No, this has nothing to do with Windows Vista (but that comment should get me more traffic from search engines). Today is the last batch of honeymoon photos, at least for now, and I tried to save some of the best for last: this is all vistas. Sweeping panoramic views of splendorous countryside, where God reached down His hand and said, "Here. This place will be beautiful." That sort of thing. Follow the jump to see them--and don't forget to click on the pictures for the bigger view.
Remember the teaser pic a while back, from Tunnel View? That was taken on Thursday. That was the quintessential tunnel view pic, and I linked it there because you should see it if you haven't already. This picture, on the other hand, was taken on Tuesday, from the same location. Kinda different, no? But that's what Tuesday was like--and the thing about the Yosemite Valley is, it doesn't have to be a beautiful sunny day for it to actually be beautiful.
Here's another picture from Thursday. We're in the Valley this time, actually heading toward Lower Yosemite Falls, but this beautiful view of Cathedral Spires was behind us. The spires themselves are the three pointed rocks about a third of the way from the left side of the picture. The larger rocks to the right have a similarly evocative name but I don't recall what it is. Pretty, though.
On Friday we drove up to Hetch Hetchy. This is a valley that it is said was at one time as beautiful as Yosemite... or at any rate a worthy companion. I'll believe it. This is looking west down the valley, toward the San Joaquin Valley (which you can't see). It is also late in the day so the sun is over there washing the photo out. Nonetheless it is very beautiful.
And this is why Hetch Hetchy was at one time as beautiful as Yosemite. Take a look at this picture from before the dam was built. Nice place, eh? Note the two waterfalls in close proximity there, which even Yosemite doesn't have. Yosemite is narrower, and the Merced River through it is a bit smaller than the Tuolumne, which flows through Hetch Hetchy, but gosh what a beautiful place. I could see having a nice spread there. But in the wake of the 1906 earthquake, San Francisco was looking for a more reliable supply of water, so in the 20s and 30s the O'Shaughnessy dam was built in Hetch Hetchy (Yosemite Valley was already inside the national park) and this reservoir now fills the once pristine valley. Locals are divided over the worth of this dam and there is a movement afoot to remove this dam and restore the valley, and dam the Tuolumne farther downstream. The technology exists to do that and there is certainly value to restoring a beautiful place to its former glory, but the downstream location is fertile agricultural land right now. Don't expect the debate to end anytime soon.
The Hetch Hetchy portion of Yosemite National Park gets maybe a tenth of the visitors of the main part of the park. Partly this is because you can't do anything in the lake--no swimming or boating or anything, because that's San Francisco's water. They'd rather not drink your sweat and boat fuel. There are some hikes over here, but they are all backcountry hikes and most of them are long and difficult. An easy hike towards the waterfalls goes across the dam and along a level road, and we took that. It's a beautiful place even today, but I guess there's just not as much to do. I imagine that would change in a hurry if the dam ever is removed.
On the way back to Yosemite Valley from Hetch Hetchy on Friday we stopped for this beautiful look up the valley. Tunnel View itself is behind that ledge of rock on the right (not the far right, the next one in) and as you can see the valley takes a bit of a jog to the left. Nonetheless this is really a spectacular view, I think. It's called Valley Portal, which you may recognize as the place where I took our self-portrait in yesterday's collection.
All good things must end eventually, including honeymoons, and beautiful photographic retrospectives of honeymoons. And the day, as well; Friday was a wonderful day, but it came to and end, too. After dinner we drove up to Tunnel View for last look at the valley, and night was falling fast (it does that in the mountains). I tried several night photos of the valley, but this was the best. And so it ends. Hope you liked it! We did!