Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Yosemite National Park Wheelchair Accessible Trail

One of our most favorite things to do with our little ones is getting out into nature, hiking, and looking for animals and plants. We love the time we get to have with the kids, exploring together, and remembering that we live in a big and beautiful world. The best hikes have happened this year as Boston, who is three years old, is incredibly talkative. We get to hear all sorts of stories, both true and made up, from him. It’s amazing the little things he notices and how verbal he is about his experiences.
 So after visiting Kings National Park we had planned to go down to San Luis Obispo, but some plans changed and we ended up going to Yosemite National Park - it was AJ and the kids first time!

The morning of our journey was a little hectic as we wanted to get in as much time as possible in the park. So we neglected to fill-up on gas before leaving civilization. When we realized our folly we looked to technology to save us. Unfortunately, cell service (for T-Mobile) wasn’t great, so we got turned around for awhile. Finally we found a Chevron (very overpriced) and filled up there. It wasn’t long before we passed some little towns like Coarsegold, where gas prices were way better than what we paid. We held back our little screams of annoyance. Lesson learned--Chevron is always overpriced, and definitely fill up gas before you begin a journey.

The drive to Yosemite was beautiful. It was breathtaking to ascend the mountain and feel like we’re climbing up Giant Sequoias as well. We loved driving with the windows down and breathing in fresh air. We had a great time with the kiddos. We drove up to Glacier Point to take in the magnificent vista of Half Dome (the large boulder people hike up to), waterfalls, and the view of the valley. While there, we listened to a presentation by Park Ranger Christine, who taught us all about the different wildlife in Yosemite and how to take care of them. Boston became a Junior Park Ranger, so if you ever ask him “Should we feed squirrels,” he’ll tell you “no, because they would get dead.”

Martina found a few accessible trails, so we went on one to the Lower Yosemite Falls. We loved the trail as it goes along the river, where Boston found all sorts of fun things like huge trees (he kept asking why they fell and why the river didn’t carry them away), a blue jay, and some frogs. It was amazing that all of us were able to hike this trail with so much ease. It was a beautiful trek and the destination was so worthwhile. There was tons of water this time of year, and the mist gave us a good spray. Boston loved it. And Audrey… tolerated it. The only downside of the whole hike was the food, mostly because we were the food! It seemed like we were constantly swatting at mosquitos which feasted heavily on Boston and Martina’s sweet blood. So… if you are looking for an accessible, or just family friendly trail, definitely do the Lower Yosemite Falls! Just don’t forget the bug spray...

As with all things in life our wonderful day eventually came to an end. We were fortunate enough though to see an incredible sunset, which was a magical rainbow sherbet mixture of pastels in the sky. It really caused us to reflect on our day and the beauty we’d just seen. We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to visit places like this and that places like this are protected just for this purpose. Summertime is the perfect time to visit your local national park (or road trip to one). We have a new goal of trying to visit every national park across the US, which will take some time, but we look forward to the adventure!

We also saw a bear! 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Kings Canyon National Park Wheelchair Accessible Trail

We spent Memorial Day weekend in Fresno this year. Partly to visit with family and friends in the area and partly to just get away for awhile. We decided it would be a lot of fun to visit some national parks nearby. Martina was dead set on going  to Yosemite since I had never been and it is probably her favorite national park. However, others in the group wanted to go and see Kings Canyon since they hadn’t seen been there (Martina hadn’t either, but she really wanted me to see Yosemite). Well, Kings Canyon won (we still made it to Yosemite though) and it was fabulous.

It was a nice drive through some rural areas of California, which before marrying Martina, I had no idea existed. We got to the park and found it had several accessible trails - perfect for our little crew!

We started our day in the park by hiking to General Grant tree. The trees were enormous! I had never been around such amazing trees. Boston saw that some had fallen and constantly asked why. Even after we explained why to him he kept asking, so then we made him tell us why. It was cute that he was so curious and noticing his surroundings, or at least it was the first 10 times…

Along the trail, we came across a fallen tree that had once been used as a shelter. Walking through it, I easily understood why it was used as a shelter and immediately wished I had my own giant tree to hang out in. The trees are seriously that large. In fact, one placard told the story of how some men cut down a tree to showcase at a world’s fair (or something of the sort) and people thought it was a hoax, since a real tree couldn’t be that big.

Admittedly, I had no idea why the General Grant tree was a destination, I had already been wowed by the hike, what could this single tree offer? While it wasn’t exactly breathtaking, it was impressive, made more so as I learned more about it.

FUN FACT: General Grant tree is the third largest tree in the world and thought to be roughly 3500 years old!

After seeing General Grant tree and breaking for snacks we decided go to the very bottom of the canyon.

FUN FACT: Kings Canyon is actually the deepest canyon in North America

His "I don't want to be wet" face
It was a beautiful drive in cool, crisp air. We stopped at one point to admire a waterfall and the nearby river, which was raging. You could feel the mist of the waterfall from a good distance away and many people we absolutely drenched. As we didn’t have extra clothes we opted to keep our distance and stay dry.

We eventually reached the “End of the Road” at the bottom of the canyon, which wasn’t very exciting and as we didn’t have much time for hiking around, we pretty much just turned around and headed back out the canyon. At least we can  mark it off our bucketlist. The highlight of getting to the bottom though was probably introducing Boston to a “proper” national park restroom. He had all sorts of questions, everything about the smell, why there was no handle for flushing, and what was in the hole. I won’t go into detail here, but it was not a conversation I ever thought I would have. #parentlife

All in all, the trip to Kings Canyon was great. Taking in another the beauty of another national park just makes me feel good. It was great to disconnect from technology and just enjoy the scenery, spend time with family, and relax.

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