Welcome to Central California, President Obama. Since I’ll be avoiding Yosemite National Park this weekend (way, way too much traffic – guess why?), thought you might like to hear some sightseeing advice from a Sierra enthusiast who has explored the place for decades.
You picked an especially great time to visit because the world-famous waterfalls are still gushing. The falls in recent summers dried up sooner than usual following a four-year drought that wasn’t caused by Mother Nature but by liberal politicians such as yourself.
At least that’s what Donald Trump told us.
By my count, you are the fifth president to visit Yosemite while in office. The first was Teddy Roosevelt, who in May 1903 spent an evening camping with John Muir on the Valley floor during which Muir successfully lobbied Roosevelt to protect this grand cathedral.
I wouldn’t try to recreate that night out under the stars, because you’d probably get run over in your sleep by a tour bus.
Instead, you, Michelle and the girls will be staying (I’m assuming) at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. Never heard of it? Until a few months ago, neither had we.
You, Michelle and the girls will be staying at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel. Never heard of it? Until a couple months ago, neither had we.
No matter what the park is calling it at the moment, Mr. President, that place will always and forever be known as the Ahwahnee.
The Ahwahnee name represents so much more than a bargaining chip in a trademark dispute – or at least it ought to. Ahwahnee also happens to be the original name of Yosemite, what it was called by its first inhabitants, the Ahwahneechee tribe.
So if you really want to curry favor with the locals, do something presidential and bring back the names of the Ahwahnee, Badger Pass, Wawona Hotel and Curry Village. (No relation to Stephen Curry, you’ll be disappointed to learn.)
While you’re at it, why not wave that magic power wand in the direction of O’Shaughnessy Dam and restore Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite’s sunken twin sister?
Of course, that would anger the San Francisco environmentalists. You know, those people who are always steadfastly against dams … except when said dams happen to hold back their water.
I realize you’re here on vacation, and perhaps to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. But there is no escape from the politics of Yosemite. People care about this place, and they care about it fiercely. Sometimes, almost too much.
I want to make sure that the whole world is able to pass on to future generations the God-given beauty of this planet.
President Obama, in an official White House Facebook post
You won’t need more than a few seconds at Tunnel View to figure out why.
While this might prove difficult, considering Presidents travel around in a motorcade of armored cars, the best way to experience Yosemite is to walk.
I’m not suggesting anything extreme like Half Dome, which involves 16 miles and 4,800 feet of elevation gain. Besides, you’d need a permit for the cables section. Though in your case the rangers would probably let that slide.
Take a stroll through Cook’s Meadow, a place where you can gaze up at Yosemite Falls in one direction and Half Dome and Glacier Point in the other.
Don’t just admire El Capitan from afar. Take the extra 15 minutes to hike to the base, where its sheer size can truly be appreciated, and place your hands upon the ocean of granite. You’ll be astonished at its smoothness.
Even better, hike the Mist Trail from Happy Isles to the to the top of Vernal Fall. (It’s called that for a reason, so you guys may want to bring ponchos.) There aren’t many places on Earth where a person can get so up close and personal with a 317-foot waterfall.
There aren’t many places on Earth where a person can get so up close and personal with a 317-foot waterfall.
So far, we haven’t even left the Valley. You’ll definitely want to make the trip to Glacier Point (ask for veteran ranger Dick Ewart to show you around – he’s top-notch) and while you’re up there, Sentinel Dome. The view from each is awe-inspiring.
You’re undoubtedly running a tight schedule, but no summertime trip to Yosemite can be complete without seeing the high country.
In order to save time, and avoid all the messy traffic you’re causing, just hop aboard Marine One and chopper up to Tenaya Lake and Tuolumne Meadows.
You’d take heat from critics on both sides of the aisle, for wasting taxpayer money as well as increasing your carbon footprint. But what the heck, you’re a late second-term president. They can’t really do anything.
Whatever you do, don’t take any sightseeing tips posted by the friendly folks who inhabit The Fresno Bee’s comments section – the ones advising you to “Climb to the top of a cliff, then jump” or “Take a swim a few feet above a waterfall.”
Those people must’ve voted for Mitt Romney, who would’ve been the only world leader in history named after a piece of sports equipment.
Thanks for sparing us that ignominy.
$11.9 billion Maintenance backlog at national parks
I’m sure you’ll be giving a speech, something you’re quite good at. Let’s hope your eloquent prose about one of our greatest natural wonders and the importance of preserving them for future generations is backed by action.
National parks have been called America’s best idea, but we’re sure doing a lousy job taking care of them. The maintenance backlog has nearly reached $12 billion, including $500 million in Yosemite alone.
If this pattern of neglect and avoidance continues, it frightens me what our national parks will look like in another century.
Really sorry to have missed you. Next time, when security isn’t so tight, we’ll meet up for pizza and pints on the Curry Village deck. That’s David and Jennie Curry; not Stephen.