A Travellerspoint blog

19. Chilling in San Fran

Thursday 25th
So I can't remember going to bed last night - well I didn't really go to bed, I woke up fully clothed on top of the covers -oops!! When we piece things together / are filled in on some things by the non drinking folk, it seems there was a phone dropped down the loo and a bit of sick all over a bedroom - I'm not guilty on either count - ha ha! Emileeeeeeeey!! :-) I think us drunkards are still quite tipsy as we find it hilarious but the others are somewhat disapproving, oh dear!!

It didn't take me long to pack my stuff and we headed down to reception where the others were loitering not seeming to be making a decision as to what to do. A couple of us went to join Mona who was already in the hotel cafe downstairs, Mona wasn't feeling too good and blamed the breakfast she's already eaten (I think really it might have been more like the wine she's been drinking the night before but she want having any if it!). I had a greasy veggie omelette, hash browns and rancid coffee - I thought Americans liked their coffee, other than Starbucks most of the coffee I've had out here has been rank.

Us who had been up drinking were definitely in the bad books with the others. We eventually pulled ourselves together and tried organising cabs in to the city centre, I tried sorting out a car share with me, Mona and one of the others to share the costs, the other person made it very clear they didn't want to share with us (using several excuses!!), me and Mona ended up paying $63 between is - ridiculous!! It turned out me and Mona were just round the corner from each other, she was staying in a hostel (she's travelling for 12 months so is trying to keep costs to a minimum), I'd had a bit of a splurge and booked myself a very nice hotel, thinking I might need it after all that camping (which incidentally I have really enjoyed).

The hotel has just been refurbished and is gorgeous, quite Art Deco but also quite modern. For some reason it's called "Hotel Grace - a piece of pineapple hospitality"! My room wasn't huge but had a super comfy bed, a bit like a princess and the pea bed - I almost needed a ladder to get in. The room had lots of really nice touches - a proper coffee machine, slippers, dressing gowns, umbrellas if you needed them, make up wipes, really nice toiletries...... And a cuddly toy dog sat on the bed all the the pineapple logo on. I had a bit of a chill, phoned home and then went for a wander. It was nice being in a city that wasn't brand new to me and I more or less knew my way around. I walked down to market at the ferry pier, not because I wanted anything in particular but just cos I remembered it being really nice with lots of little quaint stalls (including a stall that sells everything mushroomy - ok that's the main reason I wanted to go, even though I didn't buy anything just browsed) and then I wandered down to pier 39 to have a look in some of the shops there. There is a mix of tourist tat, San Francisco clothes and at the other end of the scale really expensive gifts. I treated myself to some batman socks!!

I fancied oriental for tea again so found a place at the end of the pier, if I'd have thought about it I ought to have known, in such a tourist trap, it wouldn't have been brill. It didn't start well because I accidentally ordered a glass of red wine instead of rose, that wine came in a dirty glass so I sent it back, I did drink the red, it wouldn't be my first choice but it was palatable, for food there wasn't really a proper veggie option so I had mushroom sushi for starters (not as good as my home made sushi) and then chose garlic noodles with a side of crispy tofu with the intention of mixing them together - the side of tofu turned out to be a great slab of tofu which was nice but didn't need to be so big (as if I complain about getting too much food but it could really have fed a family of four!), the noodles were nice but it wasn't half as nice as the food we'd had last night - and cost twice as much!! Teach me to eat in such a touristy area.

