Our first week in Sonora has come and gone. We arrived to beautiful sunny weather which lasted the entire week. It was gorgeous - just like spring - and we reveled in it day after day. Unfortunately, it's started to drizzle and the remainder of our stay looks fairly unsettled. At least we go one nice week!
We are staying in Jamestown, which is a small, western-themed town just west of Sonora. We've rented a small cottage at a hotel in town. It includes a full kitchen, which is always best for us since we can cook meals and store lunch food. Every other day, we go to Jailhouse Rock, a basalt cliff about 15 miles distant. The cliff is a 30-minute uphill hike and, since Elise just keeps getting bigger and bigger, I'm getting a good workout each day! Fortunately, we can stash our climbing gear at the cliff which lightens our load considerably. The climbing is very steep and the routes tend to be long, so the sessions are physical and tiring. We have a nice view from the crag and have seen vultures, eagles and peregrine falcons. One hazard specific to this area is poison oak, and we've learned to identify it and keep Elise well clear. I got poison oak on my leg the last time we were in this area and it was not a pleasant experience. The hike to the cliff is very pretty and the trail wanders through small oak trees on a grassy hillside. Each day we pass horses, which delights Elise to no end. There is a small creek we cross and each day we stop on the way down to relax, wade and look for crayfish!
We traveled to Yosemite Valley early in the week and had a great time. The scenery there is truly incredible and the day was gorgeous - we took lots of pictures. Highlights were a picnic lunch on the banks of the Merced River, a hike to Lower Yosemite Falls and a climbing session (for Elise) on Swan Slabs. This was the perfect setting for her - I set up top-ropes on the low-angled slabs and she scampered up them with zeal! We finished with a walk through the famous Camp 4 boulders, socialized with lots of people and helped Elise do some bouldering. It was a long day, but well worth the effort.
Another interesting outing involved a hike to some natural bridges in a small gorge. The bridges were actually underground limestone caverns through which a small creek flowed. The terrain was dramatic and we enjoyed a 2-hour hike, all of which Elise did on her own. She's become quite a bit more capable and is enjoying tackling these activities independently. (If only I could convince her to hike to the cliff on her own!) After inspecting the caverns, I let Elise take some pictures with my camera, which always delights her. She took pictures of "mommy" and they actually turned out okay.
Other than the climbing and sightseeing, we are just enjoying being away from work and relaxing. There are some good playgrounds in the area and we've toured them all with Elise. She went to story time at the library the other day and made a very nice mask. Tonight we are going to the Candy Vault - an old-fashioned candy store in Sonora - if Elise will eat her dinner. We hoped to head into San Fransisco, but it's a tad far so that may not happen. We are following the Olympics from afar, and are pleased that Canada has had some success!
We return home on the 28th and don't relish leaving our relaxing routine behind.