Favorite Photos of 2020

“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” ~ Henry Miller

God’s Thumbprint

Lost in the astonishing beauty of it all

We’re surrounded by it. From the dew on a blade of grass to the alpenglow on a mountain range. From the early light of sunrise to a jaw-dropping sunset. In laughter. In joy. In curiosity. In wonderment. It’s when we slow down, tune out the noise, and surrender — that’s when we notice and feel the magic, the magic that’s clearly here, wherever ‘here’ happens to be for us. We just have to look for it.

The following images capture some of the fairy dust on and around Lake Tahoe and Big Sur, California. And they represent some of my favorite photos of 2020.

Peace Portal

In our chaotic world where we’re inundated with politics and other noise and nonsense, quiet spots like this provide a sense of harmony and contentment. Unplugged. No cell service. Just you and Mother Nature. Your thoughts. Her reflections.

Golden Hour at Cave Rock

The day started intensely pure. You’d think someone with a white robe may suddenly appear.

Morning Magic

Let the radiance in

In these precious moments, everything sings, shines and shimmers. Your mind is held hostage to the magic of the moment. Here, I feel most alive. I instantly feel a sense of flow, or something even more profound, a sense of shibumi — a Japanese term, loosely translated meaning “a state of effortless perfection; authority without domination.” Let the radiance in.


Go, Look, See

The road ahead encourages us to stay curious and continue moving forward. Borrowing from another Japanese phrase, called Genchi Genbutsu or “Go, Look, See.” Take a walk, hike, jog, drive, fly… just go. Get lost. Go look. Go see. Go discover. Listen to the creek, the river, the ocean, the wind. They’re conspiring to nudge us onward and upward. “Follow the yellow brick road” and find your Oz. In the end you may discover you don’t have to travel too far.

Bixby Bridge, Big Sur, CA
My Oz, Squaw Valley
Meeks Bay
Iconic Snow Fence of Squaw Valley, CA

“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.” ~ John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra

As the sun drifted behind the mountains and darkness fell on the meadow, Squaw Valley transformed into a scene from the Twilight Zone. Remember these iconic words? How fitting for this place:

“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call… the Twilight Zone.” ~ Rod Serling

Squaw Valley and the Twilight Zone

Timeless Beauty

Along the coast of California, in Pebble Beach, a Lone Cypress prepares for night. It too falls into that “middle ground between light and shadow.”

Lone Cypress

Finding the music

Sitting defiantly in a pile of rubble, under the elements, you can almost hear this lone piano playing a melody. It’s a reminder to find the music not only in things, but in ourselves.

“Don’t die with your music still in you.” ~ Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Lone Piano: Finding Music in the Rubble

This giant tree (below) seems to be connecting with the sky. Its branches are thrusting upward, spreading majestically into the clouds above — in beast mode.

“The natural and common is more truly marvelous and mysterious than the so-called supernatural. Indeed most of the miracles we hear of are infinitely less wonderful than the commonest of natural phenomena, when fairly seen.” ~ John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra

Beast Mode

Look for the spirit and humor in people, places and things

Klondike, my canine friend below, (AKA the Mayor of Squaw Valley), takes your stare and turns it back on you. When confronted with his stare, you feel your own vulnerability, your confidence, your love. And you can’t help but feel his spirit.

Klondike: AKA Mayor of Squaw Valley
Valley Cat
Tahoe Tessie Lives!
Colonel “Bud” Anderson’s statue
My daughter dancing in the abandoned Train Tunnels, Donner Summit, CA
Happy, Curious Lad
A Tapestry: Historic Downtown Truckee
Truckee Rail and River

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” ~ Albert Einstein

We just don’t know

There’s so much to see, do, share! And we’re all on the clock. But none of it means anything if it doesn’t move you to be grateful and kind to yourself and others.

The appearance of health and happiness, celebrity and position, may be just that. The fitness junkie who makes fun of one’s weight may be a closet alcoholic. The person who shares their exciting life and adventures on social media may have an abusive spouse at home. The rock star may suffer from loneliness and anxiety. The indifferent boss at work may have a sick child or parent. When in doubt, it’s good to remember these timeless words of Aesop, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Wishing you a happy new year, full of beauty, laughter, joy, kindness and curiosity.

My daughter, Morgan, loving Squaw Valley, personifies all of the above.


Hi, I’m Michael — Squaw Valley resident, passionate adventurer, visual storyteller, pilot, blogger and dad. All photos taken with my iPhone. Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, tap the wave button below. I value your attention, it means a lot to me and it helps others see the story.



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Michael Kennedy

Michael Kennedy

Pilot / Father / Adventurer / Visual Storyteller / Spartan (AROO!)