Stories of Yosemite People

I had the good fortune, a few months ago, of running into Lynne Joiner, an Emmy-award winning journalist and author who was visiting Yosemite and had the kernel of an idea to write a story about the people living and working in Yosemite after stumbling across one or two employees with an interesting history. She told me about her idea, and I told her I thought it was a wonderful subject. She’d just finished writing a book, Honorable Survivor, and planned to spend the next months traveling and promoting it, but thought she might return to the idea in November. Well, it’s November, and she’s just finished another quick trip to Yosemite during which she stopped in and met with me briefly, rekindling my own excitement for the idea.

There are so many interesting people living in Yosemite, from all backgrounds and walks of life, who are assembled in Yosemite because of what Yosemite is, and because of the love of the place. I’ve already started contacting a few of the people I know who have interesting stories, and I hope the project will continue to grow. There are the legendary people in the park, of course, the Julia Parker types. But Lynne admitted that she was as interested (maybe even more interested) in the stories of the housekeeping staff than in the stories of the executive teams. NPS is conducting an oral history project, that I know far too little about, but is probably an amazing source of stories about people. NPS is interested in how the perception of Yosemite has changed over time, and have been interviewing people with a long history of the park for their “I Remember Yosemite” project, which is also fascinating, but this book could also be a different beast, something more inspirational that sets your mind to wandering through possibilities. What happens when where you are becomes more important than what you do to earn money? Maybe it would be start to expand the conversation Po Bronson started in his book, “What Should I Do With My Life?” beyond merely what one should do in terms of a career, as Tom suggested all those years ago. Who knows?

There is so much potential there. It’s set my mind spinning – who else should be in Lynne’s book?

Of course, it isn’t a book yet. It’s not even almost a book – she still has to pitch the whole idea to her agent, so who knows if anything will come of it. But I’ll keep my fingers crossed, and hope for at least a few teaser articles about some of the people who make this place such an interesting community.

3 thoughts on “Stories of Yosemite People”

  1. Phil at the Lodge front desk, holds a PHD in business, over 20 years in the park.
    Vaughn the cashier at the food court, immigrated from England as a youth, has worked in Yosemite several times going back to the 80’s, I think.
    Joey Cruz, assistant manager Curry housekeeping, National Guard soldier, periodically goes back to Afghanistan to serve.
    David Sharpness, works stocking lodge food court, spends his off time taking pictures of wildlife and posting to his blog “Tree in the door video”.
    Shane Davis, works the grill at the lodge, wears kilts and sails a raft of his own making down the Merced with his son Ian.
    Lupe at the front desk at Curry, speaks Navajo to her guests.
    Diane, the head gardener at the Ahwahnee, puts up the most incredible holiday displays every year.
    Richard Cherry, cashier at the Village store, a remarkable portrait photographer
    Cassie, waitstaff at the Mountain Room, an accomplished singer.
    Theresa Ho, holds a PHd in Microbiology, does marketing for DNC, and survived a boulder rolling over her and crushing her spine. She lived to return to hiking and climbing.

    Yep, should make a really good book. Kinda the reverse of “Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite”.
    “Who, me? I just take pictures.”

  2. Hi Thomas,

    Thanks for the heads up. Will try to reproduce and see if I can fix it. Glad you’re enjoying the site.


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