This year was our first year camping in Yosemite's Curry Village...and I'm pretty certain it was also our last. We had high hopes for this year's experience, it came with lots of good reviews from people we know, but perhaps these people didn't have the magical experience of car camping in Yosemite to compare it to. I forgot to ask. ;)
This year's attempt to get a much coveted camping spot was no different than past years. It typically goes something like this:
1.) Get online at 6:59am on February 15th with as many friends and as many laptops as possible working for you. Try like mad to secure a camping spot in the first half of the summer within the 30 second window you have. (I'm usually trembling during this part which undoubtedly results in delayed *key pressing and screen refreshing* skills.)
2.) Get shut out by 7:01. Close down laptop, lick wounds.
3.) Get online AGAIN at 6:59am on March 15th with as many friends and as many laptops as possible working for you. Try like mad to secure a camping spot in the second half of the summer within your 30 second window you have.
4.) Success - we I get a spot!
We actually did manage to grab car camping spot this year (I have tricks/tactics which I will never reveal here!), unfortunately, to make the situation infinitely more challenging, we were trying to coordinate our adventure with friends...who did not understand my tricks/tactics in time to bag a slot for 2013 (Hi, Bob! Hi, Nicole!!).
Plan B - Curry Village tents.
So...what can I say...NOT a fan of the Curry Village experience. It's not that these 300+ tents stacked-up on each other don't serve an awesome purpose for the park and especially, I'd imagine, foreign tourists wanting to experience *camping* without all the gear. They are a great alternative. Heck, if I went abroad and took in the natural splendor of another part of the world, AND got to have a quasi-camping experience without all the fuss, I'd fancy myself pretty lucky. But they failed us in many ways, mostly just because we have car camping to compare it to. For example: we had to park far from our tent (not like car camping where you have all your gear right there with you), we were literally sleeping ten feet from strangers. (In our case, we had to listen to people up until 11:30 talking in bed. And while the park encourages you to call them so they can resolve the situation, I could never pull myself out of bed.) There are no picnic tables provided which makes gathering with friends nearly impossible, so we had to make do with the steps up to our tent and a two-seater bench that was to be shared with several tents. We could store food in a bear box but couldn't cook, so we had to walk into Curry Village every morning for coffee and food. All of it was fine and good, it just involved getting everyone dressed (did I mention we have three kids??), walking and waiting in line.
On the up side - at least we got to share Yosemite with friends this year and we did manage to make the most of it. On the last night I threw our air matresses on the ground and the kids had a clean place to play a board game before they met some other young campers and played old-fashion games until dark. For me, personally, the highlight of our Curry Village experience was the walking through camp at night and taking in all the illuminated tents before everyone went to bed. They reminded me of floating paper lanterns aglow with firelight.