A Very Californian Trip Recap Part 1: Yosemite

I'm alive! Sorry to have gone off the radar, I expected to be able to write and update daily while I have been on vacation but it turns out Yosemite has THE WORST internet service! (It's been both blissful and difficult.) But I'm now enjoying Southern California's 90 degree weather, bracing myself for Part 2 of my trip so let's take a minute to share what shenanigans I've gotten into!

As you may have caught on, I am very close with my family. I grew up surrounded by Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, Cousins, Second Cousins, Third Cousins once removed, etc. etc. etc. We know and love spending time with EVERYONE in our giant extended family. One of our favorite traditions is our family trip to Yosemite. Yosemite National Park is the most surreal place on earth. You stand in a Valley surrounded by huge giant granite mountains and it's otherworldly and magical. Yosemite is my favorite place in the entire world. Back in 2009 my sister and I both missed the family trip to Yosemite due to College obligations. My brother passed away a few months later and missing that trip has been the only thing I have ever regretted in my 25 years of existence. So when my incredible Aunt Kathleen started planning a 2015 Yosemite trip I vowed to make the trip happen.

Day 1:

I flew into San Francisco last Friday to spend the day running around with my San Francisco family members. My flight left a freezing snow covered New York at 6:00am EST and the first thing I did when I landed in a warm, blissful San Francisco at 10:00am PST was command my cousin William join me and body slam Double Doubles at In N Out.

After our Double Doubles, William and I decided it would be a GREAT idea to go for a 4 mile run by the Golden Gate Bridge. Let me just say, this was a beautiful but painful 4 miles. Turns out Double Doubles are not an ideal pre-run food. WHO KNEW?

After our run, I got to spend the rest of the day with my incredible Aunt Kathleen, catching up and getting advice on what is happening in my insane life. She gives invaluable advice and I cannot even begin to explain to you how badly I needed this trip back to California.

Day 2:

Saturday morning my Aunt KK, Uncle Wiley, Uncle David, and cousins William and Paul and I all hopped into cars to road trip out to Yosemite! God do I love road trips! We screamed showtunes and Disney songs and laughed hysterically when we tried to belt high notes. The time flew by and before we knew it we turned a corner and there was Half Dome. I couldn’t help but get teary eyed as we descended into the Valley. Yosemite was my brother’s absolute favorite place and riding in was a little overwhelming.

Once we checked in to the Lodge, we decided to head out to hike Vernal Falls. The hike was beautiful. Yosemite is one of the few places that takes your breath away regardless of where you are. I am obsessed with hiking. Every hike were tiny victories for me. I've never had the strength or been in shape to climb and hike. It's night and day from my last trip to Yosemite. It's a reminder of how far I've come. I always talk about the analogy "climbing a mountain" and how everything from hiking to living your life is just one foot in front of the other. Well being able to actually climb a mountain I never thought I would be able to climb was pretty surreal. 

That night I was reunited with my Mommy(!!!!!!!), my GM and my Poppy and we had one of the funniest dinners we had on the trip. We sat in the snazzy restaurant, howling with laughter, and I clung to my Mommy like a little leech!

Day 3:

We have a tradition while we are in Yosemite to wake up and go on an early morning walk before breakfast. It’s my favorite part about our family trips to Yosemite because we get to feel like we have the entire Valley to ourselves. Yosemite sparkles first thing in the morning and every morning we woke up to a different looking Valley. Breathtaking. 

After our morning walk and breakfast, William and I went for a breathtaking 8 mile run. We went towards Mirror Lake then spent the last 4 miles running trails. We had intended to run 6 but it was so incredibly beautiful that we found ourselves not wanting to stop! After our run we rented bikes and rode around like a 7 person bike gang.

 Day 4:

Day 4 consisted of a morning walk, a 6 mile trail run (I seriously thought I was going to be eaten by a bear during this run...Exhilarating!) and because we all aren’t going to be together this Easter so my Aunt Kathleen and I surprised everyone with an Easter egg hunt! I also found the Golden Egg so I’m feeing pretty egggggg-cellent about myself.

