Introduction: This past week we flew out to sunny San Francisco, California from New York by ourselves to visit our super cool aunt and uncle. Little did we know that it would be the trip of a lifetime, and we would have so much fun that we plan to go back next year.
Day 1 pt. 1(Saturday): Getting to the flight gate is race against time to arrive there precisely two hours before the flight, get through security, and find the correct gate. The morning got off to a rocky start, as our airline did not do a very thorough job of instructing unaccompanied minors where to go. The computer crashed, we did not have boarding passes, and our patience wore thin. Eventually, we made it to security and flew through it without any problems. We sprinted to the gate so our mother could beg the flight attendant to give us seats together only to discover that we were in first class immediately spoiling us.
Day 1 pt. 2: We landed at SFO and waited to be escorted off the plane by one of the flight attendants. As we were walking, the flight attendant turns to us and says, “Aw, you have a sign!” Our bewildered stares turned to delighted expressions when we saw the words “Welcome Alison and Lauren to AMUA Camp” written in bold letters and two glittery hearts on either side and a balloon on top. We ran into the welcoming arms of our aunt and uncle, and from there we went to the beach, where we took off our shoes and walked in the sand. Afterwards, we had dinner, drove home, and attempted to go to the Chabot Space and Science center to look through the telescopes, but it was too cloudy. Although we were disappointed, we held our heads up high and went home.
Day 2 (Sunday): The next day was a “chill day” at the Kleinel household, and we woke up bright and early to go to the farmers’ market in Montclair. There we taste-tested everything from Indian food to mustard. When we had tired of the market, we went to Peet’s Coffee, which as east coasters, we never knew existed. Later we visited UC Berkeley home to numerous bear statues to the chagrin of Ali who is “bear-phobic.” We then walked around the town of Berkeley: home to a crazy hat store and many tie-dye stands. Then, after stopping at the Apple Store and See’s Candy, we returned home to a scrumptious home-cooked meal of salmon, corn, tofu, baby bok choi, carrots, cucumbers, and stuffed squash blossoms. Luckily we captured a few pictures from the historical moment with our Yankee cups in hand.
Baby ostriches at the California Academy of Sciences
Day 3 (Monday): Monday brought us to the California Academy of Sciences in the “city” (not New York City—it’s a common mistake). That day my aunt and uncle became members of the museum, earning us stickers with ostriches on them. It’s a gorgeous museum with aquariums, indoor rainforests, earthquake simulations, and…baby ostriches! We had the privilege of seeing one-day to six-week old ostriches running around in a fenced area outside the museum. It was definitely a highlight of the trip. We also met a penguin named Pierre who was the former owner of a wetsuit due to his baldness (which he eventually recovered from). Shazam! We had a wonderful time, and the fun continued when we went to a restaurant to see our mother’s best friends. Later we went to her friend’s apartment, which had a great view of San Francisco, and told each other stories of both old and new adventures.
Day 3 (Tuesday): The Kleinels prepared to embark on a four-day adventure to Yosemite
I'll have a double-double, protein style please!
National Park. We gathered our last minute supplies, slathered on sunscreen, and climbed in the unbelievably packed car. We were very impressed by our aunt and uncle’s ability to cram all the necessary materials and more needed for camping while still being able to fit all four of us. Seaweed snacks in hand, we drove in pursuit of finding an iPhone car charger. After stopping four times, we finally found one, which proved to be essential to the trip. We also stopped at In-N-Out Burger, which made us sorry that we don’t have one in New York.
Rafting on the Tuolumne
Day 4 (Wednesday): We survived the first night! After congratulating each other, we got into our bathing suits and put on our sunglasses to go white water rafting. It was thirty minutes from our campsite, and we spent the car ride listening to March Fourth’s upbeat, catchy marching album. Once we arrived, we put on our wetsuits and paddle jackets, both of which were too big for us. We climbed in the bus and set off for the Tuolumne River. The road we took there was probably more scary than the rafting itself: filled with sharp turns, unpaved, and carved out on a cliff, we were holding on for dear life. We finally arrived at the put-in (the fancy name for the place where we start our rafting trip) and received a safety talk that consisted of one of the guides telling us the many different ways to survive an “out-of-boat experience.” One of us was scared out of her mind, but the others could not wait. We met our cool guide, Phil, and practiced paddling forward, backward, and crouching in the middle of the raft (a move called James Brown, because “James Brown liked to get down”). We soon got the hang of the movements and began our trip, going down rapids and navigating our way through rocks and other obstacles.
