Day Two of our expedition marked two very important occasions: (i) Steve’s 40th journey around the sun and (ii) entrance into Yosemite National Park! Unfortunately, our itinerary only allowed us a day in Sequoia National Park by virtue of the fact that we got off to a late start. It is comforting to know, however, that we can feasibly return to Sequoia for a long weekend anytime as it is a mere 4-5 hour journey from door to forest floor. In other words, General Sherman, we’ll be back before your nether regions are once again buried beneath winter’s blanket o’ snow.
Now, Yosemite! It is such a special place. Sure, during the summer months its valley is packed with tourists, its lodging is sold out months in advance and, yes, its vehicle traffic is legendarily slow. However, there is good reason for all of this. Yosemite is absolutely one of the most amazing places to be found on this planet. Who wouldn’t want to experience a place as glorious as this? Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, Bridalveil Falls, Glacier Point, Mirror Lake, Tuolumne Meadows! My list merely scratches the surface of this beloved spectacle of nature. I know I speak for both of us when I state that Steve and I hold Yosemite’s beauty and bounty near and dear to our hearts. In fact, when we were discussing Steve’s 40th birthday celebration possibilities, the list became really short, really fast after Yosemite found its way into the queue. We both consider it to be “our place” respectively as well as collectively. We had to celebrate Steve’s birthday in Yosemite. No other location would suffice.
We arrived at Curry Village in the heart of the valley around 5:30 pm and snagged our tent cabin. After a bit of unpacking and much needed showers, we dressed for dinner, doused ourselves in Deet and strolled over to the Ahwahnee Dining Room for an intimate birthday dinner. The Ahwahnee is the old venerable lodge in the heart of the Yosemite Valley. The structure itself is gorgeous with a façade of heavy timber and rock. The place looks as if it sprouted directly from the valley floor. Its Dining Room is no less spectacular than the rest of the edifice, sporting 34 foot high vaulted ceilings and a wall of windows overlooking the surrounding natural wonders. It’s a lovely place. So, after educating our server about the positive attributes of my chosen cocktail, a dark and stormy, we both happily feasted in the grandeur. Steve delighted in the Rotisserie Free Range Chicken while I enjoyed the Grassfed Beef Short Rib, which was fall off the bone tender and juicy. Always a bit skeptical of resort hotel cuisine (it tends toward the expensive and the mediocre), I was pleasantly surprised and genuinely happy with the quality of our dishes. Of course we topped off our meal with two slices of warm pie ala mode for dessert (boysenberry and apple). Delicious.
Stuffed and ready for some shut eye, Steve and I hopped the YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System) shuttle back to our portacabin to turn in for the evening. We had a big adventure planned for the following day and rest was definitely in order.