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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Finding Peace at 10,000 Ft

My wife and I took our son Gavin on his first camping trip for this year's 4th of July holiday. I extended the holiday by taking Thursday off, as well as the following Monday, for a total of 5 days up above the congested, smoke-filled air that we've been enduring for weeks. For those of you who don't keep up with the news, several fires are burning in California which has left the air filled with ash and smoke and caused advisory warnings for people to stay indoors.

Kacy's parents are volunteer campground hosts in Tuolumne Meadows which is located around 8500 ft, above the Yosemite Valley. For the last couple of years, we have gone up to see them while they were hosting. With the poor air quality we've been facing this year, the timing could not have been better for us to get away.
**For those of you wondering why the title says 10,000ft, we were actually that high during the drive up but it drops back down when we get to the campground and 10,000 is a better number to use for the title.**

We arrived Thursday afternoon and settled in easily until it was time for bed; Gavin spent his first night in the mountains attached to Kacy and awake several times. Morning came after my night alone in the tent, half frozen but thankful for not becoming dinner for a wandering bear. Yes, there are bears up there and they are becoming more brave as they hunt for food left out by careless campers. A young bear walked along a path not more than 30 feet away from our campground until it was chased away by Kacy's dad and the neighbor host. There is a pretty steep fine for leaving food out, more than 200 dollars from what I heard. That still does not keep people from leaving food out and even leaving their site with food prepared to eat when they return. What happens now is that all food left out when the site is unattended will be confiscated and when the camper goes to reclaim the food, a citation is issued; pretty ingenious, I think, yet not enough to get the message across apparently.

During our time up in the mountains, we went on a few walks and tried out the backpack carrier we got so I can haul around Gavin on my back. Surprisingly, the pack is very well built and designed so his weight is carried easily and he loved being able to see things from my height.

There was no fishing on this trip but I'm pretty sure we'll be up there in another few weeks and hopefully will be joined by my sister and her husband Joe. If you are a regular reader, you'll remember Joe who got 3rd place in the rib cookoff after Michelle sealed his doom with empty promises of victory. Perhaps he'll out-fish me to make up for it, but that's doubtful too.

We headed to Mammoth on our second to last day to have lunch at a great Mexican place called Roberto's cafe. I had the local favorite, a Carne Asada burrito which was stuffed with chopped steak and plenty of heat from the sauce. After that, we wandered through the outlets and a craft fair. I got a new wallet and a backup pair of sunglasses at the Bass outlet as well as a shirt from the Mammoth Bike run. There is a "kamikaze" bike run which basically takes you down a ski slope in the dry season. I figure one day I can do that run to earn the right to wear the kamikaze run t-shirt. We headed back from our afternoon and relaxed for a while as I chopped some wood for Kacy's dad to keep the wood supply in good shape.

Overall, it was a great trip and I think Gavin enjoyed his first time in the mountains. He didn't sleep well at all and I was alone in the tent every night but during the day we could see he was having a good time. Being that he doesn't sleep in his crib at home very well assures me that the altitudes have little to no blame for the problems up there. Maybe if we can get his sleeping under control before our next trip up there, Kacy and I can actually share a bed for the night. For me, it was a chance to catch a glimpse of the future and imagine all of the things that I can teach Gavin and help him to experience as he grows up.

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