THE 2019 CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP: DAY 5 (FROM NAPA TO YOSEMITE!!)

Day 5 started miraculously without a hangover. I see your questioning faces mouthing, “miracle?” But trust me, given the amount of wine drank the day prior and the amount of driving we had ahead of us, it felt pretty frakkin miraculous to me.

But to be honest, I am still amazed at how you can make a pencil look rubbery just by moving it up and down real fast.

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So I am easily impressed.

As mentioned, we had a heck of a drive ahead of us on the morning of Day 5 so we were up and out of the hotel by 6:30AM. In order to fuel up for our long journey, we stopped first for breakfast in St. Helena at the Model Bakery.

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This is where all the top models are baked. 

This place is renowned for their homemade English Muffins. Oprah had them listed on her Favorite Things page in 2016 and says her biggest extravagance is having them flown in from Napa. I dunno. I feel like she has bigger extravagances. But still. Oprah, guys. Oprah.

Even before we got into the store, we knew it was a special stop because this dude was just sitting outside.

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Heh, that dog thinks he’s people.

Inside, there was a ton more than just English Muffins.

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But guys, Oprah.

So I got a bacon, egg, and cheese on an English Muffin. With a coffee.

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English muffins are a lot like American muffins. Just more refined. 

And yeah, Oprah was kind of right. This English Muffin was legit. Nooks and crannies FOR DAYS, son. But I must say the coffee…it was meh. Which I didn’t really understand. It was Stumptown coffee, which a local donut shop here serves and is quite good. But this coffee had definite, like…vomit undertones to it. So in summary. English muffin good. Coffee bad.

And then we hit the open road. Our destination was about a 4 hour drive away and we split the cars up by family. The Nerneys in the Suburban and the Goodys in the Mustang. The drive was a beautiful one though. Lots of winding roads, cliffs, and vistas.

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I mean, of course we pulled over and took some pics. THERE WERE VISTAS, people! I am not made of stone.

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Annnnnd. Along the drive, we completed yet another chapter in the continuing saga known as….

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GlassesGate 2019: Chapter 2

As we were driving, Nickie and I discussed the potential of picking up my glasses in Monterey and she decided to call the LensCrafters there one more time.

As we were closing in on our destination, we knew service would become spotty so time was of the essence. Nickie connected with a LensCrafters worker on the other side and battled wind and the elements (on account of having the top down) to try and maintain a conversation.

The woman on the other end of the line looked up my name and found my prescription. She then put Nickie on hold as she confirmed they had the same frames. Which they did. Huzzah!

She told Nickie that she could have the glasses ready by the afternoon of us arriving in Monterey and even offered us a discount. Which was helpful, as this was of course the first pair of glasses I decided to splurge on and go for the expensive frames.

She did say they couldn’t do the whole BlueIQ thing in that amount of time. “Damn the BlueIQ,” I cried. These were desperate times. Nickie gave her our credit card information and then…

….silence. We entered a dead zone. No connection. No confirmation.

Did she get all the credit card information? Was I to be glasses-less for the rest of the trip? Stay tuned! More to come IN THIS POST!

But that lack of service did mean one thing. We were coming up on our Day 5 destination – Yosemite National Park! Right away, the place started blowing my mind.

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Wait. Scratch that last one.

I was INSANELY excited, though. We had rented two cabin rooms for the night right in the heart of Half Dome Village. So our first order of business was to check in. We parked in the registration lot and walked to the Registration building.

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Check-in was relatively simple though they had posters and videos everywhere warning of bears. At one point, the video behind the check-in counter showed a video of a bear climbing into someone’s car. It was like a horror movie back there.

After we checked in, everyone was starving, so we decided to leave our cars where they were for the time being and grab some lunch at the Meadow Grill.

I went for the buffalo chicken sandwich with fries.

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Which was good. Nothing super special or anything but tasty enough and did the job. But the view couldn’t be beat.

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This makes everything taste better.

This guy also wanted some of my lunch as well.

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“SQUIRREL” – Dug

Actually, that reminds me. When we were in our cabin, Nickie read some kind of warning about not getting too close to squirrels in the valley on account of them carrying the plague. Yeah, the plague. Later that night, she told us all about this warning and many were skeptical. Since you know, the plague would sort of be, like…a plague…if squirrels were carrying it. But sure enough, the warning definitely said the plague.

Maybe they meant to say plaque. Plaque is still around. And it causes gingivitis. So I mean. Watch out for plaque.