It tuned out that the "kids" were on the pier also having their tea so I toddled over to catchup with them one last time and say good bye although hopefully I'll be keeping in touch with a couple of them when we get back home.
I'd arranged to meet up with Kim, Mick and Mona for a few drinks so I caught up with them at the Irish times bar and had a wine or five with them which topped the day off very nicely. Me and Mona sauntered back in the direction of our hotels - well we took a few wrong turnings and ended going a bit out of our way (up and back down one of the 13 hills that San Francisco is built on.). I saw mona into her hostel and then headed back to mine via a shop (for more wine and some Cheetos), this shop was quite a nice delicatessen and in my tipsy state I noticed something odd going on - there was a very well dressed man watching two homeless guys in the shop, as I loitered round the crisp (chips to the Americans) aisle I realised that the man in the nice clothes had told the homeless guys to buy some stuff and he was going to pay for it, one guy spent $46 and the other guy spent $28 (they could both have spent a lot lot more),,when they'd gone I asked them shop guy about it and he just shrugged and said that's what the nicely dressed guy did sometimes - how nice is that?!?!
I got back to my hotel room and clambered into my huge comfortable bed and quickly fell asleep -without touching my wine or my crisps.

Steps: 14,402. / 5.9 miles

Posted by cazbatt 13:31 Archived in USA Comments (0)

18. San Fran, the catamaran and fab, funny drunkenness!!

Wednesday 24th
Up bright and breezy today for a long drive to San Francisco which will take about 5 hours. We need to have breakfast done with (plain bagel and peanut butter for me today) the camp cleaned and put away and be off early as we have a catamaran trip of the harbour booked at 4. I'm a bit sad that this is the end of the camping part of the trip as I have really enjoyed it - other than the achey hips and elbows in the middle of the night. I am disappointed that we have seen any bears, mountain lions, coyotes, snakes or amazing creepy crawlies though.

It's a long drive and I'm sat next to Sharan (another newbie from London), she's lovely but I think she'd had too many e numbers for breakfast or something, she was hyper all the way back - ha ha, it did make a nice change having some one to be awake and talkative on the long journeys though.

In San Fran we call at a place called panadera for lunch, which is a bit if an upmarket type of cafe, I buy an asaigo bagel (I think asaigo is a type of cheese) and make a veggie ham sandwich with it and also buy a mushroom and cheese soufflé which is pretty delicious. This place is just round the corner from our hotel so we quickly check in and drop our stuff - Red Roof plus - I'd say this is more of a motel than a hotel, it's a bit tired and dated and not one I'd pick myself (hotel snob that I am - really, after all at camping I should be grateful for anything with a proper bed - ha ha). We all met back up and jumped back on the van to be taken into San Francisco city for the catamaran trip hitch was down near pier 39.

The catamaran was more than a bit bouncy and we got a bit wet from the waves splashing over the side and it was blummin cold in the wind but it was great being on the water and going past Alcatraz and under the bridge. The views of the city from the water are lovely also. At one point a seal popped his head up to see what was going on and a bit later we saw a couple of dolphins swimming past a few times, there were also flocks of pelicans flying past - the pelicans fly in single file and copy what the first one does so they all swoop down and almost touch the water then fly back up into the sky, they were lovely. My flip flops nearly went over the edge at one point but they were rescued just in time. There was a bar on the boat so it'd have been rude to pass that by and it was very nice having a glass of wine (I say glass but it was a plastic cup - ha ha) as we sailed (do you sail in a catamaran?) back to the harbour. We had an hour to have a look round pier 39, I headed straight up to see the sea-lions at the end of the pier, they really are funny creatures just sprawled out watching the world go by, I wouldn't want to mess with one though, they're huge. I sauntered round for a bit then went to meet the others. On the way back to try minibus we passed a 7-11 so we decided to call in for a couple of bottles of wine for later, the plan to have a few civilised drinks back at the hotel as this was officially the last night of our trip together.

Before we headed back we were going out for tea together, meeting up with the other group who had been travelling alongside us for the trip (but making no effort to interact with our group considering we camped at the side of them every night). The place we ate was a Thai place called Rins which was very good, I had chilli and garlic Brussel sprouts for starters - I know that probably sounds disgusting to any none sprout lovers but they were really yummy. For main I had chilli and garlic tofu and rice washed down with a lychee martini - delicious!

