It was going to be a long day. It didn’t help that we had overslept by about three hours so we weren’t setting off until 10am. We had a plan to get to Yosemite National Park. Despite it taking 11 hours, the journey went quite quickly as I sat belting out some tunes. The plan was to drive straight back through Nevada, 500 miles along one road then about 200 or so down through forested areas. As the sat navs were taking us along the Tioga Road, which is the main road to drive through Yosemite from east to west, we drove to Reno then tried to see where it would take us.
The Tiago Road is shut still due to the snow and melting snow from the mountains making it impassable. Always a flaw in our planning. Still, we would be able to see Yosemite Valley so all was good. As we’re driving through the middle of nowhere we came across a ‘road ahead closed’ sign, which we completely ignored and continued going. Stupid decision. We had gone about fifty or so miles, through flooded roads, only to have to turn back! All we wanted was a campsite about an hour outside Yosemite which was proving difficult. They were all in the same area but too far out for us. As soon as I had internet I managed to book us a motel in Stockton. The evening consisted of planning our trip through California. Our last five days.
Monday consisted of a dreaded alarm ringing in my ears. Even though it has gone off quite a bit lately and it’s to do something enjoyable rather than work, I still hate the sound. Up and ready we were out the door ready to drive the two hours down to Yosemite. For me, that meant a bit more sleep!!
The park is home to thousands of Giant Sequoias whose trunks grow to 25ft thick, as well as High Sierra, the smooth granite Dome, craggy peaks and spacious meadows, Granite Cliffs such as El Capitan which attract rock climbers from all over the world and the Valley where the Merced River flows peacefully through and animals feed.
Eventually we arrived at the fee booth where we flashed our pass then headed in. We were about sixteen miles away from the main bit of the park but it seemed to take forever. After consulting the map, Glacier Point was going to be our first stop. Or so we thought. About four miles out we were greeted by a ‘road ahead closed’ sign. This couldn’t be happening again! Couldn’t ignore this one as there was a park ranger telling people the road was shut and you had to take the shuttle but he didn’t know how long the wait was.
The next ranger was just as unhelpful so it was third time lucky. At least an hour the wait would be. For those spending a whole day here, that wasn’t a problem, for us who only had half a day before heading to San Francisco, that was an hour we couldn’t spare. Grumpily, we backtracked and headed down to Yosemite Valley. The views on the way were stunning. As we exited the tunnel we hit ‘Tunnel View.’ It was breathtaking. You could see right down to Half Dome and El Capitan. The American Indian legend of the Half Dome goes as a husband and wife arguing and fighting. The spirits didn’t like this and changed then into stone, Half Dome and North Dome where they would forever face each other across the valley.
The view cheered us up a bit and we continued down until we came to Bridalveil Falls. We parked on the road and then walked the mile-round trip to the waterfall. This wasn’t an easy place to grab a photo as it was the worlds smallest viewpoint. Nevertheless, we snapped a couple and headed back to the car. This National Park was probably going to turn out to be the most stressful one we had visited. With the road closures and parking proving difficult to find along with the fact it was a beautiful day, meant the park was full.
They do encourage you to park up and use the free shuttle to get around but there was literally nowhere to park. We were lucky to grab that spot at Bridalveil Falls as that was the only parking space we had the whole time we were in the park. The one way system took us up to Half Dome Village where there were fantastic views of the Dome, from the car. We couldn’t park anywhere. Not even to get on the shuttle! Excuse the dodgy angles! With no clouds in the sky, the day was beautiful. I was gutted we couldn’t park anywhere. We couldn’t even get into the visitors centre there were that many cars. We did the long loop by Yosemite Vally three times and not once did we get a space. This is obviously somewhere we will need to come back to at a different time of year.On our way out we drove past Upper Yosemite Fall and Lower Yosemite Fall before sitting in a long queue waiting to exit. Before we got back to the fee booth we stopped at Valley View for one last look at this small part of what would be a stunning park, when we can visit it all!The parts of the park we had seen were truly resplendent, I hope to one day come back and see the rest of the park! Our time was up and now we were headed to San Francisco. Remember the other day when I said never try to leave a city at 5pm? Well, don’t try and enter one at 5pm either!
To reach San Francisco you cross over bridges and they have a good filtering system using red and green lights when the lanes go from six down to four. This didn’t however ease all the congestion. It reminded my of New York City with straight roads and traffic lights at every intersection! Needless to say it was bedlam! I managed to find us a cute little motel on Lombard Street so we drove straight there and figured we would walk everywhere else.
With minimal parking, you can block cars in so long as you leave your keys at the desk. We got blocked in but it wasn’t a problem. As I waited to check in behind about ten Asian people who seemed to be getting the check in desk clerk in a bit of a fluster, I got chatting to a couple from Iowa and a couple from Germany waiting to check in also. It was rather cute really. The guy from Iowa welcoming us to the country (he didn’t know at this point we had been here two months), explaining where Minneapolis was and where he lives in Iowa (after he realised we have visited 45 states) as well as the German lady asking me if I know how to fix her whatsapp that has disappeared from her phone.
