I was so late making the final arrangements for our trip to Yosemite over Christmas. Coordinated time off had been up in the air, and I wasn’t sure whether any kind of trip would ever happen. Trying to organize Mark is like trying to herd cats.
At one stage I was dreaming of Alaska. I’m a winter-lover, so would love to spend a decent amount of time there in the winter season. I ultimately decided against it though, since I’d be making plans at short notice, and probably wouldn’t have enough time to get hold of the kind of heavy duty winter gear that we’d need for the as low as -30F temperatures that they get this time of year. Plus they probably only get 4-5 hours of daylight now, so it might be a bit more sensible to vacation there a couple of months either side of Christmas – the temperatures would be a bit easier, and the days a bit longer, allowing for more time outdoors. Can’t wait to experience the Northern Lights though!
So, with Alaska off the last minute list, I was looking into Yellowstone. But the cost of flights into Jackson Hole were over $1000 each, so that didn’t seem too sensible for a short trip. Yosemite, however, seemed much more feasible.
By now it was about 10 days before Christmas, so I knew I’d have to act fast to grab reasonable flights and accommodation. And “just in case”, we decided on a Plan B of hitting Washington DC if all else failed. That would be driveable, and would provide us with a lot of fun and entertainment. Thankfully it all panned out ok, and I found flights at decent prices. Accommodation could’ve been a little more tricky, but I was lucky. I booked for us to stay at Cedar Lodge in El Portal, just outside Yosemite National Park.
Eventually Christmas week was upon us, and I was basking in the glory of vacation time. Mark eventually made it over to my place in MA, and on Christmas Eve we drove down to Connecticut to stay overnight at his aunt and uncle’s house. This turned out to be really enjoyable. It was the first time I’d met any of his family – bear in mind that I’m in MA, he’s in upstate NY, and his parents live in NC. So 15 months on, I finally got to meet some of his family! What a lovely couple. And they have 4 nice, and well-behaved kids too.
Christmas Eve brought some tasty food, beer, a church visit for Christmas Eve mass in the evening, and then a visit with some of their relatives in a neighboring town, along with a bit of carol singing. Apparently there’s an annual Christmas Eve caroling event in New Canaan, on God’s Acre in the town. The New Canaan Town Band provide the music for the event, and anyone who wants to gather on the hill can do so, and sing along. I can’t remember the last time I sang Christmas carols – it was all so lovely, and very festive.
Back home afterwards it was time for more food, beer, and board games. Finally it was time for bed, and not a minute too soon. Not coming from a large family background, I’ve never been used to the constant go, go, go of larger families, especially where kids are involved. So 11 hours of this had left me kind of exhausted!
Christmas morning was equally frantic but fun. And Santa and his elves were very kind to me too. After presents were opened, and breakfast was finished, it was time for more board games until we had to leave for the airport around 1pm.
The roads were more busy than I’d expected for Christmas afternoon, but didn’t give us any hassle getting to the airport. And we had enough time to grab a Christmas dinner at a bar in the airport before heading through security.
Sadly our seats on the plane were a few rows apart – the flight was almost full, with only random, single empty seats remaining. But by this point, I admit it was kind of nice to have some time to myself after being surrounded by people and attention for 24 hours. So I just plugged myself in and watched a couple of movies en-route.
One was “The Help”. I’d never even heard of this movie before, but it was wonderful – it was based in Mississippi in the 60s, and involved an up-and-coming author who wanted to write a book about how African-American maids were treated by the white families for whom they worked. It was a really compelling watch. Inevitably it’s full of sadness, and a strong central message, but there’s humor in there to balance it out too.
I watched “Contagion” too. That was ok, but I’d expected a lot more from it, given all the hype around the movie.
Eventually we reached San Francisco at around 10pm, and headed over to get our rental car before trying to locate somewhere to grab a quick bite to eat on the way to the hotel. Even though it was Christmas evening, this turned out much more of a problem than we’d anticipated. But thankfully we did find some food, quickly followed by the hotel.
By now it was about 11:30pm local time, and 2:30am EST, so we were suitably ready for sleep! A grand adventure ahead…..