Iconic Tunnel View at Yosemite National Park, California
Iconic Tunnel View at Yosemite National Park, California
I’ve spent a surprising amount of time shuttling to the West Coast in the last decade — mostly because, well, it’s beautiful. And fun. And amazing.
We’re headed back to San Francisco and Yosemite National Park to take lots of pictures, haunt delicious restaurants and generally relax. I long to breathe mountain air. I don’t really know what we’ll be up to and don’t have many expectations . . . if I’m out and away and standing in the trees or by the river or near the sea, I’ll be happy.
Like a responsible blogger, I intended to schedule posts for my absence — but I decided, you know, I should take a break. It’s important to pause, step back, think. So write meg! will go quiet until the week of June 2, but I’ll look forward to seeing (reading?) your smiling faces when I return. (Or follow the fun on Instagram.)
See you soon!
1. Today is my husband’s birthday! He’s not generally the make-a-fuss type, but I totally am — and this is his first “married” birthday. So on this, the auspicious day of Spencer’s birth, I’d like to acknowledge how kind, thoughtful and hardworking my guy is — for me, for the family, at work, for friends. He’s always ready to lend a hand or critical eye, and he’s taught me so much about rolling with life’s punches and smiling anyway. I love him for that — and so many other reasons. Happy birthday, Spence! ❤ And thanks for always letting me have the last of the salsa. I love you!
2. If I hear “All of Me” one more time, I’m going to scream. I didn’t really have an opinion of John Legend one way or another until we started listening to a local radio station at work, and said station apparently has a penchant for torture. The song played six times — six! — in the span of my eight-hour work day on Wednesday, and I was ready to jump through a window. My hatred has become a running gag with coworkers . . . only I’m not kidding.
3. I started Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, and y’all applauded my decision. I’m 3% finished and the book is, apparently, 800-ish pages? So great progress, I’d say. The great thing about reading on my Kindle, as Trish has pointed out in the past, is I don’t have to feel that sagging weight of a too-long book pressing on my shoulders. I pay less attention to how much I have left to go (a guilty habit) and more just getting into the story. I’m enjoying it so far, though I probably have a bit until I meet the infamous Jamie!
4. Thanks to your suggestions, I’ve spent far too much time looking at comfy chairs on Wayfair (affiliate link). I’m pretty much in love with this one and this one, but we have a month until we’re in the house — and I don’t want to move that sucker twice. Plus, um, we have no space for a chair right now . . . like, at all. So I’ll have to settle for daydreaming.
5. Speaking of daydreaming . . . in a few weeks, we’ll be in San Francisco! I’m so excited to return to California and relax. After the stress of winter and spring, I’m ready to just hang out. We’re driving to Yosemite, too, and will actually spend three days there . . . versus the four-ish hours we had in the valley back in 2012. I plan to buy a backpack, recharge all my camera batteries, grab some water and sunscreen and just go. I bought new sneakers, too! Real, non-sandal shoes! It’s going to be marvelous.
Happy weekend, friends!
What could I possibly say about Yosemite National Park that far more talented people haven’t already offered?
That’s how I feel thinking about Yosemite: speechless. Tiny. Powerless. A speck in the universe — one small person, a woman trying to hold up her chin in the shadows of something so much larger than myself. Of all the places we visited in California, all beautiful, it was Yosemite that made the biggest impression on me.
In the weeks since we returned home, I’ve found myself incessantly Googling the park and its waterfalls. I wrote a column about it for the paper. Yosemite is now my screensaver. My precious photos are stacked in folders so I can look at them often, remembering our all-too-brief time in the park. It flashed by in an instant.
Once we made it to Yosemite Valley, a perilous drive on our tour bus from Tioga Pass, Spencer and I practically ran from our group to see Yosemite Falls. I’m a wee bit obsessed with cataracts . . . and I guess that’s an understatement. I’m a waterfall chaser. If there’s rushing water to be found, I will seek it out — and photograph the heck out of it (see: my long-standing fascination with Niagara Falls). I’m most happy standing by the roar of falling water with spray dusting my shoulders.