Back at the hotel, there was a bit of a balcony area outside Kim and Micks room so a few of us congregated there and......... it got rather messy. It ended up with sensible little old me, Kelsey, Mona and Elisia being led astray by the complete lunatics that are Emily and Mick and Kim, we ended up not only polishing off several bottles of wine but also beer and vodka........ in fact any alcohol that we could muster together and we had a complete and utter laugh. I remember the security guard coming to tell us to be quiet twice, apparently they came another two times too also. I don't remember much after midnight or hauling myself to bed but I do know it was the best, funniest night of the trip. There are a few of my fellow travellers that I probably wont keep in touch with but I will miss this bunch of loons and I hope we all keep in touch and do a rerun of this night when we're back home.

Steps: 15,974. / 6.5miles

Posted by cazbatt 13:08 Archived in USA Comments (0)

17. Rock climbing in Yosemite

Tuesday 23rd
Today is classed as a free day - free but we still have to be up and away for 7am to get into Yosemite village which will take about an hour and fifteen.

I was actually awake just after five listening to some funny noises and bangs, I was convinced it was a bear trying to get into the trailer to get our food - that's what it sounded like to me so I unzipped a bit of our tent and peeped through the zip but couldn't see anything, turns out it was blummin Kelsey messing about in the trailer - grrrr, I soooo wanted it to be a bear!

Breakfast was an everything bagel with peanut butter. My plan today is to either option 1) do rock climbing, 2) horse riding or 3) hiking in that order. Kelsey pointed me in the direction of the mountaineering centre so I scooted in, there was one all day climbing session which should have started ten minutes beforehand but there was a delay so I could join them - yeaaaaay! , it was a beginners session but I was ok with that cos indoor climbing and outdoor climbing are very different and I just enjoy it regardless of difficulty. There should have been four of us but one guy didn't turn up so it was just me and a mum and son (Vicky and Nick from Dallas) and our guide Bob (or Bill), It was a really good day, we got to do four climbs which weren't the easiest and a couple of abseils and it was really good fun and my poor arms, fingers and toes were knackered by four o clock when we'd done. I was glad it was such a small group, Bob (Bill?) was happy to answer all the questions that I chucked at him or show us particular techniques and he happily set up an abseil where we all anchored each other from the top of the cliff, that consisted of lots of knots and stuff that I've forgotten already. He was also happy to stop for a lunch break when my belly told him I needed food - cheese and jalapeño bread roll with the veggie ham stuff aaaand cheese and jalapeño Cheetos which they all tried and loved - they are my new favourite snack, although Bill (Bob?!) told me I needed to try jalapeño kettle chips as he thought they were slightly better.

I met up with the others and we ate dinner at the pavilion at Half Dome Village (not a camp dinner - yeaaay) which was a bit like a giant school dining hall (apart from we could drink beer), I had mushroom lasagne a giant spud (not a jacket spud like we know it tho) and mushrooms - the must have known I needed mushroomy spuddy nourishment after my day climbing - ha ha!

The others had been hiking near Half Dome and the views were supposed to be amazing and I'm a bit sad that I didn't get to see that bit but I'm still glad I climbed instead. The hiking is on the to do list for my next road trip. On the way back Kelsey made sure I got to see Half Dome and El Capitan (both famous climbing routes) and stopped off so I could take a few pictures - bless her.

I snoozed on the bus on the way back to camp and the plan was to head more or less straight to bed but a bottle of wine was calling and I stayed up with my new drinking buddies Kim and Mick (part of me wishes these guys had been with us all a long but my liver / the weighing scales are glad that they weren't) and Emily and Kelsey and then it got a bit surreal - we were joined by a teletubby and a giant Easter bunny - no i hadn't taken any drugs or got sun stroke! it was a couple of other tour leaders who were a bit nuts and were going round the group campsite making shadows on people's tents while dressed as a giant bunny and la la - they even ended up in the tent with Caitlin and Michelle - ha ha. There was a non funny bit when Molly spotted them and got really scared (she's petrified of stuff like that) but they soon left her alone when we asked them to. After a mad hour or so I toddled off to my tent and was soon fast asleep after a pretty fabulous day.

