After saying goodbye to my mother in Las Vegas, I had a long haul ahead of me. I was soon in California, cruising along in one of the state's least attractive stretches, at least in my opinion. I adore the desert, but the Mojave Desert in southern California is exactly what most people who haven't seen a desert picture: dirty, trashy, flat, uninhabited, and boring. I think it may have been the setting for Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. As much as possible, I made quick work of putting it behind me.
Just before dark, I reached the adorable historic town of Sonora in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. My Airbnb hosts, Sarah and Stan, were so sweet and enthusiastic, and a great treat after a long day. I immediately felt at home and loved the view in the waning light from my apartment atop their garage.
The next morning, I took off into the hills to our nation's longest-protected treasure, Yosemite National Park. The Yosemite Grant was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on June 30, 1864 in the first instance of park land being set aside specifically for preservation and public use by the federal government. This action set a precedent for the 1872 creation of Yellowstone as the first national park.
I think I may have visited Yosemite as a child, but I don't precisely remember. I'm quite sure, though, that I'll never forget it again. I only got to spend one day there this time, but it has certainly landed on my list for a return visit. The park is undoubtedly beautiful any time of the year, but I was simply in awe of the number of waterfalls created by the melting snow during my time there. Most of them drop from staggering heights. In fact, the 1,430-foot plunge of Upper Yosemite Fall is among the twenty highest waterfalls in the world. Thanks to these beauties, I got wetter than on a log ride several times during my exploration of Yosemite's wonders.
I didn't enjoy the traffic at Yosemite, but it's also understandable why so many want to see this great American wonderland - and I'm glad to see them doing just that. However, even the lines for the shuttle looked like more than I cared to undertake. I finally found a place to park and hiked around the valley, gazing at the sheer granite cliffs, waterfalls, and gorgeous trees. It was nice to get away from the crowds and find some peaceful spots to take in the landscape.
My pruny waterfall-soaked feet started to blister as I made my way back to the car, an almost-welcome impediment since I really needed to stay in one place and get some work done the following day. I drove back to Sonora with bare feet and a head and heart full of beautiful scenery.