Eclipse!

I keep wanting to say wow! in every post - and I expect that will continue as we REALLY start travelling internationally.  We had over 2 minutes of totality in Nashville, and we enjoyed that on a farm in Lebanon, TN, after an awesome lunch put on by some of our favorite chefs in town.

For Steve, the eclipse was something that he had put on our calendar for 2 years.  There was no way we were going to be out of the Nashville area on Aug. 21, 2017.  After experiencing it, I can say, it really was amazing (and dare I say, life changing?).   We had perfect skies that became cloudless when it was about 25% in.  You knew what was happening and coming, but the difference in light quality as it progressed is impossible to describe, but so cool!  We had never experienced a total eclipse before.  The darkness that suddenly fell as the last bit of sun disappeared was really eerie.  Everyone around us cheered, and firecrackers were set off on a neighboring farm.  I was waiting for the roosters to crow when the sun came back, but alas, they disappointed me.

I'm not posting any pictures (an extreme rarity, you'll probably find) because I didn't want to lug my 35 mm out to the farm (and possibly fry its innards if I screwed up) and my cellphone only took ok shots.  We've already marked April 8, 2024 for the next total eclipse passing up through TX, AR, Carbondale, IL, Indianapolis and out through Maine.  Totality is SO worth it to experience, even vs 95%.

Yosemite

Wow!  Our eldest son was married at Rush Creek Lodge just outside of the park's edge because he wanted to share the beauty of the Park that he had fallen in love with (along with his new wife).  No wonder they love it.  Adjectives I'd use to describe it include gorgeous, jaw-dropping, amazing, stunning... The vistas were so expansive that photos just can't do them justice.  

We hiked up the Mist Trail and back down the John Muir Trail which totaled 8 miles, and included elevation gain of 3000 feet!  Ouch.  To the top of Vernal Falls, we gained 1000 feet including 600 granite steps.  This was a brutal push continually upward, unfortunately along with a crowd of people.  The steps were slippery due to the namesake "mist" from the falls, but our trusty hiking boots didn't fail us.  

Vernal Falls

Vernal Falls

Back down the valley where we'd just come (note the rainbow)

Back down the valley where we'd just come (note the rainbow)

Nevada Falls

Nevada Falls

Then - onward and upward - ANOTHER 2000 feet up to the top of Nevada Falls.  O.M.G.  Near the end of the trail to the top, I was stopping every "flight" of steps or so, to pant and let my heart rate slow down to "just" racing.  I kept thinking "this isn't even close to what it'll be like to hike to Machu Picchu at 10,000+ feet altitude".  I came to resent the 10 lb pack I was carrying for my camera, telephoto lens, and water.

Once we were on "top of the world" (!), all the sweat, screaming muscles and panting were quickly forgotten as the mind boggling views opened up before us.  The top of Nevada Falls was unbelievably narrow.  The pictures we got of the falls as we walked away down the John Muir Trail revealed the magnitude of what we'd done and where we'd been.

Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap (behind us) and Half Dome

Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap (behind us) and Half Dome