When you travel, what do you hope to do, see or experience?
Thrills? Historic significance? Theater/sports? Spa pampering? Shopping?
How about beauty? Our party of 12 got that in abundance last weekend.
It was our the annual May trip to Yosemite National Park — aka the most beautiful piece of real estate on earth. We came from Selma, Reedley, Fresno, San Diego, San Ramon, Berkeley and Grass Valley. Gathered together in the Housekeeping Camp along the Merced River, we organized meals, hikes, bike rides, puzzles/games, reading, conversation, campfires ... and more meals.
Each family/friend group was assigned a dinner. For us on Saturday, the answer was simple: Burrito bar. We cooked the meat and provided beans, guacamole and condiments.
But the real draw was the park itself. Waterfalls, rock cliffs, meadows, rivers and lakes. Deer, ducks, bears and all varieties of feathered creatures. The opportunities for outdoor activities are many: Hiking, biking, rafting/kayaking — and for some of us, simply sitting and watching nature do its thing.
Who are we who travel to America’s national parks? We are the young and old, the healthy/fit and infirm/out-of-shape. We are the workaholics and the lazybones. The young ‘uns and the moms/grandparents. The nervous and the chill, the old school and the woke.
What many of us we have in common is a love for Yosemite.
My slogan to most Yosemite visitors is simple: “Look up.” And there are not many of our world’s wonders and tourist attractions where that phrase is more appropriate.
That’s why so many folks park their cars and begin walking or biking through the park. Most of the highlights are way above our heads, unseen from a non-convertible vehicle but perfectly visible from a bicycle or on foot,
And isn’t that an apt metaphors for life? Look up! Not down, not back, not sideways, but up.
Up is often used as a term for positive in spirit, the opposite of being down. Up ahead is the fabulous future. Down below can be despair.
When we admire someone, we look up to them. We pump up the volume. We up the bidding. Upwards and onwards, always progressing, always bold, and above the level of most folks’ eyes.
Yosemite is all of that and more. Above eye level are the rock walls, the tops of trees, the waterfalls cresting over cliffs, the falcons, blue jays and ravens. If you’re on a “down” cycle emotionally, it’s easy to get “up” in the most beautiful place on earth.
So the next time you are standing along the Merced River staring up at Yosemite Falls, Half Dome or El Capitan, and someone asks, “What’s up?” answer this way:
“Up? It’s where my eyes are focused. It’s where the beauty lies.”