Viewpoints: #atozchallenge; Day 25

Have you ever traveled somewhere that offered an overlook? Have you ever just stopped for a little while, to let your gaze sweep out and over the vista below, to see it from a different perspective?

Have you ever noticed that what you see often depends as much on what viewpoint, you bring, as much as it does on the vantage point you bring it to?

My Accomplice and I have taken advantage of many viewpoints along the way – from the Old Faithful Overlook, to Mather Point, to a fire tower in the Kaibab forest to the edges of Crater Lake and Niagara Falls

But there are two overlooks I think of, and know that my mood, when I looked, colors what I saw that day, and how I remember it, today.

Moro Rock, from a daunting position below. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton, fall 1997.

When we traveled to Sequoia National Park during our “second honeymoon”, one of the things we did was to take a hike to the summit of Moro Rock, a gigantic granite boulder from which the landscape is laid out before us. The weather was less than perfect – the view was shrouded in fog, so I’m sure we saw less than we might have, on a clear and bright day.

Still, the cool weather made the exertion of the climb up more than 350 stone steps with a pleasant way to stay warm. We stopped several times along the way, to marvel at what we could see. I don’t remember exactly what we spoke of, but I recall a long warm closeness, conversations with other hikers, and some flirting.

My Peekaboo Accomplice, the early days. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton, fall 1997.


When we finally attained the top, we marveled together at the dark ribbons of roads winding around the mountains, the pristine sweeps of forests…and the immensity of the boulder we stood on…the fog didn’t dampen our pleasure in that day, the climb, or the view, regardless of the fog, which, honestly, added character.

Ribbon Roads from atop Moro Rock. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton, fall 1997.

The view, the company, and the hike were lovely.

And then there was Paulina Lake….

Paulina Lake,  a volcanic crater lake in Central Oregon is also a gorgeous place. Salmon had come to the lake to spawn, and there were hiking trails through the woodlands, and along the edge of the lake. We took the Bunko-pup out for a hike. I think we walked a couple of miles, but the dog- he ran to and fro between us on the trail, and the lake below, to wade and play and run and get affection. He probably covered at least three times as far. As a matter of fact, when we got back to the trailer, he couldn’t even sit up any more!

That night was lovely. But, in those early childless days, our relationship was far more volatile than it is today. I can’t even tell you now what started the argument, but I know that there was a point the following day when we were actively angry with one another, and I knew that I had to go, to get away from him for a while. I put the dog in the car and drove off, with no real plan as to where I was going – until I saw the sign for the overlook we’d been planning to visit that day. I followed the winding rood up the mountain, and found an overlook to park at, and take some pictures.

I had the dog with me, and I talked to some other visitors. The view was gorgeous, looking back down the mountain – 

But when I think back to that day, it feels heavy and tainted. My gaze was pulled down to where the lake was, and my focus, rather than being on the here-and-now, was back in my story of the argument, all those reasons that I was right, and he was not only wrong, but mean, as well.

I wasted the view, and that little bit of my life. I wasn’t where I was, and I wasn’t open to what was spread out so gloriously before me. I don’t even have any pictures to remember the view by – if I took any, I didn’t save them…

The View from Here….Trees and Tattered Fog. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton, fall 1997.

I try to remember that more, these days. I’m learning to let things go before they weigh me down and cloud me over. I’m far from perfect, and sometimes I still miss an incredible view because I let other things obscure it. But, for the most part, the view is lovely, these days!

This post is part of the #atozchallenge. Feeling a vigorous need to view more “V” posts? Click the banner!

So, what’s your point of view? Do you have a memory of a time when a view was ruined or bolstered by your mood? Share your visions below; add to the visual landscape!

Shrouded vista…atop Moro Rock. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton, fall 2007.



  1. Looking down into Yosemite Valley from the dry bed of the falls, in October, the view was full of smoke from a prescribed burn. But I was with my fam–so nothing but happiness filled me.

  2. The first time I went up on Masada (Hebrew name is actually Matzada), I was suffering from dehydration and too discombobulated to care about much else. There’s even a series of photos my Birthright tour’s guard, Liran, took of me as I got progressively more light-headed and sicker pretty quickly. It kind of looks like a flip book of me getting sick. I was one of several people taking shelter in the shady ruins of a Byzantine church instead of going around the site with our tour guide Amir. Two of the other women were also genuinely sick, but the rest were the, pardon my language, JAPy girls who did whatever they could to get out of fully participating in the tour.

    It’s a nice sight from the top, though not the most interesting bird’s-eye view I’ve seen in Israel, and pretty overrated. I wouldn’t mind if I never visited Masada again, after three visits there.

    • I feel the same way about Old Faithful Geyser. So many people want to see that, because it’s famous – but it’s not by far the prettiest or most impressive geyser, and it’s usually way too crowded for my taste, when there are other predictable geysers in the near vicinity, like Lone Star, where you can have the view all to yourself.

      I’m sorry you were sick, but happy at least that there was shelter available. Not to mention the fact that Byzantine ruins sound like a rather cool place to be sick.

  3. I think the impact of a couple of views might have diminished by being on a tight schedule. Typically, though, I get sucked into my mind, into long, long thoughts by climbing to a place with a view. 🙂 Good post!

    • I’ve always wanted to go to the Ozarks. I’ve missed South Texas, but I love the desert.

      I think you’ve inspired a couple additions to my personal travel list!

  4. Stunning photos Shan! What great stories along with the viewpoints.
    The best viewpoint I had was near Banff when we went up in a gondola and looked down from the mountains.

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