Skip links

Encountered a bear. No one was hurt.

Destination: Yosemite

Worth it: 5 / 5

Cost: 1 / 5

Moments after arriving at the campsite.

Was about 40 feet away.

Chasing after it was the ranger with a rifle firing rubber bullets towards the sky. The goal was to not hurt bear and, hopefully, scare it away with the noise. Just glad it worked.

The Plan

Earlier this year, my wife and I thought camping would be a great getaway for a short trip. Especially with a one-year-old. Which turned out to be pretty awesome, most of the time.

In terms of location, my wife always wanted to check out Yosemite. And me being a Californian for more than a decade, it became more than a desire but a duty to visit the sacred place. The destination was set.

Couple weeks later, knowing how far in advance we needed to reserve a campsite, we hopped on and sealed the deal. There was no backing out.

+You can book a campsite for Yosemite here.

Day minus-3

Three days before the trip (this was 5 months after we booked the campsite), we bought our first tent. Started to google all the things we’d need and tips for camping. If we had middle names, it would’ve been “Procrastin

So, as a practice run, we built the tent in our living room and all went relatively smoothly. Guess we were set.

Let’s just say Zoltan (my son) wasn’t the handiest guy around.

Day 1

It started out with a long, wet drive.

Tip #1: There’s a single gas station once you pass the Yosemite gate. And if you happen to need gas, then, it’s gana cost a pretty penny. (Unless you’re from Iceland, then it’s still pretty cheap gas.)

Just after we entered Yosemite Valley, we saw the side of the road crowded with people. And like any normal citizen, we stopped and looked as well.

That’s a cub in a distance.

Besides the rain and the fuzzy baby after a 6-hour car ride (normally 3.5 without pitstops), it was off to a fairly good start.

Then, we made it:

Yosemite Falls in the rain.

I thought the view was out of this world especially after the rain. The rain turned out to be a blessing.

Our campsite was Upper Pines, conveniently located close to the valley shop and a few hikes that were dog-friendly.  That’s right, we brought our dogs, too. It was close to Half Dome village, where they had hot showers and cafes.

No sims, time for the real thing.

Zoltan contributed


Zoltan continued to help despite lack of progress. It was the thought that counts.


Handy Bonbon struck again. This time helping walk and feed the dogs.

The Vally Shop is where you can find your last minute supplies. But, We didn’t need anything. Because we came PREPARED, baby. (I’d like to thank Google and Amazon for their kind support.)

Zoltan’s 15 months and he wasn’t the best walker, yet. But he tried.

Zoltan showed us his dirty hands like a medal of accomplishment.

The weather in May is between 40ish-70ish with occasional rain. It was around 50ish during this time, and it was the perfect time for outdoor hotpot.

Michelle delivered.

Zoltan wasn’t shy about feasting in front of a camera.

We swear we don’t starve him.



The moonlight and campfire painted the campground.

Day 2

Basked in the warm sun and surrounded by greens. So refreshing.

He didn’t mind. Maybe.

This is Half Dome.

Half Dome.

…that we never hiked.

Mirror Lake

Difficulty: 2 / 5 (2-5 miles round trip)

Worth it: 4 / 5

Just a few blocks away from Upper Pines campground was the trail to Mirror Lake, a lake from the remnants of the melted glacier. It’s a relatively small lake disappointing view as the pool was slowly evaporating.

Zoltan was asleep half the time.

As the ray shined through the leaves, it cast a green shade beneath. It was lovely. And Green Lanterny.

Yosemite—a child’s playground. And mosquitos’ buffet.

The Mirror.


Lunch at Yosemite Loft.

Continental lunch.


Food was decent, but can’t beat the view.

How about having a waterfall as a backdrop


Steller’s Jay, or what many people call, “That Blue Bird.”

Tunnel View

Difficulty: 0 / 5 No hike required. Just a bit of drive.

Worth it: 5 /5

If you’re entering Yosemite Valley through Route 41, this would be one of the first stops. The view was absolutely breath taking.

The small sculpture that labeled your location and the respective mountains.


The actual peaks from the same perspective. That’s El Capitan on the left, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall on the right.



Back at the valley, we were making pit stops at any spot worth a photo. We barely moved.

Half Dome and the lady in blue.



Back to the camp.


Started to rain again.

Another day for hotpot. This time with upgrades—brocolli, potato, and..


No camping is complete without camp fire and “Yosemite” s’more.

A successful s’more with Hershey’s chocolate.

Honestly, I couldn’t devour more than a piece of this sugar filled delicacy.

But Zoltan can.

Zoltan after sugar.


Sunset was gorgeous.

Last Day

Mornings at Yosemite were the best.

Last stop before we began the grueling 4-hour drive back.

Lower Yosemite Falls

Difficulty: 1 / 5

Worth it: 3 / 5

A quick .4 mile walk to the lower Yosemite Falls.

Slightly crowded, as expected for an easy hike with a view. Another beautiful piece by Mother Nature.

Thank you for your hospitality.

Gear list

Camera 1 used: Olympus EM5 Mk2

Camera 1 Lens: Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8 ii

Camera 2 used: Canon 5D Mk3

Camera 2 Lens: Sigma 12-24 f4.5-5.6