A Love Story and a Silver Lining

The granite trail to North Dome, at middle left

The granite trail to North Dome, at middle left

Post of the Day: Adding a bit of light to the darkness as we get through the pandemic together.
This series features travel photos from my archives, shared with you while staying close to home.

July 19th, 2020

I have a question for you. In your life, what place calls to you, speaks to you, or most inspires you to dream?

***

Exactly 20 years ago, J and I camped at the top of Clouds Rest in Yosemite National Park. Along the way, we found we had a lot in common. We love hiking, camping and living in the dirt. We’d rather have a starry sky overhead than a fancy floor underfoot. The day after that hike, as I held up my Pentax camera and took a film photo of J sitting at a waterfall, I knew I was in love.

Exactly 18 years ago, we married in Yosemite National Park. We had searched full circle for a wedding venue ~ all over Northern California and Lake Tahoe ~ eventually realizing Yosemite was just the right place. We arrived in the valley on a hot Tuesday in July ~ the wedding was five days later, on Sunday. I looked up at Yosemite Falls ~ the backdrop of the lawn where we would exchange vows ~ and saw just a trickle of water flowing down the granite face to the valley floor. My grandmother had recently passed away in April, so I looked up at the sky and asked her for help.

“Grandma, I know you’re there. I need a full waterfall by Sunday.”

The day before the wedding, we hosted a picnic at Tenaya Lake. About 60 wedding guests attended and I had assigned each of them one item to bring for the picnic so that collectively we had everything covered. By 3:00 p.m. the picnic was in full swing … and so was the change in the weather. The clouds rolled in and the rain started to fall. Grandma had arrived ~ bringing thunder, lightning and a wildly abrupt end to the picnic.

By Sunday morning, Yosemite Falls was full and beautiful again. All the rain that had fallen around Tenaya Lake was pouring into the creeks, over the falls and down to the Merced River in Yosemite Valley ~ making a picture-perfect waterfall just in time for the wedding. Thank you, Grandma.

***

Sittin' at the Merced River

Sittin’ at the Merced River

In the years since our wedding, we’ve returned again and again to Yosemite. Each time is different and each time is equally special. Every season is magical ~ seeing the spring snowmelt gush over the granite cliffs, the bears feed in the grassy summer meadows, the rock climbers attempt world-class verticals during the cooler autumn days, the monotone winter landscapes and snowfall in the deeply etched valley … not an hour goes by without a sense of wonder at Yosemite’s audacious beauty.

***

Merced River, Yosemite National Park

Merced River, Yosemite National Park

Last week, we left our neighborhood in Lake Tahoe for the first time in four months. Only nature could provide the necessary solitude for our escape. Only Yosemite could be appropriate for the occasion. Somehow, we lucked out with a coveted parks pass thanks to wishful thinking and impeccable timing. Capacity in the park is currently extremely limited, so we feel very lucky. But we do have a little bit of magic history with Yosemite, so in some ways it’s not surprising.

We found Yosemite in quiet, empty splendor ~ a silver lining and a state of magnificence we likely won’t experience again in this lifetime. Untrammeled, undisturbed, recovering, breathing, thriving.

***

The Ahwahnee Hotel

The Ahwahnee Hotel

Tomorrow, we’ll take a tour Yosemite’s historic Ahwahnee Hotel before moving on to our next destination.

Until then,
Kelly

P.S. Clouds Rest and Half Dome photos were captured last week along the trail between Porcupine Flat and North Dome, west of Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. Merced River photos were captured on the valley floor during long walks and deep thoughts on the shore.

51 comments

  • It’s a lovely story and a beautiful park. I’m glad the magic carpet could sneak in another time. Thanks for sharing.

