February 27, 2011

I Have No Memory of Winter In Yosemite

Good morning and greetings, NBA trade fans.  Let me start off today’s sermon with a confession.  I have never been to Yosemite National Park.  For that matter, ”I’ve never been to heaven, but I’ve been to Oklahoma.  In Oklahoma, not Arizona, what does it matter.”  Thank you, Three Dog Night, who taught me early in life that “one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.”

Okay, so I’m glad I got that off my rock hards abs and chest.  And just because my backbreakingly busy schedule hasn’t allowed me to journey to this spectacular valley of the dolls doesn’t mean we’re not going there today, sports fans.

Fortunately, for God and country, my old pal Judy Bingham has made the trip to this promised land of photography.  By her accounts she has been there a little over 12,000 times, starting as a small child when she would go into the back country to trap beaver, muskrats and unsuspecting local farmers.

Now those of you familiar with this blog will recognize Judy’s name from her fabulous previous appearances, where she brought us images of polar bears, brown bears, Chicago Bears, eagles, beagles, gorillas, giraffes, zebras, NFL referees, lions, elephants and minature shetland ponies, all shot from her backyard.  As you can imagine, she’s got quite a spread and imagination.

Two weeks ago, Judy once again trekked to her favorite valley on the planet.  But before we launch into Judy’s fanastic photos, let me give you a little history about this u-shaped valley that was sculpted from glaciers from the ice age and was the first park set aside by the US government for preservation, protection and birth control.

Yosemite National Park is located on the western edge of the Sierra Nevada range, or what scientists and homicide detectives refer to as south-central California.  It’s actually east-central, but there goes the joke.   The park is spread over a vast area of 750,000 acres (1,200 miles), with streams that are 1,600 miles long, hiking trails that are 800 miles, and traffic in the summer that sometimes backs up over 200 miles.
Yosemite is internationally recognized for its spectacular granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, clear streams, Giant Sequoia groves and souvenir shops with great sale prices. Like New York’s Central Park, almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness. Yosemite Valley represents only one percent of the park area, but this is where most visitors arrive, stay and buy postcards.  It was designated a National Park in 1890 and is considered the most beautiful in America, coming in just ahead of Yellowstone and the old Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey.

The Yosemite Valley was discovered in 1833.  Over 300 species of animals and 150 species of birds can be found in here.   Black bears and cougars and Courtney Cox are the top of the food chain along with mule deer, bobcats, housecats, bighorn sheep, beavers, Eddie Haskel, Redd foxes, squirrels, otters, John Belushi and the rest of the boys from Delta House.
Let’s move on to Judy’s photographs.  Now anyone with crayons and a coloring book can shoot Yosemite in the summer, put it takes a real pro who doesn’t care about frostbite or cryogenics to capture its winter magnificence.

The first shot is the Tunnel View, which is more extensively photographed than I was as a small child.  Judy says that 50 people where shooting at this spot when she took this photo, and didn’t leave until she got to know each one personally.  If you look closely, you can see Bridal Falls on the right, Half Dome in the middle and El Capitan on the left, which is not to be confused with Grand Funk Railroad’s classic, “I’m Your Capitan.”

Photo number two breaks new ground for Yosemite Judy.  After claiming to hear voices, she saw some footprints that she thought might have been Sasquatch and followed them down to the river to a spot where she had never shot before.  In case you’re keeping a scorecard, that’s an elm tree.  Judy says she has always been attracted to reflections and shiny objects that she can poke with a stick.  Or in the words of  the Talking Heads, “take me to the river and drop me in the water.”  Gently, like a baby salmon.

The third image is of Half Dome, which was shot from Cook’s Meadow.  Half Dome is a granite monster at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley and possibly Yosemite’s most familiar rock formation after the Doobie Brothers. There were four or five groups of different photographers shooting as this sacred spot, all of whom, after some coaxing requested Judy’s business card.  Judy enjoys the company and bonding among photographers when she shoots.   I prefer to be more like Dave Mason, “Alone, Together.”

The next shot is of El Capitan, a vertical rock formation located on the north side of Yosemite Valley.  It’s one of the most popular rock climbing destinations in the world because of its diverse range of climbing routes, its year-round accessibility and rock bottom prices.   Personally, I never really understood the lure of rock climbing as I believe it leads to rock falling.  I’m more of a Paul Simon, “love me like a rock” rather than hurtling down one.