Day 5:

Holy moly, I have no idea what got into us but we decided to climb to the top of Yosemite Falls. As we were enjoying our morning walk, William and I were trying to decide what we wanted to do that day. We knew we wanted to go on a hike but where to hike to? William came up with the brilliant idea to attempt to hike to the falls and we all decided it was a great idea. "We don't have to make it all the way to the top" we all reasoned. But once we got started, there was no stopping us. 

Hiking Yosemite falls is  7.2 miles round trip with a 2,700 feet elevation gain. Now what I heard was, “3.5 mile hike up and 3.5 miles down.” I was like, “3.5 miles! No problem! That's not even half my easy run.” I now understand what "2,700 foot elevation gain" means. Towards the end I was huffing and puffing and sweating like I’d never huffed and puffed and sweat before. But it was 100% worth it because I did something I never dreamed of being able to do. We started out with My Mom, Uncle Wiley, Cousins Beth, Claire, William and I and ended up with Uncle Wiley, William and myself. What was funny was that my cousin Beth, Claire and my Mom decided to turn around halfway but my Uncle Wiley, William and I decided to press on. About 10 minutes after the gang turned around, Wiley told us to go on without him since we were pressed for time. Like heartless creatures, we left him no problem and took off towards the top.

The second half of the hike was very intense. We thought Uncle Wiley turned around but about 30 minutes after we reached the falls, Uncle Wiley showed up! What was even more exciting was we found that Claire had packed an extra huge water bottle in the backpack I was wearing. I started rummaging through the backpack we acquired when the gang turned around and found the Holy Grail, a huge water bottle. The views from the top were unlike anything I've ever experienced before. It felt like I was on the top of the world. Sitting up there, I just wished that my brother could have been there with me. Looking down on the Valley, it was impossible to stop thinking about him and how much I missed him. 

After we ascended the mountain, we had to immediately hop into the shower and head over to the Awhannee to celebrate my Grandfather’s birthday. After we sang happy birthday and inhaled our birthday cake, we all went around and said what we loved most about my Grandfather. My Grandfather is perfect. He’s that perfect man who is a constant reminder that there are wonderful, intelligent, funny, supportive, emotionally available, honest, brave and perfect men are out there. I am so grateful to have gotten to grow up with my GM and Poppy's enthusiasm for life, optimism and love of surrounding myself with family and friends. But most importantly, their love of tradition, family and laughter. They worked so hard to make sure that we knew all of our extended family and every get together from a weekly dinner to Christmas was overflowing with people and crazy traditions. There’s never a dull moment and I am indebted to everything they’ve done for me.

After dinner a group of us decided to go Star Gazing. Living in New York I've forgotten how much I love looking up and being able to see the stars and the moon. But when you're in Yosemite, you look up and the infinite starry skies take your breath away. The funniest part came when we took a detour to go bear hunting (with our eyes) and Beth and Kathleen thought our car was being towed! They took off screaming and hollering through a pitch black field yelling, "Stop! Their towing our car!" Only to realize that the lights they thought were a tow truck was simply an RV diving by. Hands down the most ridiculous and HILARIOUS part of the trip. Our bear hunt may have been unsuccessful but it was the perfect way to end our trip to Yosemite.

Day 6:

After our morning walk, we decided to ride bikes to Happy Isles one last time before Beth, Claire and myself took off to the San Francisco Airport. It was a pretty weird day for me. I got caught up with all that's happened and what is still to come. I miss my brother and I was missing my sister who couldn't come on the trip due to work obligations. The best part about going on vacation is getting to escape the world but in Yosemite, it's impossible to escape. It's difficult to be in the place where your family was whole. Yosemite is our place where we got to escape the world and be together. I have more happy memories at Yosemite with my family than anywhere else in the world. And this trip, not having my sister or my brother just reminded me how important it is to make time to be with family. To take every opportunity to make new memories, both good and bad, because when all is said and done, memories make life worth living. It's so easy to get busy or caught up in day to day life. To sweat the small stuff or crumble when life gets overwhelming. But family, like anything else, takes work and they can't be taken for granted. Not even for a second.

I have a few more days down in Southern California, running around and enjoying the sunshine. In the meantime you can keep up with me on The Instagram or The Twitter at @KellyKKRoberts. Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.