Like many other people, I consider our national park system to be a national treasure. Whenever I travel, I try to visit as many as I can, especially if there is an historical angle. My most ambitious adventure was when I was driving through Utah and visited Cedar Breaks National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Zion National Park all in one day. Yes, that was a busy day and it’s certainly not the “approved solution”, but at least I can say I got a glimpse at what these three beauties have to offer.
My favorite national park is Death Valley in California and Nevada. What impresses me so much about this park is how three major elements are interwoven. First are the places of great natural beauty that befits any park. Then there are the extremes of both temperature and altitude. Finally, there is a unique human element, from Scotty‘s Castle to the borax mines.
Yet when I think of national parks, I always think of Yosemite. I had the good fortune to stay inside that park twice when I lived in California. The second time was just a happy overnight interlude when I was moving back to the Midwest. My first visit was the most fun because I spent a full day there and got to explore. It was during this trip that I had my most bizarre experience in any national park.
If you’ve never been to Yosemite, staying in one of the cabins reminded me of stopping at a cheap motel near a busy freeway and having to listen to traffic noise all night. Yosemite has a similar, continuous background noise, but it comes from the spectacular waterfalls. I don’t know if it was me or the cabin location, or it had simply been a rainy spring (I was there in early May), but the sound of constant falling water did take some getting used to.
And wanting to take full advantage of my visit, I attended as many of the ranger’s presentations as I could. One was given by a young lady near my cabin. I can’t recall the complete text of her lecture, but she did introduce a concept I’d never even thought of before. Stand near the waterfalls during a full moon, she said, and you will be able to see a rainbow, or “moonbow” in the spray. Of course, the reason she explained this was because that night there just happened to be a full moon.
Naturally, I wanted to see this for myself. So as soon as her talk was finished, I hurried down the pathway to the nearest waterfall. The moon was providing a decent amount of light, certainly enough to walk down the path without any problems. I found a spot near the waterfall at what I thought was a close distance and peered through the mist.
Maybe if I stand closer. Still nothing.
I got as close as I could, twisting this way and that, clouds of mist rolling over me, and I couldn’t see anything resembling a rainbow from moonlight, artificial light (if there had been any), or any other kind of light. I was now feeling like a first-class idiot, half-soaked, and wondering if this had in fact been a late April Fool’s joke.
I finally gave up and started back up the path to find my cabin. To make matters worse, every other person I passed (who must’ve heard the same lecture) asked me “Did you see it? Did you see it?”
Leaving a trail of wet footprints, all I could do is mutter “No… No… No…”