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  • Kelly and Jay, it deems hard to believe it’s been 18 years ago that we were lucky enough to be invited to celebrate your beautiful wedding with you. So happy you were able to return to celebrate your anniversary in Yosemite.
    Best wishes for many more years, Sandy and Eddie

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    • Thank you SO much, Sandy and Eddie!! So great to hear from you and it was wonderful with you in attendance at the wedding. It IS hard to believe it was 18 years ago. So much has happened. Time flies! Thank you for sharing our special day with us! โ™ฅ

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  • Sorry for the typo of deems instead of seems, that’s what I get for typing at 1 A.M. lol

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  • Beautiful story Kelly. And how lovely that you are able to return to Yosemite to celebrate your milestone anniversary. Would’ve loved to see your wedding photo against that backdrop ๐Ÿ™‚ Congratulations to you and J!

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    • Oh, thank you Madhu!! It’s so nice to hear from you! I hope you’re doing well wherever you are in the world right now. I thought about posting our wedding photo… ๐Ÿ™‚ Still could, I guess. J carries it in his wallet. (So sweet!) Thanks again for the congratulations! xo

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  • Happy Anniversary Kelly and J! What a beautiful story … and it appears your grandmother is continuing to smile down upon you! It’s touching how our grandmothers hold a special place in our hearts. Just before James and I were married, we took a long trip to visit my grandmother, who had recently gone blind. She gently felt my ring and stroked James’ beard, and gave her blessing. She knew he was a keeper – and your grandmother obviously felt the same way about J. I’m so glad you managed to score park passes. ๐Ÿ™‚ ~Terri

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    • Thank you so much, Terri! LOVE your story about your grandmother and her blessing. How sweet! These are the precious life moments we never forget. โ™ฅ We also had a single deer come wandering through during our wedding ceremony. Everyone thought it was another sign from Grandma. And funny enough, we saw one single deer on the way into the valley last week. So many signs! Thanks again and say hello to that keeper, James. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • I so very much loved this story — it’s a wedding story as well as a love-of-nature story, and both are good! You’ve made many people happy — on that day and later. And on a personal note, I’m really grateful that you shared pictures because I’ve never been to Yosemite! It’s one of the parks on our NPS bucket list. We won’t be hiking much or camping, but somehow, I’m gonna see it and think of your wedding there!

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    • Thank you so much, Rusha. Love that you noted the dual stories in your comment. I was focusing on exactly that when I wrote the post. I really hope you get to Yosemite someday. It is just astonishing, especially in spring when the waterfalls are gushing. I have loads of tips to share with you to make your trip easy and amazing when you go. And how sweet of you to think of our wedding when you get there! โ™ฅ Thanks for sharing your thoughts. ~K.

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  • This just brought tears to my eyes, Kelly, how wonderful to find your true love, then get married in the valley. And, get the magical falls for your vows! I got to introduce my hubby to Tuolumne and he saw his first bear the next morning sniffing around our group campsite. Of course, she was a redhead like me, lol! A month before we got married in 2013, at another time, we glamped in Lee Vining and strolled around Mono Lake, then joined our family in the TM campground. It’s always magical there. When I drive up to Mammoth Lakes in two weeks, I’ll think of you when I drive up the Kingsbury grade to hit the 395. Extraordinary view of Half Dome, I’m in awe!

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    • Thank you for your sweet comment, Terri! โ™ฅ Love your red-headed bear story! What a great Yosemite memory! I would love to spend more time at Mono Lake. The whole area is packed with things to see and do, all the way from there to the valley. And be sure to do the North Dome hike someday ~ I really think it offers one of the best views of the whole park high and low, rivaling what you can see from Glacier Point. Hope you have a wonderful trip to Mammoth Lakes! Thanks for thinking of me! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • Love this and love you guys!!! So honored to have been there at your incredible wedding!

