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001 First Memories
002 Hampton Road
003 Cedar Wood
004 A Room Of My Own
005 School Days
006 My Friend Wayne
007 A Great Flood
008 My Mother Makes Biscuits
009 To Disneyland
010 We Go To Mexico
011 The Cabin In The Woods
012 We Go To Yosemite
013 Grandma Nelson
014 Nelson Nursery Early Years

I.B. Nelson according to himself

We Go To Yosemite

Marvin the Bear bakes treats for a picnic
My Mom and Dad (with sister Phyllis) fishing in Yosemite (1948?)(with unidentified) ©I.B. Nelson

A Favorite Place

Yosemite must have been one of my father's favorite places, as we went there so often.


The Yosemite that we visited when I was very young was quite a different place from the Yosemite of 2008. There were many more camping spaces, all the roads were two-way, not one-way as today, the Fire Fall was still a massive nightly tourist draw, the valley bears were being fed by the Rangers at the dump as a nightly entertainment for park visitors and camping spaces were so close together that it was the custom of most campers to rig up blankets on clothes lines between the pine trees for a bit of privacy.

Yosemite Falls

I am told that my father carried me on his shoulders all the way to the top of Yosemite falls when I was two years old, in 1950, and that I cried pretty much all the way up as I was afraid of being up so high on his shoulders. That we made the climb is proved by a photograph of my mother standing on the trail, looking across to the base of the Upper Falls, with Phyllis by her side, and just a bit of my head poking out from behind my mothers leg.

The Fire Fall

postcard of fire fallIn the evening we would go to the campfire area at Curry Village and there watch the "Fire Fall Ceremony". A Ranger would announce that it was time for the Fire Fall, as it had gotten very dark by the end of the campfire program. A large fire had been built in the afternoon high overhead at Glacier point, a fire of beetle damaged Pine bark that needed to be destroyed in any event, and had burnt down to a large pile of glowing embers. The Ranger at the campfire would turn to the Glacier Point cliff, cup his hands around his mouth, and bellow at the top of his lungs, "ARE YOU REA-DY?"

A Call for Silence

We were admonished to be utterly silent, and in that dead silence a faint voice was heard echoing down from the heights far, far above us, "yes, we're ready!" After a dramatic pause, the campfire Ranger again called out, "THEN LET THE FIRE FALL!" At first there was only a hushed silence in the darkness, then a few sparks began to trickle down from Glacier Point, then the cascade became a current, then a river of fire, very much of the same shape and height as the Yosemite Falls except formed of flame and spark. There were "OOHs" and "AHHHs!" as the people were transfixed by the strange beauty of a 2000 foot tall vertical column of fire cascading into the valley out the pitch black night.

End of the Fire Fall

The Fire Fall was discontinued because so many people were going out into the meadows to watch it, that the meadows were suffering heavy damage. The Fire Fall is no more, but for those who saw it, it is a never to be forgotten sight. There is even a Web site today dedicated to the Fire Fall where people can leave their comments about the Falls, postcard of fire fall

Faint Memories

When I was grown, with a family of my own, I vacationed in Yosemite a number of times. The first time I returned there as an adult, however, had a taste of strangeness about it, as everywhere I went in the park, faint memories and recollections about specific places kept coming to back me. The wildflowers around the gas station at the beginning of the Tioga Pass Road brought back a vivid memory of stopping there with my father when I was no more than 3 or 4 years old. Mid-way through the Wawona Road tunnel I suddenly realized that THIS was the tunnel I had fantasized about for years while not knowing until then exactly where that tunnel had been.