and we enjoyed every last one of them!
We decided to take a trip to San Francisco late one night a few weeks ago and it just came together with a little last minute planning. Take-off occurred at 5:30am Tuesday morning. I started off in the pilot seat driving our way to Yosemite and switched with Andrew at the Nevada/Utah border.
Andrew was a real trooper and drove us into California. We saw some pretty amazing rocks along the way:
As we neared Yellowstone the horizon was beautiful, but the road was awful! In addition to being a winding road, there were also dips that felt like a roller coaster. It seemed never ending, but we survived.
Swapping drivers along the road –
We got to Yellowstone around 2:00pm California time. We were both starving even though we had packed quite a bit of food. We even had foil dinners that we could cook over our campfire, but we had to travel down another 2 hours to get there so we opted for some fast food in the park.
We wanted to jump right into the hiking even though it was raining. It had let up a little bit so we parked and hiked most of the way to Lembert Dome. There was a bit of thunder so we decided to work our way down off the mountain. At 8,000 ft elevation, I wasn’t too disappointed to move in a downward direction.
We began driving down to Wawona (listen to the GPS say that!), which is in southern part of Yosemite.
We arrived around 7pm and quickly set up camp. Notice the brown container on the right – that is the bear locker. Food there had to be at arms reach at all times, you couldn’t turn your back to the food, and ALL food (including toiletries like toothpaste) needed to be in that locker at night. Not even canned food could remain in the trunk of the car. A story about this bear situation will follow at some point in this post.
There was a little river that ran through part of the campground. We went down to do some walking and explore the beautiful area (the cell phone camera simply doesn’t do view justice).
After a long day of driving we quickly fell asleep in our hot tent. Around 4am however I heard Andrew sitting up and looking around. I asked if he was doing okay – “No! I think I hear a bear”. It sounded like there was a bear trying to get into a food locker and growling because he couldn’t. We were debating whether to call someone, to go out and try and scare it away, or just sit still. We chose to just sit and listen for awhile. After about a 20 minute adrenaline rush, we concluded that we thought that our bear was actually someone snoring in a nearby campsite. We still aren’t exactly sure, but the important part of the story is that we didn’t get mauled by a bear that night.
So this brings us to Wednesday morning. The original plan was to wake up at 5am and hike Half Dome in 12-14 hours. We changed those plans after it rained most of the evening because it isn’t safe to hike on the wet granite rock. I think both of us were relieved that we could get a little more sleep. We broke camp before 8 am and stopped by the campgrounds Amphitheater for some hot chocolate provided by the park.
Andrew really wanted to get a good view of all Yosemite. The difficult thing about this goal is that most of the hikes that give you a good view start in the valley and are an all day hike to get up. Glacier Point, however, starts up mostly at the top and then you hike 1-2 miles to see everything. Now that Half Dome was off our list, Glacier Point sounded like a perfect starting spot. It was probably my favorite hike of the day. It was a beautiful hike with views of all Yosemite Valley. Absolutely amazing!
We then headed over to hike Nevada Falls. This hike is the first 1.5 miles of the Half Dome hike. The majority of the hike to the falls was up stone steps – lots and lots and LOTS of steps. It was worth it though – the top was a wonderful place for lunch. In this picture we are only partway up. We made it to the top of the waterfall.
It was almost 3 when we finished this hike, but before we left the trail head we had to try some filtered water from the Merced River. I also cooled my sore feet in the cold water which was wonderful.
We made a quick stop at the visitors center, drove by the base of El Capitan, and then made our way to South San Francisco. We got there around 9:00 at night and showering was a MUST. We headed out to an Italian restaurant and had a delicious vegetable panini. As soon as we made it back to the hotel we crashed for the night.
Thursday morning we got going early and grabbed some hotel breakfast. We then made our way to Downtown San Francisco. A few things surprised us:
- There are TONS of cars EVERYWHERE and they travel bumper to bumper no matter what the speed. Andrew liked California drivers quite a bit in the end because they were consistent – you just knew they wouldn’t slow down for anything so you can accurately slip in between the cars.
- Parking is EXPENSIVE! I mean really expensive. $8/20 minutes is normal. Fortunately they all cap off at some number and we were able to find a garage for $25 maximum.
- It is faster to walk.
And walk we did! We parked about a mile away from Pier 43 and walked there as quickly as we could so that we could redeem the vouchers that we had gotten for our Go San Francisco Cards. They were a great deal for us – $70/person for a card that gets us into 50+ attractions for free. We were able to save over $100 using them.
Our first stop was a Hop on Hop Off tour bus. Our driver, Igor, was from Russia and informed us about how expensive it is to live in San Francisco and made lots of political jokes. There were only 6 of us on the tour so it was a really personalized tour that took us all around downtown.
We saw some pretty cool sites on this trip. First the obvious – it is steep!
A Cathedral that apparently resembles Notre Dame.
Lombard Street – the famous part being the green middle section that is extremely winding.
After our hour long tour, we went to Pier 39 and walked around. We saw some sea lions out on the docks – two males were playing “king of the rock” and one was the obvious winner.
We went into a left-handed store, a really expensive candy store with more flavors of taffy than I knew existed, Treasure Ireland, and a Dreyers ice cream store just to smell the sugar.
We hopped on a boat for a Bridge to Bridge tour. We went out to the Golden Gate bridge, around Alcatraz and along the coast of San Francisco. This is our wonderful boat!
The San Francisco Coast from the water.
The Golden Gate Bridge.
Alcatraz! We were a bit disappointed because the tours were all full until the end of September, so we were glad to at least get a little closer to it.
After our boating experience we headed up past fishermans warf to Boudin’s Bakery. We saw them making all sorts of creatures outside of the window. They have a speaker system so that the lady making the bread can tell you about what she is doing as well as let us ask questions.
After watching them make bread, we had to go inside and try some for ourselves. Andrew liked the teddy bear. He figured if we got it I wouldn’t want to eat it, and he was probably right.
So we settled on a 1 lb round loaf. We ate it as walked and walked and walked around the city. It was delicious!
Now we walked and walked and walked. It was so cool to just go up and down crazy steep hills and see how they built all sorts of buildings with such unusual conditions. We found an apartment for rent at $4,200/month – small and featureless. We quickly agreed that downtown San Francisco was not calling our names to return for an extended stay.
Our goal was to make it to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It was mostly interesting for me because I had just taken a humanities class so I knew about a lot of the artists and art. Andrew just loves modern art so I was glad to have a little knowledge to help slow me down. I also got some cool ideas for teaching a photography class.
The most interesting exhibit was probably a video that was made in Leeds, England by some students. They acted out old news stories and articles from their school periodicals. It made Andrew and I think about how what we say when written down can really be interpreted in rather interesting ways.
After the museum we were both starving so we stopped at a Chipotle. We were still hungry when walking another mile or so back to our car so we finished off our sourdough.
OH- and we got a free sample of organic ice cream when we were walking by a restaurant! Now that is a great deal in that city.
Well that is the first part of our trip, and I’m afraid this is already a way long post… so stayed tuned for part two.