a few weeks back, we took a family trip to yosemite national park, where some innocent tourist was forced to take roughly 500 photos similar to this for our potential holiday card. this one is the winner. also, we had an awesome time there, because it is one of the most beautiful and magical places on earth which even two toddlers and one puppy cannot sabotage.
incidentally, it also makes for a stunning backdrop to photograph outdoor apparel. if you’re so inclined, hop on over to the oliver + s blog and read all about these rad new hiking pants in the latest installment of the outdoor ready series. i’ll probably do one more post in the series before most of this hemisphere begins hibernating, and then come back in the spring with some new projects. thus far, these pants might win as the most useful wardrobe piece i have ever made my children.
but back to this. growing up in michigan, i had exposure to plenty of natural beauty, more than enough to instill in me a die hard reverence for the magic of reality, as richard dawkins might say. in spite of this, my first ever visit to a national park was yosemite, only 1.5 years ago, in the depths of winter. i had just uprooted my family and moved clear across the country in part to escape winter, and still, i was completely awe struck and head over heels for this sacred place.
yosemite is rich with spectacular natural beauty, but also human history. the other-worldly granite faces tell the stories of a time before people, while the structures, exhibits, and photographs remind visitors of who has come and gone, what they have given and what they have taken away. john muir is a delightful insight into both facets, and a real pleasure to read–i blew through most of this just in the few short days we were there.
while any travel with kids is not quite what it would be without them, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the park without strapping on your climbing harness and scaling el cap. the valley floor is relatively flat with ample pedestrian friendly paths and short trails to some of the most popular locales. having a fur child limits access a bit more as they are confined to paved areas only, but between the kids running low on energy and the dog attracting more attention than our human children ever have, we couldn’t take more than five steps without having to stop for water, pine cone examination, or puppy ogling. not a big deal when this is all around you in every direction.
and when the kids really start to lose steam, this too is an option:
and if merely walking a dog attracted attention, imagine how appealing this image is to dog lovers, who apparently make up 95% of the population of persons who visit national parks:
yes, this happened. somehow in a family of long distance runners, we managed to take in the only dog on earth that insists on being toted around in a rikshaw.
while the conversation isn’t new, i’ve seen it cropping up frequently of late, the intersection between awe and spirituality, and how it’s felt and experienced by different people with different beliefs. i think it matters little who you are or where you come from, but if you find yourself here, you will have that sense of simultaneous significance and insignificance, of being overcome by grace and wonder, of contentment just to be there at that moment. it probably matters less why we believe we feel that way than that we do, right?
i think a lot about how to stay connected to my kids as they continue to grow, and how to foster in them a sense of belonging and a lasting bond. i don’t have all the details worked out yet, but i get the sense sharing experiences like these do leave an important impression. though i can’t speak for the dog.