Welcome, President Obama and family, to Madera County and Yosemite National Park. Not only is the first family taking a vacation, Obama is using the time to call attention to the nation’s national parks, which many believe to be the country’s best idea ever.
It’s surprising how many people who live in Madera County have never been to Yosemite. I was one of those people until Mrs. Doud and one of our daughters talked me into going with them on a day trip a few years ago. It was wonderful being there, if you didn’t mind the traffic.
So, the next time we went to the park, we left our car in Oakhurst and took a tour bus. What a great way to travel into the park. Not only did we have the advantage of my not having to drive, and find places to park, there was a tour guide aboard our bus who did an exceptional job of pointing out sights in the park we would have missed had she not been with us.
Our trip on the bus took about half a day. We got back to our car in time to drive home and catch one of my favorite TV shows.
Once you decide to drive to Yosemite from Madera, you notice how different the county is once you get to Coarsegold. It’s different not only in its scenery, but in its economy. Tourism becomes ever more important the farther away one gets from Madera. Motels, restaurants, the casino — all are seeking at least some of their dollars from tourists rather than farmers, and from businesses that cater to farmers.
The people who live in the hills live differently, too. Their neighborhoods are spread out among trees; roads wind around hills; in some areas, they live around lakes. In a way, life in the hill country seems ideal. But all is not perfect, just as it isn’t perfect in the city. In the hills, it’s harder to maintain a home. The words “septic tank” come to mind, as does the word snow in some of the higher elevations. And there’s always the fear of forest fire. Yet, it’s usually quiet in the hills and the air is usually clear. A lot of people think it’s God’s country.
The Obamas, of course, will be visiting God’s actual country — Yosemite National Park — and angels who wear park uniforms will cater to all their needs, answer all their questions and make sure they stay safe.
We can all have a trip like that just about whenever we want it, because of where we live. Poor Obamas, they have to go back to Washington, D.C., where they will only be able to dream of the sight of Half Dome as the sun graces it with ethereal light.