Trip Start Apr 15, 2008
60Trip End Apr 01, 2010
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With Andrew in Bed after having his wisdom tooth removed that leaves me to see the sights of San Francisco. Oh what bliss, a day all to myself!! The Bus and Tram system in San Francisco is great, for $1.50 you can ride as many times as you like within a 2 hour period. I first headed for the Marina district to get a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We read that September is the best time to visit San Fran as at other times it suffers from fog, just my luck today there was fog, so the bridge was only just visible. I then headed around the Bay to Fisherman's Wharf. The walk along the waterfront gives some great views out to Alcatraz. Once on Fisherman's Wharf there are plenty of shops to browse plus many bars and restaurants, I especially like the seafood stalls here where you can buy all kinds of delicious seafood as well as chowder in a sour down bowl, we did this last time we were in town so decided to save myself for lunch somewhere different.
For lunch I went into a small local café in Stockton Street and tried the Vegetable Baozi, something we had sampled while in China a few years ago, it was delicious though of course I probably could not guarantee it was totally vegetarian, oh I am living dangerously these days!! I know Andrew was most impressed when I told him my lunch cost 70c! These restaurants, if you are game, also sell a larger plateful of rice and two entrees for $3.50, which is excellent value.
My next stop was Union Square; this is a very modern plaza and is mainly tiled with the exception of a few palm trees. It is in the upmarket shopping district and has plenty of seating and a couple of cafes to stop for a snack and watch the world go by, this shopping area has good shops such as Tiffany's, ( I did resist the temptation to treat myself!) Macy's and a good selection of upscale boutiques, if you are in need of a shopping spree this is the area to visit.
I'm back now, and feeling much better today. We left the B & B and picked up the car, then headed straight for the Golden Gate Bridge and on to Napa valley, on the city side, the bridge was almost invisible however as we drove over to the opposite side it was in sunshine. The drive today was not that interesting as it was mostly motorway, but as we arrived in the valleys we could see fields and hills covered in vines, the vivid green against the golden sun scorched hills was pretty striking. We stopped at a small boutique winery called Roche for some tasting. These wines never get to the shops as they sell all that they make via people calling in to purchase and by mail order within the USA. We would never buy a Californian wine at home as they are all a bit too fruity, but these were all very good so we bought a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, this we will be sharing with my Brother Tim and his Wife Teresa when they meet up with us in Las Vegas. We also stopped at another winery called Cline, after sampling some of their wines, which were again very good. We enjoyed a walk around the beautiful gardens and then visited the Museum in the grounds which contains replicas and the history of the bygone Spanish Missions which exist within the San Francisco area
The next day we headed to Mariposa, an old Gold Mining Town, which was our stop while we took another look around Yosemite National Park. Driving out of Napa we were once again surrounded by fields and hills of vineyards, and then gradually these were interspersed by fields of golden corn, fruit trees and parched yellow grass. Initially the landscape was quite flat but as we headed east the foot hills of the Sierra Nevada Range started to rise up in front of us. As the road started to rise and fall over humped back ridges we gradually started to ascend the hills where the landscape was now filled with trees dotted around, the small pine trees up here have the most enormous cones on them. After a few hours of tough driving through the hills we found our B & B for the night. Inn in the country is tucked away amongst the trees, and is run by a lovely lady called Judy. The house is immaculately maintained and Judy was a great host to us, making our stay very comfortable.
Yosemite is one of my favourite places. It has to been seen to be appreciated. The park embraces one of the world's most outstanding concentrations of spectacular mountain and valley scenery. Its Sierran setting harbours a grand collection of waterfalls and forests.
Sequoia National Park
An early start this morning, we drove about 3 hours to the Sequoia National Park. This park is most famous for it giant sequoia trees which grow bigger and more abundantly here than anywhere else in the world. It goes without saying that the world's tallest tree has its home in the park, named the General Sherman, this really is a giant amongst trees. It measures in at 208ft tall, to put this into perspective that is equal to an eleven story building, with a diameter of over 40ft and bark 2ft thick, that's one big tree! There are many others which are equally as impressive; however the splendour doesn't stop at just the trees. The park also encompasses Kings Canyon, an impressive jaw dropping gorge carved out by the Kings River. The park is set 7000ft up in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and backed by the high mountain peaks of which Mount Whitney, standing at 14,496ft is the tallest peak in the main states of the USA
After staying over night at Porterville we enjoyed a pleasant drive through the southern part of the Sequoia Park. Again it was pretty tough driving on the sharp bending roads, but it was great just coasting the back roads, we hardly saw another vehicle for hours. We did however see lots of wild life including Mule Deer, Rabbits, Eagles, Red Crested Wood Peckers and tiny crested Quails.
Red Rock Canyon
On our way down south to the desert lands we called into Red Rock Canyon Park, The park features some scenic desert cliffs, buttes and spectacular rock formations which as the name suggests are different hews of red. The park is located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converge with the El Paso Range. Each tributary canyon is unique, with dramatic shapes and vivid colours. We enjoyed a picnic lunch here, but have to say the 105F temperature drove us back into the comfort of our air conditioned car pretty quickly!