day 189
yosemite national park, california

"Sure hope we don't get attacked by Chupa-chup-loving bear." -a.
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Yo! Yosemite!
Founded: 1890
Nickname: The Incomparable Valley
Land Area: 760,000 acres
Trails: 800 miles
Lowest Elevation: 2,000 ft
Highest Elevation: 13,000 ft

Claim to Fame: Home to some of the cleverest bears in the country. If you go hiking, your food must be in bear-proof containers, even though it's in your backpack. The entire day I pictured being jumped from behind by a bear that was after my sausage pasta because I ignored the rules and put it in a ziploc.

Natural Wonder of the Day
Our spitting contest... It may have been the elevation. Or the lack of sleep the night before. Whatever it was, there's really no true excuse for us to suddenly have a spitting contest on the Yosemite trail.

The results...
Kev #1: A good shot, about 4 feet away. He reached the big stone.
Aim #1: She's kicked Kev's spitting ass. She made it to the other side of the log. Very impressive and unexpected.

Kev #2: Not good. He sprayed and the wind brought the spit to Aimee. Vengence, perhaps?
Aim #2: Aim was a one-spit wonder. This time she made it about a foot.

The winner? Is anyone really the winner in a spitting contest?

Just Came Down For The Weekend, With 25 Tons Of Stuff
March 3 - Another day, another national park. And another twenty bucks in savings! Yay! I don't know if you realize it, but we're only a dollar shy of visiting $200 worth of national parks! Holy Frickin' Frack!

That's a lot of camping for a couple of buckaroos like us. The national parks are one thing, but when you include the state parks too? With the exceptions of about five night in motels, and around ten major cities with futon-friends, it's all been camping. Tent camping. Even in the snow. People say to us, "Oh, well, you're from Canada. You're used to the cold." My usual response to this is, "I suppose so, but remember, we live indoors up there, too."

Our First Germans!
Meet Juergen and Reinhard, a couple of nice German boys from Munich with a month to tour the United States. Armed with a National Parks Pass and a trunk full of crappy American beer, they're invading the American Southwest faster than you can say Zikenzaken Zikenzaken Hoy Hoy Hoy. Here's their route:

Wish them luck!
After all this time in a tent, we've learned that we don't need to prove anything to ourselves (or anyone else). We could build a fire, but it's easier to start the car to warm up. We could make spaghetti, but it's easier to heat up a can of soup. We could roast marshmallows tonight, but it's not like camping is a novelty anymore, so it's easier to not roast marshmallows.

And that, faithful fans, is what separates us from the Weekend Camper.

It was very odd to arrive at Yosemite and have, well, neighbours. This entire trip has been lived park to park, virtually alone at night. We meet the occasional RV owner, or backpacker, but mostly in the warmer areas. To hit Yosemite on the weekend and be surrounded by Weekend Campers was a little weird. It was like spending the weekend with the Lakehead University Outdoor Rec Student Body.

To the Weekend Camper, especially a Big City Weekend Camper, camping is a novelty. It's a break from his everyday. Instead of waking up in a bed, he wakes up on the ground (okay, a thick foam air mattress with an insulation pad, under a thermal optimizer sleeping bag good to minus 40 degrees). Instead of his house coat, he puts on a winter coat (and a fleece sweater, toque, and winter boots, all proudly displaying either the North Face, Columbia or Timberland corporate logo). Instead of cooking on the stove, he cooks on an open flame (which is very much like a barbeque, without the distributed heat, and usually with foods that don't require precision).

For a big city resident with a house or apartment, anything he would ever need is either a phone call or a short walk away. If he suddenly gets a craving for sushi, for instance, at 2:30 in the morning, chances are he can get it by 3:00. I understand this, living in Manhattan for a while, the city of instant gratification.

But when he goes camping, he won't have those luxuries at his fingertips anymore. Instead, he has to think of everything he's going to need in the 48 hours he'll be away. Good thing he drives an SUV.

He starts with his tent and sleeping bag. He brings a heavier bag also, and a blanket in case it's cold. He brings long underwear, flannel pajamas, wool mittens and a toque, in case it's really cold. Maybe he should get a better tent, since the one he used last time was purchased in the fall, and it is winter now. He goes to the mall to buy a new tent, but brings the old one anyway, in case he can't figure out how to put the new one up.

Signs Of A Troop Of Weekend Campers:
1. A row of funky-coloured single-person tents.
2. Loads of alcohol, but no bottle opener.
3. Starting a fire the moment they arrive, keeping that fire going until they leave.
4. Equipment that still has creases in it from long term storage.
5. Condiments.
Next, he needs food. Let's see, that's two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners. Maybe three dinners, because of Friday night, too. And snacks, like campfire stuff. So the first breakfast can be pancakes and bacon, and the second, maybe French toast. Never mind the fact that his breakfast is usually a vanilla cappucino with two sugars at Starbucks. He'll also need any pot he's ever owned, a complete set of dishes and utensils. An entire loaf of bread for the two lunches, because he'll think about making sandwiches, then some veggies, oh, now he'll have to bring the cooler, and since that's now coming anyway, what about milk, orange juice, two steaks, pork chops, some cold cuts, cheese, weiners... Weiners? Oh, now he'll need mustard, relish, ketchup, BBQ sauce, some of that other fancy mustard too, where's that other cooler....?

And I haven't even started on the rest of the equipment he'll need in the times between eating and sleeping. If it was a she I was talking about, she'd need room in the car for makeup, too. I'm not kidding. Fashion is important to the Weekend Camper.

It seems like the shorter the vacation, the more you bring. For a weekend in Washington D.C. a few years ago, we brought a suitcase, but for our three month jaunt around Europe, we just brought a couple of packsacks. For the long trip we knew we'd have to carry it everywhere, so we packed smartly. But when we were there for just the weekend? We thought of everything we might need for that weekend, whether it be formal wear, summer wear, winter wear, swim wear, sports wear, and that's just the -wears.

In a way, I suppose it's like us staying in a fully stocked house by ourselves for the weekend, and saying, "Oh look, Aimee! It's a telephone! I can use it any time I want, not just the weekend! And I can even get food to come to our house with it!" Meanwhile, Aimee is seeing what it's like to sit on a couch, and plug the laptop into any wall in the house, instead of working in the car! And we can keep the TV on all night long, and take a shower without having to find quarters first... What a concept!

falling for yosemite...

more photos in the archive...

Current Location
(get out your push pins)

National Park

Next Stop: San Jose

see the full map...

Today's Weather:
The bears must be hibernating

Daily Stats
Climbed:100m (3000ft)

Again with the Pass...
Saved Here:$20.00
Total Savings:$199.00
Original Cost:$50.00
The savings are starting to get silly. Southwesterners must love this thing.

Sleeping Quarters
Sunnyside Campground, Yosemite N.P.

Group site at the bottom of the cliff. I'm thinking of covering our neighbours' tent with peanut butter to see if there really are bears. Just as an experiment.

Cost: $10.00

Yosemite N.P.
Both:Special K Red Berries
Top of Cliff
Yosemite Falls
Shared:Leftover Sausage Pasta (Still!), Peach Nectar, Dried Fruit, Nachos
Yosemite N.P.
Shared:Cheesy Scallops & Chicken Noodle Soup

© 2002. Kevin Beimers and Aimee Lingman. A German's Best Friend Is His Car.