If two people are less worthy to go to a national park than my husband and me, I’d like to meet them. We would have to meet on a flat, paved surface within fifty yards of a margarita machine but I’d still want to see them for myself, face to face, because I doubt they exist.
We went to Yosemite last weekend and it was just an El Capitan-sized reminder that we don’t deserve nature. We don’t know the first thing about how to rough it. I’m surprised the ranger who took our entry fee didn’t add a surcharge for bringing down the overall level of outdoorsy-ness of one of the wonders of the world.
We are the first ones to order the large non-organic coffee with artificial flavors, the only ones without hand carved walking sticks and Crocodile Dundee hats, and the first ones to proclaim it’s five o’clock somewhere and hit the bar.
At the Yosemite Village snack counter, which was like a McDonald’s with compostable wrappings, my husband ordered a hamburger “medium.”
“Medium? We only have one size and it’s small,” the woman behind the counter deadpanned. We got the idea. “Don’t ask if there’s a wine list,” I whispered to my husband. An onlooker with a beard down to his nipples and clothes that hadn’t been washed since Teddy Roosevelt visited the park, gave us a look. I was starting to yearn for the comforts of our hotel, which was pretty far away.
I chose that particular hotel because it had two pools and a spa that offered doggie massages. Not that we were bringing our dog on the trip. I just thought that any hotel that treats a dog that well would probably offer the humans quality pillows, free wi-fi and a signature cocktail.
Problem was, to get that kind of luxury, we were an hour’s drive from where everything was in the park. And by everything I mean hiking trails and other exertions. But by gum, we were in Yosemite (kind of) so we made the windy, curvy, drive into the valley every morning, leaving behind the opulence, the lobby Starbucks and the huge white bathrobes.
On our drive into the park, we did what we do best: Make up songs. My husband, the king of road trip music improv, invented a seven-verse song, sung to the tune of “Sunny,” about how pissed off we were at the sun for ruining our photos. The man can pen some lyrics, I’m telling you.
Once there and parked, we soon realized there weren’t a lot of things to do for people our age, weight and laziness, and with the level of sedentary-lifestyle-related ailments that we have.
“Crap, it’s all hikes, hikes, hikes,” my husband said.
“Here’s one they’re calling a walk,” I said, scanning a brochure. “I’m also seeing words like mostly flat, stroll, and something about slight downhill both ways, but is that even a thing?”
It only makes sense that places like Yosemite would have some consideration for those of us whose leg muscles haven’t been seriously challenged since our kids had to be rescued from the Chuck E Cheese sky tubes. When we were in Acadia National Park in Maine last year, we climbed up some rocks to get a good photo — I MEAN view — and I was terrified of that climb. Part of it I did on all fours and whenever I had to step over a gap between rocks I let out a little squeal. When we finally got to the top I was so freaking proud of myself, I looked to my left — snap! — to the view of the rocky shore, I looked straight ahead — click! — to the bay waters, I looked to my right to — what now? — a group of senior citizens, one of them in a wheelchair and two with walkers, who were right beside us. They had taken the path with the handrails and handicapped ramp.
No such luck in Yosemite.
We set off for Mirror Lake. The brochure said it was a one-mile “easy to moderate” hike but some of us know that the people who write these things can be spiteful, braggy, and on Fridays are known to gather together around their treadmill desks and think of ways to trick us into doing physical activity.
“Moderate is a scary word,” I thought.
We started at the trailhead with a largish group that was on our shuttle. Most of them were the typical Yosemite types. Wearing hiking boots that cost more than my Sub-Zero, carrying 2-liter water bottles and backpacks bulging with their entire campsite for the week.
“Check out the calf muscles on that one,” I muttered to my husband. “There’s more tone there than in my entire Intro to Jazz class.
I was getting discouraged and finding it really hard to fit in. And then I saw a woman with a baby strapped to her front, holding the hand of a toddler. False alarm. The toddler was wearing altitude boots and a Bora-Bora hat.
“It’s OK,” my husband assured me. “Before that last turn up ahead, I spotted a fat guy with a limp.”
Even he was ahead of us, though. We scrambled to keep up with the group because I feared going off the trail and being eaten by a bear. That old saying about not having to outrun the bear, just needing to outrun your spouse, doesn’t work for us. We would both tire and give up, probably at the same time.
It turned out not all that bad. We were the last ones in our group to finish the hike, but we were the first ones to hit the bar after getting back to the hotel.
“I’ll have whatever the French Bulldog had after his spa treatment,” I said. “I’m exhausted.”
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