From the moment we drove in, we all fell in love with Yosemite National Park. We didn’t know what to look at first, the towering pine trees, the granite faced mountains, the flower filled meadows, the signs warning of BEARS! We knew this was a very popular park, and we didn’t have campground reservations, but we hoped their might be a space. The Park Ranger at the Visitor Center said the campgrounds were full, but to check at Curry Village and put our names on a waiting list. That didn’t sound too promising, but we put out our intentions to get a campsite and headed to Curry Village.

Driving into Yosemite, the main part of the park for visitors is actually the Valley of Yosemite. The Valley is just over a mile wide and 7 miles long. Inside the Valley are several lodges, Visitor Centers, Nature Centers, restaurants, grocery stores and campgrounds. You would think it would look like a strip mall, but the park has done a great job of hiding the buildings deep in the trees. The two “Villages” are Yosemite village, with most of the hotel type lodging, and Curry Village which contained the campgrounds. The Park Ranger at Curry Village confirmed that the campgrounds were full, but we could get on the waiting list. We would be number 17, and she felt pretty good about our chances, as long as we were there at 3pm when they sold the sites.

While we waited, we walked around beautiful Curry Village, never forgetting to look up at the sheer granite face of the mountains high above us. Even though there were alot of people there, it didn’t seem crowded. I made lunch and the kids set up the table and chairs (2 fold out tables came with the RV) under a tree. A few squirrels joined us for our meal, happily taking the potato chips we offered. A huge black Raven, the biggest I have ever seen, swooped over our head, followed closely by a really large Blue Jay with a crested head. While we were admiring them, a large female Mule Deer wandered into our parking lot, close to our RV. Mule Deers look like ordinary deers except they have really large ears, resembling a Mule. It seems everything in Yosemite was big. We watched in awe as the deer, unafraid, walked close to us, then disappeared into the meadow across from us. We followed and found a male deer with pretty big horns. He blended into the meadow grass so well, we were nearly on top of him before we saw him. Could it get any better than this?

At 3pm on the dot, the Park Ranger assigned the remaining campsites and we were lucky and got a campsite at Upper Pines Campground. It was a beautiful spot, pine trees towering overhead, quiet, shaded. We were in heaven. After we had the RV, which at this time we had nicknamed “Awesome” set up, we caught the free shuttle bus for a tour of the other areas in Yosemite. The shuttle bus was such a great idea, it took you everywhere. The big thought on our mind as we went through the park was bears. Would we see them? Everywhere in Yosemite you were reminded to lock up your food. Bear proof lockers were at each campsite, and you had to lock your food in them at night. No food could be left in your car as the bears could get into the cars, and did all the time. We watched a video showing how bears would reach a paw in the car door frame, where the window was and actually bend down the metal window frame and get in the car. It was frightening to watch. Since we had an RV, we were alright with food inside, but all food had to be removed from cars every night and locked up. As we sat around the campfire that night, every noise we heard conjured up bears in our minds. After roasting marshmallows and making S’Mores, we made sure to remove every trace of the marshmallows. We wanted to see bears in the wild, not in our campsite!

Bedtime came early again, something about the woods makes us tired. Later that night, I was woken up by a sound outside our bedroom window. It was a loud crunching sound. Groggily I looked out our window. Suddenly I yelled out in surprise, “Bear!” There sitting at the picnic table, as calm as could be, was a big bear, munching on potato chips! I hit Dan to wake him up. “Bbbbear!” I could barely get the words out I was so excited. Dan quickly reached for the flashlight he kept next to the bed in anticipation of an event like this. In one quick motion, he had the flashlight on and the beam spot on our bear!

Except it turned out not to be a bear. It turned out to be the camper next door eating potato chips. As soon as the flashlight beam hit him, the crunching stopped and he froze. I think we nearly scared him to death. Since our window was open, he had to hear me yell “Bear” and when Dan shone the flashlight he must have thought the bear was behind him. When we saw it was a man, not a bear, Dan and I couldn’t stop laughing. Through laughter, Dan managed to call out “Sorry!”. The crunching stopped and we think he went back into his tent. A half hour later we were still laughing. Our window was open, and I’m sure he heard us laughing late into the night.