Sierra Surprise

Icemaggedon 2015 hit Nashville with a sudden – surprise fury that stranded most and cancelled a week of our scheduled collective lives. My family was left stuck at home while I made one of the last flights out… my destination, southern California.

I wasn’t as thrilled as you might think…

I love winter, cold weather, and all things snow. Landing in Ontario CA… the weather was 77 F and sunshine for a week. Predictably perfect in every way. While my wife and family suffered below zero temps and four inches of solid ice… I dug through my suitcase to find a short sleeve shirt to wear and repeatedly pushed the AC button on my rental car.

By the end of the week… it was clear I wasn’t flying home as planned. Nashville airport was shut down for the 3rd time that week as another snow/sleet/ice storm was pounding the area and flights were not available for another 24 hours.

Stuck in LA. 

I had endured the smog, annoyingly perfect sunshine and 10-lane freeway gridlock for 4 days and I needed to get “OUT” of the city whenever, however I could !

A quick scan of the map showed Yosemite National Park (one of my faves) to the North and the Sierra Mountains slicing between the desert (east) and coastal (west) halves of southern California. If I hustled…I could just make a loop from Ontario CA to Yosemite (up the west side of the mountains and down the eastern slopes) across to Tahoe and down to Mammoth on my way back to Ontario. A circuit of about 1000 miles to be done in 36 hours or less… a bit of a push, one heck of a Road Trip 🙂

I jumped in and hit the road. Not even a hesitation….either sit around the airport for a day and two nights or head out for some high-mountain adventure!

I was already considering a place to crash for the night and figuring rough distance – times and weather factors in my head. If I missed traffic, I could be in Yosemite by sunset. MapQuest said 314 miles through Fresno and north up state Hwy 41 to the southern entrance to the massive NP. Six hours later and I was catching the last rays of golden glow on El Capitan!

Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley

Outdoor tent-sites for $37 (Curry Campground – Yosemite Village) made this a most economical option and without the luxury of planning ahead, it was only option available. (hotels in the NP fill up months or years ahead of time)

Expecting snow… I was surprised to find sunshine and fall like weather in the valley. (60F daytime / 40F at night) Winter was more than mild this year in the California Sierras’… balancing out the nuclear winter settling in over balmy Nashville.

Up before sunrise, I had some surprisingly good breakfast in the food court (Yosemite Lodge) and hit the highway for my push up and through the Sierra’s into Nevada and back down to Ontario/LA. Winter exits from Yosemite NP to the east don’t exist. You have to push south or due west to get back, adding half a day and 400 miles to your journey. Tioga pass road (120) is closed from Dec -May each year and forces a by-pass/detour for anyone wanting to head for Nevada or the Eastern slopes.

Tioga Pass is a FANTASTIC road to drive with a camera. One of my top 10 roads ever! 

Bummed it was closed…I grabbed some extra snacks and a few waters as I cruised underneath the silent giants of Yosemite Valley on my way west to Mariposa, CA… I was being forced to take the long way and although  I didn’t know it… I was about to find a wonderful Sierra Surprise that was worth the entire trip!

Funny how God can use the ‘detours’ in our lives to help us find our way…. 🙂

Part 2 of 3 on Thursday !

Pastor B.



2 thoughts on “Sierra Surprise

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