Anyways, I guess we came real close to catching the plague that day.

Oh, wait…also this.

GLASSESGATE DAY 4 CA 2019

GlassesGate 2019: Chapter 3

Being one of the only places in the valley with a strongish signal, Nickie called the Monterey LensCrafters back while waiting for our lunch. She spoke with the same woman, who confirmed she had our information and was putting the order in for my glasses. We should have them the next day in Monterey.

Was this to be a happy ending for our blind hero? Will Monterey live up to its self-earned nickname GlassesVille? Tune in next time for the next chapter in our exciting story. Same glasses time. Same glasses channel.

Ahem.

After lunch, we went back to the cars and drove to the lot in front of the cabins to check out the living situation and unload our bags.

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Note: Now, I should note that since we visited a few weeks ago, there have been some name changes in Yosemite. Half Dome Village is back to being called Curry Village (which it used to be called). But it was still Half Dome when we visited. It even looks as though the park knew they would be reverting back. The “Half Dome Village” sign above obviously looks very temporary. It has been called that for about three years. Additionally, you may see me refer to us visiting the hotel in the valley, which was called the Majestic Yosemite at the time. But actually, that location has also reverted back to being called the Ahwahnee Hotel. more on that here.

Everyone was very worried about these accommodations. I mean, they had double beds. DOUBLE. BEDS. The horror. But you know what? All of us slept our best sleep that night. The cabins were great. If you are going to Yosemite, I would recommend them. Plus ours and the Nerneys connected so you know what that meant? SUPERCABIN!!

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Our room. Pre-luggage-explosion.

And besides. It’s all about location.

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After unloading everything, we were ready to explore. When we checked in, they gave us a list of some popular hikes, broken into three sections – Easy, Moderate, and Strenuous. Under the Strenuous section was the Mist Trail, which was a hike we were hoping to do.

Now, the Mist Trail was actually listed as three separate hikes. There was a 1 mile-ish hike to the bridge to see Vernal Falls, a 3-mile hike to the top of Vernal Falls, and a 7-mile hike that goes beyond the top of Vernal Falls to see Nevada Falls. Since we really wanted to do this hike, we rationalized that the “Strenuous” association must have referred to the 7-mile portion.

Right? Pfft, I mean. Of course. Right?

Before we challenge that assumption, I should mention Nickie and Laura decided to take things a little easier and go on a shorter hike through a nearby meadow and check out the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (now called The Ahwahnee Hotel). Nickie sent me some pics from their walk, which of course was stunning. I mean, it’s Yosemite.

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So the rest of us (me, Matt, Myles, Owen, Will, and Jack) were off to tackle the Mist Trail. Well, not immediately. Owen took a bit of convincing. He’s pretty smart. Thankfully, he also succumbs to peer pressure. Well, I mean. Thankfully in this instance. Nickie informed him, ‘If you go, you’re going.” Which, weirdly, was convincing enough.

Brace yourselves. Pictures and videos are coming. But cut me some slack. This was our big hike during our time in Yosemite. So I mean…

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Yeah, thanks Yosemite Sam.

We decided to forego the shuttle bus and make the walk to the trailhead.

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According to the Mist Trail link above, that walk from Half Dome Village to the trailhead added an additional 1.5 miles. Go us. The walk to the trailhead not only took us along the streets of Yosemite, but through the woods as well.

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Our plan was to do that 3-mile hike to the top of Vernal Falls. One of the rangers informed us that we could either come back the way we came or take some different switchbacks down on the way back to avoid the steepness of the original hike. It would just take a little longer. At this point, we were thinking we would just go back the way we came to save time.

Once we started on the trail, it was pathways. VERY STEEP pathways for the first maybe 1/3 of the hike. Like seriously steep. It was also like 92 degrees out.

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As I mentioned, the first part of this hike takes you to a bridge. When we were reached this…

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…we thought it was the bridge. Spoiler alert – it wasn’t. Not. Even. Close. Bud.

So on we walked.

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This part rocked.

The hike was pretty spectacular. While the falls were the ultimate destination, there were incredible views at every turn. At the top of one specific hill, we turned and came upon this.

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Just so you know, behind me? Total cliff. I laugh in the face of danger.

And as we were walking through the woods, we often had river to the right of us.

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And then, finally…we made it to the bridge. Yeah, the “easy” part.

