Christmas in Yosemite

Laurie and I are back from spending a few days in Yosemite. This was our first Christmas not in Southern California with family in 15 years, and only my second christmas not down there since the 1980’s. The reason, of course, is that mom passed away in June, and my sister and I both agreed it was time for us to build our own holiday plans. Laurie and I had been thinking about Christmas in Yosemite on and off for a while, and I was able to get a room in the Lodge.

I am very much a snow wimp, being born and raised in LA — I was hauled off to try skiing once when I was about 12-13 and was miserable the entire time, so I’ve never been motivated to try it again, and so I’ve really never spent any time up in the snow, nor felt like I was missing much doing that. I’ve been to Yosemite before in the winter, but generally never ran into snow on the ground, much less a full-on winter storm, but the evening we got there, we had one move in and drop about 6″ of snow over the next day.

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I must admit we had a great time. We ate at the Mountain Room every night, which I really like as a restaurant ignoring it’s location. Christmas dinner was a special menu and we both ended up with the Prime Rib.

While the snow was falling visibility was quite low, but with no real wind and the roads well plowed (as well as the sturdy all wheel drive beast I drive), we were able to get around the valley floor without challenges. Day 2 the snow cleared up and the park was absolutely stunning.

Half Dome after a Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park

Half Dome after a Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park

I’ve been up there before to fresh snow and the place was stunning, but this trip was off the chart. I must admit, though, that I did very little photography beyond some basic tourist grab shots; right now, I find I’m struggling with my landscape work and I decided early on to just enjoy the place and not fight the camera. That said, a few shots I took still look pretty good to me. I’m still rebooting things and creating images is still a fun thing, not a necessary thing, so I’m taking ti easy and not stressing out over the camera these days.

Our room was on the ground floor, and we were visited by a wide variety of critters: Steller’s Jays and Ravens both used our patio to get out of the falling snow (and to see if we could be convinced to feed them), and we also had California Towhee and Black-eyed Juncos show up, plus we had a Mule Deer walk by one morning, and a quick glance of a Coyote dashing by. We also noticed in the snow in front of the building a spot with both Coyote tracks and a hole that was clearly the coyote jumping in after a (probably) mouse under the snow sometime overnight. Coyotes were visible in multiple locations, and we did see deer, but not too many. Also maybe a raccoon, briefly.

For me, it was great, because it was a nice, quiet, stress-free holiday, and with the events of the last year and the challenges we’ve had in recent holidays down with the family, I both needed that and had no idea how I was going to react to all of this. As it worked out, we had a great bit of downtime and got to see the Park in a new set of clothes for both of us, and loved every minute of it.

Now I have another week or so before heading back to work, which I’m using to do some year end clean up and 2016 planning, and general relaxing and sleeping, and perhaps a trip up to Staten Island and Isengard Crane Refuge if the weather permits.

I’m happy that 2015 is ending on a good note like this, but honestly, I’m mostly happy right now that 2015 is finally ending… But I do seem to be starting to look forward to 2016 and see opportunity, not just dates on a calendar…