Tuesday afternoon I made a last minute decision to photograph the waning crescent moon rising above Half Dome Wednesday morning. I arrived in Yosemite at about 10 p.m., confirmed that there was no suitable lodging available in Yosemite Valley ($100 for an unheated tent cabin in Curry Village is not suitable in my book) and spent a cozy albeit rather uncomfortable night in the back of my Santa Fe. I rose at 4 a.m. and was in place at Tunnel View by 4:30.
With all the moonrise/set information available today, I expected to find a horde of photographers set up and waiting for this rare opportunity to photograph the convergence of these two distinctly beautiful and complementary natural shapes. Instead I arrived to find only one other photographer there, and when I asked him if he was there for the moonrise he just shrugged and shook his head, "Moonrise?"
The moon appeared right on schedule. I photographed it using two cameras side-by-side, my 50D with the 100-400 and my 1DSIII with the 70-200. Suffice to say I finished the morning with a variety of pictures that please me, a very successful trip.
But despite successful photography, I'm afraid that is not what I'll remember this trip for. You see, on my drive up my car's battery warning light flashed a couple of times and I made a mental note to get the car into the shop when I got home (if this were a movie, a few notes of ominous music would play here). And then as I entered Yosemite Valley, a ranger pulled me over to tell me a taillight was out--but it came on when I hit the brakes. Weird. Shortly thereafter my seatbelt warning light started blinking (more ominous music, a little louder and more persistent--never a good sign) and I found myself watching the dash more than the road. I soon parked in a secluded parking area and spread out the sleeping bag in the back, hoping a night's rest would banish the electrical gremlins.
The next morning with crossed fingers I turned the key in the ignition, but it started right up (cheerful pianos and flutes here). But within minutes the warning lights resumed, more agitated than ever (the ominous music returns). With one eye on the road and the other on the dash I made it to Tunnel View in time from my moonrise. But as I drove away and pointed for home, the dashboard lights started what I can only describe as freaking out, and for the first time things actually stopped working (here come the screeching violins), one after the other, like a row of toppling dominos. First the cruise control failed, then the speedometer needle started bouncing like a pogo stick, and suddenly I had no dash lights at all. Finally, about 10 miles down the road (the music has reached a crescendo), the car just quit.
Turns out this isn't a very good movie unless you like two-hour tow truck rides and hotel rooms in Fresno. I finally made it home late last night with a new alternator and more than a few doubts that the source of a bad alternator on a two-and-a-half year-old car has been identified. Thank God for the Hyundai warranty and AAA.
* Website: Eloquent Images
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