Into the Wild, With Child

There are mountain lions in Yosemite National Park. Also, bears. Bears so aggressive that visitors are not only warned, but FINED for not removing all food, toiletries, and even car seats from their vehicles. So, let’s see, that means the bears are not only unafraid of humans, but hungry enough to rip apart a car for a snack of toothpaste and stale Cheerios? And why did no one tell me this before I brought my baby into this savage wilderness?

To be fair, we saw no bears on our trip. But we met plenty of people who had, and were more than happy to describe their near-death bear encounters. We did see lots of deer, birds, squirrels, and a chipmunk. And also, bugs. Miles was psyched about those. But initially, the first morning we stepped out into this incredibly beautiful natural wonderland, you know what excited him the most? A fire hydrant. And the shuttle bus. That’s my city kid.

Once we got away from the parking lot, he did start to appreciate nature more. He learned to say “waterfall,” “mountains,” and “pinecone.” We stayed at the lodge right near Yosemite Falls, the largest waterfall in North America. We were told it was an easy 15-min. walk to the base of the falls. Unless you’re walking with a toddler. Then it’s a half-day ordeal. One step forward, two steps back is Miles’ m.o. Walk, walk, climb a rock. Walk, walk, jump off a log. Walk, sit down and admire an ant. Go back and pick up a pinecone. Whine to ride on Dad’s shoulders. Good thing there was plenty of scenery to admire along the way.

We did not have high expectations going into this trip. In fact, you might say some of us (me) were dreading it. I was so stressed in the days prior that I developed a tic in my left eye. Not pretty. Still, I wanted to go to my cousin’s wedding and see all my California relatives, most of whom I haven’t seen since my wedding and who have never met Miles. It’s too hard to visit everyone separately. You get more bang for your buck at weddings and funerals, you know? Then you can see everybody in one place.

My two biggest fears were the long flight and whether Miles would sleep when we got there, especially given the 3-hour time difference. People, the heavens were smiling upon us last week. Except for a seat-kicking incident, Miles was fine on the plane. Only one guy gave us dirty looks. Thank God no one sat next to us with an expensive laptop and a large beverage. (C. did get a lap full of Diet Coke setting up the DVD player, however.) That actually wasn’t quite the miracle cure we’d hoped for. We didn’t have headphones and Miles lost interest when he couldn’t hear the video. So instead, we went through a few dozen snacks and all the stuff I’d purchased from the Target $1 section. Go, Mom!

As for sleeping, it was shockingly a non-issue. I think Miles was so worn out from all the fresh air and exercise every day that he didn’t notice the time change and simply collapsed each night. He even took naps! Of course, one thing about traveling with a baby is that you’re stuck in the hotel once they’re asleep. So all evening activities were out except for one night when C. hung back so I could have a drink with my cousins. And anyway, we were so tired we went to bed early every night. The other wedding guests may have exhausted themselves on 7-mile hikes and late-night parties; we got tuckered out carrying our 34-lb. son around the visitors’ center.

They say weddings are a good place to meet people, and that proved true for my boy. He found himself a girlfriend! Nora, an adorable 2 ½-year-old in ladybug boots, grabbed his hand at the rehearsal dinner picnic and took him on a romantic stroll. At the wedding, they danced together all night. It was too cute for words. While this little romance was developing, C. and I bonded with Nora’s parents over the trials of traveling with a small child.

Millions of people visit Yosemite each year to backpack, hike, camp, and maybe see bears. As for us? We rode the shuttle bus, threw rocks in the river, and spent hours watching ants and ducks. The only bears we saw were the stuffed animals in the gift shop. Yep, we put the “wild” in wildlife, people!

TIP O’ THE WEEK: Dum-Dums lollipops are a mom’s best friend. One tiny piece of candy on a stick ensures silence for at least 15 min. I shoved one in Miles’ mouth to ward off an in-flight meltdown, and another during the wedding ceremony.

SONG O’ THE WEEK: If last week had a theme song, it would be one of my favorite Lemonheads tunes, “The Outdoor Type.” Best lyrics ever.

SHOUT OUT: To all my friendly recent commenters. I haven’t had a chance to respond, but I do read and appreciate them all!


4funboys said...

We love going there- it's only about 80 minutes from my house!

Great pix!

Christina said...

Dum-Dums rock!

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