We kind of freelanced it today, exploring on our own. Saw lots of wildlife, took lots of pictures and generally enjoyed being outside all day in such a magical place. We stopped at the Ahwahnee, Mirror Lake and Yosemite Falls. As this week marches on, we are finding our list of things we want to do outpacing the time we have left.
Anne is always accusing me of stealing her shot and usually she is correct, but today I upped my game. Really we both did. Today, we both stole from famed photographer Ansel Adams. It was our first full day in Yosemite and we spent most of it in class. In the morning, we had a 90 minute seminar that was free and opened to the public. This was followed by a four hour private lesson in the afternoon. Christine from the Ansel Adams Gallery was the teacher for both events. The second one was by far the most interesting and informative. There she started by showing us the type of camera that he used and then showing us his former residence and darkroom. The rest of the afternoon was spent touring the park, going from one photo’s locale to the next and then receiving detailed instruction on how to best duplicate Adams’ original shot with our own equipment. It was a lot of fun and we both learned a lot. Now many of his pictures would have been impossible to replicate, because they were either taken at different times of day or in different seasons or the landscape has changed, but it was still fun to try. We tried Adams’ iconic photo of the moon over Half Dome. We have a copy of the original hanging at home. That photograph was taken at night and it was the afternoon when we tried and there was no moon. It turns out that that shot captured a relatively rare astronomical event. It only occurs once every 25 years and the last time that it happened, it was cloudy. Christine told us that one of the other photographers took to tossing a golf ball in the air and all tried to get the shot.
Quaff, oh quaff this kind Nepenthe
And forget the lost Lenore.
– “The Raven”, Edgar Allen Poe
On Sunday, we enjoyed a family outing, where Dad, Chris, Anne and I all drove south along Route 1 from Monterey to Big Sur. Our destination was the restaurant, Nepenthe. It was a beautiful day, if a trifle warm at 89°. In Saint Louis this kind of heat would be sweltering, but out here on the left-coast, with only 20% humidity, it is merely warm and not too hot, if you are in the shade. Still on such a day, hundreds of residents of the Golden State flocked to the coast, almost like lemmings, inching ever closer to the highway’s cliffs, which are situated high above the sea. It is a beautiful drive that features a twisting and swooping road that has been featured repeatedly in almost every auto manufacture’s commercials. While driving, I took note of the unusually high percentage of convertibles on the road. More than a few of my fellow drivers were wishing that they could duplicate the same kind of freewheeling driving style that is featured in those ads. Unfortunately, I was in front of them. I may be slow, but I’m in front of you! Also of note were the tell-tale signs of this summer’s Soberanes fire, which is still ongoing. We saw smoke from the fire in the distance, when we turned back onto my Dad’s street. On the drive south, we saw burned spots high up on the hills that occasionally had crept down to the road. Both Molera and Pfeiffer state parks were still closed. They are operating as firefighting camps. The Soberanes fire is now the most expensive fire in US history. This cost is primarily due to the inaccessibly of the Los Padres National Forest. Firefighters are hoping for containment later this week. We arrived at Nepenthe early enough to not only get a parking spot, but also rather quickly a table. Mom and Dad have been coming to this restaurant since the mid-fifties and Chris and I not too much later. In honor of this, our waiter handed us each a sample of the original 1949 menu. Back then, today’s $17.50 Ambrosia Burger was only 60¢ – “Like a Phoenix bird’s egg in a nest, it is served in a basket with shoestrings [French fries] (not including the one we started on).”
Today, we head to Yosemite. We’ll be staying in the park, but outside the valley floor, in a motel. We could watch the big debate tonight, or we could watch the sunset on Half Dome. Decisions, decisions…😉
The other day, Anne and I toured the Monterey waterfront. We started at Fisherman’s wharf and walked to Lover’s Point and back. We saw the San Salvador, which had just docked that day. I missed the Spanish galleon that was part of this year’s Great Lakes tall ships tour, so it was good to see this vessel. We were originally planning on seeing the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but our slow sojourn along the coast, ate up all of our time. We took our time and observed the abundant marine life, including this otter. Later, we observed two marine biologists who were also watching the otters.
Anne and I went to church with Dad. We first visited Mom’s grave. He attends San Carlos, the oldest and smallest cathedral in California. Presiding over Mass was the retired bishop. His homily was a riff on the day’s gospel, Luke’s story of the rich man and Lazarus. In this story, Lazarus the beggar is turned away from the rich man’s house. Eventually, they both die and have to face judgment. Lazarus is admitted into heaven, but the rich man is denied. The rich man first pleads to Lazarus for relief, but is again denied by God. He then pleads on the behalf of his five brothers and is again denied.
In his homily, the bishop told a personal story. He had just lost his iPhone while golfing. It had fallen out of his pocket on the course. Here he digressed and talked about the quarterly solicitations to Catholic charities. He had just given, when yet another solicitation had arrived. Returning to the clubhouse, he again noticed the young men, mostly Hispanic, waiting to caddy. It turns out that one of these men had already turned in the phone. The bishop decided to then and there make another donation in the name of his sixth brother.
Chris drove us from Monterey to Half Moon Bay, up the coast on Highway 1. We drove up, straight through, only stopping at our terminus, the Moss Beach Distillery, for lunch. Perched high above the beach, this historic speakeasy features fine food, drink, a great view and tales of rumrunners and a ghost, the Blue Lady. After lunch, we began working our way south again. We stopped at the Pigeon Point lighthouse and various state beaches along the way. Our big stop was Aňo Nuevo State Park, home on the Central Coast for the elephant seals. They have been working hard on renovating this park and there is still work ongoing. We had to take two detours in our 3 mile roundtrip sojourn through the sand. It was a slog, but the many new duckboards made a difference. Next up was Davenport, a coastal town just north of Santa Cruz that is mainly inhabited by surfers. Here was the day’s real mission, the Crack, a coastal rock slough that Chris wanted to photograph and add to his ever burgeoning collection of Central Coast pictures. Chris had brought crampons and kneepads to aid in his scramble across the rocks. I made one lame attempt to follow him, but when an errant wave soaked my shoes, I turned back. Anne and I hung out on the beach occasionally calling Chris just to check on him. We had a LA camera crew for company. They were photographing the sea stack too. After sunset Chris came back and we drove south to Santa Cruz, where we grabbed some pizza for a late dinner. Afterwards, we headed home.