This year, 27 Zentils made it to Yosemite Village and enjoyed every minute of it (okay, maybe I didn't enjoy trekking back to the lodge with a screaming infant writhing in his blown out diaper because someone --ahem, me-- forgot wipes). But really, we had so much fun.
On our first evening, we saw a bobcat right outside the picnic area we were sitting at. Later that evening we were greeted by lots of deer in the fields across from us.
It rained much of the second day, but we managed to eek out a trip to lower Yosemite falls with the kids before naptime and rainfall arrived. It was cold. Really cold. Gino and I bundled up together under one of NZ's jackets and stayed warm together.
My kids enjoyed running around with their older cousins. Carla took an instant liking to NZ's cousin Mike and would run to him anytime he was in sight. It was adorable. In fact, she ran right to the river's edge while he was out wading so he came over, scooped her up and took her out to see what was out there.
We did lots of eating, telling stories, and playing games. This year the men took part in a family beard/ mustache contest which was judged on our last night there. Nick grew a stellar handlebar, but his cousin Rafi edged him out with a nice banker style stache for the title of best stache of 2015.
There is nothing better than seeing the smiles on your kids' dirty little faces after a day spent in the outdoors-away from technology and the rest of the world.
Traveling with little ones isn't convenient, but we both agreed many times during our trip that right now it isn't about us, and our level of comfort or expectations of relaxation.
It's about the kids. It's about providing them opportunities to spend time with relatives and get to know them. It's about seeing nature. It's about seizing the moment and letting them have these memorable experiences.
One day in the future, my ol man and I will be able to sit down and relax as we did during Yosemite trips years past, but for now, we will put up with chasing our little ones away from rivers and big rocks so that one day they can tell stories of going to Yosemite as kids.
A huge thank you to all of our family for being our village this past week and taking turns chasing, holding, feeding and loving on our kids. See you next year!