Los Angeles, Monterey, San Francisco, Yosemite, Barstow

Spent one night in LA in quite a posh hotel before meeting up with my Trek America tour group for a two week camping trip. First stop was Hollywood for a short tour doing the Walk of Fame, the Chinese theatre and Mulholland Drive for a view of the ‘Hollywood’ sign. Then we headed up Highway 1, alongside the Pacific Coast. By the time we reached Monterey, our stop for the night, it was dark and raining, which made it great fun to try to put up tents.

Next day, sun came out slightly and we set off for San Francisco. First stop was ‘Postcard row’, a group of 7 houses apparently used in the TV show “Full House”. Then we went on to Haight and Ashbury, for all the quirky shops. Went to the Golden Gate bridge, where it was very windy. Walked across it getting views of the harbour, Alcatraz and Angel Island. At the other end, we drove up to a lookout point for the bridge. We took in Lombard Street – the worlds crookedest street and saw some of the trams. Walked around chinatown for a bit.

Had a free day the next day, so those who were not coming back here at any point tried to find a way to get a ticket to Alcatraz (book well in advance), whereas those of us coming back, booked them for when we are back. Saw the shops in Union Square and had a realxing day.

Left San Francisco for Yosemite to be greated with… snow. SNOW! I did not allow for, or more importantly pack for, snow. As we began to reach the park, we saw a small amount at the edge of the road. By the time we were further in there was vast amounts, going over STOP signs and toilet blocks. Tramped through it to see the Giant Sequoia trees including the Tunnel Tree which has been hit by lightening twice. When we got to the campsite we were much lower into the valley so, thankfully, there was no snow on the ground.

Got up at 5.30 to have an early start to climb Half Dome. Before long though, the path became covered in snow and ice. At times it was easier to clamber directly up the rock face rather than take the path. We saw Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. By the time we’d lunched at the top of Nevada Falls, it was too late for us to continue on to Half Dome so we turned round and slipped and slided all the way back down. We definately had a well deserved pizza that evening. Round the campfire that evening, we had a raccoon steal our cookies from right next to us and later on, once we were in our tents, even though we had everything scented in a bear box, we had a bear walk right into the centre of the camp.

We had an early start the next day, with a long drive to Barstow. There was nothing really to do here, it was just to break up what otherwise would have been an even longer drive. We did, however, find out that there was a drive in movie being shown the next exit down the freeway, so after dinner we packed up a pile of chairs, took some beers and our sleeping bags and went to watch Sin City. Very cool experience.

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