My older brother (Ron) and I agree… In the 1950′s and 1960′s Yosemite National Park was absolutely our favorite place to be! Every other summer, beginning in 1954, our Nana and Granddaddy would pick us up at the crack of dawn for our two day trek to Yosemite Valley. The drive seemed to take forever. We knew, however, that we were nearing our destination when we saw the light at the end of the Wawona Tunnel. That light, of course, was the spectacular view of Yosemite Valley. Finally, we had arrived at the most beautiful and magical place in the world. (And, we were the luckiest kids in the world!)
Our family always stayed in “Camp 7″. Since we would be there for two full weeks, Granddaddy would take quite a bit of time finding the perfect campsite for our trailer and cabana. (In the 50’s and 60’s, no reservations were needed.) We couldn’t wait for our adventures to begin! In the mornings we would walk to Indian Caves, Happy Isles, Curry Village the Ahwahnee Hotel or Yosemite Lodge. The afternoons were the best… that’s when we would spend hours floating down the Merced River on air mattresses! Later, we’d have dinner and (if we were good) stop at the store for 10 cent ice-cream cones and comic books. In the evenings we’d go to the ranger talks and watch the famous fire-fall cascading from Glacier Point. As we walked back to our campsite, we would hear people yelling “El…mer!” Why? We had no idea, but we yelled it too!
Sadly, after two magical weeks, our Yosemite vacation would come to an end and it was time to take the long drive home. We didn’t care that our sunburned legs stuck to the hot seats of the car and we were covered with dirt and mosquito bites… it was proof that we had been to Yosemite!
Although our family vacations to Yosemite ended in 1964, it continued to be a very special part of our lives. In the summer of 1969 I worked as a maid at Yosemite Lodge and my brother was a firefighter in the high country. (Later, Ron returned as a Park Ranger.) In September of 1970 I returned to work in the Lodge’s Ski and Sport Shop. And now (drum-roll), for the best part of my Yosemite story… I met and fell in love with Rae, a houseman at the Lodge. In September of 1971, surrounded by our friends and family, we had a beautiful outdoor wedding in Cook’s Meadow.
Fast forward to the fall of 2011- For our 40th wedding anniversary our two daughters gave us the best gift ever… we all went to Yosemite. (We even found the exact spot where our wedding took place!) This was the first time our daughters’ husbands and grandsons had been to Yosemite National Park. And now, I am happy to write, my childhood love of the most beautiful and magical place in the world has been passed on to a brand new generation.