So how did Yosemite Falls measure up? Very, very well. After walking an easy path up to the base of the lower falls, I could only stand in awe. It’s cliche, I know, but sometimes you can’t look up into the face of Mother Nature and think anything but, “Wow.”
I’m not outdoorsy. I hate bugs, can’t bear the thought of using the restroom outdoors, need a clean bed and pillow on which to rest at night. I don’t swim or hike or climb things. Generally speaking? I’m pretty lazy. I don’t like getting sweaty and am pretty annoying when I’m hot and thirsty.
But put a waterfall sighting within my grasp and I’ll be bumping tourists off paths through sheer determination alone.
Waterfalls aside, Yosemite is a truly magical place. Just driving around on a bus left me awestruck, staring out the windows at scenes like this:
I mean, really.
I’m going to be honest with you: since returning home to Maryland, I’ve thought about why I live on the East Coast. My answers are vast and varied, starting and ending — most importantly — with the fact that Washington, D.C., is my home. The only place I’ve ever lived. The only place I’ve ever known, and where my family and friends are. It’s where I work. Where I’ve started my career. Where I’ve built relationships. It’s where Spencer is.
But sometimes when we travel — taking in other vistas, other views — it’s easy to imagine yourself somewhere else, doing something else. Like building a camp and squatting illegally in a national park, say. Living off the land. Photographing streams. Scaling cliff faces and wandering the Sierra Nevada — a miniature (and female) John Muir.
Sometimes places call to you, grabbing your hand and refusing to let go.
I’ll always remember holding Spencer’s hand as we walked to the base of that waterfall. And my heavy, heavy heart as we turned to go.
Okay — who doesn’t leave their heart in San Francisco?
Jet lag is currently holding me hostage, but we’re home. A week of fun and food and laughter and memories — and too many amazing, phenomenal places to mention. Yosemite completely stole my breath, and I’m already scheming of ways to make it back there someday. I loved the park so much that I’d wager half my heart is in San Francisco, and the other part is near Bridalveil Fall.
To be honest, I’m a little sad to be home. I wasn’t ready to leave. Usually my vacations stretch on so long that I’m desperate to get back to my computer, desk and “normal” life. I’m very happy to see my family again, of course — I missed them — but really enjoyed spending so much time with Spencer, neither of us busy or distracted. It took getting away for me to realize how overextended I feel — both at work and in my personal life. I made a vow to remember the quiet moments of our trip in my more stressful ones and find a way to keep a little of that serenity with me.
When I was in the UK last spring, I waxed philosophical about how difficult it was for me to disconnect from technology for a few weeks. I missed my phone terribly, irked beyond belief that I couldn’t keep in constant contact with Spencer. I fretted about not checking my email or keeping up with Twitter. I wondered what was happening in the blog world and checked local news abroad.
In California this year, the reverse was true — I was irked to be connected with the ol’ iPhone, though I loved snapping photos to share with family and friends on the go. I didn’t want to think about work or other obligations. I didn’t want to worry about any of my normal nonsense . . . in short, I wanted to truly be on vacation. And I guess that’s why it’s difficult for me now, being home, since I intentionally pushed all my usual worries into the “to be dealt with later” category. And later is now.
I’m sure everyone feels this way. Being away is such a rush — it’s euphoria, really. I needed the break and didn’t realize how much I desperately wanted time away with my boyfriend — seeing new things, photographing everything, eating All the Food in California — to rejuvenate.
So now I’m back! I missed you crazy kids, but I think I’m a better Meg after my journey 3,000 miles west. And I have stories, friends — lots of them. They’re on the way.
P.S.: Today is write meg!’s fourth birthday! Thank you all for your kind words, comments, support and friendship over the years. I love talking books and life with all of you — and here’s to four more.