I was blessed once again to have my parents visit me out in California. One of the most enjoyable things to me in my life is road-tripping through the West and, again, my parents agreed to tag along for yet another crazy trip. For some time I had been talking with my mother and she had mentioned that she wanted to see the big trees again and this time wouldn't complain...so from there, game on! I arranged what I thought would be an ultimate adventure through the Sierras, and as always the mountains would not disappoint.
We started off in Sequoia NP. A day's drive from where I live (how insane!) we got to the hotel and then drove on over to the big trees just before sunset. The orange light of the setting sun just lit the trees on fire; the sequoia bark was red like a painting in front of our eyes. These trees are watchful guardians reminding us of the possibilities of beauty and how fragile it can be. We also did the drive again into Kings Canyon which is always stunning. I love Yosemite, but every time I drive in I always find myself longing for Kings Canyon more. The sheer massiveness of the granite and the breathtaking views of the canyons are almost overwhelming, as is the sense and anciness I always feel knowing that from Road's End there are trails that wind upwards on the walls into grandeur.
Next we went to go visit the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. I had seen bristlecones in Nevada before but never been to the forest in the California mountains. Winding ever upwards the road took us from the feet of the glorious Sierras up into the White Mountains, upwards, ever upwards. On top of the mountain ridges we could look east and west and see out for miles, the clouds forming mountains in the sky trying to rival the Earth's attempt to reach upwards. And at the end of the road were the bristlecone pines. I love these trees; every one has its own personality, story, and history. How can one not be just in awe being in the presence of the oldest living things on this planet. And, even so, every tree is unique. No form is duplicated; every bristlecone has a shape that tells its 5000 year story of life. I am grateful to share a little bit of time with them.
We then took the east entrance into Yosemite, winding up at the Ahwahnee. For many years I had heard my mother's stories about how she was on a trip and scheduled to stay in the Ahwahnee but JFK had decided to visit and closed the hotel! So for a keystone it was obligatory. We had a lovely dinner in the great dining room with excellent prime rib and a rich espresso mousse. But we also had a wonderful cottage with comfortable beds but, amazingly, a wonderful solitude from the hustle and bustle of both the hotel and the park. Sitting outside the river and wildlife beckoned, giving an ever so slight glimpse of the grandeur of this place in solitude.
I love experiencing places I love in new ways, and the experience of this trip made me again fall in love with the mountains. I am blessed my parents were willing to tag along, and with luck maybe a little bit of that magic may have rubbed off onto them! I do not think I can ever be too far away from the West. Its beauty sings.
Picutres were from the a900 system. Click "Next" in the upper right to begin.