(One of my all-time favorites) This pic came to mind this 4th of July weekend as I reflect on things that make me proud to be an American, our National Park System. Let me set the scene for this picture and tell you why…
Over the 6 years that I traveled and performed with Ringling Bros & Barnum and Bailey Circus I got to see a lot of America… A LOT I was continually stunned by the natural beauty of the country in which I had been born and how few people really understood the national treasure that belongs to all of the American people.
As many of you know from this website, I would take a trip (3hours, or 3 months) whenever I could, and that often included National Parks…so much so that I ended up buying an annual pass that paid for itself within two visits (and I would often “loan” it out to friends on the circus when they wanted to visit a National Park)
To set the scene in the picture above…I was on my way back north from volunteering as the media guy for the Fuller Center for Housing’s 2012 West Coast Ride and on a whim during my adventure home to Idaho, I decided to make a quick 24 hour detour through Yosemite National Park (I’ve only been there a handful of times, but each time it has been a spiritual experience). I got lucky, snagged one of the last tent-cabins in the Yosemite Valley, and arrived just before sunset that August evening, and decided the next morning I would awake early (which is difficult for this night owl) and make a run (sans luggage) up to Glacier Point.
Breathing the crisp Sierra Nevada mountain air, I was awake, aware, and groggy that morning. I quickly gathered my camera bag and riding gear and proceeded to experience one of the most amazing rides I can remember. Even though this was early August in one of the most heavily-visited National Parks in the whole park system, I got up early enough to have the roads mostly to myself (only 4 cars the whole way up!) and with the sun slowly rising and warming me and the road as I gained elevation, it was a feeling to behold. Twisties…throttle, a few more…throttle, listen…smell, feel. John Muir is credited with being a big part of bringing Yosemite to the public, and my favorite quote of his kept cycling through my head as I was riding…
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul.” -John Muir
As I reached the top, I parked, and couldn’t wipe the grin off of my face. Glacier Point…that 2000ft vertical expanse of iconic views of the Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, and the Sirrea Nevada mountains beyond. It’s special, dare I say, a sacred place.
I reluctantly threw my leg over the bike to head back down to the valley to collect my side cases and continue north. But just as I exited the parking lot and came around the switchback, I had to stop. As a photographer/video person who rides…I always struggle with:
when do I stop?
how OFTEN do I stop?
what should the ratio of Riding to Shooting be?
Will I miss out on actually experiencing the ride because I’m too distracted by getting that perfect shot?
Those questions are enough for a whole entry in and of itself…but on this morning, I stopped, and I’m thankful I did, because I now have one of my favorite images I’ve ever captured that sums up that moment perfectly…and I’m glad that I can now share that moment with you.
Happy 4th of July everyone, and I hope that you seek out the natural treasures that America offers and create your own memorable moments this weekend.
(P.S. I put together a little on board footage of that morning ride so you can get a taste for yourself)
(P.S.S. Check out our National Park System, they’re celebrating 100 years!)