Oprah and Gayle's Camping Adventure
They've gone back to colonial days
, hit up the country's biggest state fair
and braved an 11-day cross-country road trip
. Now, Oprah and Gayle are setting off on a new adventure: Camping!
The two best friends are headed to Yosemite National Park in California to help out park ranger Shelton Johnson. Shelton wrote to Oprah because he's concerned by the low number of African-Americans who visit the national parks each year. Out of the 280 million tourists who come, just 1 percent are African-American.
"So Gayle and I, being African-American, hopped in our Chevy, packed up our camper and paid him a surprise visit," Oprah says.
Oprah and Gayle begin their trip at Fresno Airport, where they hop into a Chevy Tahoe. Their first stop: REI, to stock up camping gear.
"It's like a camping institution," Oprah says. "A camping mecca."
Five minutes into the drive, Gayle's already singing (just like she did on their road trip
). While Gayle sings along to Toby Beau's "Angel Baby," Oprah puts on her earphones, which she says "drown out everything."
Oprah and Gayle arrive at REI and are greeted by camping expert Matt, who helps them pick out their gear. Even though they have a pop-up camper to sleep in, Oprah sees a tent that piques her interest.
"What's awesome about these is you lay down inside and you actually can see the stars while you're laying in bed," Matt says.
With a tent already in their cart, Matt helps Oprah and Gayle pick out the rest of their gear: comfy chairs, backpacks and sleeping bags. Oprah immediately takes Matt's sleeping bag recommendation—the Big Agnes Lulu bag, which is designed to keep you comfortable at 15 degrees with one layer of clothing on.
Gayle, on the other hand, says "it's good to look at all the options." She keeps Oprah waiting while she looks through the bags, eventually landing on the Clouds Rest style.
And they're off! With a three-hour drive ahead of them, Oprah and Gayle hit the road to Yosemite. Their goal is to set up camp before sundown.
On their way to Yosemite, Oprah reads park ranger Shelton's letter to Gayle:
"My entire career I have been bothered by the lack of African-Americans visiting national parks. It has bothered me when I look out and I meet people from Germany, from Spain, from Africa. And yet, I can't find an African-American from Chicago or from Boston or from Detroit. Oprah, I need your help spreading the word that the national parks really are America's best idea, and that this beauty belongs to every American, including African-Americans."
Oprah and Gayle arrive at Yosemite and are ready to surprise Shelton! Only, Shelton doesn't seem too surprised to see them. "He's acting like, you know, he had just seen us yesterday at dinner!" Gayle says.
In actuality, Shelton says he was in shock when he saw Oprah and Gayle and he was thrilled they had made the trip.
Watch Oprah and Gayle surprise Shelton!
Shelton takes Oprah and Gayle around Yosemite and shows them some of its famous sites, including the Giant Grizzly, the park's famous giant sequoia tree.
"What did I think of the Giant Grizzly? I thought it was like getting a little taste of God," Oprah says.
While they're exploring the rest of Yosemite, Oprah and Gayle snap a picture under one of the park's tunnel trees.
Walking around Yosemite, Oprah and Gayle are surprised to meet another African-American camper! Woody Square and his wife, Judy, are seasoned campers who visit Yosemite once a year.
After a quick stop at Mariposa Grove, Oprah and Gayle hit the road again and head off to the campsite. On the way there, they take in a sight that's hailed as one of the most spectacular views on earth—the Tunnel View.
"It really was majestic, and it's one of those moments where you think, 'Boy, everyone should see this at least once in their life,'" Oprah says.
Oprah and Gayle finally arrive at the Lower Pines campground, but there's just one bump in the road...literally. As Oprah makes a sharp turn into the campsite, the trailer hits a rock.
Now, the real work begins—Oprah and Gayle start setting up their pop-up camper. Since the weather has turned cloudy and it's now impossible to see the stars, Oprah says she doesn't care as much about the tent she got at REI. So the two campers get to work on the trailer, cranking cylinders, pulling out beds and attaching support poles. "Our first pop-up," Oprah says. "I thought we did a really excellent job."
Watch Oprah and Gayle set up camp!
Oprah says they made "quite a stir in the neighborhood," because once they finish setting up the pop-up, a crowd of onlookers applauds.
Since they're camping in "bear habitat," Shelton gives Oprah and Gayle the big talk. "The main thing is to keep all of your food in the food storage locker," Shelton says. "And not only your food—anything that's food-based. Mouthwash, cosmetics, lotion, shampoo. And those little cherry-scented shampoos? All the bear smells is cherry."
Shelton finishes his talk, but Oprah still has more questions—like how you should react if you actually run into a bear.
"I'm thinking, I really had no interest in meeting a bear," Gayle says. "Oprah actually acted like she wanted to meet the bear. No, thank you."
With their campsite up and running, Oprah and Gayle are ready to socialize! The best friends mix up some Moscow Mules
to pass out to their fellow campers.
Watch Oprah and Gayle make Moscow Mules
It's happy hour at the Lower Pines Campground! With Moscow Mules
in hand, Oprah and Gayle visit their neighbors.
What happens next? Check out Part 2 of Oprah and Gayle's big Yosemite camping adventure