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Year in Yosemite: On View - Explore

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Year in Yosemite: On View

Yosemite 1Before we left Los Angeles to live in Yosemite National Park, we lived in a very nice neighborhood on a lovely tree-lined street. Our daughter was at a school we liked; our closest friends were just minutes away. It should have been perfect, but I had a problem. Every night I'd wake up gasping for breath, feeling as if the city were closing in on me.

That feeling left when we moved to Yosemite. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I could breathe. It helped that we moved to quiet, laid-back Wawona and not to Yosemite Valley. The Valley is stunningly scenic but its towering granite walls, narrow valley floor and endless summer traffic jams leave me feeling hemmed in too. Living in a national park, I've come to realize that everyone has their own favorite type of scenery. Some love the deserts. Others prefer the prairies. What speaks to me are wide-open places.

Yosemite 2

Give me the rolling hills of Yellowstone over the narrow slot canyons of the Grand Canyon. I'll take meadows over forests and the sweeping pasturelands of the Sierra foothills over the mountains themselves. Even in parks defined by their valleys, I prefer the open views from on high. That's why we encourage all our friends to hike to Sentinel Dome with its 8,300-foot- high, 360-degree view of the valley and much of the rest of the park. And no visit to Zion is complete without leaving its exquisite valley to circle back through the town of Virgin to Kolob Reservoir Road for the ride to the crest of the park.

Few people venture that way. We found it only by accident. (The National Park Service seems to do little to publicize it, probably because one passes through miles of private lands before reentering the park). At every turn in the road, the views spread out in awe-inspiring grandeur; while in the foreground, green and gold pasturelands push up against deep vermilion rock to create what, I think, is some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Forgive me but I'm a vista junkie and can't seem to help myself. I like the West's horizontal plains better than the East's vertical cities. Africa, with its huge salt pans and miles of unspoiled savannah, seems like heaven to me.

Beach 1So how am I going to transition back to over-developed Southern California when we leave Yosemite this summer? We got lucky. Our new home is located where the city is forced to stop and the Pacific takes over. If I can leave Yosemite with its "Pinch me, I-can't-believe-I-get-to-live-here quality," it's only because every time I look up to see the sky meet the sea, I'm again overwhelmed by that "pinch-me" feeling.

-- Jamie Simons/Top two images by Jon Jay; bottom image by Karis Simons.

In May 2009, while hiking in Yosemite National Park, long-time Los Angeles resident Jamie Simons turned to her husband and said, "I want to live here." Jamie and her family have since lived in the park. Check out all of her blog articles by clicking here.

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