Driving Through California

California Travel Blog

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San Francisco, CA (May 15-16)

We started out in San Francisco. It was very  nice out, no fog, just sunshine, and a nice 75F. At Fisherman's Wharf, there are many shops and restaurants, we ate at Boudin at the Wharf and the food was delicious. Try one of their soups (preferably the tomato) served in a bread bowl, and rejoice, what a treat!!! Here at Pier 39, the sea lions rest lazily on the pier as hundreds of visitors take pictures of them and boats pass them by, all the time they are barking as if it's music to your ears. Aquarium of the Bay features many marine animals and a nice tunnel I walked through being surrounded by sharks and schools of fish swimming around. We drove to a park with a beach inside the Golden Gate National  Reacreation Area.
Pier 39, San Francisco, CA
Many people come here to gather with friends and they also bring their dogs to play with. It is very pretty here. As you sit back and watch, you can see the sun setting in the back of the golden gate bridge. What a nice way to end a day, just remember to bring a sweater!!!
Second day in san francisco, and we boarded a boat embarking on a trip to Alcatraz Island, home to an old maximum security jail, no longer in operation today. We almost didn't make it b/c of heavy traffic. If you visit during peak season make sure to book the Alcatraz trip in advance and preferably in the early morning (9am) b/c tickets sell out early. There is a lot of history on this island and upon entering the actual jail you are given headsets with audio which explains the history of the jail and what it was to be an inmate and a guard here.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA
  Most known prisoner here, Al Capone. Outside, there are stunning views of San Francisco bay area and the Golden Gate Bridge. After this, we took the San Francisco trolley, this was a fund way to see the different parts of this city, such as Chinatown, and Russian Hill (most expensive neighborhood with homes priced up to 17mill), Nob Hill (and italian community), Lombard street, and Downtown shopping district. Some things we learned, in San Francisco you have to park your car with the wheels facing outward so that if there's an earthquake you car doesn't slide and you get ticketed if you don't park this way. Also, houses have to be repainted every 6 months to a year and there has to be a 1 inch space b/w all houses.  In the afternoon we drove across the golden gate bridge to Muir Woods, part of the golden gate recreation area.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA
I left my keys in front seat of the rental car after I had locked it, and thank goodness the trunk was still unlocked and I crawled into retrieve them. Oopsie.  In this national park, you can see some of the big seqoia and redwood trees california is known for. And boy are they big.  To get to the ocean at Muir Woods National Monument the road is winding and long so you have to take care driving.

Yosemite National Park (May 17)

The road to yosemite is very long and curves a lot since you are going up the mountains, but it is well worth it. Yosemite is one of the most beautiful national parks I've seen so far. Even though it was may, there was still some snow left in some sections of the valley floor. I hadn't seen snow in years, so I was quite excited to play in it, even though I had some trouble getting out of it and not wetting my feet. There are many waterfalls, mountains, and cliffs in Yosemite. As you drive along, there are many areas to pull off and take pictures. El Capitan, one of the big rock formations, is quite amazing. There were some deer we saw along the way, and in one of the campsites along the lake there were shouts of a bear running from the campsite. Yosemite is amazing, fresh air, lovely scenery---waterfalls, mountains, lakes, forests and more.

Monterrey, CA (May 18)

Monterrey is a very nice area of California. There is a pier/wharf, an aquarium, beaches, shopping, and dining to be found here. It was very cold when we were there but we still saw many surfers out in the strong waves. Pacific Grove is even prettier with it's majestic cliffs and waves crashing against the rocks, pretty pink wildflowers and historic houses. Point Pinos Lighthouse is very small but cute.  There are also deer everywhere, we saw a bunch in the local cemetary eating up the flowers!!! Carmel is a artists paradise. The town has lots of art galleries and little botiques everywhere, there are some artistic sculptures in the park and you can even see an artist or 2 with an easel on one of the blocks calmly painting their next subject. I loved this place, I think I'd like to retire here...but first I'd have to probably be rich =( to afford it. A visit to the Point Lobos State Preserve was quite amazing, it's absolutely worth the visit. The beauty of the lone cypress trees against the huge cliffs and the ocean and sea gulls flying around is something you don't see much. I love nature, so this was exciting for me. We lost track of time and braved the pacific coast highway at night. This area is known for bad fog and poor visibility and it was horrible the whole way. This road is classified as the most dangerous highway in the whole US. So why was I driving on it at night? B/c I needed to get to the hotel in San Simeon, 80 miles away!!! This took me about 4 hours to drive b/c the road winds and winds in curves along the cliffs and if you look to your right the cliffs drop off into the ocean, one wrong move and your kaboom!!! And to make it worse, b/c of the terrible fog I was only able to see maybe 2 ft in front of me, how scary. Everybody, let it be known, do not drive this dangerous road at night, unless you are a very confident and brave individual and then may the force be with you!!!

Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA
Solvang, CA
Santa Barbara, CA (May 19)

After a terrible night of fearful driving, we made it to the hotel and were lucky to be alive, so we went for a visit of the Hearst Castle. This is a mansion/castle built by W.R.Hearst and it just amazing. It sits on 900 acres of land, on top of a hill with stunning vies of the ocean. The tour is very informational and the castle is beautiful inside. Driving on to Solvang, we passed through rolling hills of vineyards left and right. The town of Solvang is a Danish culture community with many shops, bakeries, and art galleris. The town's buildings are built in the design which is set to remind you of Denmark. We visited one of the bakeries here and sampled some of their delicious pastries and did some shopping. We then headed on to Santa Barbara and walked along the ocean and pier, Santa Barbara is a very pretty location.

Beverly Hills, CA
Hollywood, CA
Los Angeles, CA (May 20)

Ah, the city of the lives of the rich and famous, beverly hills, here we went to famous Rodeo Drive. Honestly, I don't know what is so nice about this place, it's just another shopping mall, obviously not for those on a  budget . The Walk of Fame in Beverly Hills was nice. From atop the mountains above the city, you can see a nice view of the Hollywood sign.

San Diego, CA
Palm Springs, CA (May 21)

Next stop, San Diego, CA. San Diego was one of my favorite cities to visit. I loved the mexican culture that thrives in this place, especially at the old town market . However, I found that the souvenir shops at the market are rather on the expensive side. We took the trolley tour around San Diego and I was surprised to see how clean and pretty the city is. The weather is nice also, not too hot and not too cold. There is a port and waterfront with many boats including the famous Star of India. Coronado Island is just beautiful and relaxing. We took a stop at San Diego Zoo, this zoo has many cool animals to see including several koalas and pandas. After touring San Diego, our last stop was Palm Springs, CA. This city is in the middle of the desert surrounded by mountains. As you drive through, there are high winds you can encounter with sand blowing onto the road, so slow down and drive with caution, especially at night watch out for nocturnal desert animals running onto the street. We took the palm springs aerial tram up onto the mountains. The 10 minute ride gives you amazing vies of the mountains. It is a very pretty place to see and our last stop. I loved our time here in California and there are many memories we will take back with us.

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