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How Joanne and Larry Mars Met and Their Trip to Northern California-July, 2010

Did you ever intend to accomplish one thing and find, in time, that something very different came about? The unusual story of how we met, promised in our last article, is a good example of this phenomenon.

Walnut Creek

We had vastly different purposes for going to an arts and crafts center in Brasstown, NC in the summer of 2002. Larry, an avid photographer, saw an opportunity to shoot scenery of misty beauty near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Joanne, an accomplished potter, wanted to learn how to use her new camera to take pictures of her ceramics. We wound up in the same nature photography class. Soon we were in one another's company a lot of the time. Joanne followed Larry around because he seemed to know what he was doing with a camera. Larry followed Joanne because she was always smiling and needed lots of help. Both parties attained their goals for the workshop. Larry got some nice pictures of the Nantahala National Forest and Joanne learned where the shutter was on her Nikon camera. Over time we conducted a long distance romance of 1,010 miles---Joanne from Florida and Larry from Maryland. We decided to end the long trek to one another's abode in 2006 by getting married.

The moral of the story is simple. Do want you want to do, or love to do, and pleasant surprises may await you.

Walnut Creek Swimming Pool

We've been on many photography adventures in the intervening years throughout the United States and in four foreign countries. Our latest adventure, in July, was one of our most varied even though it took place entirely in northern California. We started in almost everyone's favorite city---San Francisco. We appreciated the cool air when most of the country was under stifling heat. We even bought sweaters after nearly freezing while photographing the Oakland Bay Bridge at night. This experience reminded us of a saying attributed to Mark Twain, "The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco." San Francisco scenery is so varied. We photographed the Golden Gate Bridge and the city skyline, and we shot from alleys on Telegraph Hill wondering how people who live there did not tumbled down the hills every day. We shot scenes of Pier 39 and the wharf area and the world famous trolley cars.

Arts and Craft

After leaving San Francisco, we headed for the Rossmoor property for seniors in Walnut Creek. As residents of Leisure World® of Maryland with its many high rise dwellings and relatively level terrain, we were impressed by Walnut Creek's spaciousness and pretty rolling hills and blue skies. We quickly learned how well developed the arts and crafts programs were while Joanne, a potter herself, was amazed at the fully equipped ceramics studio that was available. Altogether, there are some 200 clubs, organizations and groups in Walnut Creek and the people we met were so very pleasant and welcoming.

Walnut Creek

After Walnut Creek, our plan called for driving through Yosemite National Park along the Tioga Pass Road (Rt. 120) to Rt. 395 and heading south toward our hotel in Mammoth Lakes. We were about 30 miles into Yosemite wondering why the park's scenery was so highly regarded when we came upon the Tuolumne Meadows and Olmsted Point and no longer had to wonder. Joanne, in particular, was brought to tears by the beauty of the granite rocks and craggy peaks, the richness of the green meadows, and the reflections in Tenaya Lake. Larry was a bit more reserved, but even he recognized the remarkable beauty of the High Sierras. Later in our trip we got to photograph the impressive Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls and the all-encompassing vista surrounding us at what is called the Tunnel View. The scenery we captured is but a slice of what makes Yosemite so famous and we now know we have to return some day.

Outside of Yosemite, just to the east, is the magnificent Mono Lake. If you are enthralled by otherworldly scenery, as we are, Mono Lake is just the place for you. The lake is over 760,000 years old and, possibly as much as three million years old. The key features for photographers are the Tufa Towers. These are limestone-like spires and knobs that rise out of the lake. They are created when fresh water springs bubble up through the lake's alkaline waters. Mono Lake is 60 square miles in area and, although inland, is more than two times saltier than the ocean! We thoroughly enjoyed viewing and photographing the Mono Lake vistas.

Finally, we took other photographs of the eastern Sierras. This included sites such as the Mammoth Lakes area, the June Lakes Loop, and the Devil's Post National Monument. All in all, we enjoyed ourselves very much and vowed to return to photograph areas we missed. We concluded that the nature photography class we took in Brasstown, NC eight years earlier is still paying dividends.

Until next time,

~Joanne and Larry Mars

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