So back to where I left off; we arrived in Yosemite just before dusk, it was a pretty challenging drive, my first mountain driving that I did at a very slow pace. The place we stayed at was just outside the National Park itself, a lodge called Tenaya. We booked a cottage which was set in the forest just a bit away from the main buildings.
It was very peaceful, with a fireplace and really comfortable bed. I wish it was a little colder, for some reason we seem to be cursed with atypical weather, so much so that most of Yosemite is completely snow free, and they’ve opened the summer sports, like horse riding as there is no ski fields open.
We only stayed overnight in Yosemite, and the next morning decided to take the scenic route up through the park to Half Dome, which is a massive granite outcropping that takes over a day to hike up. We drove through some spectacular scenery, unfortunately I was not dealing well with the twists and turns and was pretty nauseous. The elevation increases from 2000 to 6000 feet and the air gets thinner and smells different.
The drive up and then across to the Mariposa on the 140 highway, which is the exit to the park, took about an hour; there was snow on the valley floor, but as its always in shade and the weather is chilly it could have been up to 2 weeks old. We also saw one deer on the side of the road. We have noticed that every time there is a sign that mentions deer or elk crossings then they are nowhere to be seen, but as soon as there is a blind corner they are just chilling out.
So after the drive down the mountain we drove through some more of the industrial side of California, there was a lot more greenery and it was mainly cattle and the occasional town. On the approach to San Francisco we had to drive over a very big suspension bridge that has a toll, $6 per car!
The drive was a lot shorter, only 380km and didn’t take the whole day, so we ended up checking into our hotel in Japantown and walked around the area, full of authentic sushi restaurants and stores selling anime. I did also notice that San Franciscans are some truly ballsy drivers, their roads are insanely steep, in some cases you cant see the street over each hill and they still drive like they are racing, swapping lanes without indicating and running lights.
For our first night in SF we met up with friends from Perth that are travelling at the same time and went out to a dive bar/restaurant for dinner called Tommy’s Joynt, beers start at $2.50 and the food is like a dining hall setup. We then went out to a rum bar called Smugglers Cove, which we had to wait in line for – drinks were good but it was way too busy so we left and went down to another place called Cafe Amsterdam. The cafe is really a bar, that is in the Tenderloin district of SF, a slightly dodgy suburb that the travel guides recommend staying out of but we had no troubles.
So thats pretty much the 2nd day of roadtripping. Alcatraz in the next one!