It was late in the season for wildflowers but Tuolumne greeted me with green grasses, clear running water, big cumulous clouds and a couple young mule deer bucks as I roamed around exploring for photos. I wasnít expecting deer this late into the day but thatís one of the advantages of exploring in the parks. I worked the meadow for a little while and headed for the valley. With the large clouds rising in the east, it just seemed this might be the day for the Tunnel Overlook photo Iíve been waiting for. And I wasnít disappointed. My biggest problem was that as I got my first glimpse up the valley, the sky was so spectacular I couldnít seem to get to the overlook fast enough. Once I arrived, what a spectacular sight to behold. Smaller clouds seemed to be bubbling into the upper reaches of the valley with a huge dark storm cloud beginning a western roll over top of the entire landscape. I couldnít have painted this any better than what Mother Nature had laid out before me. Iím not a religious person but this type of incredible moment literally takes your breath away. It leaves me feeling insignificant and with the inclination to cry out ďThank you God.Ē
I left Yosemite with my eye on a couple old bridges near Virginia City but found myself enthralled with the many hidden treasures in central California. I was unable to resist many of the small communities and out of the way places. After visiting Angels Camp, Sutterís Mill and Placerville I decided I should hang around a little longer in California and visit Callebrellas Redwoods, Mount Lassen and Burney Falls. I finally found myself west of I-5 on a State Highway (96) following the Klamath River near the Oregon border. My intention was to motor through California in three or four days and then start my jaunt up through Oregon from the Oregon Caves National Monument. Eight days later I find myself off track and not yet out of California. I also had an accident with one of my cameras along the way and found a nice package deal for a D90 in Modesto on a side trip for supplies, an oil change and a brake check.
My initial measure of what constitutes a good trip is when I first realize that I no longer know what day it is. So finding a closed Costco at 6:30 in the evening let me know it was Sunday and I had been gone long enough to find my first motel stop, do some editing and grab a shower. But I have digressed so let just mention that MacArthur-Burney Falls is perhaps as beautiful a waterfall as I have ever seen, yet itís somewhat off the beaten path and unknown to many travelling through California. Itís between Lake Tahoe and Mount Shasta and definitely worth the drive, even if you only stop for a few minutes and view it from the overlook near the main parking area. But enough of that, Oregon awaits.