Luxor

Photo credit goes to Esme, from the back seat.

We took a drive down The Strip this afternoon. It was fascinating to see the city and to see all the big, landmark Casinos that I’ve only ever seen on TV. We made a few u-turns to get a good view and then decided that we didn’t need to work out parking, we were done. Las Vegas was a fun place to gawp at, but there wasn’t a big draw for us to stick around this time.

La Paz

Today’s plan was for it to be a travel day, between the Yosemite area and Las Vegas, without any notable stops. Turns out, fate had other ideas.

We were just past Bakersfield, CA when we were enjoying the views of the foothills leading up into the mountains when we saw the brown sign on highway 58 for the Cesar Chavez National Monument. I had a vague idea of who Chavez was, but not really enough to explain it well to the girls. A minute and a snap decision later we had pulled off the highway in Keene, CA and were driving down a deserted road to the visitor center.

In addition to the moving exhibit about the 1965 Delano Grape Strike there was a fascinating movie about why and how Chavez chose this site for his Union Headquarters. I definitely came away with a deeper understanding of Chavez and the workers rights he championed.

Outside the Visitor Center there was a beautiful Memorial Garden and burial place of Chavez and his wife Helen.

I love surprises like this. Unplanned and completely wonderful!

Boatbuilding on the Fresno River

We had some trouble with the front axle of the ole Tardis. Peter was off today at the shop getting it repaired, so the girls and I hung out at our campsite, reading Harry Potter, chatting with our neighbors, enjoying a free shower and, of course, playing in the swimming hole.

Catherine built this great looking boat, but is sad to say that it wasn’t terribly sea worthy and was bested by the mighty Fresno River.

Yosemite Valley

Thanks to the multiple forest fires going on around Yosemite, we debated coming in. We decided that the Rangers were the experts and the park’s alerts weren’t too concerning so we drove in and set up camp at Wawona Campground. We spent Thursday in Yosemite Valley enjoying the sights.

Even though we’ve seen photos of El Capitan and Half Dome and the other landmarks, they were nothing compared to seeing them in person.

Crater Lake

I first came here in 1999 while in Oregon during a semester away my junior year. I fell in love with the color and the views and the overwhelming feeling of calm that washed over me there. I couldn’t wait to bring the girls to see it.

I’ll admit to being a bit disappointed that it wasn’t a totally perfect day. The lake was cloaked in smoke from neighboring forest fires and a good part of the rim road was closed due to construction. But we still got up to the rim and walked around and had a good time. Hopefully the girls will get back here again on a crystal clear day and experience it at its best.

Embracing Imperfection

While preparing for this trip I read a lot of travel related material, books, blogs, etc. Many of these were illustrated with scads of gorgeous photos and perfectly timed moments. I am happy for those people.

But I am also finding peace in accepting that our travel experiences and photos will be much less professional, but much more our own. The lighting might be wrong and we might miss many of the “must see” sights and attractions, but the experiences are ours and the photos will tell our story.

I had pictured this photo actually having all six of our faces in it. But I also hadn’t known that this spot at the market is for pedestrians and vehicles. Lots of both. And so, I did the best I could but moved along with traffic even though the photo looked the way it does. Poor Esme is cut from the photo, but certainly wasn’t cut from our day’s adventures and fun.