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There are words we use so often in modern parlance that they have almost lost their original meaning. Breathtaking, for example. How often do we use this to describe something that literally takes out breath away anymore? Because, yes, some sights can be so impressively magnificent that they temporarily alter your breathing pattern in a non-figurative sense. I always manage to forget that literal breathtaking beauty exists, until I visit Yosemite again. The view from Glacier Point looking out over Yosemite Valley and a couple of other Yosemite National Park vantages do just that for me. I am so wowed by the sheer gorgeousness of what I am seeing, that I breathe differently. And, no, that's not just the altitude talking. ;)

This weekend, Mortgaged and I met his parents and his sister L and her family up in Yosemite for a few days and it was...well...let's just say I didn't want to come back Sunday afternoon. We stayed in a rented cabin just down the road from the family cabin. Why you ask? Well, for those of you who have visited Yosemite with us before and stayed in Mortgaged's family cabin, it looks a bit different these days (Note, these changes LJ is making to the system and how they muck up the spacing on these posts? Hating it!):

Yes, the family decided to tear down the old 1920's construction and build a new one in its place...note this one has a foundation! It's going to be similar in terms of simplicity of design to the old cabin in many ways. We wanted a cabin that actually looks like a cabin, though it will have four small bedrooms to host the family en masse or family and host of friends. :)

This is the view from our future patio right off of the future kitchen/dining room/living room/general place for everyone getting together and hanging out *bouncy, bouncy, bouncy*:

Saturday, we took our bikes down to Yosemite Valley and tooled around taking in the sites. Here are Mortgaged and I pausing on a bridge over the Merced River:

I have visited the valley several times before but never on my bike. Now I can tell you that on a bike is, without a doubt, the best way to tour the valley! You get to avoid most of the places tourists cram together in a huge line, namely the tram stops from trail head to trail head which, if you want to see the whole valley in one day, you almost have to take advantage of on foot. And you can zip by other large groups of tourists quickly. Besides, this is easily the most beautiful place I have ever ridden:

How can you beat this for a bike trail view? Look over there, Yosemite Falls!:

Ooo, Oooo, look over there! Half Dome!:

We parked the bikes at several trail heads to hike into the various nooks and crannies of Yosemite Valley and see more almost indescribable gorgeous-osity - seriously, you run out of adjectives for OMG that's stunningly beautiful around here real quick and have to make up your own ;) - up close. We didn't get to do quite as much of this as I would like, one of the drawbacks of enjoying time with our young niece and nephew, but we did get to see a few, including the Happy Isles and Yosemite Falls:

By 2 p.m. or so, the kidlets were tired so L and B took them back to the cabin in Wawona to rest and swim. Mortgaged and I took advantage of the alone time to pack the bikes up and drive up to Glacier Point. This is one of the most beautiful places in the park, but not very kid friendly in terms of actual things to do.

Here is the famous view of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point. It's a little hazy because there was a lightning strike fire on the mountain leading up to Glacier Point. We humans have finally managed to learn some ecological lessons over the years and such fires are now watched and carefully kept from getting out of hand when they occur naturally, but otherwise allowed to burn out the dead wood and generally do their thing. Hazy or not, this view always looks too pretty and perfect to me to be real, like the world's most fantastic painting and puts me in absolute awe of the power of glaciers, snow melt and river erosion to carve this out over time:

And here is the Yosemite Valley floor some 3,000 feet and change below. If you look very closely, at the small clearing in the top center of the photo you can see the Ahwahnee Hotel, in all of it's well preserved art deco glory, and winding it's way through the bottom of the photo, the Merced River. Hang gliders are allowed to launch from the top of Glacier Point just after sunrise and land in one of the two clearings you see in the corners:

This is a rocky outcropping on Glacier Point from which Ahwahnee Hotel staff used to dump many pounds of cinders from the hotel fires each New Year's Eve in the 1920's into the snow on the valley floor, creating a giant waterfall of fire several 1,000 feet high. It must have been a beautiful sight, though we now know not to do such things to the environment. If you look, you can still see the burn marks on the rock:

Sunday morning, Mortgaged and I biked around Wawona Valley near the cabin. I thought I was getting to be in pretty good shape, all things considered. You know, 39 mile bike ride to Seal Beach and all that? But the tall, plentiful hills seemingly with no end and no breaks between then kicked my butt. Oh well, I now have yet another improvement goal to work towards, and at least the scenery was beautiful!:

The swimming hole in Wawona, a mile or so away from Mortgaged's family cabin:

It was an absolutely glorious trip and I can't wait to go back and stay in the family cabin this time!


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 22nd, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
That looks incredible! I was just telling Scott today that I want to go to Yosemite. I've never been.
Aug. 22nd, 2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
I love your icon! It makes me smile remembering the story behind it.

Yosemite is incredible and I think you and Scott would really like it if you get the chance to go. You have the option of two levels of hotel, renting a cabin or several levels of outright camping and, depending on the time of year you go, there are so many different things you can do: inner tube it or kayak down the Merced river, hiking, biking, swimming, skiing in the winter. It's just a great place to go.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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