Sunday, July 10, 2011

Yosemite National Park Serves a GF Meal

This weekend I joined my company for their annual Yosemite trip. My coworker Sarah and I left work midday Friday and carpooled about 6 hours from Los Angeles to Curry Village located in Yosemite Valley. I was really excited to go; I've been to Yosemite several times during my youth and a few times in the last 10 years, so there’s a lot of nostalgia there for me. I’m glad my coworker and friend Sarah accompanied me on the trip up; we gabbed like high school girls do and we were there before we knew it.

When we arrived we were told by registration that the bears were definitely out and about. That didn't bother me really; I've been going camping since I was a kid so the idea of seeing bears actually makes it more exciting for me. We were told to keep all of our food in a bear locker outside our tent (you already know this if you are an avid camper.) My coworker was surprised to learn that you had to keep your toiletries in it, too - anything that could smell yummy to a bear could interest them - so, into the locker they go! This especially goes for cars.

I DARE you to leave food in your car!!
Our humble abode

Employees from our engineering firm (I'm a marketer, not a geeky engineer - let's get that straight) came from northern and southern California, and from our global locations in Haiti, Italy and Istanbul. Saturday morning we awoke bright and early to meet at the outdoor amphitheatre for a company picture – which, I might add, I missed due to standing in line for 15 minutes at the cafĂ© for a cup of coffee. I do have priorities, you know. Besides, who in the world I’d like to know, plans for a company picture at 8:30 in the morning? Sheesh. We then broke up into groups depending on what level of hike we wanted to go on. After the head honcho tried to convince us to go on the killer 13-mile hike with him, which would last about 8-10 hours (like that was going to happen), Sarah and I chose to go on the Vernal and Nevada Falls hike. I’ve been on this hike several times and it’s always a favorite for me. It is a moderate hike with a consistent incline to the top. The path is parallel to the falls, and as you get closer to the falls, you get drenched by the spray of the rapids. At that point if it is hot out - as it was Saturday - you are welcoming a good cool-off! Here’s a picture of Sarah and I at the top (you can see we are a bit soaked!)

The lovely ladies of Yosemite

After the hike we decided to relax by the pool and meet up with some friends and coworkers. And by the way, what is better than enjoying a leisurely afternoon by the pool soaking up some rays while looking at some of nature’s most majestic views in the world? Nothing in my opinion. But then, I’m a bit of a tree hugger.

After creating more freckles in the sun at the pool (I don’t really tan well due to my Irish-Norwegian heritage), we went to get gussied up for our company dinner at the lodge. I’d be lying if I wasn’t a bit stressed thinking about whether they’d be able to accommodate my gluten free needs. The dining manager informed me that almost everything being served at the buffet that was planned for our private party – barbecue ribs, chicken, beans, salad dressings and rolls – had icky gluten in them. Eek. However, the chef was educated about gluten free cooking and was able to whip me up some herb-roasted chicken, potatoes and vegetable skewers. Here was my meal:

Bon Appetit!

I was so happy that I didn’t have to go back to my tent and eat salami and cheese for dinner! It was a pleasant experience to be able to sit and enjoy a wonderful dinner and conversation with my colleagues. I enjoyed getting to know many of the staff I talk to over the phone on a weekly basis.

For other options outside of the dining room... while at the gift shop and convenience store, I saw many gluten free options for making your own meals, like brown rice spaghetti, and a few gluten free mixes! The world is changing my friends, and for the better.

Too bad this was such a fast and furious trip. We arrived on Friday evening and left on Sunday morning, but I’ll never turn down a chance to enjoy the great outdoors – and good company, too.

And lastly, our final stop before leaving. My favorite post-card worthy view of Yosemite Valley:

My arms look slightly "buff" here, don't you agree?
Good times. 

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