For the most part on this trip, I have been out of touch with the news and outside world, in fact, I seldom know the day of the week. I just look at my itinerary and know what I need to do for that day.
Of course, the news of Charlottesville spilled out even into the parks and places I was headed. As I spent time in four different parks this weekend, I couldn’t help notice the vast diversity within the parks, both people and landscape.
These parks flow one right into the next. You can drive 10 miles down the road and be in completely different surroundings. This is why I believe many people come to see the parks, the beauty and diversity they offer us that’s completely different than what we are used to in our everyday lives.
I saw not only the great diversity our beautiful country has to offer, but people from all over the world, speaking every language. People are smiling and happy, glad to to take pictures, or lend and helping hand when someone slips and falls, even if they didn’t speak a lick of English.
Why is it that so much of humanity seeks out diversity and difference, is willing to lend a helping hand to a stranger, and there are others who want to stomp it out?
The two parks I spent the most time in were Sequoia and Yosemite. Two vastly different experiences and yet connected through a long line of National Parks/National Forests in central California.
Sequoia is my favorite place I have been so far this trip. This place was right out of a children’s story book. You hear about the “large trees” but until you stand next to them and are transported back to your own childhood of when things were larger than life, you can’t possibly describe the awe. It was so peaceful and humbling to see such giants in a quiet forest.
I learned from my first park experience that this was going to take some navigation in order to maneuver through people. They have shuttles which I highly recommend you use. I lucked out and snagged a parking spot within a short walk of the Museum inside the Large Forest Park. The shuttles are packed but run quite frequently. General Sherman was pretty cool but what I found more intriguing was taking a walk on one of the paths through he forest to see all the other unnamed Sequoias. This is where it becomes peaceful because so many people just want to see General Sherman and do not explore further in the forest. Every gaze up, every corner, I was in awe and humbled at the size of these giants. This park is a bit more “modernized” than Rocky Mountain. There were stores and a museum, that were in or near the park. Moro Rock was another big destination. It was fun, and great views if you are willing to fight the crowd on the small set of stairs up the rock. This is not a place for people afraid of heights. There are handrails but you have to be willing to fight for the people for that grasp.
Yosemite, is very built up and modernized. This park has been the one I enjoyed the least. It could have been that I was trying to just make it through the day from the food poisoning I got the night before. Yes, bad sandwich at the store in Sequoia park but I would attribute it most to the fact that this park is extremely overcrowded. Here is an article I read as well that talks more about the management and preservation of our national parks.
It was smokey most of the day, not foggy, not muggy, smokey. Something was on fire and the smoke just hovered around most of the morning. It did eventually clear off a little during the early afternoon.
I again lucked out with parking in Yosemite and I snagged a spot in Yosemite village visitor parking. Many people had to drive around for over an hour to find parking. People stalked me as I walked back to my car in the afternoon to try and get my precious parking real estate. Again, going EARLY is your best bet. There a lots of shuttles and stops but most of the shuttle route is walkable. I headed to the Happy Isle trail to see Vernal and Nevada falls. There is a LOT of traffic on this trail. I made it to Vernal falls and that was as far as I got. Still feeling queasy from the bad sandwich and not wanting to be too far out in the wilderness, don’t get me wrong, I know how to poop in the woods, it just wasn’t what I wanted on the agenda for that day. The falls are very pretty and there are some very wonderful parts of Yosemite. When I come back, I know that I will take a trek a little further into the woods so that I get a little more down time and solitude.
Both parks are beautiful, both have a lot to offer, both have people from all over the world to admire their beauty and diversity, I believe there’s a lesson to be learned about the beauty in diversity. So perhaps, we can learn a little something from our National Parks.