Amtrak Excursion 2014
2014 Ted H. Schaar

11. Sequoias, Glacier Point, Alcohol
Sequoia bark
Sequoia flowers
Snow plants in early May.

Free-thinking radicals

"Snow Plant is the free-thinking radical of wildflower society, eschewing photosynthesis altogether in favor of a symbiotic relationship with underground fungi. As a result, the entire aboveground section of the plant is free to be a traffic-stopping bright red. Snow Plant's mushroom-from-Mars good looks, accented by its ability to grow in dark, shady spots where other flowers dare not tread, make it one of Yosemite's most arresting sights.

"Habitat:  Humus-rich, shady areas from 4,000--9,000 feet. You can find it along Highway 41 near Glacier Point Road, along Glacier Point Road itself, and along Tioga Road near Crane Flat."*


I'm a freethinking radical myself, so maybe that's why I immediately liked them.  They grow to a height of 12 inches, but my shot captured these during the early days of their lives.
Leaning against the top of a fallen sequoia.
Yosemite vista

Glacier Point

We had lunch at Glacier Point (above) where the views are deep and wide.  Subtle colors against the cloudy, gray-white sky; rock reflecting shades of purple.


Our guide said the word Yosemite is Native American and refers to a grizzly bear with a gaping maw; it was suggested by the site's soaring walls and deep valley, according to Glenn.

What must the first human visitors have thought when they saw this?

Native Americans lived here for thousands of years.  Now they're nowhere to be seen, and tourists hardly think of them.

It's as if we European-Americans have always inhabited this continent and the natives attacked us. 

Just as it's as if Mexicans are invading California--not the other way around.  Everyone, however, is either an invader or the progeny of invaders.

Liquor for sale at Yosemite.

Alcohol and the US government

Drinking a Miller Lite in the Southwest Chief's Sightseer Lounge, it dawned on me that the federal government is now in the business of selling alcohol.

Naturally, the bars and restaurants in Yosemite National Park sell beer, liquor, and wine--the Yosemite gift shop even has a colorful display (above) of intoxicants in convenient pint sizes

The name and apparently fire-breathing satyr-dragon graphic on the Fireball cinnamon whiskey bottle pictured above (far right, lower rack) attract attention and promote its probable impact on drinkers.

Fireball whiskey retailed to citizens of age by the US government.


It's one thing to profit from the taxes alcohol generates but another to sell it officially just as it was once officially prohibited.  And not that long ago.

"Perish the thought!" some might say, but eventually a whole range of other drugs will be available here, too.

After all, the federal government is already selling the worst--alcohol and nicotine--and taxing them to boot.  Double income.

And just as it is normal for the government to sell alcohol now, it will be normal for it to sell loose or rolled marijuana and then....

Step right up.


Photos 2014 Ted H. Schaar except where noted.