WHO WE ARE
We built our home in 1987. One of my mother's friends, Gino Grillo, who is a master carpenter,served as our general contractor, did the bulk of the work, and guided us every step of the way. While we were building we lived in a modest cabin nearby.
Our first child, Josh, was born in the Winter of 1988. Jess followed in 1990 and Jillian in 1993. These were the happiest days of our lives. We lived in a friendly and caring community, the children were little, life was simple, and we were surrounded by beauty everywhere.
There is something about Wawona, our town in the Park. Everyone who lives there chose to be there. There is plenty of time to be alone, but when people get together, it's special. Maybe the beauty of the place effects the way people relate to each other.
While everyone else in the community was either a tourist, a retiree, a Park Service, Park Concessionaire or Redwoods employee, an owner of a small business (Pine Tree Market) or homeworker of some kind, we were the exception. We found our nitch in publishing 'The Wawona Neighborhood News' and in a cabin caretaker business 'Wawona Home Services'.
We moved away in 1997 to be closer to family in Wisconsin and to get better care for our middle daughter who has special needs. Since we plan to move back someday, we've kept our home here and rent it out through an onsite management company.
This was an early Christmas for us in Wawona- Jilly (our youngest daughter) looks like she's about one year old. Josh would be five. Sam, who has since passed on, was our beloved dog who spent his early years with us in Wawona and then moved with us to Wisconsin. He was never happier than in Yosemite where he would occasionally run free, even though it was against the rules.
JIM & DONNA
Here are Donna (my wife) and I near Glacier Point with Half Dome in the background. Picture taken in 2010, so we're older now! Think this was taken in the Spring.
Here we are all together again in Wisconsin with the addition of Roxy and the sad absence of Sam who died of cancer in about 2006.
Jess (older daughter) demonstrating the size of the California Tunnel Tree in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Redwoods near Wawona and the South Gate.
JOSH, ROSE & PEACH
Josh, his wife Rose and Daughter Penelope (Peach) born in July, 2015. Family picture taken in Yosemite Valley during our most recent family vacation in Fall 2017.
Gino hard at work during demolition when we remodeled the kitchen and dining room. It's easy to forget how unpleasant it was for awhile during construction- but worth it.
THE LIVING ROOM
I'd take the kids, when they were babies, on long walks in a backpack. This is the "Swinging Bridge," about 30 minutes from our home on foot; an easy walk that crosses over the South Fork and connects North and South Wawona.
CHILNUALNA FALLS CREEK
This is Chilnualna Falls Creek, having come over the Falls, as it flows just beyond our backyard. The Creek can be flowing swiftly or hardly at all depending mostly on snow melt from the high country above the Falls.
The Wawona School in this building is fairly new. It is still has a single multigrade classroom and a teaching principal. There has been a school in Wawona, in different locations, for over 100 years. Like the community, the school confers a sense of value to the children unlike any other place of which I am aware.
PINE TREE MARKET
Apart from the natural beauty of Wawona, the community and institutions reflect a simpler, earlier time. People sit on the deck of the Pine Tree Market greeting their friends, and everyone in the community wears several hats,that is, participates with their Wawona neighbors in a variety of ways. There are a number of different groups within town, including the retirees, the concessionaire employees, independents like the Pine Tree Market, Park Service employees, and so on. There is also another general store in town, the Wawona store, run by the Park Concessionaire.
The Wawona Library used to be housed in what was the Hungry Bear restaurant building and had only paperbacks due to space constraints (i.e., it was about 1/10th the size of the current building.) The current library was made possible by a gift from the Bassett family. It is a real asset to residents and visitors alike. Art exhibits and other community events are held there. It is part of the Mariposa County library system.
The Wawona Hotel dates from1860 and was started by Galen Clark, one of the original settlers in Yosemite (not counting the Indians).
The Hotel consists of several buildings, and provides fine dining and a full bar, but is not open as of yet year round, but is for all holidays. The talented and convivial Tom Bopp plays the piano and sings most evenings.
Apart from the Wawona Road (Route 41), the Covered Bridge and the Swinging Bridge are the only bridges across the South Fork of the Merced. The Covered Bridge leads directly to the Pioneer History Center on the North side.
PIONEER HISTORY CENTER
The Pioneer History Center is an interpretive exhibit of buildings from Yosemite's past, including a chief Ranger's Office, a jail, a blacksmith shop, and early cabins. The exhibit borders on the Covered Bridge and also the Wawona stables where horseback riding is available in season.
Our living room was our activity center when the children were little. A fire at night was delightful. Sometimes we all slept downstairs, especially if there was a blackout, dragging mattresses from all over the house. Since then we have installed a whole home automatic generator to keep everyone comfortable and safe during a blackout. We still have a foam hearth protector to protect little ones from sharp corners.