September 9, 2016

After Nick and I finished our hike and dinner in Yosemite, we decided to drive back up to Glacier Point so that we could see the sunset and look up at the stars.

It was about an hour drive. The road that you take to get up to Glacier Point goes right through the park, so at any given time, you might see deer or bears or waterfalls or mountains.

We were only in Yosemite for one day and one night. So what was I doing while we were driving up this beautiful road in my favorite national park?

Looking at pictures from our hike.

Because, you know, we got so many great ones that I couldn’t wait until we were home or on the plane.

About 10 minutes into our drive, Nick says to me: “Did you see that deer?!”
I said, “No! Where was it?”
Nick: “It was right next to our car! How did you miss it?!”
Me: “I was looking at pictures.”
Nick: “You’re gonna miss out if you do that. Just look at them later.”

Normally, I don’t like it when people tell me what to do, but I was annoyed that I missed the deer, and I knew that Nick was right, so I put the camera down.

I decided that I would show him — I would find another deer or possibly something even better. I kept my eyes looking out the window and was determined to one-up him.

Not even 5 minutes later, I screamed:


Nick immediately turned around, parked the car, and we got out to see the bear. Brown bears live in Yosemite, but I had never seen one in my three visits. It was only that morning that I had been told that they are all different colors and mainly eat grass.

If I hadn’t known that, I might have missed this bear eating dinner in the field:

yosemite brown bear (10 of 10)yosemite brown bear (6 of 10)

Earlier that day, a man who works in the park told me he usually sees one bear about every two weeks, so while they are common, you’re not always going to see them roaming around. They’re also scared of people so they keep to themselves, unless there’s food around.

yosemite brown bear (1 of 10)

Nick and I hung out from a good distance for a while, until the bear was heading back into the forest. I don’t think the bear even noticed us. I had never been that close to a bear before and it was an incredible moment.

This beautiful moments reminded me once again of the importance of being present. This was probably the most important lesson of our entire month-long trip. Sure, it’s fine to take pictures and send quick texts, but you don’t need to be staring at your phone, answering emails, checking Instagram, looking through all of your pictures, etc, on your vacation/weekend/date night/whatever.

Just live in the moment.

yosemite brown bear (5 of 10)A

If you keep your eyes open, you will see that world is full of beautiful things. If you’re staring at a screen, you’re going to miss them.

A few weeks ago I wrote a long post about how travel has changed the way I live my life. Experiences like this make me more able to live in the present in everyday life.

Nick was driving and he said he didn’t see the bear from the car, so if I was still looking at my camera, we would have missed this awesome experience.

yosemite brown bear (3 of 10)

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24 responses to “A lesson in living in the moment (or: that time I saw a bear in Yosemite)”

  1. I’m so guilty about looking at my phone or checking Instagram while Chris and I are driving around on trips too! And I’m pretty sure that Chris and I have had a similar conversation that you and Nick did. I need to learn to appreciate being in the moment because I might miss some amazing moments, like seeing a brown bear in Yosemite! That’s so cool that you saw one so close!

    • Carolann says:

      I am so bad too! But, I really tried to be a lot better about this over our summer vacation. My husband doesn’t do social media at all so I always feel guilty going online while he’s just sitting there. Luckily the fact that he’s not on his phone that much has helped me a lot to be more mindful of putting the phone away. But when he’s driving I forget. I hope that you have a great time in EUROPE!!

  2. Sarah says:

    That photos gorgeous – looks like a painting! I’ve never seen a bear in the wild before even with all my hiking – maybe I’m just not paying close enough attention.

    • Carolann says:

      It took me 3 trips to Yosemite, 9 years of hiking, and finally being on the lookout solely for bears to see one. I think that you will one day!

  3. Jenn says:

    That is one advantage to getting car sick, I have to look out the window at all times. We ended up seeing bears, coyotes, and a ton of Elk on our drive through Estes Park and Rocky Mountain NP. That is so cool that you were able to just stand there and watch him!

    • Carolann says:

      That is one advantage! That must have been such an amazing trip. Have you ever tried using sea bands? They help me a lot. I always keep a pair in the car. It depends a lot on the situation — sometimes I get super sick, sometimes I can read an entire book in the car.

  4. Audrey says:

    This is too cool. I love taking in new places and experiences! We saw bears while driving through Yellowstone and I agree that it’s the coolest thing. Seeing animals in nature might be my favorite thing ever.

    • Carolann says:

      It’s so incredible. In Hawaii my favorite thing ever is when I see Hawaiian green sea turtles, monk seals, or whales. No matter how many times I see them, it’s a treat. It’s something you kind of always have to be looking out for, otherwise you might miss it!

  5. Natalie says:

    That is amazing! I’m terrified of running into a bear while out in the woods, but I would love seeing one from the safety of my car. 🙂 I’ve been wanting to make a trip to the West Coast, and this just gives me one more reason to finally plan that trip!

    • Carolann says:

      Being from Long Island where bears are just not a thing, I was kind of scared when I first heard bears are in Yosemite. But they really just keep to themselves and I think are even a bit scared of people. Staying in the car also helps 🙂 I hope you get a chance to go out to the West Coast! I love California, especially Yosemite.

  6. Megan says:

    so happy to have just found your blog, and this post! such a good reminder…because we could miss a bear! haha. he looks so sweet out there too 🙂

  7. Oh, I love this so so much. It’s definitely something I’ve been working on lately.

    • Carolann says:

      Me too, friend. It might seem like a silly story, seeing a bear in a national park. But that moment had such a strong impact on me. I kept thinking about how if I was still looking at my camera, I would have missed it. What else will we miss if we’re always staring at our phones/cameras?! I’m working on this, too.

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