Your Yosemite Stories: Housekeeping Camp

In the latest Yosemite in Focus newsletter, we linked to the previous post about the history of Housekeeping Camp. We then asked readers to share their favorite stories about this historic Yosemite lodging that straddles the line between camp and hotel. Below you will find some of those readers’ stories. If you would like to subscribe to the Yosemite in Focus email newsletter and receive notifications of lodging discounts and Yosemite news, please visit the Yosemite Newsletters page on our website at http://www.yosemitepark.com/eMail-SignUp.aspx

HKC Family Photo Connie Carbajal

Connie Carbajal:
“As a child I used to camp at Lower and Upper Rivers with my family and as we’d cross the bridge to use the Housekeeping showers and laundry facilities I used to think “Wow!!! These people must be so rich to be able to stay in these units” and hoped that one day I’d be able to have enough money to do the same.

Needless to say we visit Yosemite every 2 years with my husband and children (and a group of extended relatives and friends) and now grandchildren, and we have given them the experience of Lower River campgrounds when there was a lower River campground and now the “Luxury” of the Housekeeping experience.

We come as a group and pick out “themes” to decorate our units.  Than each family picks a night that they cook dinner for everyone in our group and that is the only night they have to prepare and cook dinner and clean up .  This gives everyone a little extra time at the river, hiking, sightseeing or just enjoying a nice hot shower.  And upon their return to camp……a hot dinner and dessert are awaiting them.  Most of us prepare our meals according to our them. For example during our last visit in 2013:  The “La Fiesta” Campsite decorated in traditional mexican style and wore sombreros, mexican dresses for the hostess and  guayaveras (mens traditional shirts)  for the host.  Salsa and chips, along with mexican beer (cerveza) and margaritas, were served pre-dinner, than there was a taco and burrito bar set up with all the fixings.  We topped the night off by playing “Loteria” aka….Mexican Bingo.  Another family (mine) was decorated as a “Western Ho-Down” and we served hampburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad and apple pie handing out red and blue bandanas for all to wear. And another family was decoarted as the “Oriental Express”, making fresh vegetable and chicken egg rolls, asian noodles, steamed rice and vegetables.  Topping dinner off with hot and cold tea and sweet apple and cinnamon egg rolls and yes……chopsticks were provided and many of us successfully ate our entire meal using the chopsticks.

I think you get the picture……we have now given so many families great memories, that we sit around the campfire all night sharing and reminiscing about our experiences.  So much so, that several indivudals that have now begun their own families have gone on and begun their own “group” adventures with their extended families and friends, following in our steps.

BTW…….As you can see we always purchase matching Yosemite souvenir shirts at bargain prices and pose for a group picture on our final day!!! The Carbajal, Padron, Haro, Meldrum and Muralles Families August 2013!!!! Our family saying….”Yosemite Forever”!!!!!!!!”

W.C. Smith learning to fish at Housekeeping Camp

W.C. Smith learning to fish at Housekeeping Camp


W.C. Smith:

“My family has always gone to Yosemite for vacation starting in the early 1920s when they lived in Fresno.  Housekeeping tents were our destination when I was young, – always. In 1944 when I was 6 we were able to come up from the bay area as my Dad had no problem getting gas as he was a defense contractor and had access to unrestricted gas rationing cards during the war. Many people were shut out of Yosemite during the war due to gas rationing. Anyway, my Dad said that it was time for me to learn trout fishing in the beautiful Merced and off we went. After a couple of unproductive hours we met a fly fisherman who seemed to know what he was doing, and we asked for advice. In the course of showing us “how to” he opened his creel and nestled inside in a bed of ferns was the most beautiful brightly colored brown trout. I was stunned. He then handed me his rod and showed me how to cast, albeit not very good. After a few minutes I had a strike and landed an equally beautiful but smaller brown trout. I was “hooked”. We walked back to the housekeeping tents together where he was also staying with his family. My Dad and the gentlemen started chatting and it turned out he was a navy pilot sent to Yosemite for R&R after extensive action in the South Pacific. Although I was too young to really comprehend what was being said my Dad told me in later years that he had been shot down and rescued at sea. He told Dad that the housekeeping tents were the perfect medicine for recovery from a horrific period in his life. He had young kids so we played, fished and swam for a week before we had to go. My parents kept contact with the family for awhile but never met again at the housekeeping tents. Unfortunately that wonderful Navy pilot was killed in the South Pacific in 1945.

I am still a passionate fly fisherman but at a slower pace in my senior years. But every time I step into a stream I still have a vision of that beautiful brown trout nested in a bed of ferns and that wonderful brave man who introduced me to fly fishing.”

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Your Yosemite Stories: Winter

Winter Trees by William Neill

Winter Trees by William Neill at http://www.williamneill.com

Nothing conveys the secret splendor of a Yosemite winter like firsthand stories.  In our winter newsletter, we asked Yosemite community members to share their favorite Yosemite winter story. So, enjoy four stories as Yosemite residents share some magical winter moments with us:

Michael B Schwartz “I remember walking to work one morning and the river that runs under the bridge from Yosemite Falls was stacked with a huge ice flow. The entire river. It almost touched the bridge. Blocks and blocks of ragged chunks of thick ice, being forced and pushed by the falls. It was amazing. That is just one of many winter memories. At the time, I was probably a busboy at the Ahwahnee, late 1986.”

Casey McClanahan “Me and an Australian couple ice skated under a half moon on a frozen over Merced River by the Pines Campgrounds one night. Water was frozen from bank to bank and for a good 80 yards. Could see all the rocks underneath and feel the ice move. Still have the pictures. I was a mechanic at the garage in 2006 and 2007.”

Colleen Cassidy Murch “In 2005 when the federal government shut down, I was an assistant manager at The Ahwahnee. All reservations were canceled and all the food was bought for Bracebridge – the hotel was decked out in its Christmas glory! I was asked to stay at the hotel during this time to keep an eye on things. It was a little creepy to be the sole human in the hotel at that time. I remember reading my book and sitting in the solarium very late one night with the moonlight highlighting the trees. I sat and ate a bowl of oatmeal in the Dining Room early one morning in compete silence – the only person in the entire building. Later in the week, my best friends joined me to celebrate Christmas. They were let in to share this amazing historical building and you could hear the echoes of years past; the celebrations, the generations, the experiences, the war time memories. So many memories in Yosemite but this one was at the top of my list.”

Alanna Dolen Llama “I worked in the park summers of 2002-2005 and spent only one winter there. I was an Ahwahnee Dining Room Captain from fall 2004 to spring 2005. My favorite memory, by far, was the day that I unexpectedly made it to Dewey Point on cross-country skis. I knew that the trail changed from beginner’s to expert at one point, and planned to turn around there, but I didn’t notice it. Suddenly, I found myself looking down at Yosemite Valley in front of me! I was amazed! It was so silent and breathtaking. I had phone service up there even back then, and I called a bunch of people because I had to tell someone about the amazing view that I saw! I loved seeing the snow fall against the Valley walls.”

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