I filled out a short preference form and let the travel agent take it from there. Done. Wham-bam-Thank-you-Ma'am. The day before we left, we opened the reveal documentation and packed. It was a fun, little luxury to kick back and wait for the awesome vacation to plan itself. If you're intrigued by the idea of a mystery vacation, I say give it a whirl. It's helps that I know the gals over at Magical Mystery Tours personally. They're smart, savvy small business owners who do this because travel is their passion. And they're not paying me to say it.
Soooooooo ... Where'd we go? Yosemite!
I'm a National Park Passport stamp maniac after being introduced by the lovely Marissa from Marissa Makes when we were in New Orleans. Since then, if we're within an hour of a stamp, I have standard marching orders to collect said stamp. Our very first stop in Yosemite was the visitor's center for my stamp. The rest of the vacation could have been a bust, but I would have been happy with my burgeoning passport.
Of course, the rest of the trip wasn't a bust. It was an unseasonably warm (read, a good thing) reminder that nature is so much bigger than us mere beings. I think I may have said this when we were in Rocky Mountain National Park too - but seriously, the feeling of smallness is overwhelming. The beauty and power of the creation takes me completely outside of myself. I'm still not a camper convert, but the views (all of the hard fought after views!) were well worth the week of limping I suffered from overextended muscles and an overconfidence in my hiking skills. Hahaha, I thought I had hiking skills to begin with. Silly, naive nature girl.
Since La Nina has stolen the snow season, all of the roads and hiking trails were still open in the park. Several of the water falls were still running as well. I brought my 18-200mm zoom lens and UV filter to play around with and did some quick research on photography tips. As the muse of Ansel Adams, Yosemite is the subject of a lot of photography instruction. Instead of trying to focus on it all, I decided to specifically shoot with a series in mind. Specifically, I wanted trios of pictures reflecting a big picture shot, mid range shot and a close up. These are some of the more interesting series:
Awhanee Hotel our first evening. We were recovering from rich food (delicious - get the chocolate pecan pie!) and were looking for a little bit of a warm-up to the nature. We hiked around Mirror Lake which was mostly empty until we reached the closure point of the trail where there had been a rock slide in 2009.
On our drive back to the Tenaya Lodge, we spotted the setting sun. I attempted shots in two different locations on the side of the windy road, but I really could have used a tripod. In fact, I wished I had a tripod on several occasions. That's a lesson learned that I'm going to remind myself of for the next trip I expect to be photography heavy.
The sunset in person was AH-mazing, but it wasn't until zooming in that the colors really started to translate.
The funny thing about the park is that it's soooooo big it starts to warp your perspective. The first day, I was all, "Whoa! The mountains are huge! The water falls are ridiculous!" By the third day, when we were hiking up one of the mountains and seeing the falls close up, you start to think, "Well it can't be that big because I just hiked up it." So it was with Mr. Palindrome. We saw the Giant Sequoias in Mariaposa Grove on our last day and he wasn't impressed with the "wimpy" giants. Until he saw a fallen one and the perspective was regained.