It’s December 24 as I write this. Christmas Eve. Our adventures are keeping us close to home for the time being. Between sneezing, coughing and popping cold pills we’re both feeling a bit under the weather. We’re laying low and anticipating the joy of Christmas; awakening to the celebration of a light in the world, the birth of Jesus. So as the new day dawns may the light shine on you and bring you peace and joy, regardless of what traditions you follow.
We’re taking an extended weekend to play grandpa and grandma in Big Pine, a town of about 1800 people in the Eastern Sierra, elevation 4000 feet. Home to our son, his wife, and our granddaughter Annabelle. It’s a 310-mile drive and the shortest route takes us through Yosemite National Park on Highway 120. The highway closes in winter for snow but, this being a very dry year, the snow has yet to come. We arrived at 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 16, just as darkness was setting in. After the seven-hour drive we were happy to pull the truck into the driveway and pop up the top on our Four Wheel Camper. Then it was dinner time. We had a very pleasant meal and, following some family time, we turned in for a quiet and peaceful night’s sleep.
Sunday morning we awoke to a bright, sunny day and after breakfast we ventured out for a walk on the desert in shirt-sleeve weather. Five of us and two dogs. Our walk took us out the front door, down the street to open land managed by Los Angeles Water and Power; a great place to walk dogs off leash and to enjoy the view of the mountains to the east and west.
Talking about walking, our granddaughter Annabelle was a trooper at testing out her new skill of walking. She did manage to take a spill, planting her face on the trail, and getting her lip a bit bloody. It wasn’t long though before she was back in good spirits. After the walk it was time to check the chicken coop, and sure enough, we found four eggs.
I did not expect to see much fall color on this trip. We did see some color in the black oaks driving over the mountains, and in the willows and rabbit bush on the desert.
Winter brings a sense of peace and solitude to Yosemite Valley. This is my favorite time of year to visit. The throngs of tourists are gone. I spent part of the afternoon traipsing across El Capitan Meadow on snow shoes, with the entire meadow to myself, a welcome retreat from the events of the past few days. We arrived in the Valley yesterday afternoon in rain and ovenight the rain turned to snow. Not that the valley is empty; there are plenty of people with cameras and tripods at strategic vantage points, but also plenty of opportunity to find vantage points and subject matter. With such beauty all around one can almost point your camera anywhere and find interesting compositions.
I just want to say thank you to those that had the vision to create our National Park System; conservationist Stephen Mather, J. Horace McFarland and journalist Robert Sterling Yard, as well as those in Congress that voted the act into law, and President Woodrow Wilson who signed the bill on August 25, 1916. The bill created an agency “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” With the many challenges the future brings, let’s hope we can keep these natural wonders four generations to come.