Category Archives: family

Yosemite, Day Two

I was the first to wake up in our beautiful rental house, and the first thing I did was open the front door. We had arrived in the dark the night before, so I hadn’t been able to see our surroundings. The house looked out on a field with grazing cattle and a forest beyond. The air was cool and inviting, so the first thing I did when I went back into the house was open the kitchen window as I began to prepare our picnic lunch for that day. That’s one of the great things about renting houses or cabins on vacation; we make our own breakfast and lunches, and also have the option to eat dinner “at home.”

We wanted to get an early start to the day, because it was going to take up to two hours to get to Yosemite due to the fire and road closings. Normally, the house was only half-an-hour from Yosemite. We hadn’t brought coffee with us, so we stopped at the grocery store/gas station down the street to get our caffeine start to the day.

Jackie, the awesome cashier working that morning, told us that the store closed at 6:55 that evening. She said she had a heck of a time getting the locals to understand when the store closed, and they were always rushing in that the last minutes to buy groceries! I wanted to stop back on the way home to buy something for us to grill for dinner.

After driving that torturous mountain road again, we finally arrived back in Yosemite Valley. What I didn’t expect was how crowded it was. When I think of National Parks, I think of wide-open spaces, wilderness, and quiet. But this was summer, peak tourist time. So we found a parking spot and took advantage of the National Park’s shuttle service.

One advantage of being in the middle of throngs of tourists is that there is always someone who will offer to take a picture of your whole group if you return the favor. I took a lot of photos with other people’s cameras! I hope they all turned out as good as this one did:

Yosemite Falls

Due to the three year drought, Yosemite Falls was a little on the thin side, but still beautiful. A nice man with a British accent took this photo.

The girls were working on their Junior Ranger books, so we went in search of a Ranger Walk. We found one at Happy Isles! It was hot that day and so our hike was not very long, with frequent stops. The ranger talked with the girls about the importance of water, and we went into The Fen, where it was cooler. Water came bubbling up from several springs, and it was green, lush and full of life in the Fen. And we were the only ones there. Even in such a busy place, Yosemite is so huge that there are quiet places if you know where to look. We didn’t know, but the ranger did.

At the end of our adventure, Lily and Emmy received their Junior Ranger badges.

Yosemite Jr RangersWe knew the day would be a hot one, and we also knew that there were a couple of beaches on the Merced River. Ed and I had planned ahead of time to bring swim suits and towels so that we could take the girls swimming after our hike.

Remember how I wrote yesterday that entering Yosemite Valley is surreal?

Swimming in a river surrounded by such beauty is surreal. I only wish my pictures were clearer, but smoke still filled the air that day.

swimming in Merced RiverAfter splashing in the river for far less time than we wanted to, we needed to head back to the house. The grocery store closed at 6:55, and I didn’t want Ed driving on 49 to Coulterville in the dark! We made it to the Greeley Hill Market just in time to buy some steak and salad for dinner. Perfect!

 
More posts about our California trip:

Meeting Gretchen from Second Blooming in Los Angeles
Hiking the Lemon Grove Loop Trail in San Luis Obispo
Yosemite, Day One

 

signature

 

 

Yosemite, Day One

Our family had a amazing two weeks in California; we covered so much ground–literally–that it’s going to take me a few posts to tell you all about it! From the time we picked up our rental car in Los Angeles to the morning we turned it back in, we drove about 2,500 miles. We knew that we were going to have to drive a lot, but we also had a couple of setbacks.

Our plan was to drive from San Luis Obispo to the south entrance of Yosemite, drive north through the park, and take Hwy 120 to our rental house. As we were driving to Yosemite, Ed noticed some interesting cloud formations. “What’s that?” he said, pointing. I, of course, said it was nothing.

We arrived at the Ranger’s station about an hour later. Ed asked the ranger how it was going. “Okay, except for the fire that started two days ago. The road to Hwy 120 is closed.”

It was early enough in the day that we had plenty of time to see some of Yosemite before we heading to our lodging for the night. Ed looked at a map, and we would have to backtrack out of the park and go north on a different road. It might take us a little longer, but it didn’t seem like it would ruin our trip.

