Leaving Yosemite via Hwy 140 West leads you straight into Mariposa, CA. A cute little town on the edge of Yosemite NP, it has a two block collection of old west, gold rush era – antique stores and mom and pop shops.
From there I got a map from the VERY friendly visitor center and drove North on Hwy 49 in search of a open highway east to get across the Sierra’s. Both Hwy 108 and Hwy 4 were closed due to winter road conditions and I was told the quickest option would be to drive about 100 miles due north and catch State Hwy 88 near Jackson, CA to go east.
Mariposa was quaint, but hardly ‘scenic’… so I was extra-bummed the other road options were now closed, I resigned myself to drive 2 additional hours to make my Sierra Road Trip loop. The road started as a simple two lane state highway, nothing special… but within 10 miles I knew I was in for a real treat.
Hwy 49 was no flat and straight snore-fest of a road, it was a winding, twisting, turning panorama of rolling green foothills and lakes, shrouded in clouds and as perfect and solitary as any road warrior could have wished for. My only regret… I didn’t have a sports car or Harley to truly wind-my-way through the 10-15 mph curves !
Gorgeous and relaxing, this 2 hour drive was a wonderful surprise ! What i thought would be a huge disappointment and annoyance, turned out to be one of the highlights of my drive. It was like driving in Ireland ( I think – as I’ve not been there yet) with the green lush hillsides and mountain vistas. Totally unlike anything I had seen in Yosemite, this was a calm and restful scene that kept repeating every-time I turned into the next valley. Hugging the side of the small mountain foothills, Hwy 49 wound back and forth across lakes and bridges, staying a thousand feet or more above the valley floors and providing camera ready moments for anyone took the time to travel it’s length.
The glory of the late morning sun and the clear blue skies with distant white cotton clouds, gave the scene a sense of the surreal and I found myself distracted….repeatedly grabbing at the wheel to make the next tight s-curve.
Almost no other cars were to be found and I had this “shalom” like drive to myself. It felt like a wonderful moment that God gifted to me, a time and place that satisfied the ‘longing’ of my wandering heart. I live for roads like this…. I yearn to discover new and remote vistas of beauty, and God having created me… knew “Exactly” what I was desiring. I couldn’t help but thank Him for taking me on a detour that turned out to be the ‘main’ event for my trip.
I had seen the desert vista’s and mountain extremes many times before… but the geography between Mariposa CA and Sonora CA was unique and beautiful and lush.
A wonderful hidden jewel just off the beaten path, waiting for me to simply discover.
Makes me think about how many times I have ‘missed’ those hidden blessings of God in my life. When I pushed and pulled and made a path forward without regard for the leading of God’s Holy Spirit. “Making stuff happen” for the sake of getting it done, and loosing out on the divine detour laid out and intended to refresh and renew my spirit.
My unexpected discovery of California State Hwy 49… served as a valuable illustration for me to remember and share. I hope it does….
Part 3 of 3 in a few days.