Panorama Point, Yosemite

Panorama Point

Panorama Point is normally a must stop on the Panorama Trail. If you're passing by on your way to Half Dome, though, your reaction to this vista is likely to be: Wow, Half Dome is still an awfully long ways away. Half Dome, I should point out, is the giant gray thumb sticking up out of the rock in the upper right third of the photo - the famous front face is showing itself to the tourists in Yosemite Valley. Like an Amtrak passenger, you're going through the parts of town that most people don't see, albeit without the Road-Warrioresque scenes of postmodern noir that brighten the route of the California Zephyr.

Just to rub things in, from this point you can also see hikers sauntering up the much shorter Mist Trail route and realize that even though they've only been hiking for about 10 minutes, they're going to get to Half Dome way before you do.