We then move on to Yosemite Falls, the highest measured waterfall in North America.  It is a major attraction in the park, especially in late spring when the water flow and the NBA playoffs are at their peak. Judy shot this from a picnic area called the Swinging Bridge, which does not have a bridge, any picnic tables or a snack bar.
Much like my love of stuffing, the flow of water comes alive in November and continues till July except for weekends and Jewish holidays. The highest volume of water is observed in May and because to its height and weight, this thundering, cascading cavalcade of water is visible from many places within the valley.  In the photo you can see the reflection action in the river as Judy says she was drawn to the little clouds down the mountain, for which she is now taking medication.
We finish with Judy’s award-winning shot of Horsetail Falls, which she photographed back in 2005 before she took up tae bo and full contact karate.  Photographer Galen Rowell discovered this shot, and is truly magical.  For only two weeks out of the year, Horsetail appears to be on fire when it reflects sunlight at sunset.  As Judy recalled,  “I stood there for two hours waiting to get the shot as the sun went down.  When it hits it’s only on fire for ten minutes.  I  just felt ecstatic.”  Judy definitely nailed this shot as it is her finest photo along with some golden retrievers playing poker.
If you want to get in touch with this intrepid photographer, whose next trip hopes to be to volcano country in Iceland,  contact her at judybingmanphotography@gmail.com or check out her website at judybingmanphotography.blogspot.com.  Rest assured, Judy’s images will once again grace these pages.  At least that’s what I want her to think.

On to the late night.  “They say President Lincoln once walked three miles to pay back a penny. That makes him the last president to do anything about the debt. There’s a real threat to tyrants who have used brutal tactics to seize power. The one who should really be worried is Leno.” –David Letterman Bill Clinton recently revealed that he only sent two e-mails while he was President. Then he added, “And it turns out those pills are just a scam.” –Jimmy Fallon

“In the Mideast Muslims are getting in fights with their former supporters. The Shiites are hitting their fans.” –Jay Leno “All across the Middle East in the streets, people are demanding democracy. It’s amazing. The only way in America you get people to get worked up like that is to threaten to give them health care.” –Bill Maher President Obama was in San Francisco today, meeting with a group of technology executives, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Their goal is to figure out how to create new jobs, to replace jobs that have been lost as a result of everyone spending all their time at work on Facebook.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Moammar Gadhafi said that Libyan protesters were all on drugs, and then he blamed it on al-Qaida. Now, he’s saying it’s the fault of the teachers unions.”–Jay Leno  “Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi described President Obama as an African of Arab and Muslim descent. After the speech, Gadhafi was given his own show on Fox News.  Gadhafi said no sane person would join the protests against him. He then joined the protests against himself.”–Conan O’Brien

“Jennifer Lopez broke down crying on “American Idol,” saying she “can’t do this anymore.” That’s what I say every night.”–David Letterman   Sarah Palin is going to a political conference in India next month. Palin said she’s loved India ever since she saw “Hoosiers.  Borders Books has filed for bankruptcy and will close all 200 of its superstores. When Sarah Palin heard that she went, ‘Finally, we’re closing the borders.’” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s our show.  It was a wild week of weather as we didn’t get that snow that was predicted, but instead saw black-eyed pea sized hail fall from the sky.  So enjoy the last day of February and we’ll catch you for some March madness.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Kendrick Perkins fans.


  1. Beautiful Yosemite. To quote Cary Grant, “Judy, Judy, Judy.”

    Comment by Babs — February 28, 2011 @ 7:39 am

  2. Quite the blog – like a wild storm with all the huge pictures, changing fonts and hyperlinks. I’ve been to Yosemite, Yellowstone and Palisades Amusement Park and all three are quite spectacular. And what’s this about the blog maybe going down for awhile – what America doesn’t have enough troubles already?

    Comment by Carmelo Anthony — February 28, 2011 @ 8:45 am

  3. I can not friggin believe you have not gone there yet!!!! You know it truly is a SIN. You need to go this spring to take pics of wildflowers. The waterfalls will be huge cuz of all the snow we’ve had. To quote the Beatles “please, please, me” and YOU AND GO!!!!

    Comment by Vicki Grimsland — February 28, 2011 @ 10:48 am

  4. Beautiful shots and great background info…butyou’re in the Sierra Nevadas..Are you sipping champagne cocktails?
    Next thing you’ll be trusting and doing business ‘con Hyman Roth’.
    Time for a warm bath,
    Frankie 5 Angels

    Comment by Frankie Pentangeli — February 28, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

  5. Hey, it’s not like we’re talking about going to Switzerland or something. It’s only a 3 hour drive (like Gilligan’s Island, but no Ginger or Mary Anne) and people come from all over the world to take in its wonders. And Jason can drive while you look at the scenery.

    Comment by John Muir — March 1, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

  6. I second that emotion, Smokey! I can’t believe you’ve never been. I’ve always wanted to visit in winter and Judy’s pictures only ensure that it remains on my ‘bucket list.’

    Outstanding job, Judy!

    Geoff, get a new computer already…

    Comment by Mary Todd Lincoln — March 2, 2011 @ 4:37 am

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