As we were preparing to leave, we made a final quick stop at the meadow to see what the weather was doing to the view. It was still snowing lightly and the clouds were covering much of the granite faces of the rocks, but it just added to the dramatic look.
We made a last stop at the tunnel view on our way out. Of course, Half Dome was once again barely visible, but the raw beauty of Yosemite never fails to amaze me.
One of the iconic landmarks of Yosemite is Half Dome. This granite rock formation rises nearly 5,000 feet above the valley floor.
Photography is often about being in the right place at the right time. This trip, we were often in the right place, but the right time—late afternoon, on a clear day—was a challenge. The picture above was taken from Mirror Lake, a little before noon. From this vantage point, you look almost straight up at to the Dome. I don't remember ever being this close before, and that awesome wall of granite took on a whole new appearance. I was amazed by this line of trees that isn't visible from the more traditional views.
By the time we went out again, in what should have been the perfect before-sunset light, the clouds had rolled in and everything was gray and foggy. But I want you to see what Half Dome can look like at sunset, so I'm cheating a bit, and showing you a picture from a few years ago, also taken in February, just after a snowstorm.
For two mornings now, we've gotten up at sunrise and walked. Today we walked around the meadows and along the banks of the Merced River that cuts through Yosemite Valley.
This morning there was frost on the meadows and fresh ice along the edges of the river. In the spring and summer, the river rushes by and is a favorite for rafters. But right now, it's quiet, with beautiful reflections everywhere.
The meadows are surrounded by small forests and the towering walls of the valley. Before the sun hits the valley floor, the colors are muted. This is the time of day when you would typically see deer grazing or the occasional coyote chasing a rabbit—although we saw neither this morning.
I know, most people when they head to Yosemite focus on the magnificent granite that surrounds you in the valley or maybe one of the countless waterfalls. Us too, but we also wanted snow! It took a dedicated ride up to Badger Pass to find it, but find it we did.
Okay, so we also took just a few other pictures today. After breakfast, we hiked up to Lower Yosemite Falls. Yosemite Falls is actually made up of three separate falls—Upper Yosemite Fall (1,430 feet), the middle cascades (675 feet), and Lower Yosemite Fall (320 feet). There we were surprised by a stunning rainbow. It was impressive.
We're going to take a side trip for a few days, to Yosemite National Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the country.
Yosemite is located in the center of California, about a 6-hour drive from Downey. The first view that you get of Yosemite Valley comes as you exit a long tunnel on the drive in. The site above is what greets you, and it is a spectacular view, of Bridal Veil Falls on the far right, and Half Dome in the distance.
We arrived just as the sun was setting, and had time for only a couple of quick shots before the light was gone. More tomorrow...
If you want a quiet corner booth, downtown Whittier after 10pm is not the place for you. Its located about 10 minutes northeast of Downey. This bar had live music, dancing, and not a minute of awkward silence, or any other kind.
A few years later and the Downey Cemetery still looks the same.
From an excerpt from Downeyca.org
The Downey Cemetery District operates a cemetery that traces its roots back to 1868 with the burial of the small daughter of W.A. Spurlock, owner of the land where the cemetery is now located. He donated one acre by his daughter's grave as a burial ground for others in the vicinity. William H. Pendleton purchased the Surlock property and along with others donated more land for the cemetery. Between 1873 and 1880 the Downey Masonic Lodge began its own graveyard adjacent to the Downey Cemetery's eastern boundary. The Downey Cemetery District Association and the Masonic Cemetery began a petition movement in 1921 for the County of Los Angeles to create a cemetery district out of the two cemeteries. In 1928 this Downey Cemetery District was created.
The Downey Cemetery is the final resting place for pioneers of the Southeast region and local historical figures. The cemetery is the final resting site for over 9,000 souls, including veterans from the Civil War through the Gulf War. We honor our Veterans' with graveside flags on the annual Memorial Day tribute held at the cemetery.
La Barca is open! The grand opening was actually last week, but we were finally able to stop in for dinner. It is a charming authentic Mexican restaurant. It is the second location for the owner Guillermo Padilla, whose father opened La Barca in Los Angeles 35 years ago just up the street from USC. It has a rustic appeal, with bright colors and unique lily chandeliers at the entrance.
There was live entertainment in the main room, although I'm not sure that will continue to be a nightly offering. The food was yummy! It was fun to finally be able to enjoy this new family-owned eatery. It is a nice addition to Downey.
Today is President's Day, a U.S. federal holiday that celebrates all of our country's presidents. Or so I thought.
