Back on Task

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been five weeks since I woke up in YOSEMITE National Park in the canvas tent cabin I shared with Miss Gokey! And I haven’t even updated you! What kept me? Oh, yeah: NaNoWriMo! Now let’s come back from our break, and I promise I’ll be less exclamatory.

Our day began with our photo walk, which started at what used to be Ansel Adams’s house and is now the Ansel Adams Gallery and Very Expensive Gift Shop.

best studio

I was nervous for the walk, because the only camera that I have is a kid’s phone called an LG Enact. Some of the other people on the walk had fancy cameras, but some were just like me, so I was very happy when our guide, Michael Wise, gave us the history of the buildings and told us stories about Ansel Adams.

We walked to Cook’s Meadow and discussed ways to photograph the falls so that they don’t turn out the same color as the granite like they did in my last Yosemite post. We looked at many postcards of Ansel Adams’s photos, looked at the falls, and talked about light.

Miss Gokey and I took a selfie with both Half Dome and our wealthy older lady friend in the background.

half dome selfie with gokey

We proceeded to the edge of the meadow, where Mr. Wise helped some of the people with the fancy cameras while I allowed myself to be distracted by the ecotone


and the 1997 flood level

1997 flood level

We ended our tour on Sentinel Bridge, where Mr. Wise told people with fancier cameras (and iPhones) about the SDLR function that balances the color in your photos. My LG Enact doesn’t have an SDLR function, so my sky is white when it should be the same color as the sky you can see in the water.

half dome reflection

On Facebook, Jodi said that if I switched the photo to black and white, it would look like one of Ansel Adams’s.

half dome reflection gray

I say close but no cigar. Because I don’t want the man’s descendents to sue me, I’ll just deep link to the Bing search result.

And that was only the beginning of our day! We hiked to Mirror Lake, which is a dry lake. They used to dredge the lake of silt to keep it watery for tourists, but now they let nature take its course. According to the NPS, it is a seasonal lake filled in spring and summer as long as there isn’t a drought, which there currently is. The trail was filled with people on that beautiful autumn day when we walked it. There are some terrible photos – you’d think I would have learned something on that photo walk, but…here’s a photo of the sign that says “Mirror Lake.”

mirror lake

After standing the middle of the lake bed and twirling around marveling at the views, especially Half Dome, we found two nice butt-sized hunks of granite and enjoyed our lunch of cheese sticks and Atkins shakes.

Next stop: the fancy Ahwahnee Hotel, where we walked around and looked at the little cottages and decided we would like to stay in them someday when we are independently wealthy.

ahwahnee hotel

Then, it doesn’t sound exciting, but we went to the grocery store and invested in it’s its, which I resolved to make myself for Thanksgiving dinner but haven’t gotten around to yet.

Miss Gokey asked the provocative question of whether, if I ever had kids, I would take them to Curry Village where we stayed in a canvas tent cabin, or to the Ahwahnee, if money was NO object. I decided we would vacation at Yosemite more than once, and do both. A lot of both.

But wait, there’s more!

We ended our day at Lower Yosemite Falls. Alright, alright, I’ll go ahead and post the terrible selfie.

lower falls selfie

I’ll make it nice and small. I’m definitely not aging backwards, as here’s my portrait from 2009.

lower falls selfie from 2009

I think I look haggard in comparison. I also wanted to examine something else. It’s not as obvious as I thought it would be, because in the two photos the falls only look a little bit different. Walking up the trail to the viewpoint in 2009, the river was raging. In 2015, it was completely dry. While it was fun in class this week to practice pronunciation for our presentation by repeating “accelerating global catastrophic climate change,” which made us all laugh because it was hard to pronounce, I believe that it is a reality. I don’t think this drought is one that is going away any time soon. Before I start ranting about resource scarcity as a motive for terrorism, I’ll move on.

Another change that has taken place at Yosemite in the past six years is the fact that many people now know that Halloween weekend is a cool time to visit. Miss Gokey also pointed out that this year was much warmer than 2009, increasing the size of the crowd at our traditional (because we’ve done it twice now) cemetery tour to the point of unpleasantness. Last time, we got to carry little jack o lanterns. This time, the candy had already run out by the time we arrived to the rendezvous. Boo and hiss! At least we got the nice quiet guide instead of the one who whooped and hollered.

And I think that those words, “whooped and hollered” are a good place to leave the writing of this post.

I miss writing since November has ended. I miss my character. I am trying to overcome this malaise by writing your customized Christmas postcards, if you’re on my list.

In the meantime, I will leave you with a photograph of just the lower falls, as your incentive to visit this stunningly beautiful place.

lower falls




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