By Matt Villano, on January 3, 2017

Yosemite, daughter-style

Breath-taking. Enormous. Eclectic. Life-changing.

I’m a professional writer, and these are a very small sample of the words I’d use to describe Yosemite National Park. I’ve written about the park countless times before (here and here, for instance), both for this blog and for other outlets (including TIME magazine). I even have updated guidebooks about it. In short, I know the place well.

My oldest daughter, on the other hand, does not. In her seven years, she’s only been there twice. That means the place is still fresh and new. It means her words about it mean a whole lot more than mine.

And so, as another installment in my ongoing series of articles describing major travel destinations from the perspective of my Big Girl, it is my pleasure to share with you some of her impressions from our recent multigenerational visit to Yosemite (and Evergreen Lodge) with my dad. I’ve lifted these passages almost verbatim from the journal she kept on our trip, and edited only for grammar and style. Hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do.

On the drive from our home in Wine Country

“It takes forever to get to Yosemite. Two ‘Monster High’ movies forever. After we ate In-N-Out, Dad keeps playing Brandi Carlile. I wish he would play Taylor. The landscape is flat but we can see mountains in front of us. Those are the Sierra Nevadas. That’s where we will find Yosemite!”

Sketch from the kid's journal
Sketch from the kid’s journal

On our arrival at Evergreen Lodge

“This place is AWESOME. We have a cabin with two rooms. Dad and Grampy are sharing a bed. Me and [my sister] have our own beds in our room. The bathroom is big but cold. Outside there is a playground with giant chess and a rope ladder. I am so excited to climb it. It’s raining but I don’t care, I will climb it anyway! They have a game room near the restaurant and there is this game called shufflepuck. You throw a puck down the board and there is sand on the board that makes it go fast. It’s hard to learn but I knocked Dad’s pucks off.”

On our watercolor class at Yosemite Art Center in Yosemite Valley

“Our art teacher wanted everybody to go out and look at Yosemite Falls and paint but we wanted to stay inside. We’ve seen the falls! We know what they look like! So we just painted them inside. I don’t think I ever saw a waterfall as big as that one. I’m not going to forget what it looked like.”

On playing “Pooh Sticks” in the Merced River

“There is this game called ‘Pooh Sticks’ where you throw a stick into the river on one side of the bridge and then you see whose stick comes out first on the other side. We played it the first time we came to Yosemite and we played it again today. It can be really hard to see your stick in the creek but if you spot and you beat the other sticks it’s really exciting!!! We played it today in a part of the river where the water was moving fast. If you didn’t look for your stick quickly you missed it.”

On eating dinner at Evergreen

“Grandpa is such a silly orderer at dinner. Tonight he ate a Caesar salad and he ordered it with extra boquerones [which are like anchovies]. But he didn’t want one order of Boquerones, he wanted three orders. He just kept asking the waitress to bring more. When Dad got the check there were five orders of boquerones on there. The boquerones were more [expensive] than the salad. Silly grandpa!”

On returning to Yosemite next year

“Normally I like going to different places on vacation. But Yosemite is special. I wish we could come every year. It’s also really fun coming with Grandpa. Next time I hope we can come with [her best friend]. The more people you come to visit the park with, the more fun you have.”

What parts of Yosemite do you like to visit? With whom?