Steps: 11,062. / 4.4miles

Posted by cazbatt 13:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

16. Mountains and lakes and a veggie camp feast in Yosemite

Monday 22nd

I had quite a good sleep and woke up at 5.30 heading to the showers before anyone else was up, they were fab showers for a campsite. Breakfast was an everything bagel with peanut butter on and camp was quickly packed away and off we set again. We headed into Yosemite on the Tioga pass which is only open for about 3 months of the year because of snow, some of the mountains still have snow on the top of them - in August!! As we passed through the gate into Yosemite there was a sign saying that we were 9,945ft above sea level. We got to the visitor centre and I eagerly asked about kayaking and rafting to be told there wasn't any because all the rivers were very low - boo hoo!

We stopped at a beautiful place called tuellueme(??) Where there were a couple of hikes that we could do, I went for the longer one which was to Dog Lake (no idea why it was called dog lake) chatting away to Mona who is a really interesting lady from Germany who has set out travelling for twelve months. We caught up with Molly and trotted up further to Lembert Dome, we got to the top and the floor turned from mud / dust to rock but an odd kind of rock that I've not seen before which was fab for scrambling up so me and Molly did all the way to the top, it turns out that there was a less strenuous way to top so top but it didn't look as much fun as the scrambling. It was beautiful up there and looked quite a lot like the Alps. We scrambled back down the way we'd come and mona was nowhere to be seen, turns out she'd gone the sensible route.

We all met again at the bottom and headed for lunch at a gorgeous little Lake. The lake was lovely but a bit chilly but i still went for a paddle. As I was wandering about there I spotted were some beautiful blue birds which turned out to be Jays but they looked like a cross between a woodpecker and a blue hoopoe. As I was watching them, there was a bit of a commotion in a tree and I saw one of these birds having a scrap with a squirrel, there didn't look like there were any nests in the tree so it looked like they were play fighting because the squirrel would chase the bird then they'd swap and the bird would chase the squirrel, do birds and mammals play fight? I don't know but it was interesting to watch, they were at it for a good few minutes.

Next stop was to see the giant sequoia trees, they think some of them could be up to 3000 years old, they're huge, there's a dead one which miners made a tunnel through so they could ride their convoy of horses through many years ago (I wondered why they went to that effort and didn't just ride round the tree!). The hike through the forest took about an hour and then we went on to our next campsite. This campsite is lovely, in the middle of a forest and just by the side of a river on the outskirts of Yosemite national park. There's a mix of options of how you can stay - tents and campervans, wooden chalets and yurts which look good fun, there's also quite a good communal room which has a TV and wifi - obviously that's where all the youngsters head straight away - ha ha! There is also a rule here that absolutely no food must be left anywhere that bears could possibly find it - it can't even be in he van as bears will smash windows to get food, it can only be in either the windowless trailer or in special bear proof boxes around the campsite. I'm half tempted to leave a trail of goodies just to entice them into camp but the others are much less enthusiastic about seeing them.

Me and mona are on dinner duty tonight and make a tofu ratatouille with boiled potatoes, mona also makes a guacamole for starters. I didn't realise til after I'd started chopping stuff that Mona used to own a vegetarian restaurant and was quite particular about how things were done (even though she said she wouldn't be) it turns out that my version of thinly sliced onions aren't the same spec as Monas are - ha ha! It was good fun cooking with her though and the food was very tasty. Her guacamole is divine (recipe noted and I will be making it at home!!), I'd chosen mixed small potatoes which included some black and purple ones like I'd eaten in Peru last year - good choice Caroline, they were scrummy. It did take ages for tea to be ready as it turns out the gas bottle was running low and we ended up eating in the dark but everyone said they enjoyed it. There was a little bit of a ruction at dinner, A couple of the newbies (I'm no longer classed as a newby) aren't quite as tolerant as I've been over the last week or so (and I'm secretly pleased that they are finding the same things as me very annoying!!). The group dynamics have definitely changed.... For the better!
It was nice to have a bottle of wine and have a natter with Kim, Mick and Mona before heading to my tent. I'm not sure if some of the youngsters are too chuffed about us staying up drinking - ha ha! It's also weird and a shame that Lisanne and Claire aren't here for the last leg of the journey, I think they'd love it.