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The bridge meant we were over halfway into the hike. Which was both good and bad. On account of it was half over and we also had another half left. I will let you decide which of those is the “good” and which is the “bad” because I honestly don’t know. But one is definitely one and the other is definitely the other.

We still had some uphill pathways to go…

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I know I said we were “almost there” in that video. And distance-wise, we were. But in our hearts? In our hearts, there was still a ways to go. On account of we now had stairs to contend with.

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It was a lot of work, but it was insanely pretty. On the other side of this portion of the stairs was…well…nothing. It was just a cliff pretty much. But look how purty.

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The mist started coming in heavy from the Falls. The stairs were wet, we were wet. But it was kind of awesome.

As we got to the top of that section of the stairs, we turned back into the woods to find….more stairs.

At that point, this exchange happened:

Matt (breathing heavy, alternately looking at me and the stairs ahead of us): I think we should….

Me (also breathing heavy and alternating looks between the stairs and Matt): Yeah. We totally should take the other way down.

Who knew exhaustion was the key to unlocking one’s psychic abilities?

But for now, we trudged on towards the top of the Falls. As you can see from the pic below, there were some railings here and there on the stairs.

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And as you can hear from the video below, I am out of shape.

But we made it. And it was crazy breathtaking up there.

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We spent some time up on top of the Falls. Looking around. Feeling proud of ourselves. Acting like we just Free Solo’ed El Capitan. But whatever. It was definitely not an easy hike. We were tired, We were wet. But the payoff was magnificent.

Now, like I said, we came to the decision we were going to take the other trail down – the Muir trail. So we walked around a little up top of the falls looking for the trail. Eventually, we came upon some other hikers and asked them if they knew where the trail was. They informed us it was right behind them but this was actually the rest of the hike – the 7-miler up to Nevada Falls. Womp.

So, we decided we had to go back the way we came.

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To be honest, the walk back wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought it would be. I mean, we were already soaked so things weren’t getting any harder in that department. And at the end, we all agreed it was all worth it. The kids were definitely glad to have done it.

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In total, the full hike probably took about 3 hours or so. And we all were in the mood for some well-deserved ice cream. To be fair, I am in the mood for ice cream always. Even when it’s not well-deserved.

So we walked back to Half Dome (Curry) Village and into the Coffee Corner.

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Of course I got the Espresso Java. Espresso AND Java? In.

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Ice cream in hand, we headed back to meet up with the girls at the cabin. Nickie claimed to not want ice cream. But she also had some of mine. So, moral of the story. She’s a liar.

One of the perks of staying in Half Dome is the pool. So like…we went to the pool. The bad news is they ran out of towels by the time got there. The good news? This frikkin view.

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Also, this frikkin view. Rawr.

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Between the swimming and the hiking and the strenuous act of ice cream eating, we were all getting hungry so we got ready for dinner and headed out.

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Heh, this pics gives off such a Step Brothers vibe

As we made our way to the restaurant, we caught the beginning of sunset on Half Dome. It felt almost unreal. That’s how pretty it was.

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Dinner that night was at the Pizza Patio, which was PACKED.

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But Matt and Nickie grabbed us some drinks, including a Mai Tai for me. Which obviously helped pass the time.

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That’s MY tai. 

For dinner, we ordered a cheese, a pepperoni, and a chicken bacon. All were actually pretty good.

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“Cowabunga dude!” – overheard, random Ninja Turtle

It was a really nice dinner. We spent the time eating, drinking, and talking about the day. Which as you read…was awesome. I also spent a good deal of time trying to download that night’s episode of The Bachelorette but the WiFi just wasn’t having it.

That was my last picture of the night, but after dinner we went back to the cabin and hung out for a bit, having some drinks, playing cards. Well. Most of us did. Matt and Jack were big lames and went to bed. And that ended up being a bit problematic as their cabin had the cooler. The Styrofoam cooler. After they went to bed, I wanted to have a whiskey so I went over to get some ice out of the cooler. Being that it was Styrofoam and contained a number of glass bottles, I was…well…less than stealth. At one point, Jack woke up to ask me, “Did you come in here JUST to squeak?” I took that as my cue to leave.

Some of us also walked outside to look up at the stars. It was a clear night and we could see a lot. Myles and I hung out there for a while. Which was nice.

And that was Yosemite. Well, at least Day 5 in Yosemite. We still had a little Yosemite planned for the morning. But I’ll save that for the next post. Thanks for reading!

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