gurdymonkey: (gurdymonkey2)
"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul." - John Muir

Thursday I felt fine all day. Then I went to practice - where I had both Brogan and Staffan all to myself because nobody else showed up. Two White Scarves ready to tire me out and overload my brain with notes for the mental filing cabinet, and I came apart. I picked up that sword and struggled the entire time with pain distracting me while two of them were trying to tell me to do things. By the time I said "I'm done," it felt like my elbow was burning inside. It hadn't felt this bad in months.

To add insult to injury, Thursday's dinner gave me the trots and I was up most of the night dealing with that as well as elbow pain despite icing it and taking ibuprofen.

There I was, Friday, trying to conceal from co-workers what a foul temper I was in, knowing I didn't dare pick up a sword the way things stood and dithering about whether I should waste a tank of gas on an event to lend moral support to people who probably didn't need it anyway, because I sure as hell wasn't in any shape to try to fight in the tourney. I was hating on the world and everything in it. I desperately needed not to be thinking about work, about rapier, about hurting every time I picked up a rapier, about the SCA and pasting a peerlike demeanor on my face when I damn well didn't feel like it, about Staffan's belief that I had the potential to be a good fighter when I could barely think because it hurt so bad.

....when I got a notion into my head.  I consulted the internet kami of the NOAA weather, the National Park Service and Yosemite Lodgings. $60 later I had a tent cabin in Curry Village booked for Saturday night and I was feeling significantly better.

I was out of the house by 6 AM Saturday morning. I took a LOT of pictures. But I didn't think about work. Or the SCA. And the only pain I was thinking about was how much my feet hurt after a day of mini-hikes all around the valley. (Though I do need to ice my elbow after I write this.)

Some of my friends simply MUST go back to Disneyland over and over and over again. Well, that's Yosemite for me.

The approach was simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring: I drove through a portion of the 400 square miles stricken by last summer's Rim Fire. The "Rim of the World" vista point on Highway 120 in the Stanislaus National Forest now overlooks bald, brown mountains instead of forests.
Yosemite 031514 005As you head east on Highway 120 you think you've gone color blind because the stands of evergreens have turned a weird, autumnal orange. Some are half-and-half where only part of the tree was scorched. Eventually, if the Forest Service doesn't clear them out (which they've already done in some sections), they will drop their needles. Then the branches will dry out and fall. The Rim Fire areas will start to look like the fired out stretch below Highway 41 inside the park - a few spiky dead trees still standing here and there, while low-to-the-ground plants grow in the open space.

Everywhere a stupid human could possible pull over is posted with signs forbidding entry and announcing fire danger, because what's there could still go up like torches.
Yosemite 031514 013

As you drive, you see places where the fire hopscotched the road. The posted burn zone continues past the Hwy. 120 park entrance, but is nowhere near as bad as it is down the hill.Yosemite 031514 166

It was the birdsong that kept me from tears as I stood by the roadside at Stupid Early O'Clock in the morning. The birds are in there,even among the burned out trees. Presumably other wildlife is as well. Seedlings will sprout. Eventually. It will come back, but it won't be like it was in my lifetime. More photos of the Rim Fire aftermath at

gurdymonkey: (Default)
I just was not motivated to stay inside the house today. I decided to cruise past the beach and see if anyone was parasailing because I thought it might be fun to attempt to shoot some pictures. No parasailers.

On a whim I headed further down Central Avenue than usual and spotted a used book store I hadn't known about. Small, cozy and cluttered, with a dusty wooden Hotei-sama wearing gift ribbon on his head on the counter in front of the register,  Wilmot's Books was heavy on fiction and old art books in mostly black and white, but still worth poking around in, even if it's no Moe's. I did pick up a copy of The Island of the Day  Before and the useful looking  Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Japan. I also found the high school where the Mythbusters damaged the goal posts by trying to use them as a giant slingshot a little further down Central.

Stopped at the Michael's in Emeryville because I cannot count on Beverly Crapts and Fabric to charge reasonable prices. Paint brushes, brush cleaner and more metal pillar candle plates were acquired, then it was over to the Caning Shop in Berkeley, because one of my planned projects this winter is a couple more kaga chochin. This time I opted for a less fancy pre-woven cane so things don't end up being too matchy moo.  I may also experiment with some slightly smaller lanterns as well.

Having noticed interesting fog formations over the bay on the drive over, I made a detour to the Berkeley Marina on yet another whim and took these.   This one makes up for the missing Alameda parasailers.

I also discovered that while kites are photogenic, they're extremely difficult to shoot.  On the other hand, this completely makes up for the fact that one cannot get NEAR the place during the annual kite festival, which is why I've never managed to attend.

Oh, and I walked all the way up that hill, thank you very much, without so much as breathing hard.

gurdymonkey: (Default)
Go here:


It's always interesting to see what two different pairs of eyes will come up with given the exact same shooting environment.

gurdymonkey: (pretties)
Elevation of Alameda, CA above sea level: 30.'
Elevation of Yosemite Valley (hereinafter referred to as "the bottom" or "down there,") approximately 4000'.
Elevation of Glacier Point trail head (accessed by bus from "down there," approximately 7200'.
Elevation of Ilillouette Creek, approximately 5800'.
Elevation of Panorama Point, approximately 6500'.

[ profile] didjiman arrived a little after 2PM on Saturday, so we tossed his gear in the back of my truck and headed east. We made surprisingly good time, even on the Slough of Suck that is the 238/580 corridor between San Leandro and the Altamont pass. 

This cut better work this time. )

More photos at

Tuolomne Grove Saturday Night,

Panorama Trail Hike
gurdymonkey: (Default)
  And a relatively small one at that. No, I didn't bring it home, it's illegal to "collect" in Yosemite, so it got put back where I found it.

More to follow - I'm going through pictures right now. No? OK, here's a taste.

gurdymonkey: (pretties)
Thanks to [ profile] trystbat for the memory jog: The National Parks: America's Best Idea premieres this Sunday night. I will probably still be en route from a National Park at air time, assuming [ profile] didjiman and I don't fall off a monumental piece of granite. However, PBS never runs something once, so additional air times can be found here. PBS is even streaming episodes online.

gurdymonkey: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]"What is the most beautiful view you've ever seen?"

What, you mean I can only pick ONE?  

Well, how about this? (Somewhere on the Northern California Coast between Mendocino and Point Reyes.)

Nor this: (Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area, near Taft, CA)

Not even this. (Port of Oakland seen from Alameda Point): 

Such limiting questions! Such myopic scope! There are beautiful vistas everywhere. You just have to open your eyes.


gurdymonkey: (Default)

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