I can’t remember the last trip I actually blogged about.
I think it’s been years.
But this was our first time in Yosemite.
And the trip was so rich and full and dream like, that I don’t want to forget it.
Well, except for that first day.
There was a big part of that day that wasn’t the least bit magical.
But I want to remember that part too.
Because, like in pregnancy and childbirth, the bad memories fade, and all that is left is the glowing, good stuff.
I like that.
I like remembering the beautiful.
But I think there is a place for remembering the hard too.
Because the hard is where we learn the most.
I’ve often said I am glad God blessed me with 4 children, because there has been nothing like mothering 4 children to teach me to let go.
To let go of my pride, and to let go of my plans.
To let go of control, to let go of my notions of perfection, and, I confess I mourn this one too often, to let go of having my whole house clean at the same time and it staying like that for even 1 day.
Or 1 hour.
God has used my motherhood to help me rearrange my perspective and to show me what is most important.
It has been hard.
But it has also been good.
Sometimes though, I fall back into my old ways and try to hold fast to them.
I clench my fists tightly, unwilling to let go of my way.
Even when my way is clearly not working, I still hang on.
This vacation started off with a lot of fist clenching.
I had a vision and a plan.
I wanted things to go my way, and when they didn’t, I was not willing to let go and just take things as they came.
I wasn’t willing to see that what came about that might be better than the plans I had made.
I wasn’t willing to look for the good that might be the outcome of changes.
I was just mad that things weren’t working out my way.
Basically, I was a 2 year old.
From the start, things didn’t go the way I wanted.
We couldn’t get reservations at the right time.
As a result, our trip was shorter than I wanted it to be.
Then there were other things that came up and it was cut even shorter.
I was so frustrated.
And mad too.
We take several overnight or weekend trips a year, camping usually.
But this is our only longer vacation and I wanted the most out of it.
I wanted not to feel rushed and hurried.
Was that so much to ask?
So I sulked and pouted and acted like a 2 year old.
I realize how obnoxious this must sound to some of you.
I realize that because growing up, we went on 1 family vacation.
There were a few other trips, but they were when my dad was working, so he wasn’t there for much of the trip.
We went to the beach a lot.
And did fun day trips now and then.
But money was in short supply and annual family vacations were not a luxury we could afford.
So I know how fortunate we are to be able to take them with our kids.
It is a tremendous blessing.
And one I should never grumble or complain about.
Yet I did.
Because it is easy to get comfortable with where I am, and instead of counting the blessings, to become unsatisfied.
How quickly I became like the children of Israel, yearning for the luxuries of Egypt, instead of remembering the life of slavery there.
But the day of departure arrived and we finally got on our way.
And I vowed to have a good time and a better attitude.
Whatever we had time for would be wonderful and we’d make the best of it!
After hours and hours of drive time, traffic and delays, mudslides, a fire, and a deer jumping in front our car, we pulled into Yosemite.
It was dark and late and cold.
But we were all so excited to be there.
This sign made my heart sing.
I loved this place already!
The next morning, I woke early, put on my jacket, and headed out to find the bathrooms.
William was with me, and the first thing we saw was a mama deer and her fawn, wandering through the tent village where we were staying.
We followed them for a few minutes, marveling at their sweetness.
The leaves everywhere were beautiful shades of golden, and the air was crisp and so fresh.
We kept filling our lungs with it and saying, “doesn’t it smell so good here?”
And then we walked a little further, where the views opened up behind the trees.
My eyes filled with tears immediately.
This is what everyone meant when they said Yosemite changed them.
I was in awe of the beauty.
And that was just from they little pocket of sky I could see from Curry Village!
It was everything I had hoped for and more.
I couldn’t wait to wake the others and start our day of exploring.
I was right, it was all going to be great!
No matter how it started, it was going to be great!
It would be perfect if the story stopped there, right?
A happily ever after ending.
But life isn’t happily ever after.
Life is isn’t edited to perfection.
Life is messy.
And most of the time we make that mess ourselves.
So the story continues.
We set off on that cool, cloudy morning to explore the Yosemite Valley by foot.
Jackets on, backpacks loaded, and ponchos too, just in case.
The kids wanted to take the bus.
Because buses are a novelty for us.
Buses are fun.
But we said, ” no way!”
“We’re going to walk while we can.”
WIthin minutes of us setting out, a gentle rain began to fall.
We basically told the kids to suck it up, except nicer, and kept walking.
Then it started to pour.
Just buckets of water raining down on us.
We were drenched.
And we turned and sprinted through the downpour, back to the bus stop.
We were laughing.
It was funny, and ironic, and the kids thought it was just great.
Aaron and I shared a “can you believe this look?” and laughed some more.
But we were all soaked.
And the bus quickly became crowded and hot with others trying to escape the rain.
We tried to figure out where to go and what to do, and suddenly it wasn’t as much fun as it had been a few minutes ago.
Still, we determined to have fun.
We ran through the rain to the natural history museum at the visitor center, and then on to see a film so we could get to know Yosemite a little better.
Like the bus, it was packed.
And I was trying to have a good attitude about the rain, and the crowds and sticky, wet ponchos, but I’ll be honest, it was touch and go.
I wanted to hike Yosemite, not see it on a screen.
The film was wonderful.
And I fell more in love with Yosemite.
And was even more bummed that we couldn’t get out and see everything.
The rain was still coming down in sheets.
We braved it.
And got even more soaked.
So we toured the valley from inside the bus.
The kids loved it.
And I tried to put on a brave face.
I was failing.
I seriously wanted to cry.
It all seems very melodramatic now.
But in the moment, I felt like all the dreams I had for our first time in Yosemite were crashing all around me.
How quickly I forgot that magical morning, and all my promises to choose to find the good.
Thankfully Aaron was a hero and kept up good spirits. (despite his serious looks in that bus picture)
He suggested we go explore the historic Ahwahnee hotel.
It was beautiful.
But like everything else, so crowded.
And 4 year olds are only interested in sitting in a lodge admiring gorgeous architecture and beautiful, giant fireplaces for so long.
How were we going to fill this day?
Sitting in our tent playing cards?
That was not my plan!
Aaron wandered off and came back with a grin on his face.
He bent down to the kids and said, “since today is rainy and we aren’t getting to do much, how about we have lunch in the most beautiful dining room you’ve ever seen?”
The kids didn’t seem too impressed.
But he walked us over and we peeked in.
It was breathtaking!
High ceilings, and windows taller than our house to let in gorgeous views of must shrouded mountains, and rain falling from the sky.
We were all wet and disheveled, but they led us to our table like we were dressed for dinner.
They gave the kids Etch A Sketches to play with and brought hot cocoa and hot coffee.
I cried again.
From happiness and such a vivid reminder that letting go can lead to unexpected joy.
I guess there are happily ever after endings sometimes after all.
Or at least there are happily every after moments.
That are bought with Etch A Sketches for every kid at the table, plenty of hot cocoa, and a side of fries and a nap at the table for the very tired 4 year old.
Whatever it takes, right?
It was one of the best, most beautiful lunches of my life.
Cheers to my knight in shining armor for saving the day!
I’m so glad he helped me choose joy.
Especially when I didn’t want to.
It seems that on every adventure we embark on, there is a moment, or many, where the words of Bilbo Baggins ring so true: “Adventures are not all pony rides and May sunshine.”
Indeed they are not.
But this time the rain helped change my heart.
And it brought the waterfalls.
And so much more.
More on that in the next post.