In researching the holiday's history, I came across some enlightening information on Snopes.com. This is really, officially, the "George Washington's Birthday" holiday, just like when I was in grammar school when we used to get a day off for both his birthday on February 22 and Abraham Lincoln's birthday on February 12. We're supposed to be celebrating George's birthday. Not all the presidents.
It turns out that the Uniform Holidays Bill of 1968 officially set the third Monday of February as the day to celebrate George's birthday. This means that federal workers (and students) always get a 3-day weekend—but it also means that George's birthday is never actually celebrated on his birthday, because the third Monday can never fall later in the month than the 21st. And most of the states dropped Lincoln's birthday, because the bill also established Columbus Day as a new federal holiday.
Of course, a 3-day weekend also means bargains at the local shopping centers. In its depleted and messy shelves, Stonewood Mall tonight showed the ravages of three days of sales and shopping.
The bell in this archway reminds me of some of the California mission bells I have seen. I pass it often as we head to Furman Park for a walk. Somehow it has a sense of history, just the look of it. I remember how fun it was to follow the mission bells of the El Camino Real for a mission trip when my daughter was in the 4th grade.
Although the missions date back to 1769, the mission bells that guide you along El Camino Real were not in place until 1906 when a cast iron 85 pound bell was placed into the ground in concrete at the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles, also known as the Plaza Church near Union Station in Los Angeles.
I don't know if this bell that I pass almost daily has any historical significance, but it is appealing and reminds me often of the heritage we have in California.
In southern California, everything is spread out so much that most people depend on cars to get around. But for those, such as my daughter, who can't or choose not to drive, the Metro buses provide an alternative.
This is the 115 bus, which runs east and west on Firestone Blvd. through the center of Downey. It starts at the Norwalk Green Line Station just to the east of Downey and continues west all the way to the beach in Playa Del Rey.
For my daughter, it simply means a convenient way to shop at Target or Stonewood Shopping Center.
“Never run after a bus or a man. There will always be another one.”
For all of those people who may have forgotten to get flowers or balloons before this afternoon...it was not too late. It seemed like wherever I went today, there were people set up in parking lots, in front of stores and on street corners offering all sorts of goodies (flowers, balloons, candy bouquets, stuffed animals) to buy for that special person in your life. Even my local grocery store was transformed.
It got me curious about what started it all. There are a few stories... Evidently, sometime around the third century, Emperor Claudius ll outlawed marriage for young men because he felt that unmarried men made better soldiers. Valentine (or Valentinus) understood the law was unjust and defied Claudius. He secretly married any young lovers who came to him. When his actions were discovered, he was put to death.
I'm not sure how our current celebration of Valentine's Day became what it is, but it began with an act of love by a priest who wanted to do the right thing.
Even though it has become pretty commercialized, it is still about wanting to show how we feel about our loved ones by presenting them with a gift—in the name of Valentine.
Whenever I need bike repairs, or parts, or just questioned answered, I stop by Russell's Bike Shop on Firestone Blvd. Tonight, this young girl's whole family was there to pick up her new bike—as soon as the last-minute dusting and polishing was complete.
Right next to busy Firestone Blvd, there's going to be an oasis of eco-friendly green in a few months. The Southern California Gas Company is converting the area in front of its Energy Resource Center to a garden that will showcase a variety of native plants. In addition to the sprinklers being installed here, a rain catcher will capture rain water to use for irrigation.
According to Downey Beat, the garden "... will feature eight types of gardens – fire resistant plants, coastal flowers, sage and chaparral, native ground cover, Mediterranean, riparian meadows, oak woodland understory and edible – complete with paths for visitor access."
It's common to find lots of games and toys at a yard sale. At this neighborhood sale, it looks like this young man is thinking about his academic future.
The last time I personally organized a yard sale, the sale started early on Saturday morning and lasted through Sunday. These days, the sales regularly start on Friday morning. Is this true everywhere now? Given that a large proportion of the population either works or goes to school on Fridays, who shops at these Friday sales?
Still at Rio San Gabriel Riverbed. These are pictures of the power lines along the east side of the bike path. I liked the lines and the repeated patterns. Some of the wires above look like they've taken on a life of their own, almost like some kind of really big toy.
The last post I wrote about La Barca Grill and Cantina was a year ago this month. In that post, construction on the new restaurant had been in progress for a few months, and rumor had it that the new restaurant would be opening in May of that year.
I took this picture last month, in anticipation of the latest rumor of a January opening. I'd driven by several times, and I liked how the late afternoon sun made the building glow. I was going to save this picture to use in combination with some pictures of the inside, when we tried the restaurant out.
But now it's February, and they're still not open. So here's the outside, pretty much finished. Maybe this month I can take you to dinner there.