After our final night all sleeping in the tents we got up ready for our last day together around Hollywood. We did end up stopping in Santa Barbra for a little bit but the weather matched our mood so we ended up just grabbing some breakfast and heading back to the van eager to get into town.
When we got into Hollywood we went to a spot on Hollywood Blvd where i had been to before to have a look at the sign. We did the walk of fame checking out the hand prints and celebrity stars before meeting again to head into The Hard Rock Cafe for our last meal together!! We had a little time afterwards to walk around a few of the shops and on behalf of the whole group I picked up a best driver oscar for Mike which he loved.
We spent the early evening in our rooms getting ready for a last night out in LA … as it worked out i was on my own in my room so i invited everyone down there where there was more space and we had some drinks and played cards till the taxis came. We ended up back down on Hollywood Blvd and bar hopped our way down the street meeting loads of people and really getting a different feel of the whole place compared to the day time. After some late night pizza and a squished in taxi ride back we all crashed.
The next morning we were all up for a final goodbye before the rest of the group went off to the beach for the day and me and April went off to our flights :( It was pretty bitter-sweet after spending so much time together to watch them walk away to carry on the rest of their tour but i know im going to see most of them again at home. Thanks for an awesome, amazing, totally ridiculous trip that really topped off my year living in the states …. now what trip to book next?
Today is our last full day and night and we made it a good one. We were travelling down California’s Big Sur stopping off on the way to check out the amazing scenery. Our first stop was at McWay Waterfall that was coming down onto a beach where we spent some time taking in how beautiful it all looked.
Our next stop was a beach where a huge colony of elephant seals were resting. They were all males, sleeping and play fighting and rolling themselves up and down the beach. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any before and it was crazy just how big they were! There was a woman leading another group around so we stayed to hear some info on what they were doing and why they were there. Our next stop was a weird place called the Madonna Inn which was this really strange place where every room is decorated with different themes and the main dinning area feels like you’ve stepped into Hansel & Gretel/Sleeping Beauty … like i said VERY weird.
Our last stop before the campsite was San Luis, a cute little town where we walked up and down the streets before watching the final of the Football world cup. We even lost on of the boys as he decided to stay over time to see the end of the game (he had to scrub the van for that haha).
Back at the campsite we made our last dinner and looked back at photos showing our favourite ones and exchanging e-mails. I can’t believe how quickly time has gone but how much we have managed to do! Everyone in the group was amazing and we all really clicked as a group and as a team and i don’t think it would have been half the trip it was without them. As usual we finished the night having a laugh round the fire and probably making too much noise :)
We left San Francisco this morning after a lie in and set off down the California Coast. I got the front seat again which meant i could get some great photos out of the window and played DJ for the day playing some of my music :)
We stopped at Santa Cruz Boardwalk first which is basically a mini theme park on the beach. There were loads of rides and food stands as well as souvenir shops and random games. We did manage to go on one ride in the time we had … sadly the girls chose the Haunted House which is probably my worst nightmare. Five of us went in all holding on to each other screaming at our own reflections and walking in a line following Jordan who was clearly the bravest. It was actually quite fun thought and totally woke us up!!
After lunch and some food shopping we stopped in Monterey for a bit to walk around the area and find a moose hat for Jordan who had won the bet to see one first and to check out some of the weird shops they had there. We saw the first ever Bubba Gumps and even a random person dressed as a shrimp haha.
Once we got to our campsite we all headed down the beach to take advantage of the amazing lighting and play some baseball. It was pretty windy but we had a good time running around chasing each other with seaweed. Once we finished dinner we also realised that the sun was about to set and ran back down to take some great photos of the sun disappearing. Again a fire and some s’mores were had and we chilled out before bed which was in a patch of rather long grass making it feel like we were on a mattress!!
After another crazy night we were up early and down to breakfast before off we went around the city to explore. We decided just to walk off our hangovers and went straight to The painted ladies. This is what a row of brightly coloured Victorian/Edwardian houses are called and the ones in San Fran are especially famous as they feature in the opening credits of ‘Full House’ and pop up on lots of postcards for the city. To be honest I’d never heard of them but once we got up there the view was awesome, the houses with some grass in front and then a backdrop of the city behind them … totally worth the walk up all those hills!
