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September 15, 2011 / annakpf11

Scotty Odyssey—Yosemite

Walker, there is no path,
you make the path as you walk.

—Antonio Machado

Two-lane blacktop threads through orchards of almond and pistachio trees, then dips and rolls across a sea of white-blond grass. We are on our way to Yosemite, the first stop on our month-long Scotty Odyssey. (Why “Scotty?” It’s the brand of our trailer. Why “Odyssey?” Because like Odysseus, we will journey far and meet challenges along the way.)

The seasonal creek at the edge of the forest still flows past our Upper Pines campsite, even now, in the first week of September. Wood smoke permeates the campground. We’ve arrived at the dinner hour, so after leveling the trailer and establishing camp, we attend to our evening meal: grilled steak, roasted potatoes and marinated string bean salad.

Early the next morning, I unroll my yoga mat next to the stream and practice asanas under the vaulted ceiling of pine tree boughs. Yoga in a cathedral.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about that feeling inside that prevents us from growing and taking risks. That feeling we call resistance. When Dave first suggested we buy a little trailer and go on the road for a month, I resisted the idea. But some internal tide slowly turned, and here we are. In the same way, I used to resist doing yoga (maybe because I knew I should do it), and I certainly resisted doing it first thing in the morning, but now I look forward to beginning the day by breathing my way into odd postures. One of my goals for this trip is to continue daily yoga practice. Stay tuned.

After breakfast (raisin bran and banana for Dave; yogurt, almonds and fruit for Anna) we stroll the valley with Basil.

It’s hot, close to 90 degrees, and we don’t go far before dipping into the chilled waters of the Merced. Water so cold it hurts, until feet and legs go numb. The current nudges me downstream. I anchor myself by grasping the round granite boulders beneath the surface.

In the evening, Lowell, and his friend Marjorie, whom we’ve long waited to meet, join us at our campsite for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. They stay for two hours, which passes like two minutes. Marjorie is thoroughly lovely: bright, warm and unpretentious, and we look forward to seeing more of her. It’s obvious she and Lowell are very happy in each others’ company. We let them go with hugs and a date to meet the next day. They head to the Ahwahnee for dinner with friends. We stay in our campsite and heat up bean and sausage soup.

The following evening we join the party at the Ahwahnee. Cocktails on the terrace with Lowell and Marj and her friends from England, Virginia and Barry, an upbeat, erudite and socially conscious couple. Virginia, friend of Marj’s since college, is an accomplished classical flautist who is American-born, though has made her home in Hong Kong and Britain since the early 60’s. Her husband Barry is a former professor of Economic History at Cambridge and Harvard, and also a former director of a foundation that funds academic research. Conversation is easy and wide-ranging. We are the last guests to leave the dining room—to the waiters’ initial chagrin and eventual relief. The following evening we will happily gather again, around the picnic table at our campsite, and enjoy each others company until after dark.

On our last day, a hike to Vernal Falls bridge. Bay Laurel trees shade the trail and scent the air, reminding Dave of bay leaf infused stews. Mustard and russet colored leaves blanket the trail beneath our feet. The sound of flowing water is ever present. Yosemite, magical as ever, is especially memorable this time.

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