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  • Happy Anniversary to you both. What a beautiful story. It is clearly a magical place. I also learnt that we have something else in common. My SLRs have been Pentaxโ€™s since my first Spotmatic bought in 1970. I have even blogged about them (https://wp.me/p3gSod-5GK) Thanks for such a memorable start to the week. ๐Ÿ’•

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    • Thanks for the anniversary wishes, Andrew!! Pentax, really? Spotmatic? Cool, I’ll check out your post! The Pentax was my very first SLR (I still have it) from photography class in art school. But since then, I’ve crossed over to Canon and now Nikon. Maybe someday I’ll go back to Pentax film again. Thanks again!! โ™ฅ

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  • Happy anniversary!!!

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  • What a great story and told so well against a magnificent backdrop. We love Yosemite and looks like you lucked out with no crowds.
    For us its the ocean and mountains. We are looking for a place on the coast of Spain that will be our next chapter.
    Happy anniversary!

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    • Hey, Pazeras! Thanks for the anniversary wishes! Love your ocean/mountain duality. Best of both worlds! Coastal Spain sounds like a fabulous adventure. Any thoughts on what town or city? Thanks again!

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  • Happy Anniversary-You guys truly live a blessed life!

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    • Hi Peter! Thank you so much for the anniversary wishes! We do feel blessed and very grateful for our Yosemite connections. I hope you’re doing well, enjoying weekend picnics and all the beauty of summer. Sending love to you from both of us. ~K&J

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  • Beautiful story and photos to accompany. Happy anniversary. The perfect way and place to celebrate. I would love to go to yosemite one day. I really would.

    Pet

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    • Thanks for the anniversary wishes, Peta!! Hope you get to Yosemite someday. You will feel the amazing energy emanating from the granite walls and abundance of natural beauty all around. โ™ฅ

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  • Happy anniversary! It’s so cool that you two fell in love with each other in a such beautiful setting, got married there, and up to this day still find the time to return to this special place.

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    • Thank you, Bama!! It’s a special place I’ll always feel connected to. I often think about the feeling I have when I’m there, the calmness that comes over me… like being home again, never wanting to leave. Maybe it was in another life or something, I don’t know. Thanks again for your sweet thoughts! โ™ฅ

      Liked by 1 person

  • Happy Anniversary Kelly and J! What a beautiful story. I wanna see a wedding pic with the waterfall!
    So happy for you that you got to sneak back in for a perfectly timed getaway.
    Hugs to you both
    Alison

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    • Thank you, Alison! Hugs back to you and Don! Jay has a faded copy of the photo in his wallet but it’s too light to see the falls. If/when we ever get back to Colorado where our photos are in storage, I’ll dig out the original and post it!! Thanks for the love, Love. โ™ฅ

      Liked by 1 person

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  • How did I miss this?! Here I am blabbering about wanting to get to Yosemite as a basic visitor, and you have this incredible history there! It gives me goosebumps. What a special place to have as “yours.” I’m trying to think if we have such a place, and the mountains of western NC come to mind (I mentioned Asheville just yesterday), or maybe the whole Appalachian chain, or maybe the eastern shore, or maybe even Colorado where we go back many years, from our 20s to now … But nothing so majestic and awe-inspiring as Yosemite! What a great story; I’m so glad I saw the “Related” link at the bottom of another post!

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  • Happy Anniversary to you both! That’s a great memory to have! To answer your question at the beginning, I would have to say anywhere along the Atlantic Coast of Virginia. (Home State). Just because when you’re at the edge of that ocean, you know theres an entire world out there to be explored if you haven’t, or remember the parts of it you were lucky enough to see. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thanks for the anniversary wishes, Kevin! And you’re the only person who replied to my question! So thanks for that, too. LOVE your answer! That feeling of being at the edge of a continent with the world just beyond is really something. I haven’t been to Virginia yet — hope to go someday! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  • Yosemite is such a special place. It’s nice to read about people who really cherish it.

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  • I love a good tale like this, filled with love and adventure.

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  • Beautiful Story … Happy Anniversary !!!

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  • Sweet. And what a wonderful way to have an anniversary; having a normal mob scene like Yosemite nearly to yourself.

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  • Incredible views. Thanks for sharing

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