I've been to Glacier National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and state parks throughout the West. I've never seen anyplace like Yosemite.
We drove into the park in the dark. I’ve done that before on trips, and I hate it, but the silver lining is that when you wake up the next morning it can take your breath away.
We walked out of our room and looked up. Granite, everywhere. Unimaginably sheer rock faces. As I sat there and stared I tried to articulate what made it so different than all of the other mountainous parks I’d seen.
It's the light.
Ansel Adams knew it. The light changes from minute to minute and place to place. When it hits right it's like a combination of the warm glow of the Italian sun and the clear blue sky. The light and the granite combine almost magically.
A digression on the National Parks.
People do all sorts of stupid things - wars, pettiness, and general ugliness. But somewhere in our past people found places like Sequoia and Yosemite and did something right. They decided to keep these special places intact, forever, so that we would all remember how small we are and how beautiful the world is.
As I write this we are getting ready to leave San Francisco and head down the coast to Big Sur, where we'll be staying at Kirk's Creek Campground overlooking the Pacific for a few days. I doubt if there will be internet access, and I'll probably be off the grid for a while. We're looking forward to slowing down, just a bit, and enjoying a little bourbon by the campfire.