down to the road.
Back in 2006, the Ferguson landslide did just that, covering an entire portion of California State Route 140 and blocking the road. Repairs were started, but in 2012 an endangered species, the Limestone Salamander, was found in the area, halting repairs until a solution could be devised.
And so, for years now, people have been using these "temporary" bridges to the one-lane Incline road on the other side of the Merced River. Traffic is controlled by automatic stoplights.
Here's our stop for the night! It's Housekeeping Camp!
And so, we wait.
Let's check out some snacks that the kids got on the way in. We stopped by a grocery store to pick up a few supplies for our overnight stay here. Alli picked up a new Sour Patch Kids flavor. Grape! Yum!
And my Oreo loving son thinks the creme is the best part of an Oreo, so he was thrilled to find Most Stuff Oreos again. We thought they were a limited time thing when we had them in 2019.
For us, it was a little over 5 minutes to wait for the light to turn. Not too bad. Though I've heard that during the busy season it can get quite backed up here. I read that repairs to the road are supposed to resume in the Fall of 2022.
Driving over the temporary bridge. I'm glad I'm not pulling anything behind me.
A look over at the area where all the rocks slid down. Approximately 147000 tons of material fell onto the roadway and will need to be cleared.
The rest of the drive was uneventful, though maybe a little slow, to get into Yosemite.
At the entry, the Rangers confirmed our reservation to get into the park, we used our National Parks pass to pay for the entry fee. With everything all checked out, we were free to enter the park!
Coming around the first bend, I was really happy not to have anything being towed behind me. That sign might say those rocks are 13'6", but they look close to me!
The sign reads "On this site President Theodore Roosevelt sat beside a campfire with John Muir on May 17, 1903. Muir urged the President to work for preservation of priceless remnants of America's wilderness."
The Yosemite Valley is a large loop, and just off the side of the road we got a view of our first waterfall! It's Bridalveil Falls! Theresa loves waterfalls and had to stop to get a picture.
And just beside the road, we could also walk down and feel the water that is coming off it.
It's quite chilly!
When we were looking to visit Yellowstone, initially Theresa had us in an RV park 45 minutes outside the park. Driving in each day, then out each night didn't sound like much fun, so she kept researching. There were AirBNBs a little closer which could cut off some travel time, but they were expensive. You might be able to find a night at the Yosemite Lodge, but that's also expensive. It's summertime and the crowds are super high so places to stay are few and far between. She just happened to be searching one night and found something really unique that I thought sounded like a fun adventure.
Here's our stop for the night! It's Housekeeping Camp!
Checking in was easy, though not exactly quick. They had rules that no more than 3 people could be in there at once. We arrived at 2:45, a bit before the 4pm check-in time, but there was still a line outside the door. They had no problem getting us in to our spot early.
Our spot is close to the entrance, near the laundry and showers, but it's all good. We're staying right in the valley!
So what is the Housekeeping camp? It's a step up from tent camping, but not quite a hotel. There's a large tarp that covers the structure.
Underneath there's 3 cinderblock walls and then a tarp curtain that you can pull across the front. Your back wall is shared with a neighbor, so there's two of these "rooms" underneath each tarp.
Inside there's a bunkbed for the kids and a full size bed for us. We brought our own linens, but for $9 per bed per day we could rent them too. All this for $122 a night! I stopped by the "rentals" building and picked up a bedrail and ladder for free.
We originally had only booked 1 night here (and were lucky to get that based on how busy they are). Once we saw the set-up, Theresa started her search again and happened to luck out, finding a spot and making a reservation immediately after someone cancelled. The worker at the desk was surprised when we came back inside a little while later and asked to merge our reservations.
Outside the tent, there's a large bear-proof lockbox to keep everything that's scented while we're not actively using them. Food yes, but also toothpaste, soap, sunblock, drinks, and trash.
Before the trip, I pulled the 5th-wheel hitch out of the bed of the truck so we could load up on everything we'd need.
Including all 4 of our bicycles! Since it was past the 4pm check-in time, we threw a few of our things around the tent and set out on a bike tour of Yosemite!
Beside the road there were great bike trails that led to many of the places we wanted to go.
The only pinch points were really the bridges.
Oh my. This is gorgeous!
Riding onward towards Yosemite Falls.
We took a detour out towards Cooks Meadow.
And then arrived at our ultimate stop. The Yosemite Visitor's Center.
It was here that the kids received their Junior Ranger workbooks. It's been a great way to learn about the park.
It's nearly 5pm, when the Ranger station closes, so we won't be finishing this today, but the kids appreciated the bike riding break to sit in the shade and do their workbook.
We're looking forward to coming back and getting that badge!
A short bike ride away, is the Village Store. A short for a bike, but it's getting later in the day and the cars were quite backed up. Many people were just waiting in the aisles for someone to pull out so they could park. Having the bikes here is a big plus!
Inside there's almost everything you could want from a regular grocery store! Prices are expensive, but it's understandable. Luckily we've planned ahead and brought all the food things we need.
The ride back was beautiful too. Getting a clear view of Half Dome in the distance as we peddled back to Housekeeping Camp.
At Housekeeping Camp there is a much smaller store, just for the necessities, plus a few extra treats.
And things you might not have wanted to bring yourself, like firewood.
You can't exactly lock up a tent while you're gone. When we got back to our spot, I realized someone had come by since we left and taken the ladder from Ian's bed. That's no big deal, just have to get another one. But worse, they also took my WELCOME floor mat that I'd brought to keep the dust out of the tent! That's the one we use for the RV too! That's disappointing. I checked with housekeeping and they didn't take it, and I kept my eyes open as we walked around the area, but never did see it. Well I guess I'll be replacing that when we get home.
Since it's close to July 4th, the kids wanted to bring their decorations and light up the tent. I helped with the high parts.
And they were really excited that we'd get to cook our dinner tonight over an open fire! They helped tear off pieces of cardboard to help start the fire, then stack the pieces around them to get the fire started.
Dinner tonight is flame grilled hot dogs!
And you can throw a bun on there and get that toasted too!
The camp store sold s'mores kits, but we came prepared.
Not just graham crackers, but how about fudge stripe cookies?
But my favorite was the Nutter Butter s'mores! Delicious!
And the kids are always working on their marshmallow toasting skills, and offering said marshmallows to anyone who will take it.
At 10pm there is a requirement that all fires must be out. Actually fires can only be lit between 5pm and 10pm, so if you're needing your morning coffee, you'll have to buy that from the camp store.
I filled a bucket with water in order to put the fire out completely, but the kids insisted that they wanted to do it. Looking back, I suppose I should have given them a little more instruction, but thankfully no harm no foul.
Our camp looks fantastic guys! Nice decorations!
After all getting washed off from the day in the camp showers, we lit a citronella candle to hopefully keep the bugs away.
And enjoyed a night of card games.
Goodnight kids! Sleep tight!