An ode to big trees (in pictures)

Over the weekend, my husband and I escaped the heat of California’s central valley and headed to the northwest part of the state. Among the many beautiful sights of the weekend, we visited several big tree state and national parks.

Our first stop was Avenue of the Giants, though technically, it was more of a “go,” as we drove among a blur of huge trees lining the road.

Today’s post is an ode to big trees, mostly in pictures, with a few words added in here and there. I hope you enjoy the virtual journey, but even more, I hope the pictures inspire you to visit this stunning part of the country—whether for the first time or a return trip.

Driving along Avenue of the Giants

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O, Yosemite!

We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. (John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra)

Let the mountains bring peace to the people. – Psalm 72:3

Have you ever been somewhere and not wanted to leave? Somewhere that filled you with boundless energy and measureless peace at the same time? Yosemite is such a place for me.

My husband and I made a trip there last week, our second time ever visiting Yosemite and our first since moving here. Our goal is to visit Yosemite in all four seasons. The weather was kind to us, and we didn’t have to put chains on our tires. We spent time hiking and running and strolling. Sometimes, we stood still, awed by the splendor rising up to surround us.

If you long for nature’s grandeur, come to Yosemite. If you need a reminder of your smallness, come to Yosemite. If you need to be rejuvenated in body and mind, come to Yosemite.

You may not be able to drop everything right this minute and make your way there, and so I’m sharing some favorite photographs with you. Will you carve out a little space at the end of this busy day and sit with these views? I hope they fill you with peace and renewed energy in equal portion.


This bobcat was the very definition of nonchalance, paying us no mind as it went about its business. (Apologies for not being able to get a front-end picture)


On the way to Mirror Lake


Half Dome on an overcast morning


A thin winter coat of snow


Mirror Lake


Half Dome with the skies clearing


Words fail me: Yosemite falls with rainbow and snow


Fog through the trees


Another quiet moment


Ubiquitous (and well-versed in the music of a snack bag opening)


Saying goodbye in the valley


Sun and snow at play


Impossible not to stop and look back

Have you ever been to Yosemite? What was your favorite part of your visit? If you’ve never been, did any of the photographs inspire you to start planning a trip?

A running gift

Saturday brought an early start, a drive through the dark of pre-dawn hours with a zillion stars lighting the sky. The sun began to rise, and along with it, the fog:


A photo from the moving car

Our destination was a small Virginia town built along the banks of a winding river. We were there so my husband could run a race and so I—training for my first half marathon of this illness- and injury-plagued year—could do a long run.

Shortly after we arrived at the start area of the race, the sun and fog began a dance. The trees and the river played spectator and stage to the dance. I immediately regretted bringing only my cell phone for a camera.

NewRiverMorning2015_2FT NewRiverMorning2015_3FT NewRiverMorning2015_4FT

As I alternated between taking pictures and fumbling to put gloves back on (it was in the mid-30s, and I had not brought the right gloves for my “smart” phone), a thought struck me. The autumn combination of fog, sunlight, trees and water is probably my favorite of nature’s glorious offerings.

And if it weren’t for running, I’d have missed this beautiful morning.

If you had told me two decades ago that, one day, I’d rise early enough on a Saturday during vacation that only the stars would be up, I would have laughed at you. I have never been a morning person, and the idea of routinely giving up the one day a week I could sleep in would have never crossed my mind before I took up running.

Yet here I am, more than ten years into a life of running, and Saturdays have become synonymous with race day or a day to run long, especially on vacation. Not every Saturday, mind you. Just more than I ever would have guessed in my pre-running days. You know what? I’m glad for that change.

Running is a gift that gives all runners something we might not otherwise have. For me, those gifts include stunning vistas, an excuse to get outside regardless of the weather, an improved sense of direction, greater wanderlust, better health, and, yes, more time with the obsessive runner in my house. (Don’t worry. He readily admits his obsession.)

This morning, I ran with my dog who spent our vacation lazing at doggy camp. She didn’t drag as she sometimes does. She was full of energy, and so was I. At one point, she bounded along next to me, changing gears to match my increasing pace. She looked up at me, her ears streaming behind her, and her gaze said, “This is what I’ve been missing. Running along together like this is bliss.” I’d be lying if I said all running days are blissful. But sometimes, as with today and Saturday, running is bliss.

So while I may not always (or ever) greet the Saturday alarm with enthusiasm, I am grateful for the time and ability to run. Especially on the crisp fall mornings when the sun and fog dance along the water and among the trees.

What makes you feel more alive and get you out of bed in the early dark of Saturday mornings? For you runners out there, what is the greatest gift running has given you?