Being back in the United States gave me a chance to reverse the past year’s typical pattern and fly to visit Marie instead of the other way around. Marie had somehow been able to secure a tough-to-get weekend reservation at Yosemite’s Housekeeping Camp, so I booked a flight from Fort Lauderdale that would have me back in the Bay Area from Thursday until Monday.
Marie picked me up from the airport in her newest toy – a bright yellow convertible Mini-Cooper – and gave me a tour of the townhouse she’d recently bought. On Friday morning we woke up early and made the four-hour drive from Mountain View to Yosemite Valley, with, of course, a lunch stop at In-N-Out along the way.
It was the first time I’d ever stayed at Housekeeping Camp, a park-run facility that is basically a cross between a campsite and a primitive cabin. Our single room had three walls, a roof, a double bed, a bunk bed, and an electric outlet. A tarp covered the entrance, and just outside was a small picnic table and a fire pit. That night we cooked hotdogs over a campfire and drank Coronas from the cooler.
At 6am the next morning we went out looking for the bears that often scavenge their way through the valley campsites before the humans wake up, but no luck – we didn’t see anything more exciting than a few deer. After breakfast at Curry Village we set out on Four Mile Trail, a straight-up-and-down hike that gained 3,200 feet in elevation as it led us from the valley floor to Glacier Point.
That evening we drove back to Glacier Point for sunset, stopping briefly at the Wawona Tunnel to take in the most famous view of the valley. Yosemite is truly awe-inspiring. Isle Royale, Cuyahoga Valley, and Voyageurs are nice enough places, but they fall so short by comparison that – standing there in front of Yosemite Valley – I felt sorry for them and all the rest of the National Parks in the east.
On Sunday morning Marie and I packed up our gear and drove to the other side of the valley for two more hikes – first to Mirror Lake and then up the Yosemite Falls Trail. Afterwards, worn out, we headed back to Mountain View (with a second stop at In-N-Out), and the next morning Marie took me to the airport. Seven hours later I was back in Fort Lauderdale. It had been a fantastic weekend, and the time passed in such a flash that I had to look at my photos for reassurance it had really happened.