My mind was blown when we came up on Tunnel View and saw the valley for the first time. Pictures didn’t do it justice and nothing that I could ever create would come close to seeing it in person, but for those of us who have been there it beckons.
When we parked to take in the view I remember thinking, “I wonder what would it would have been like before crowds of people taking selfies where here?”
Then it occurred to me that if I can imagine it, I can draw it.
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What can I say that would do justice to the majesty I have witnessed. When people asked me how our trip was I didn’t have words. The best that I could muster was, “I’ve seen pictures of Yosemite and thought, that’s pretty, but what you see when you get there blows your mind.” The best works of Ansel Adams don’t even come close to expressing the feelings you get from experiencing it first hand. You have to see it in person.
We drove in from the south. Nearly seven hours total through the means streets of Orange County, to our friends’ place in the desert, past the vast wastelands, and into the gates of the park and there was silent excitement as we waited to see what came around the next corner.
Something about the woods strums up heartwarming memories of running through the parched trees of Big Bear where as a child I would explore and learn. The shushing road and warm air scented with pine lulls me as we skim over the winding Wawona hills. As we start to see the rock heave up to form the corners of the mouth that opens up to the valley and find ourselves peering down into the steeply formed river bottom, I sleepily come to realize that this dream is about to become real.
We explode into the valley with what is one of the best ways to start your adventure. “Tunnel View” doesn’t begin to describe the spectacular scene that unfolds before you, but after many hours on the road it was the golden treasure at the end of a long journey. I could have gone home right then and there.
It is overwhelming. It’s bigger than life. It makes you curious and tickles that exploratory itch. We couldn’t just look. We had to dive in and feel the water go over our heads. We were immersed in Yosemite’s power for almost a week. And we left wanting more.
Afterwards it haunted us. Not just because of the vacation withdrawals we felt being back at work. So when I sat down to tackle some artwork I was blinded by memories of what I just experienced. I had something stirring in me that needed to escape.
While inspired by our trip the image I came up with fails to come anywhere close to the experience I shared with friends. For those of us who have made the pilgrimage these images link to that part of our inner being that like a film negative has been permanently exposed with those memories of our experiences. Perhaps we can keep the memory alive with these artifacts. Maybe it will only feed that craving of the most addictive drug, adventure.
The beauty is with us still and continues to nourish our souls.