We are planning on going to.... (drum roll, please)......
California, by way of Yellowstone!
Mr. Barefoot's father and stepmother live in CA, so we are actually heading out to visit them. However, I am not above hijacking the trip to see and do a few other things that are on my "Do before you die" list. Not that I am not excited about visiting the in-laws, cuz I love them. I truly do. But there are NATURAL WONDERS to be seen both on the drive out there and while we are in CA, so I am going to take advantage of it while I can.
I found out that one of the routes for driving from MN to CA would take us right past Yellowstone National Park. This route isn't much longer than a more southern route, and it offers us the chance to spend a day and a half hitting the highlights of the park. We will spend the night here (hopefully), giving me a rest from driving and taking the opportunity to take pics of the Sprouts at Old Faithful and the hot springs. If time and $$ weren't an issue, I would like to stay for a few days. Time and $$ are always an issue, however, so one day and one night are all we have to spend in this gorgeous place.
I am incredibly lucky that my in-laws live a bare 2 1/2 hours from Yosemite Valley. So while we are visiting, at least one day will be devoted to seeing at least the high points to be found at this wonderful park. We will be in CA for around 10 days, so I am hoping to convince Mr. Barefoot to spend at least one night in Yosemite, but he is not the camping type and this visit IS really about visiting his family, so I don't know that I will win that particular debate. I am so looking forward to seeing again the mountains and trees that are so different from anything you can find in MN.
If time permits (and I am not overly optimistic) I would like to take the time to go down from Yosemite Valley to Mariposa Grove and see the Giant Sequoias. Just the thought of those giant trees gives me a shiver! If it doesn't work out, though, I will be more than happy seeing Half-Dome and Bridal Veil Falls at the very least.
We will be heading out the first week of June, and so I hope that the falls will all be running fairly full and the crowds will be minimal. Nothing ruins gorgeous scenery like piles of tourists (never mind that I am one) making noise, blocking the view, and generally getting in the way.
The last place on my "must see" list is John Muir Woods, way across the state from Yosemite. Here I will get to see some of the coastal redwoods, though perhaps they won't be as large or perfect as those found further north along the coast. This is my compromise, though, as John Muir Woods National Monument is about 3.5 hours from the in-laws place, as opposed to a full day's drive further north to see some of the larger parks.
Being the list maker and planner that I am, I have piles papers listing all the places I would like to see and all the things I would like to do while we are in CA. Any of them we can fit in will be amazing, but I keep reminding myself that we are there to visit family, not feed my desire for wandering in the wilderness.
I am so looking forward to bringing the Sprouts with me on this adventure! Little Sprout is probably too young to remember it, but Big Sprout will make memories that will last her a lifetime. And I don't mean to make it sound as if I am not looking forward to visiting with my father in law and his adorable wife, either. I absolutely love spending time with the both of them, and am very much looking forward to showing off how big the little "critter-bait" (Little Sprout) has gotten. I look forward to introducing Big Sprout to yet another Grandma for the first time. I look forward to re-meeting their friends (all wonderful folks) and taking the time to just BREATHE for a change. I am hoping for a quick trip up the mountain for Pie In The Sky Pizza (maybe even with artichokes??? YUM!!!), and a bowl of homemade gumbo.
But I gotta say, I am REALLY looking forward to the big trees.