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Natural Perspectives: Nature's magnificence in Yosemite

June 23, 2010|Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray

Last week, Vic and I rented a vacation house on a fork of the Fresno River in Oakhurst with our friends Paul and Sue Hertzog and their delightful 15-year-old daughter Katie. Paul and Vic have been friends since they lived in France and shared a house during college days at Stanford. If the name Paul Hertzog sounds familiar, that's because he wrote the music for "Kickboxer," "Bloodsport" and several other movies.

The game plan for this trip was to go into Yosemite National Park during the day and cook gourmet meals at the house every evening. The house had a huge kitchen and a deck under the oak trees where we could sip wine while watching the river flow by below. We were in heaven.

On our first full day at Yosemite, the five of us piled into our car. We stopped at the overlook just after the tunnel for that first spectacular view of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley. Then, thanks to road construction work, we were stuck there for the next half hour. No worries, we ate a picnic lunch tailgate-style and enjoyed the view. If you're going to Yosemite this summer, be aware that crews are working Monday through Friday on a major improvement project along State Route 41, the main approach from Southern California.

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I could hardly wait to get to the base of Bridalveil Fall, my favorite in the park. When we arrived, we found it swollen with spring snowmelt and more beautiful than ever. We normally visit Yosemite Valley in the winter. As this was my first June visit to Yosemite Valley, I was surprised by the size of the waterfalls and the raging rivers.

Winds whipped the torrent of water from the waterfall into a thick swirling mist, blowing it onto hapless but happy hikers at the vista point at the bottom. A sudden downpour couldn't have drenched us more. I was soaked to the skin in an instant, laughing like a schoolgirl.

Several stops and many photographs later, we arrived at the Ahwahnee Hotel, where we stopped for dessert and coffee. I picked up a nifty item in the hotel gift shop: a reusable shopping bag that folds into a little pouch with a little carabiner attached. I can clip it to my purse and always have my own shopping bag with me. I generally remember to bring reusable bags to the grocery store but don't have one with me when shopping at other stores. Now I'll never be without one. That's one more small step for the environment.

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