Steps: 29,312 / 12 miles

Posted by cazbatt 22:15 Archived in USA Comments (0)

15. Giving super hot Death Valley a miss

Sunday 21st
We're not meeting until 8 today so it was a lay in day in a comfortable bed - well it would have been if'd my delightful mother hadn't sent me a lovely Facebook message at my 5.45am when I'd not got my phone on silent - grrrr!! Silly me - Ha ha!

There are new people joining our group today and most of them are more my age or a bit older - hooraaaah, adult company!! Some of the original bunch (not all) are very lovely but they're all 18 / 19 / 20 so have very different interests to me and where as I make an effort to ask about people and their interests quite a few of the group (not all) just don't bother with the oldies - ie anyone over 23 - ha ha their loss!!

With the new people on the bus it's a bit packed but we all manage to squeeze in - it's cosy let's say! We need to stock up on new food provisions so stop off at a very nice supermarket. Me and mona have been paired up to make a dinner tomorrow night - what Kelsey hadn't realised was that we're both vegetarians - snigger snigger! Mona definitely likes the finer food, I've no idea what our lot of ingredients cost but I bet it wasn't cheap! We're making a kind of ratatouille and boiled potatoes and mona is making a guacamole for a bit of a starters. I stocked up on jalapeño Cheetos, 7up, a bottle of wine and some very tasty cheese and jalapeño bread rolls - mmmmm!

All stocked up, we were on the bus an hour so so before we stopped at a place called Beatty which is home to the nut and candy co - supposedly one of the biggest candy factories in the states (it didn't seem very impressive and surely Mars, Hershey's, M&Ms are bigger) but it sold nice ice cream - peanut butter ice cream - Mmmmm! Before the ice cream tho, I'd had a veggie ham and cheese sandwich on the cheese and jalapeño roll I'd just bought which was delish. There seems to be a theme to my snacking - things that contain peanut butter and jalapeños (not together!)

Back on the bus we drove through some little towns which looked like the ones you see on Wild West films, including some that looked like they'd just been abandoned, we also called at a gas station which was in a little silver mining town which was super cute, its desert out here and very hot and dusty.

We've had to have a change of plan for today, we were supposed to be headed to Death Valley but the tour company have said we can't go because it's too hot there, apparently, it's reached over 60 degrees c recently and several people have died including one person who's van set on fire with him in it!!! Wowzers!

The new place we're stopping is near Mono Lake which is famous for it's tufas - which are a bit like big stalagmites but which grow by the lakes edge by fresh water and salty water meeting and creating a reaction which causes the tufas to form - they were nowhere near as impressive as some of the sights we've just seen but it was still very interesting, I spotted a bird sat on one and when I investigated what it was on the information boards it was an Osprey - when I was a kid I was once in the Osprey team (either school or guides or summat) and I've always remembered so I was pretty chuffed to see it out in the wild, apparently, they don't eat from the lake because it is too salty (it is, I dipped my finger in and tasted it - yak!!) but they nest around here because there aren't any other predators. I also spotted a rather big pile of poo (I have a fascination for wildlife poo - comes from scat patrols on the Earthwatch projects) I think it was bear poo, well either that or human - it was too big to be anything else and I'm pretty sure it wasn't lion or coyote poo. Still not seen any real live bears though.

Our next campsite was lovely, it was only small but everything about it seemed very friendly and you could just see the lake from the campsite. We set up camp and Kim and Caitlin cooked stir fry and rice for dinner along with some tofu that me and Mona had bought which was very tasty. Afterwards I sat chatting to Kim and Mick with beer or two - ooh it was so nice to have fellow oldies to chat to and be able to drink beer!!! I headed to my bed at about eleven o clock.

Steps: 7,799. / 3.1 miles

Posted by cazbatt 22:06 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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