Monday, November 2, 2015

LOA Diaries: the first day of no school

I wanted to be sure not to be home on the first day of school.  I knew it would feel weird to be home while my teacher friends were greeting their newest classes. So I decided to do something special and booked one night at the historic Ahwahnee Hotel in the heart of Yosemite Valley. The trip was an homage of sorts, a place on my bucket list that held memories of Jim. We'd had brunch there once with my parents and had promised ourselves we'd come back and stay. One of Jim's happiest days
was the day we joined about 25 other S2000s in a day trip to Yosemite. 

I wanted to drive, in the S, and leave some of Jim in that special place. My friend Danielle, was our neighbor and a huge support taking care of Dharma and our house during those long days and nights at the hospital, Rich and Danielle have since moved south but we remain close. Her mom died about two months before and she has adopted me, and I've welcomed another 'child' to my clan. Unbelievably, she had never been to Yosemite. I knew she'd be a perfect companion for the road trip, and she was. 

As we neared Yosemite, I almost cried at the devastation form recent fires.  The terrain was apocalyptic, the smoky air burning our eyes. I worried that Danielle was wondering, 'where is the beauty?'  Fortunately the fires had not recently touched the valley and despite the drought, it was still impressive.  The lack of water in the falls made me sad but the granite walls were and always will be imposing and awe inspiring. We made our way to our hotel where I had booked a room with a balcony. The room was ready so we relaxed with a class of wine, gazing up at the sheer granite wall towering behind our hotel. Suddenly, Danielle gasped, having spotted the tiniest of climbers high above the valley floor! I got out the binoculars and was amazed to see two men hundreds of feet up.

Later, we had an over priced drink on the patio, and headed to the Yosemite Lodge for a lovely, and much more reasonably priced, dinner. The next day, Danielle had got us tickets for the valley floor tour on an open air bus.  I'd never done the tour and it was fascinating to hear both the geologic and human histories of Yosemite National Park.  

We left that afternoon and stopped in Groveland to visit my friends Don and Mike who are building their retirement home there. It is going to be an amazing home and I can't wait to visit again and stay longer.  It was a little bittersweet for me, Jim had always wanted to do exactly what they were doing, buy a piece of land and build our own home, far from the maddening crowd that our city is becoming.  But I am so happy for them, and happy to enjoy it with them!  We made our way home, I was tired but happy to have spent my first day of no school in such a special way. It was a wonderful kickoff to my endless summer.

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