The Great Outdoors!

This week’s Spin Cycle is all about the great outdoors. Train Guy and I love the great outdoors. He’s a little more hard-core than I am. I think this is because he grew up camping with his parents whereas I most definitely did not.

My parents’ idea of “roughing it” is, like, a Motel 6. Or no, actually this one family trip we took to Jackson Hole, WY, the power went out in the hotel and each little drawer had a candle in it and my brother and I thought it was all very cool and exciting but my parents were a bit disgruntled because by the time we got to the lodge, the coffee was gone and there was no power to make more. THAT was roughing it.

One time when I was very young, my parents borrowed a friend’s RV and we went “camping” somewhere. My dad caught pneumonia, and to this day he insists on blaming the RV (too cold? bad night vapours? I dunno). Every single time I would bring up camping after that, Dad would say, “We WENT camping, and I got pneumonia, remember?”

Yes Dad, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the two events were related.

The majestic beauty of Yosemite

But there is one epic great outdoors experience my family had that will live on in infamy forever–our trip to Yosemite. We’ve actually been to Yosemite a couple of times, but this was the last time, and we don’t even need to identify it in conversation. It’s just, “Remember that time in Yosemite?” and everyone knows which time THAT time was. I was in high school and my brother was in his first year at college. It was Thanksgiving break so we headed out to the great outdoors for a nice family trip. We stayed at a hotel just outside Yosemite Valley (that point becomes important later) and it was really quite bucolic. We took a horseback riding trip where you stopped halfway through and made steaks over a campfire. I thought it was awesome, but Dad? Well let’s just say that Dad ever getting on a horse again is pretty much just as likely as him sleeping in an RV. REMEMBER THE PNEUMONIA??? Right, Dad, I remember.

Anyway, so there were some wildfires going on in the area at the time–nothing major (we thought), but the entrance into Yosemite Valley nearest our hotel (which you might remember was just outside Yosemite Valley) was closed, so we drove around and went in a different entrance. We had a lovely day enjoying ourselves–we rented bikes, did some hiking, whatever, but upon returning to our car to go back to the hotel, it seemed like there were a lot of people milling around. Like, A LOT.

As it turned out, those fires that weren’t a big deal turned out to be kind of a big deal. They blocked the only remaining exit, so we were stuck for the night. And sadly, we were pretty much the last four people in the entire Yosemite Valley to have been informed of this, because everyone went out and booked every cabin and room and tent and whatever was available for the night so when we went to do it, there was nothing for us.

Ladies and gentlemen, we slept in the minivan.

No room at the inn

Yes, my father, the man who claims that an RV gave him pneumonia, actually slept in our family minivan. Dad was in the driver’s seat, mom was in the passenger, my brother had the middle row (plus the cooler next to the door to prop his feet up on) and I had the back row. Now, I had a couple good advantages going on. One, I’m short, so the back row was relatively comfortable for me. And two, because we’d left home at some godawful time in the morning on our way to the park, I brought along my blanket and pillow. I was more than happy to hog both of these items, but my parents made me give one to my brother (I gave him the pillow).

When the park ranger told us that we had to sleep in our car and directed us to the area of the parking lot where everyone else who didn’t get the message in time were also sleeping in their cars, I kind of expected my dad to pull out the RV/pneumonia thing, but as I recall, he took it like a man. An unhappy man, who kept repeating that we HAD a hotel and it was just outside Yosemite Valley. But a man, nonetheless.

At any rate, we all snuggled up (so to speak) and then at dark o’thirty in the morning, we were scared out of our minds by the forest ranger tapping on our windshield saying that it was time to evacuate. Sadly, my dad’s foot had become wedged under the brake pedal, and after a considerable amount of effort to remove it, found that the foot was completely nonfunctional, so Mom had to drive us out.

It was kind of surreal, driving this narrow road with active fires on both sides of the road, but we made it out. And thank goodness we had a lovely hotel all lined up, right outside of Yosemite Valley.

Like I said, it’s the vacation that went down in infamy.

And despite sleeping in a vehicle, my dad did not contract pneumonia a second time.

Catch some more Spin over at Sprite’s Keeper!