I'm still half in Yosemite. An experience that strong doesn't leave me instantly; it lingers. What's more, I try to make it last. Part of the value of a vacation is the spirit you retain of it as you rejoin your "normal" life. Being in Yosemite enourages big thinking, spiritual feelings, and a general awakening to the wonders of the world. I'm trying to keep those things going as I work to finish this first draft of my new novel. Yosemite was a great brain-clearer, sense-sharpener, and issue-clarifier.
And I have a lot more pictures to post.
I've been lucky enough to see some great natural vistas in my life – Big Sur (four times), Lake Como from Bellagio, the coast of Croatia, the skies of New Mexico, the hills of Tuscany, the Ring of Kerry (hell, all of Ireland), beaches in Jamaica, St. Maarten, and Key West – but I don't think I've ever seen anything like Yosemite.
We spent a lot time time, just driving at twenty miles an hour, with my convertible's top down, through the winding roads of the Yosemite Valley, overwhelmed with the beauty of nature: the enormous cliffs, the pristine forests, the flowing meadows, and the closeness of it all. In Yosemite, you are right up against the cliffs. Sometimes it seems like you're driving into – or off – of them. Fortunately, there are a lot of turnoffs and scenic overlooks because everyone is doing the same thing: driving super-slowly and gawking at some of the most spectacular scenery on earth.
I took 141 photos in four days. I kept shooting the same vistas over and over again – zooming in a little here, framing it differently perhaps – because their beauty was absolutely fresh and stunning every time I saw it. We must have stopped at the Tunnel View that looks down the center of the valley -- on the left, El Capitan and the Royal Arches on the left, and on the right, the Cathedral Rocks, Sentinel Rock, Glacier Point, and Half-Dome – three or four times. But we weren't alone: swarms – buses! – full of tourists from all the countries of the world are disgorged in the tiny twin parking lots of the Tunnel View to stare and take countless pictures and selfies.
Going back to the Tunnel View several times was a good thing. With something truly special, you want to go back several times to see how the daylight plays and changes the vista. I remember going to the Acropolis multiple times because the marble looks golden in the early morning sunshine, white during midday, and pink at sunset. I bet the Tunnel View at the right time of sunset would be insanely beautiful.
There are photographs on
that you would swear are hand-colored, but those are the colors of Nature's light in Yosemite.
That's why I'm already planning to go back. I want to see sunset from the Tunnel View ... and from Glacier Point. I want to go back in spring when there are as many as 300 waterfalls in the park (and one right outside the Ahwahnee). I want to see the Tuolomne Meadows, which we never got to. Distances in the Park are vast, yet deceiving: the Ahwahnee seems to be right under Glacier Point, but it takes an hour and twenty minutes to drive there.
To help keep the memory of Yosemite going, I bought a baseball cap, some secret Christmas presents, and two coffee mugs. I have a fairly large collection of coffee mugs (many of them bought for me by my daughter The Flower). In fact, I have so many that they recently had to be "curated" by the TG. We ran out of cupboard space.
I've already framed two photos I took of the TG and placed them strategically around my office: one shot from a medium distance, with a luscious river background, one close-up. They are some of the best pictures I've taken of her in forty-three years.
Around my office, I have great pictures of her – in Majorca, in Dubrovnik, at the Flower's high school graduation, with the Flower under the apple blossoms in Central Park, going to the Oscars with both the Flower and with Calder's Father (different Oscars) – but these from Yosemite are as good as any of them. And they will spark a warm, fond feeling in me every time I look at them.
And the best thing is, when I came home, I realized again that I live full-time in a place of great beauty: in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, specifically in the Crescenta Valley. From my backyard, I can't see Half Dome (8,836 feet), but I can see Mount Lukens, which is the western-most mountain in the front range of the San Gabriels and, at 5,075 feet, is the highest mountain in Los Angeles County.
And at sunset, the San Gabriels turn pink, almost magically, with a beauty that is Yosemite-equivalent. Sometimes our skies look like a painted backdrop.
What's more beautiful than Yosemite? Maybe ... Venice. But wait: that's all man-made, right?
The subject for another blog.