Two days after Kamel proposed we headed out to Yosemite. This is a special place because 1) it's beautiful. Amazingly, jaw droppingly beautiful 2) I realized I loved Kamel in this magical place and 3) Yosemite is always changing, something that never occurred to me before this visit.
The first time we went, we just went. We drove the four hours and scampered up rocks, walked through rivers and snapped vacation pictures and then drove the four hours back, exhausted and happy. This time we booked a room on the edge of the park and set out to take better pictures, to really see the park, whereas the first time it was too big to see clearly. I had shipped my old film camera from high school from my parent's house to San Francisco so I could learn how to actually use it.
We got there and were shocked to see snow.
Kamel had never been in snow before. Seen it from car windows and bits and pieces in parking lots from the drive down from Seattle, but he had never stomped around in it, never picked it up or made a snow ball. While driving into the park it actually started snowing. Kamel, at first, thought it was bugs. Snow in Yosemite, the beginning of spring, was startling.
By 5:00pm i was asleep on my feet so we drove back to out little motel - the cleanest hotel I have ever stayed in. I could have eaten off the bathroom floors. But instead of that, we ate in this grandma-esque diner where everything came with gravy and mashed potatoes. I had a chicken burger.
The next day the alarm went off at 6 and I promptly threw a fit about how we always have to wake up early, and how i need to sleep, and i'm tired of go go going and kamel said "that's fine, we'll just stay in bed" but then I felt guilty because I knew we were trying to catch the morning light. So after he soothed me for about 30 minutes I dragged myself out of bed, kamel made bagels we had bought the day before, and in less than an hour I had taken this picture:
Driving deeper into the park we suddenly saw a line of orange cones to the right by the shoulder. I looked over the little edge and right there, munching on some sort of grass or cabbage, was a brown bear. All sleepy and focused on filling his belly.
Right after we got out of the car and quietly sneaked over to the side of the road, a van pulled over and out lumbered about 5-6 middle aged tourists all yelling "hey, look-y over here, there's a BEAR!" I watched the bear stop nibbling and turn toward the noise. I took about two steps back, my first instinct was to run back to the car, because HELLO! A fucking BEAR! But then I realized I could most definitely out run every single one of them, and once the bear had one of them on the ground, i figured the rest of us would be safe. So I let them try to call the bear over .... let me repeat that - yes they tried to CALL the bear over! And I just kept my safe distance from THOSE ass holes and continued snapping my quiet pictures before Kamel and I tiptoed back to the car and continued on our way.
Later that day a wolf traipsed in front of our car like we weren't even there. Those pictures didn't turn out that well - but you'd have been surprised at the width of its tail.
That afternoon we went to a location where a forest fire had eaten at the woods and while Kamel shot the magnificent rock formations I went searching for re-growth.
There were little fern spores popping out of the ground, but the light was weird and those didn't turn out so well. And there were wild flowers growing out of a felled, burnt log, but it was more impressive in real life than on film.
We hiked to the reflection lake thingy - which was an amazing walk through giant boulders that could only have been dropped by giant, ancient glaciers. The walk was quiet and beautiful and when we got to the lake their were so many tourists wandering around, being loud, yelling at their kids (one little girl actually puked into the lake) that we didn't stay long. Yosemite as a shuttle that goes to all the major stops so that old or disabled or people with small children can still see the major sites. This causes for a lot of annoying people, but it's a pretty cool thing for California Parks to set up.
And then we went home. Tired and smelly and sick of driving. We went home and took showers, and dropped off film at costco to be developed and then slept. And again I love my life. :)