“I want to go to Yo-C-Mite”. These were Storybird’s words when we were plotting this trip out, and while we corrected her on the pronunciation we’ve somehow kept calling it Yo-C-Mite.
While most of our trip has been very figure-it-out-as-we-go we had roughly planned this visit weeks in advance. We knew it would come the week after a busy Train-ee Class week so were thinking of it as a “vacation”. MsBoyink had researched and found a relatively inexpensive private park roughly 45 minutes outside of the main Yosemite sights. In a rare optimistic moment we reserved a full week and bragged about it on Twitter.
Vacation. After a week away from client work. Uh huh. What really happened is a couple of projects got put on hold for that week so by the time our San Francisco visit was done I needed some serious heads-down work time to catch up. Our expectation of being able to enjoy a classic American family vacation destination turned into hoping for a couple of days in the park.
And then? We got to our Yosemite RV park.
You would think by now that we would know, when the actual RV spots are obscured from your view at the check-in facility, to WALK AND LOOK at what we’re signing up for. You would think.
But no, we paid up and were escorted to our site. Immediately we were unimpressed. The park was overgrown, shoddy, ill-kept, and poorly laid out. No pool, no play structures, no view, the “store across the road” listed on their website long out of business. The bathrooms were some of the worst we’ve seen this entire trip. To get to the RV spots I had to negotiate a dumpster in the road, the peaked & pointy bathhouse roof, and then swing through what used to be a spot but wasn’t any more while the park manager moved a picnic table for me.
We chose a spot, got out, and immediately noticed a large number of scratches down the driver’s side of the trailer, and my just-mounted-two-weeks ago cell antenna bent and partly broken. We’re still not sure if this happened making that last swing or during a slight GPS-detour down a narrow back street coming up the mountain to this park. Ugh.
Going to setup the trailer we realized how not-level this site was. I think when this site was created one of the workers may have thought about the level he left home. Or - I’m convinced that park owners like to watch people pushing and pulling large RV’s onto stacks of wood or plastic in order to level just for the entertainment value.
Before figuring out the proper stack of blocks we wanted to look into alternatives. You know, using those hand-held devices we are so attached to. The ones that need a cell signal to work. Neither AT&T had coverage for my iPhone, nor did Verizon have coverage for MsBoyink’s phone (which is usually a good indicator of the service our Verizon-based aircard will see). Zero, zilch, nadda. Well, ok, we’ll just get on the park wi-fi. Ummm…did you get the code for the wifi? No. MsBoyink returned to the checkin to ask for the wi-fi information.
“We don’t have wi-fi”.
If ever there were four words that would send us down the road… This was the first time in 9 months of travel that we were completely off the grid. Sometimes this would be nice but not with fresh trailer repair charges on the credit card and available client work to be done that will result in paychecks to pay for said repairs.
Too burned to drive further we setup for one night and in the morning negotiated a refund. To their credit the park staff called a competitor campground 1/2 hour away and verified that they had both space and working wi-fi. We packed up, then had to wait to leave due to road construction. And this, my friends, was the crowning moment for this particular stop on our adventure. The road crews were laying down small pea gravel - in a “tar and chip” or “chip seal” process where in a later stage they lay down a thin coat of tar over the loose stone. We, however, were forced to drive on the loose stone before the tar was applied. Our truck has big tires with aggressive tread. The pea gravel is small. Have you ever driven across fresh tar and heard the sound of it being kicked up and sprayed against your car’s underbelly? Think that, only 100x worse (or view the video we recorded). All I could think of was that every little ping I heard was another chip being put in the truck’s paint - my personal version of nails on chalkboard. I drove ~ 10 MPH, surely cheesing off the cars behind me but not really caring. Thanks, California!
The 2nd park was great - much cleaner and nicer with a pool, volleyball courts, hayrides, etc. It was a busy park - I believe it’s the closest you can get to Yosemite and have full hookups. We saw many rental RV’s coming and going and many families doing the Great American Summer Vacation. The kids had other kids to play with and the park wi-fi was reliable enough for me to get some work done.
And we did get to Yo-C-Mite. Only for a long afternoon, but as it turns out that was enough. One of our crew wasn’t fully engaged and would have rather been back at the campground playing. The traffic was pretty bad (we’ve gotten spoiled at visiting places out of season). We have seen some awe-inspiring natural beauty over the past few months. Don’t misunderstand - Yosemite is beautiful and unique and we’d like to return for more when it’s not peak season. And maybe when it’s been just a bit longer since we’ve visited other beautiful national parks with majestic views.
Our adventure is rarely the adventure we plan, but it never fails to be an adventure.