West Coast Wanderings

Trip Start Apr 14, 2010
Trip End Apr 16, 2011

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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Heading out of Yosemite down the beautiful and empty roads towards the coast we were once again in the unusual and quite delightful situation of having no idea where we wanted to go next. We decided in the end to return to San Francisco, mainly because we fancied a weekend of city-relaxation after our endeavors out in Yosemite but also more practicably because we needed to go through there to go north anyway.

It was a lovely weekend; as much fun as we have had in a city on our own all trip. The weather was stunning – as it has been every time we've been to San Fran. We found what must surely be the best value hotel room in San Francisco- the top floor of a cheap place with windows in 2 directions looking out over the city, the bay and the Golden Gate bridge. Amazing. We strolled around the city, enjoyed some more sushi in Japantown and far too much dim sum in Chinatown and went out to a bar to watch the Rugby World Cup matches (in the middle of the night local time) where we bumped into some nice English folks there for the same purpose. We even managed to procure tickets for an American Football match, the San Fran 49ers vs the Dallas Cowboys, on the Sunday which was fantastic. Candlestick Park was bathed in sunshine under a beautiful blue sky that clashed fantastically with the 49ers red that was everywhere. We even managed to fit in as Sarah had managed to procure us red tops for us to wear in a thrift store. Neither of us have been to a game before and it was a great experience. The atmosphere was awesome, the cheerleaders bouncy, the beers cold and the garlic fries, well, more like potatoey garlic. Mmmmmmm. The game was also great. Close the whole way and loads of touchdowns going right into overtime when unfortunately the Cowboys just nicked it. We found out later that the guy who scored the winning touchdown for them from the back of the field had won the chance to join their training camp through a reality TV show and was making his (unexpected) debut.  Go reality TV!

We woke up Monday morning feeling rested and contented and ready to hit the road. We started out by driving across the Golden Gate Bridge and then out along the twisty coastal highway that wound itself along the craggy, mountainous coastline dropping in and out of the eerie sea fog that had built up in a bank along the coast. It was beautiful driving but very slow going.

After a night in a campsite next to a huge, empty and windswept black sand beach and an entirely one sided game of Frisbee golf (even with Gordon playing left handed) we continued on up the coast towards our target for the next night; Redwoods National Park in Northern California. On the way up we stumbled across the "world famous" drive-through tree and merrily drove up expecting the Tank to be way too big to get through. She was not and made it with space to spare. Well, a few inches anyway. That is a big tree.

We spent a cold night in Redwoods Park and then went for a wander in the forest the next day and have to confess that we were a little bit disappointed by the Giant Redwoods. They are undeniably impressive trees growing over 100m high and up to 10m wide at the base but for all that they mainly consist of trunk with only narrow, sparse arms and not all that much greenery. Without anything to give you an idea of scale they look, well, like pine trees on steroids. The forests themselves were interesting for a few minutes as we strolled around in the semi-dark looking at all the giant trunks and wandering around inside room-sized burnt-out trunks from lightning strikes but you can’t actually see many complete trees because they all grow so close that tops are lost in the canopies. This also meant that there were no sweeping views from anywhere, even the tops of hills, because the trees are so big and dense.  In fact, we would discover later the best views of Redwood Forests are from the road where you can actually see something! Sorry any Giant Redwood lovers but once you’ve driven through one they soon get a little boring.

So, having seen our fill of very big trees we headed on north towards the state line with Oregon.  We had now driven the entire length of California (which turned out to be much further than we’d thought!) and it had been great; from the prickly cacti of the Mojave, the sunny cafés of San Diego and the buzz of San Fran on a sunny day to the mountains of Tahoe and Yosemite and the wild coastline, fog and great, big forests of Northern California. The weather had been blissful, especially after the heat of the south-west, and we can quite understand how so many Brits come for a 'bit’ and never quite making it back to the UK.  Despite having come so far (including the best part of the last 2 days in the car) when we checked the map we realized we were still barely half way to the Canadian border - this country is big!

So for now it was onwards and northwards for us!
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