We all parted ways wishing each other a lovely evening. The check in clerk was delightful offering to give us places to go and things to do! We picked up a couple of maps and took the stairs to our third floor room. The view wasn’t bad either! Once we dumped our things and made ourselves look a tiny bit more presentable, we realised we hadn’t eaten yet today and it was fast approaching 730pm. The decision was made to walk to Fisherman’s Wharf. It only took about twenty minutes but my god did the temperature plummet. It was like we had gone from the Sahara to the Antarctic in the space of twenty minutes! How can I describe Fisherman’s Wharf? Souvenir shop…restaurant…souvenir shop…restaurant. It was a very quirky place but incredible all the same. We had great views of Alcatraz too, which I was grateful for because we couldn’t get tickets to it on any day!Alcatraz is behind the boat on the right. There was a promenade we walked along, poked our head into the souvenir shops and thinking to ourselves that everyone was wearing a souvenir ‘San Francisco’ hoody. No joke. Everyone was wearing one! There were sweet shops, sock shops, Ben and Jerry’s, wine tasting, delicious smelling creperies, two in-n-out burgers, an Applebees, cute little coloured trams and the list goes on and on. We started to head back as the sun was setting behind the Golden Gate Bridge. We ate at ‘The Pub.’ A small menued, quirky, relatively cheap, quirky place to eat, the food was delicious. We opted for pulled pork and French fries (Nathan) and beef brisket with sautéed courgette (me). I have never tasted meat so tender! There were some fellow Brits in the pub too! After dinner, it was back to the motel to plan the rest of the week, watch The Internship followed by Lets Be Cops, before falling asleep insanely late at 2am, only for the alarm to wake us up at 630am!
I can’t remember the last time I was this tired. We had a lot to get done today so there was no time to waste. We grabbed a couple of donuts at check out and headed to the Golden Gate Bridge viewpoint.We then crossed the bridge to another viewpoint, Battery Spencer, where we could see San Francisco on the skyline.The views were spectacular despite the weather! It seemed to be that in California, whenever we were due to go exploring, the weather would sense it and turn crap. Still, onwards we went. As we were driving out of San Francisco. Despite it being early, we encountered traffic. This gave me time to admire the architecture of the buildings beside us.The coloured houses reminded me of Copenhagen and as we drove in yesterday there were some with outside ladders. And a church! Haven’t seen many in this trip and they’re usually one of my favourite buildings to visit!
After a quick nap I was awoken as we hit Facebook Headquarters at 1 Hacker Way. I must admit it was very underwhelming! Also confusing. We didn’t know if we were allowed to park up and just wander round as the car park was full of ‘if you park here we will tow your car away’ signs. Instead we continued down to Google HQ! The internship had for us in the mood for this one! These buildings were extremely confusing! We drove in, parked up and took a few photos before going back to the car for fear of getting towed.
They had cute multicoloured bikes for people to use to get around.So we actually thought we had found the infamous Google Quad Campus. Turns out we were wrong! We drove into the quad campus, when we found it and then drove out again as we couldn’t find the entrance! No wonder intelligent people work there you need a bloody degree just to enter the buildings!
Next up was the google merchandise store! How exciting was this! Somewhere a) we could legally park and b) a building our IQs would let us enter! Outside they had models of what they call their operating systems.Ice cream sandwich and honeycombGingerbread and cupcakeDonutMarshmallowHoneycomb and kitkat Lollipop
As soon as we got out the car and saw them the first thing Nathan said to me was “you probably don’t understand all this do you?” I didn’t know whether to be offended or act like I knew exactly what it was. To me it just looked like a kids sweet tooth dream! Now I nunderstand it’s what Android call their software, like Apple is boring and uses IOS. We went in and there was a sale on a few items!Rocking my new Android hat! Back in the car our final destination was to be Apple HQ! 1 Infinite Loop, a simple address to find, sadly with only about twenty visitor parking spaces. We located the merchandise store but no parking space. This led to Nathan going into the store and me aimlessly doing loops round the parking lot pretending I was waiting for a space. I say pretending because there’s no way I was going to be able to park our beast of a minivan! A disappointing visit to the store. No key rings. It was all very sort of prim and proper. It certainly didn’t look as fun as Google! You’d think the biggest company in the world could have a bit more flair?
The last stop was the new Apple Spaceship which only starting moving employees in last month! It’s a mile round and we headed to the visitor centre. We probably should have googled first because we ended up following the detour signs and getting further away from it, all because it hasn’t actually finished being built yet! Whoops!
Our trip to ‘Silicon Valley’ was completed now we had five hours to get to anewport Beach for our whale watching experience. It was looking as if we were making good time until we realised we hadn’t actually put in the proper address. When we did, our ETA was after 6pm meaning we would be late. Plans scuppered once again. I’m usually pretty meticulous when planning adventures such as these but I seem to have lost my mojo 😂!We stopped by a fruit stall to buy some plums and decided to head to a motel a few hours outside of LA to actually do some laundry as we had now run out of our necessities, and I had to check accommodation and transportation etc for Belize when we enter on Saturday.
Rescheduled whale watching ✔️ Laundry finally done ✔️ Bags repacked ready to empty the car tomorrow ✔️ Plan for Belize………a working progress
Until next time…