By ED OCHS
“From the Summit to the Sea” vintage-car caravan, Oct. 22-23, crosses the imaginary finish line in Morro Bay, but it all begins in Yosemite National Park, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary, and in Sacramento, where California State Parks is celebrating its 150th anniversary with the founding of Yosemite, the first State Park.
The 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant is a major benchmark, a big deal, and they’ve been getting ready for it for almost three years.
“We’ve been working with the National Park Service since January 2012 in preparation for the 150th anniversary year of the Yosemite Grant Act,” said Rhonda Salisbury, CEO, Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau in Oakhurst, Calif.
“This has been a huge collaborative effort between all four Yosemite gateway communities, California State Parks, National Park Service, Yosemite Conservancy and more,” Miss Salisbury said. “There are hundreds of events that have taken place or a still planned for the 150th anniversary beginning in September 2013 and continuing until December 31, 2014.
“The biggest events in our gateway—the south entrance, Highway 41—has been our Inaugural Yosemite Festival celebrating all that is Yosemite through art, history and education. This festival will continue to honor and bring awareness to Yosemite. Artists from all over Madera County displayed their Yosemite-themed art. Mono and Chukchansi tribes both were represented with booths about their culture.
“The south gate has had many ongoing events as well—the Sequoiascape Exhibit at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport, Yosemite ‘Rocks’ Artistic Learning series, Lure & Lore of Yosemite Exhibit at the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau in Oakhurst, ‘Tony Krizan—Yosemite’s Forgotten Trails’ hiking series, and more. We’ve had our local brewery, South Gate Brewing Company release a special 1864 Ale in October 2013 in honor of the anniversary. Two local wineries also bottled special labels and blends in honor of the Yosemite Grant.
“Sierra Art Trails, in October 2013, dedicated their open studio tour with over 100 artists of every medium to the Yosemite Grant and featured their artist tributes to Yosemite,” Miss Salisbury said.
Yosemite to Morro Bay
When dozens of vintage-vehicle drivers start their engines on the morning of the 23rd in Yosemite they’ll find themselves at the summit of their journey headed for the sea, surrounded by arguably the most spectacular collection of scenery in America.
Said Miss Salisbury, “Just out of Oakhurst you’ll drive through the Sierra National Forest, see the Merced River run through the historic town of Wawona, witness the amazing cliffs and vistas along the road to Yosemite Valley and enter into the iconic world of Yosemite when you come out of the tunnel and see Tunnel View’s—one of the most photographed vistas in the World—the artwork of Bridalveil Fall, El Capitan, Half Dome and many more Yosemite landmarks. October offers an array of fall colors that will follow you along your journey.
“‘From the Summit to the Sea’ will bring the car enthusiasts back into Yosemite to remind them that there is so much to see and do. We are very excited for them to come in the ‘off season’ and see the beautiful fall colors.”
This panoramic event will certainly do its part to promote Yosemite tourism—an estimated 3.5 million visitors are expected this year—but it will do wonders to promote little Morro Bay, a proto 20th-century California fishing-village edging gingerly into the 21st century. In addition to being a naturalist’s seaside paradise, Morro Bay also happens to be a biking/kayaking/boating escape on some of the most dazzling, estuarine coastline and marine-life-rich ocean this side of Maui.
Compared to venerable Yosemite though, Morro Bay, 50 years a city, is the new kid on the block. Loosely midway between the Bay Area and L.A., off key Highways 1 and 101, Morro Bay is in a good spot for a lot of things that come down the highway these days.
“Morro Bay is ideally located for those classic car and motorcycle trips up the coast,” said Morro Bay’s Mayor, Jamie Irons. “This event takes advantage of a classic trip from the mountains to the sea, which is another amazing thing California has to offer, with Morro Bay being the finish line for that classic trip.
“The 50th celebration has been a full year and a lot of credit and recognition needs to go to the Morro Bay 50th Committee for working so hard to put it all together,” Mayor Irons said. “‘Summit to Sea’ is very cool and it’s always great to form partnerships. I’m happy to have two pinnacles be connected and promoted this way.”
When “Summit to Sea” participants conclude their journey at 565-foot-high Morro Rock around sunset on that sparkling October day they’ll experience another classic race that’s unbeatable—sunset on the Pacific—and a warm reception in Morro Bay.
“October is one of Morro Bay’s most beautiful seasons,” said the Mayor. “I hope that the participants are greeted with October’s crisp, clear days, where the temperature has a subtle drop creating that clear horizon full of spectacular color as the sun is setting.”
Connecting the pinnacles
“From the Summit to the Sea” is the brainchild of Karin Moss of Moss Marketing Group, based in Morro Bay. Miss Moss attended some of the early planning meetings of Morro Bay’s 50th Anniversary Committee during her tenure as Director of Tourism in Morro Bay and shared some of her ideas and experiences with legacy events.
Miss Moss, who honed her marketing and promotional skills in the upper echelons of the music business, had previously been on the steering committee of the 25th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and recently produced the 10th anniversary of the death of Dale Earnhardt in conjunction with the opening of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
To reach the broadest possible audience for “From the Summit to the Sea,” Miss Moss suggested partnering with California State Parks, with whom she had a previous relationship in the late ’90s when she was Executive Director of the California Sesquicentennial Foundation.
“Not only were they enthusiastic about partnering with Morro Bay but they appointed me to their statewide event committee,” Miss Moss said.
“I later realized that it was also the 150th Anniversary of Yosemite, and envisioned that creating an event linking Morro Bay to Yosemite via Highway 41 would resonate with the over 5 million tourists and visitors to the Yosemite website. It seemed like a natural partnership, and the theme ‘From the Summit to the Sea’ was launched.”
It wasn’t terribly hard getting the partners involved, she said, “because every one of them saw the vision from the beginning and wanted to be involved…
“I envision participants would have the same spirit of adventure that I do and could embrace this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Just the other day a woman registered from Pasadena and when I asked her how she found out about it she said, ‘at the beauty shop.’ I’m thrilled to know that our message is getting out there.”
Early on Moss saw the stars aligning for “From the Summit to the Sea,” because it’s all about California at its best, the California of classic cars, endless summers, rock music, surfing, beaches and grand State Parks.
“This partnership just seems like a natural one to promote Morro Bay, State Parks and Yosemite,” Miss Moss said, “and I feel confident that others will feel the same way by participating or, at the very least, joining us at sunset at The Rock on October 23 to welcome the many car aficionados and be part of the welcoming festivities.”
Sources and Resources:
Official Yosemite Grant 150th Anniversary website: http://www.nps.gov/yose/anniversary.
“From the Summit to the Sea” website: http://www.fromthesummittothesea.com
Official California State Park 150th Anniversary website: http://www.150.parks.ca.gov
Morro Bay 50th Anniversary: http://morrobay50th.com/
A Visitor’s Guide to Preserving Yosemite
What park visitors need to know that will help maintain and sustain the health and well-being of the park for visitors into the future.
- Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures (not including the wonderful souvenirs you can buy in the gift shops).
- Be aware of animals. Speeding kills bears, and feeding animals is not healthy for the animal (or you).
- Teach your children about wilderness—the beauty and danger. Follow rules and read signs–they are for your protection and Yosemite’s preservation.
- Talk to the rangers. They are a wealth of knowledge and can find answers to almost any question!
- Read the Yosemite Guide handed out at the park entrance and see the exhibits. There is so much history and important sustainability information. The more you know the better your vacation will be and the healthier the park will be.
(Source: Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau)