New Year, New Yule

Dear My Family,

This year marked an important milestone for us, our last Christmas in Yosemite. For those out there that don’t know this FunFact, I was raised within the confines of America’s first preserved natural space, Yosemite National Park (yes, inside the park boundaries, my parents worked there). Every Christmas in my memory has been the same. My family always gathered at my parents’ house to eat too much, drink too much, and then go on long, guilty walks to work off that post-holiday fat feeling. This year we lucked out with a ton of snow, which always contributes to a Merrier Christmas. Because I grew up in the snow, I’ve never been comfortable with the snowless Christmases we have down here in LA. There’s something off-putting about decorating your tree when it’s 80 degrees outside (which I have done multiple times).

Next year, my parents will be leaving the house I grew up in. In all honesty, I’m not super excited about their move, I’m going to miss our house and Yosemite. But next year will bring new opportunities and experiences to our family. Also, they’re moving to Sonoma County so at least I’ll still have a pretty place to visit. Below are some images of Yosemite as I saw it over the many winters I spent there. It’s truly a magical place and I high suggest you spend a winter holiday there sometime.

This is our street, covered in snow.

My car, which didn’t like the snow as much as I did.

Our house (if you look hard you can see Yosemite Falls in the background).

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The street where I grew up.


Our neighbor’s adorable house.

The Merced River.

Yosemite Falls. How much do you love those pine trees? Their foliage looks like pom-poms.

Our little walking path, complete with split-rail fencing.

The old apple orchard near my house. When Yosemite was first founded, the settlers had livestock and farmed. Clearly, the agriculture went against the natural preservation of the park so it was later removed, but back then it was a long horse ride (or hike) into the valley so it made sense to grow food up there.

Big chunky flakes of snow falling from the sky.

What I feel like on the inside when big chunky flakes of snow fall from the sky.

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Creeping clouds mingle with Yosemite Falls.


The small grammar school I attended.


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Our neighbor’s back yard.

The bay laurel tree is native to Yosemite, you can see one from our dining room. Its leaves are great for soup. Or tea if you like gross tea that tastes like bay leaves (my boyfriend does, I don’t get it).

Even in Yosemite, you can wear gay jeans and homosexual sunglasses (In my defense, this picture is five years old. Just kidding there is no defense for that outfit. I hate myself).

My sister and me at the Ahwahnee Hotel, which always has glorious holiday decorations (see below).

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The chapel where my brother got married. In related news, my sister can’t get married to her (female) fiance there because only unions sanctioned by the US government are allowed at the park’s only chapel. Rude.

A few more Merced River shots:

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And finally, this Ansel Adams image (entitled “El Capitan in Winter).

This image captures perfectly what winter in Yosemite means to me. Beauty. Wonder. Tradition. I’ll miss all of these things when my parents move away. But at least I’ll have these photographs to remember them by. Here’s to a New Year of making new memories in new places. New places like Sonoma County, where they have lots of delicious wine. And to a new year of being thankful for the memories I’ve spent my life creating.

2013 or bust!


14 thoughts on “New Year, New Yule

  1. Very beautiful photography, Orlando, and, as always, very charming text! Happy new year!

  2. Sorry to hear your parents are leaving Yosemite – however, trust me – Napa and Sonoma counties are beautiful – not to mention the wine! Lots of cute thrift/consigment/vintage shops too 🙂

  3. Beautifully put Orlando. Yosemite is a family member to whom we now have to say goodbye. Lot’s of joyful memories and more joy to create in 2013. Love you!

  4. How wonderful to have grown up in such a magical place! Thanks for sharing your memories and the gorgeous pictures.

  5. Go figure, your amazing self comes from such an amazing place. I’m sad for you to have to say goodbye to your family holidays, but Wine Country ain’t too shabby of a replacement. I’m REALLY sorry (angry, pissed, going to find some petitions to sign) that your sister can’t get married in that beautiful little chapel. I have one finger for all politicians who are denying same sex couples the basic right to get married. Change can’t come soon enough.

  6. I am in awe of your childhood surroundings – esp the little school surrounding by so much magnificence. I am currently trying to save a small elementary school I attended and now my children attend – in what we think is a beautiful place to raise children – Do you feel as if your upbringing in Yosemite gave you a unique perspective? It certainly is magical!

  7. So beautiful! I just returned from visiting my parents in Escalon (“stepping stone to Yosemite”); you can see half-dome from their property a little East of there and they’re looking to sell that as well. Makes me sad to know that I won’t be able to see the amazing/glorious park as often as I used to! Sonoma will be a nice change (with less snow), but at least you can always visit! Thank you for your reflection on growing up in such a beautiful place!

  8. Wow I already admired you from afar, and now you’re even more awesome (and maybe a little magical too)! These are beautiful pictures, I’m so envious of your childhood in Yosemite.

  9. Such a beautiful place to grow up…selling the family home is always a hard step, I was annoyed with my parents for selfish reasons, but I was also happy for them to start their next chapter, as you are. It will be the next family adventure!

  10. What an unbelievably gorgeous and majestic place to have grown up in–thanks so much for sharing. I can absolutely see why you’ll miss it during the holidays–it’s like a Christmas postcard with all that snow.

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