Points, Miles & Life

Travel adventures on this earthly pilgrimage

Category: Mountains

Banff, Alberta in 14 Photos

I have plenty to write after this trip, but I’d figured I’d start with some photos and let the beauty of Banff speak for itself. Without words, that is.

Why Yosemite Should Be On Your Must-See List

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Words cannot describe Yosemite National Park. You must see it for yourself. I have been there fewer times than I would like to admit as a California native, and my wife hasn’t ever visited, so a trip really is in order. Maybe we can even make it back this year.

The valley floor of the Park is truly majestic. Granite walls over 2,000 feet high tower over you on both sides. El Capitan looms high as you enter, and sometimes you can see climbers inching their way up it sheer face. Across the valley are the Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Falls. Further down the valley, Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in the park, tumbles a total of 2,425 feet to the valley floor. Then the unmistakable form of Half Dome comes into view as you make your way around the bend. It takes your breath away. This is how I imagine a person’s first time in the park.

In addition to the amazing valley floor, there are many hiking opportunities, including options for both day hikes as well as multi-day backcountry treks. I have yet to do one of the latter, but I would love to someday. There are amazing vista points as well, including the Glacier Point and Tunnel View lookouts. You could easily spend a week in the park and still have more to see.

Near the end of March, my dad’s extended family made the last-minute decision to have a birthday get-together for my grandma, and her idea of a perfect 80th birthday was a picnic in the Yosemite Valley. Over her 80 years, she has raised seven kids, who in turn gave her 15 grandchildren, and now the number of great-grandchildren is steadily growing. She is a wonderful woman, and it was great to get to spend the day with her and my other relatives in one of the most beautiful places in the world. My dad and I managed to make it down with only a few days notice.

On Friday one of my aunts treated my grandma to dinner at the famous and historic Ahwahnee Hotel (which has been horribly renamed) and a night at the Yosemite Lodge. They were out early enough the next day to snag a couple picnic tables for our Saturday picnic. The location provided a great view of Yosemite Falls. One thing to keep in mind if traveling to the Yosemite National Park is how quickly it fills up. We arrived fairly early on Saturday, and most of the other tables were already taken at the location we chose. During this trip my dad likened the park to Disneyland, and it really isn’t a bad comparison. The valley floor can be extremely crowded, especially during the peak summer season. Traffic can get backed up for miles. Supposedly ours was a rather light Saturday, since it is early in the season, but I honestly couldn’t tell. Remind me to head back midweek while school is in session.

Our day was perfect. The morning was crisp, but it warmed up nicely by the middle of the day. We all ate our fill of potluck food, took a walk to the bottom of Yosemite Falls, and had an absolutely fantastic experience.