We didn’t have to drive far into Yosemite to see the fire. As we stood at a viewpoint, about seven green firetrucks drove by us, the firemen waving at the girls as they passed by. Many of the fires that start in Yosemite are named. This was the El Portal fire.

Yosemite fire

It’s hard to describe driving into Yosemite Valley. As we drove, we were surrounded by these breathtaking walls of granite that reached up into the sky, almost higher than you could image. If anything makes you feel small, it’s entering that majestic valley where the Merced River flows. The smoke made everything hazy and a little surreal.

Yosemite Valley

Ed, Lily and Emmy were thrilled because there were rocks to climb on. Climbing rocks makes them happy. I may have also climbed on a few rocks.

Merced River

And then my sister and I took a selfie. Which Ed and Lily tried to photobomb.

Merced River selfie

After exploring the Valley for a little while, we decided we’d better get back on the road. It’s a good thing we did. The section of 49 from Mariposa to Coulterville is one of  the scariest roads I’ve ever been on.  It twisted and turned along the sides of the mountains, and as soon as I said, “Now that’s a hairpin turn if I ever saw one,” there was an even tighter hairpin turn! Ed couldn’t drive more that 15 miles an hour, and when the section of road is 13 miles long…it takes an hour to drive it.

When we finally arrived in Coulterville, we breathed a communal sigh of relief! We ate dinner at Hotel Jeffery. The service was slow because the men were all out fighting the fire, but once we got our food, it was very good. Hotel Jeffery is a historic building, and it still has hotel rooms you can stay in. We were staying six miles up the road. As we found out later, finding places to eat was a challenge in some areas on this trip.

Hotel Jeffery

In the next few posts, I’m going to include some links about where we stayed and ate. Maybe this will help you if you plan on traveling to Yosemite!

Where we ate: The Historic Hotel Jeffery in Coulterville

Where we stayed: When we travel, Ed loves using VRBO (Vacation Rent By Owner). This time, we rented a beautiful house about six miles north of Coulterville.

More posts about our California trip:

Meeting Gretchen from Second Blooming in Los Angeles
Hiking the Lemon Grove Loop Trail in San Luis Obispo

 

signature

 

 

Lemon Grove Loop Trail

I’ve always loved lemons, and ever since I named my blog after lemons, I’ve loved them even more. Sour tastes can be so good, and then being able to take something that is sour and making it sweet seems like a miracle. It’s like the soft version of making water into wine. Lemonade, lemon drops, lemon meringue pie; all delicious things coming from something so sour! Lemons suit me and my story of becoming a mother after cancer.

For the past couple of weeks, we have been visiting my sister in California, and she has her very own lemon tree growing on her patio! We spent the first full day of our visit picking lemons, hiking on the Lemon Grove Loop Trail in San Luis Obispo, and making fresh lemonade. I was in lemon heaven!

Lily picking lemons

Lily picking lemons from the lemon tree

Emmy picking lemons

Emmy concentrating on picking a lemon

Only the first selfie of my sister and me in a series of selfies.

Only the first selfie of my sister and me in a series of selfies.

cactus

Emmy and Lily on the Lemon Grove Trail

lemon grove

Lemon tree on the Lemon Grove Loop Trail

Lemons!

signature

Growing Up Together {Spin Cycle}

I like to tell people that I grew up with my cousins, but that’s not necessarily true. The ministry had scattered the family on my dad’s side all over the country; from Alaska to Ohio. I never knew my dad’s parents, in person anyway. They died before I was born, but they live on in stories told frequently by my dad and his brothers and sisters. Despite death and distance, the sisters and brothers remained close. Our families met, when we could, twice a year, at Thanksgiving and at The Lake.

