Yosemite, Fresno, Monterey
24.09.2014 - 02.10.2014 75 °F
Yosemite is one of those places that burns its imagery into my mind.
We arrived on a gorgeous day and there wasn't too much traffic. Yosemite is much more "organized" now than when I was a child. Back then, I think there were just tent/cabins near the river and then just open campsites. Now there are free buses that take you to all the key spots, a nice main area where you can eat and visit museums and nicely paved roads to drive on.
These modern conveniences don't detract from the ultimate glory and beauty that is Yosemite. Everywhere you look there is some magical play between sunlight and shadows, or various flora and fauna dancing about in color. This is a place to feel small, compared to the grandeur of nature, but that smallness imbues a person with uncommon confidence and stamina. While hiking Vernal Falls, Andrea raced up the steep, uneven Inca-like steps for a picture opportunity. I was really impressed. She would not have done that a few years ago when we first started hiking. I mean, she was afraid of cows after all!
Yosemite is unlike any other place in California, or the world for that matter. It makes you feel like you haven't stayed long enough and that you need to visit it time and time again. I hope to someday again.
One of my favorite stops in the park was actually the old settlement where the first pioneers constructed a little village in the then unknown valley. (Unknown to Americans that is). There is a rustic cabin there titled, 'The Artist's Cabin'. A placard explains how it was the artists who first saw Yosemite that helped create its popularity. Artists came to Yosemite, painted amazing works and then brought them down to the masses to admire. The rest is history as they say. In fact, history is replete with artists being the ones to first chronicle a special place or event. It's too bad that society continues to misunderstand or devalue the universal contribution of artists.
Although I sometimes bemoan how technology infringes on a quality of life, I can appreciate its usefulness as a tool for traveling. We were on our way to Monterey from Yosemite and quickly used the Smartphone to see if there was a fun place to take a break from driving. We found it in Fresno of all places.
We found online the FORESTIERE Underground GARDENS which promotes itself as a "Subterranean Journey to the Mediterranean--
in the Middle of California!" It had the words "garden" and "Mediterranean" so that was good enough for us.
Fresno, for the most part, is just a dry, hot, flat city in the middle of nowhere. Most people just pass through on the way to somewhere else. But if you do pass through a need a quick break than I recommend this place. Why? Because the Forestiere Gardens is a great example of a single-minded person working hard to create beauty and comfort in the middle of nothing. Here is more http://www.undergroundgardens.com/
In short, an Italy immigrant came to the U.S. with hopes of creating a citrus ranch only to be greatly disappointed at finding out he just bought acres of cement-like land. Does he give up? No. Instead he uses his intelligence and experience at tunnel building to create a subterranean oasis that kept him cool and out of the Fresno heat. He used a DIY ethos to build his dream citrus garden and in the process, created an enormous underground space that seems so safe, cozy, private and inviting that it is very easy to imagine you are someplace exotic. The sad part of his story is that most of the town folks thought he was crazy when all he was doing was creating a wholesome dream to show others how they too can live comfortably through the hot, brutal Fresno heat. The guy even grew a tree that had 7 different fruits on it!!
I admire his efforts and wish I knew the man in real life.
Monterey is one of those places that you have to visit while in California. Sure it has a literary pedigree but the real "catch" is the uncommon shoreline hugged by green/bluish water and glistening sand. It's a great place to go on you first whale watching expedition and The Cannery area is small enough to so you can take in all the shops and diners and not feel like you missed out on any of that. More importantly, it is a place that now values sea life and you can't help come away wanting to defend Mother Natures grand creatures the Whales along with sea lions, seals and other blessed creatures that still gives a sense that that ocean lives and breathes every moment.