We kept walking and had some lunch before meeting a guide who was going to take us around for a walking tour of Chinatown. We did try to get a tram but it was rather busy and we ended up giving up and just taking some photos … I’ll have to get on one next time I’m there. Our guide took us around Chinatown and in to places i would never have known were even there. We tried out some moon cake made from actual lotus seed paste which is rare due to the expense and it was actually quite nice. We went to Tin How Temple and had our fortune told which was quite funny for some people as a lot of it related to cattle and crops. It was amazing to be able to explore somewhere that felt like a totally different country and see things like a beautiful temple on the top floor of a random building. Our guide had some interesting information about the area and the things we saw and the whole area was really great to look around.
We had some time in the evening to sort out some laundry before we all headed back down to Pier 39 for dinner together at Bubba Gumps!! We had some time to walk around the area, get some souvenirs and get down to Fisherman’s wharf for a look around before we went back to our hostel to rest up before our last couple of days along the coast.
And suddenly San Francisco is upon us! … At the beginning of the trip you think it’s a long way off and really it will start to indicate that you’re coming to the end of your time and you want that to stay away as long as possible. But it’s here and today we made out wat from Yosemite in to a big city once again.
We left Yosemite early in order to get into San Fran before traffic got really bad but we did stop quickly at a thrift shop to get some awesome outfits for a night out in town. Everyone went a little crazy and what started as a funny idea to get a weird top turned into full outfits and themes. On our way to our hostel we stopped for the all important Golden Gate Bridge shot (not quite the one i have seen from other people but im not sure where those were taken). We checked out some other sights from the van before heading to our rooms to prepare for our night out.
Once all dressed in our thrift shop outfits we headed down to Pier 39 where we went on a sunset cruise out past Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather was a bit of a let down as the mist rolled in and it got a little cold but we got some cool shots of the bridge and had fun on the catamaran. We got back to Pier 39 for some dinner together as a group before moving on to a karaoke bar where we sang too loudly and drank too much :). San Francisco is a pretty crazy place but some where I’m really glad i got to visit …and tomorrow we get to see a little more as we have a free day to wander yay!
We have two days camping in Yosemite so today was used to check out a 6 hour hike up past a couple of waterfalls to the top of an amazing lookout. We got up pretty early to make sure we could start going down before the heat of the sun made it ten times harder.
I wasn’t sure if i was going to be able to keep up with the rest of the group and there were points where me and a couple of others could have turned back but the group was great and we all stuck together all the way to the top. The first part of the hike took us up to Vernal Falls which was pretty spectacular as once we reached the bottom we had to walk up the side of it following these crazy stairs and stopping lots to get amazing shots of the waterfall. Once at the top we stopped for some lunch and watched as a strange abundance of squirrels walked around the area trying to get food from people and generally sneaking up on us and freaking us out haha.
We carried on up and got to the bottom of Nevada Falls which we worked out we also had to walk up the side of and over onto the top. It was totally worth it though with the view at the top looking back out over the valley and down following the waterfall back through where we had been walking up.
After a couple more hours walk back down we made good time and rewarded ourselves with some ice cream and a relax before Mike came over with some pizza for dinner. We finished the night as usual back at the campsite with a fire and some drinks, making s’mores and having some fun :)
After last nights little adventure (which we actually had to tell a couple of the group about as they somehow managed to sleep through the whole thing), we set off early to make good time getting to Yosemite National Park!!
Our first stop of the day was for a polar ice swim in a lake as we entered the park. I wasn’t sure at first whether i wanted to do it … but after a combination of not wanting to miss out, good photo opportunities and some good old YOLO i joined in. We all got in our swim stuff and made our way down to the lake with some funny looks from people around us. We had managed to choose a day that wasn’t even that warm and i think may have been starting to rain. We all ran in together while a couple stayed out and took photos and filmed it for us while we screamed our heads off and swam about. It actually wasn’t all that bad in the end and im so glad i just got in and did it … how many people can say they’ve swam in a fresh mountain lake in Yosemite!!
We stopped at a lookout point where we could see the park and look at a couple of the more famous mountains, Half Dome and El Capitan before driving on to the Mariposa Grove of giant Sequoia trees. We walked down for 20 mins or so before we reached the trees but it was so worth it. They were so huge some had even had holes cut out big enough for a car to drive through and one had fallen down and we were able to walk through the middle and see the massive roots out the bottom. We had some fun taking photos before we had to head back up and get to our site for the night. Can’t quite believe I’ve done both Yellowstone and Yosemite in one trip!