Our family took  a week-long vacation at a lake every the summer. The Lake changed from time to time; we started renting cottages at Lake Huron, then one summer rented at Duck Lake (yucky, only lasted one year), Lake Hemlock (a camp, which was cool because the cousins stayed in our own “chalets”), and now, a large house on Lake Michigan. I’m using the term “growing up together” loosely because we didn’t live around the block from each other, much less the same town. As cousins, we loosely grouped ourselves into age groups. We had an older group that all of us younger cousins loved hanging out with, but as you can imagine, the older cousins did their own things away from the younger cousins. Occasionally we would do things together, such as act out plays for our parents or walk to the gas station to buy candy. And cards. We loved to play cards. Our cousin Mark taught us the finer points of the game 500, such as going in the hole just to keep the other pair from getting the bid. (His brother plays the same way.) Mark drove us to the movies. (Spaceballs one summer.) He played the game of Risk with his brother and teased his little sister unmercifully.

Mark

Playing 500 (Mark is on the left.)

As we became adults, the age groups dissipated. Jobs and families scattered us apart, from California to the United Kingdom, but we still kept up with each other. Out of all the cousins, we probably prayed for Mark the most. He was a West Point graduate, and the Army sent him all over the world. We prayed for Mark to safely come back home, and he always did. But then Mark was attacked by an enemy that we didn’t expect. Cancer.  We all prayed even harder for Mark and his wife Kathy, and it looked like he was winning the war.

When the email came from my cousin that Mark had died, I didn’t quite believe it. I had to call my dad just to confirm the news. It was a quite a shock to us all.

The last time I saw Mark was at my mother’s funeral. He was in uniform; probably the only time I’d ever seen him in uniform. We usually saw Mark on vacation; out of uniform. My cousins and I were so lucky to grow up with Mark. He was well loved, and he will be missed. Especially when there’s a good card game going on.

Playing 500 (Mark is on the right)

Playing 500 (Mark is on the right)

 


Copy and paste the code in the box to add some Spin Cycle bling to your post! What Spin did you write about the word Grow? Link it up here!



signature

Ice Cream Top 10

Ice cream and me. We go way back together. My love affair with ice cream started way back when I was a little girl and our church would have ice cream socials. The men of the church would be out back, churning ice cream by hand, using cream straight from the dairy farm down the road. We would be in the parish hall eating it by the bowlfuls. I can still taste the fresh peach ice cream! Best of all, our family would get to take home some leftovers! There was something crispy and icy and creamy about that homemade ice cream that is hard for any ice cream store to replicate.

Even though we don’t churn our own ice cream any more, my girls love ice cream just as much as I do. They would eat it any time of day, and sometimes I say no. No ice cream. And then look what happens!

The disadvantage of having a lower freezer.

The disadvantage of having a lower freezer.

July is National Ice Cream month (I know! Ice cream should have its own month!) so today’s Tuesday Ten is all about ice cream! I always start with vanilla, my favorite flavor. Emmy loves vanilla, just like me. My husband is partial to chocolate along with my older daughter, Lily.

I’m not a big fan of chocolate ice cream, so here is a list of my favorite ice cream flavors and toppings for this week’s:

The Golden Spoons

1. Vanilla, topped with:
2. Crushed pretzels – salty sweet!
3. Caramel – Mmmmm!
4. Chocolate chips – never wrong!
5. Cinnamon – Mix it in!
6. Roasted peanuts – crunchy!

7. Moose Tracks – vanilla with mini peanut butter cups and a fudge ripple
8. Marion Blackberry – from Sherman’s Ice Cream in South Haven, Michigan. A once a year treat!
9. Sea Salt Caramel Cashew Ice Cream from the Schwan’s man – as delicious as it sounds!
10. Soft serve vanilla from Dairy Queen, dipped in a chocolate shell – a summer must!

We don’t have an ice cream maker at home, but we do have a recipe to make our own ice cream! This is a fun project to do with your kids, and the results are delicious!

Ziploc Bag Ice Cream

In a pint size ziploc bag add: 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/2 cup half and half. (I like to double bag this.)

In a gallon ziplock freezer bag add ice and 6 tablespoons of coarse kosher salt. Place the small bag inside the large bag and seal. Shake it up!

In about five minutes, you’ll have your own, homemade soft serve ice cream! Enjoy!

signature

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
                              Follow on Bloglovin
                              Follow on Bloglovin
Grab a Slice!