This ain't no disco
While it was close at times, none of us fell out of the boat, though we did get the occasional mouthful of water. We all grinned from ear-to-ear, including Phil, especially when we would “paddle high-five” each other and shout, “AMUA!” Around lunch we pulled onto a beach and had a delicious lunch of wraps and cookies. We even got to float in the river! Eventually we were ready to resume our journey. We girls
sat in front, and Aunt Michelle and Uncle Adam sat in the back. Some of the rapids were long and hard, but we pushed through and succeeded. At one point we came across a cliff that was 20ft tall! Phil persuaded us to jump off of it, and the four of us all decided to give it a shot. It was terrifying to look down, but it was amazing when we jumped off and even more amazing when we realized what we had accomplished. Overall, we saw ducks, a bald eagle, and a bob cat. Although we saw no bears, some of us were not dissuaded from continuing to talk about them. After we had exhausted the rapids (and after one of us got pulled under the boat), we said our good-byes to Phil and to the Tuolumne River. We got back on the scary road (though parts of it were paved this time) and returned to our original location. We purchased pictures in which all of us were smiling and left for the Crane Flat campsite. We ate our meal of steak and potatoes (we earned it!) and went to bed.
Day 4 (Thursday): Thursday morning we woke up and prepared for our 8-mile hike on the Mist Trail. We had never gone on a hike that long, so we could not wait. We arrived in Yosemite Valley and were immediately captivated by the stunning view of Half Dome (which Aunt Michelle and Uncle Adam have hiked up). We paused to take pictures and
Hanging loose at Vernal Falls
then resumed our trip. Once we arrived, we parked in a great spot and began. We were not alone on our hike to Vernal Falls: many people also walked along the paved road to the top of the waterfall. The first part of our hike was almost all uphill, but we were only slightly fazed. We kept going and took occasional water breaks, with some of us taking more breaks than others. The idea of being able to stand at the top of the waterfall and know how hard we worked to get there was our motivation. Once we got to the top of Vernal Falls, we knew we had to power on to the top of Nevada if only for the bragging rights. After a hardy meal of coconut juice and the best turkey sandwiches, we took out our handy inclinometer app, topographic map, and used our handy trigonometric ratios to calculate
Top of Vernal Falls - We're not scared to look down!!!
the distance between where we were sitting and the nearest notable peeks, which were Broderick (named after our favorite school skipper?) and Liberty Cap like any recent ninth grade geometry grad would. After deducing that the distance between the emerald pool we sat by and Liberty Cap was approximately 423 feet. We then embarked on the second part of our journey. Now that we did not have to step over and around tons of people on a narrow path, we became calmer and began to have more fun with the hike. Before we knew it, we had reached the top of Nevada falls. Looking over the side, it was difficult to grasp the magnitude of the falls yet still understand that it is only a pinprick in comparison to the entire range of the rock formations Yosemite is comprised of. Sitting on top of the giant 6000 ft. rock, we dipped our feet into the cool river that inevitably became a part of the falls, and ate our Luna power bars. After a long break, we started on the John Mur trail, which eventually took us to the start of the trail. After a long day of hiking, it was definitely time for a well-deserved camp-cooked meal and smores. It was not long before we were sound asleep in our tents.
We should have hiked Half-Dome!
Day 5 (Friday): The day began with breakfast and packing up camp. Learning how to foldup tents was not as difficult as we initially thought. After packing up camp, we decided to check out the major sights of Yosemite, which included Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, Bridal Veil Falls, and Half Dome. Although Yosemite Falls is touted as allowing visitors to feel the mist from far away, going late in the season and the poor snow fall prevented us from feeling any mist at all. Either way, it was
Bridal Veil Falls
an amazing sight to see. By the middle of the day we had grown hungry so we stretched out a larger tie-dye tarp and ate a lunch consisting of turkey
El Capitan - Can you see the climbers near the top?
sandwiches, more coconut water, and pretzels. Soon afterwards we knew it was time to leave so we cleaned up and hopped in the car. As we drove by, we said good bye to Yosemite, though, we are sure we will try to see it again. While driving back to Oakland, Uncle Adam announced that he was “lost.” Luckily, we saw a Ghirardelli store, which we used to ease our worries. The hot fudge sundaes definitely helped. After our quick stop, we hurried back on the road and made it back to Oakland in time for dinner, which consisted of pizza. Then, we packed up and prepared to leave California.
Day 6 (Last day in California): Dreading having to go home after such an amazing time, we through on our tie-dye from Berkley and headed to the airport. Luckily, we got to the gate 2 hours early, which we had never experienced before. We all settled down and played and intense couple of games of rummy. It was soon time to board, so we waved good-bye and prepared for our five and half hours of flying. The flight was fine, but all we could think about was next summer and Camp AMUA 2013!