San Francisco to Yosemite
Heading to Yosemite National Park was definitely an adventure in itself. Winding up the foothills to the entrance, my anticipation was at an all time high, and I was thrilled to get to experience such a magnificent place during a time of year when not many people were here (meaning I got to have more of the park, all to myself!)
As we crept closer to Tunnel View, the first night we were there, I saw snow on the ground and my jubilance couldn't be contained. As a Floridian, we don't get snow! Now, I've seen snow before, but it just put that extra charm on the entire trip! With an incredible view of the valley, as well as El Capitan and Half Dome, we snapped a few pics; but the real experience would be tomorrow, when we could explore on our own.
In the morning, we first headed towards Bridalveil Falls. Everyone started hiking up to the falls, but I hung back and took my time to truly take in every bit of my beautiful surroundings. Because I did this, I found myself exploring the river that the fall flowed into and just stood in the beauty of the falls (this was my first waterfall I've experienced in person). It was incredible how the mountains were truly alive! You could here the gushing water flowing through the frozen mountainside, into the steady streams, all while listening to the rockslides in the distance. With the crisp air not only in my lungs but in my soul, I was overwhelmed with emotions, even shedding a tear at one point (probably just from it being really really cold, right?) I felt at one with the Earth and the Earth with me, my bones feeling content in every step I took through that forest.
Now, if I would have gone with the group, I would have still had a lovely time, but I would have missed out on this experience. So get out of your comfort zone, go on your own path. Heck! Trail blaze one! Literally and figuratively, in life. You may still have great experiences while following others, but they will never be your own. Your own thoughts, your own memories, and possibly life changing understandings!
After Bridalveil Falls, we headed to the marvellous Majestic Yosemite Hotel, where we learned some history about the park and lodge. Afterwards, we were free to explore on our own! So Dahna and I were off. Once again, splitting from the main group, we hiked out to Yosemite Falls, and just. wow! With the view of the magnificent redwoods and gushing waterfalls (yes, more than one!) we took some time to take in the beauty (while also practicing for my exam).
After leaving this incredible park I now understand why Teddy Roosevelt decided to get away for days, meet John Muir, and live in Yosemite. I could spend weeks here, and plan to someday (maybe do backpacking tours?! :D ) I encourage you to go and see this place for yourself. But not just see, smell the crisp fresh air, hug the giant redwoods, and just live in the experience of being in this magnificent gem!
Now headed back to San Fran for my finals and final goodbyes, I couldn't help but feel melancholy.
Class #311 has become my family. One that has the same passions as me. We all truly love interacting with others, breaking down those barriers just to be human to human. Bringing our unique skills and ideas, we all have our own intimacy with travel, and I am so thankful to have met and get to know these people with same mindsets as me. I am so happy we have officially graduated with our certification!
One of my favorite things I learned about myself during these two weeks is that I have gift in connecting with people, if I just let myself do it.
Quick story: I was at the ferry terminal one night, on the way home from a long day in class. I did not want to take this late of a ferry, but it happened to work that way. And when I arrived I noticed a lady crying. Now most in the city would walk by or ignore her, I've learned this is the common mannerism. But not for me. Not today. Not now that I have decided to allow myself to use this gift in getting people to open up and just connect on a soulful level. I walked right up to her, arms stretched out and hugged her until she stopped crying. It turns out this lady had gotten news about a loved one with cancer. *Remember this wasn't the planned ferry for me.* But for some reason I was on this ferry, and this lady was the reason why. I still do not know her name, nor do I know anything else about her, but I keep her in my thoughts and prayers, and maybe it was all for the purpose of me giving that hug. Assuring her of what I could, that there's love in this world and I'm here to give it.
Giving myself the permission to interact with people in an intimate way, I believe will inspire others to use there gifts as well. Through life we are in this perpetual cycle of pleasing others through how we appear or act, but in this process we loose our own identities. If we break this and choose to follow our own passions, but respect those passions of others around us, we would see a much different world.
Now to See the World!
After leaving San Francisco, I was off on my own again, and now I was headed to the Grand Canyon!
First arriving, I started my exploring at Mather Point. The infamous spot to "take photos."
Well. Oh my goodness. Was it for taking photos...
I was there for maybe 20 minutes, and at first I thought, man! I gotta get this photo and this photo, and thissss photo. But then I thought to myself, wait... why?? To remember what it looks like? Or to post online for likes or gratification from others? No. I'm here for me and my enlightenment of this magnificent wonder of the world, and if I take the time to soak it up, I won't need a photo to remember it.
So I sat. And watched. I took in the incredible views for about 10 minutes and I spent another 10 people watching. It was funny to see how many people arrived with the same mindset of just getting that perfect photo, when the real beauty is right in front of them. As a friend told me "Stop to smell the roses sometimes." I encourage you next time you're at an incredible sight, concert or event: put the phone/camera down for a moment, maybe two and really look around, take in the beauty of the world of what is around you. Remember we must "make technology our servant, not our master," allow it to assist us, but we must interact with this world first.
After I got a couple shots, and had people watched for a little longer, I decided to start walking. Wherever felt right. (I only had two options, East or West, but they provided totally different views!) Walking the South Rim, I got a real feel for the history in the rock. Along the path there were displays of time periods that the sediment came from, and it told the story of every layer in the canyon. This was cool! However, my favorite part of the day was Yaki Point.
With the way the canyon walls were carved and the deep blue/purple sky above, it was as if we were still underwater. Standing on the edge, looking into the deep gorges and up at the grand cliffs, it truly makes you humble in how small you are on this grandiose earth. It puts into perspective how minute we may feel at times in this world.
But if we continue to share our gifts, connect with others, and explore this world to understand how others live, we won't feel so small anymore. We're all connected, human to human to Earth, and with this in mind, Oh The Places You WILL Go!