Friday, August 12, 2011

More Haze and River Floating

I don't know what possessed us to take the drive over to Glacier Point on our third day in the Park. We knew the wildfire was burning on that road. And no, it wasn't a great, big dangerous fire, so driving the road was no big deal and the kids enjoyed seeing the little fires burning.

But the detour probably took us 90 minutes out of our way to the Valley and the views were, uh, compromised, shall we say? That part was pretty predictable, but we figured the smoke in the Valley was getting worse and the views weren't going to be better the next day, so might as well give it a shot. It didn't even look too bad for a know, until we *got* there!Perhaps there is something slightly majestic about Half Dome rising over the blanket of smoke. Uh, maybe. You could hear Nevada and Vernal Falls from up there much better than you could see them.And the kids, especially Mam, were slightly annoyed that this little side trip delayed their opportunity to go "rafting" for the first time.

Because that's what we'd told them we were going to do. After all the complaining about hiking, I figured we needed something else. Anything else to get them excited about this trip. So, rafting the Merced River in the Valley it was. I made Daddy stop again along the way for some more pretty meadow pictures. I doubt the kids were thrilled about that either, but I wasn't in the car, so I didn't hear about it.Of course, we arrived in the Valley somewhat later and had a hard time parking. We finally made it, hopped an overcrowded shuttle to the rental place, filled out forms and stood in line. They're pretty particular about making sure kids weigh at least 50 pounds before they're allowed in a raft. You have to sign something saying that they are. But one look at our featherweight of a Mam and the guy at the window wasn't so sure. He invited her inside for a little weigh-in.

I was sure she was over 50 pounds, but honestly I don't weigh her daily or even weekly. I was suddenly struck by fear that maybe she'd somehow lost weight since she was last weighed. She hadn't. I guess her height makes up for those toothpick legs somehoww because she was about 55.

We waited for an "orientation"...which should probably be entitled "10 Dumb Things You Shouldn't Do While Rafting". And we finally got our raft and schlepped it over to the river. This would have made a good picture, but there were no extra hands for a camera.

For those who have been rafting, I should probably explain that this wasn't exactly rafting. It was more like floating-in-a-raft while dodging the occasional bridge jumper. Still, that seemed perfect for our timid Smunch. I'd half expected him to refuse to go altogether, but it turns out he was totally game and really enjoyed himself.And Mam wasn't even questionable. She was going to be happy regardless. We weren't hiking, after all and that was the best news she'd heard all trip.The views from the river were also predictably hazy, so I'm sure this trip could be more spectacular. But it was made spectacular by a couple of happy kids who couldn't wait to set back out as soon as we were done lunching on the shore.We made the trip in some time under the advertised two hours, dragged the raft out and waited for the bus to take us back. We treated the kids to some ice cream and decided to take a leisurely walk back to the car. After all, it's not a hike if you're just going to the vehicle that takes you back to the swimming hole, right?

Actually, we'd planned to go on another short hike to the waterfall by the cabin, but by the time we got back, it was already getting late and we opted just to stop at the swimming hole instead. Daddy and the kids watched a little girl using part of the rapids as a water slide and decided to try that out. I was pretty proud of the kids' fledgling swimming skills. They looked a little alarmed being whisked along in the current, but had a blast. It was fun for me too. I was a little sorry I'd left the camera in the car, but then, maybe it was more fun without it.

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