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Stu
10-07-2015, 01:48 PM
Hi All,

I've been meaning to start this for a while. Will add to it when I get chance.

Picture the scene. It's late April. My wife and I were planning to camping in Cornwall in May, had two weeks booked off work and a camper van sat in the driveway ready to go whenever, just needed packing up with stuff. Two weeks before we were set off we started discussing where we'd stay, which routes we'd take etc. and talking about road trips. This very quickly escalated to thinking that rather than do a UK road trip, why not doing something we'd talked about many times and never had chance to do... go to San Francisco and road trip around California instead! Err...

Things gathered pace rather quickly, and within a few days we had return flights booked to SF, leaving in 10 days and were looking at hotels, hire cars, places to stop off etc. Yikes! YOLO and all that, why not! :shock:

I started a thread on here asking for advice, and Northloop came up with all kinds of handy hints, places to see, stuff to do... and more importantly, no one said it was a bad idea, hah!

http://www.northloop.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?51958-San-Francisco...


That thread shows the short notice planning, booking stuff etc. that went on. Couldn't quite believe we were doing it and within a few days it was time to go to the airport... :thumb:

Stu
10-07-2015, 01:59 PM
So, off to Manchester airport in the mighty Volvo V70 (excellent airport car, everyone should have one) and before we knew it, we were off via BA...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1325_zps2j2d53pk.jpg~original


... but only as far as London, as we had to change at Heathrow...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1337_zpsof5vyuim.jpg~original


Soon got on the way from there though and started a rather long flight towards the US...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1338_zps3bjn4dd0.jpg~original


The plane was posh, one of those with an upstairs bit - never been on one of those before. Airbus A380 I think? Forget now. Anyway, pretty pleasant as far as 9 hour flights go or whatever it was.

Soon landed at SF, pretty confusing with the 8 hour time difference etc. as we'd been up about 24 hours by this point. Got the BART train (which is like something from Total Recall or other futuristic 80s film) towards the city. Changed onto a street car (cool!) on the F line and headed towards Fisherman's Wharf where our hotel was. Arrived here - ooh, trolley cars, yellow taxis etc! :thumb:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1341_zpsb0ikfd9c.jpg~original


The hotel was a nice Kimpton one called the Argonaut. I recommend it highly for location, service and particularly the 'wine reception' which basically amounts to free drinks 5 - 6pm daily. I called this 'happy hour' and it was to become a daily feature once I found out you could get locally brewed Anchor Steam Beer if you didn't like wine (I don't). :thumb:

Our room was rather nice and high up at the quieter end of the hotel as requested.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1343_zpsg3betcli.jpg~original


View from the window looked like this on the first night...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1346_zpscljhbn69.jpg~original


We wandered to the local Walgreens for a few supplies, realised we'd been up about 36 hours and it was now the next morning in the UK (and on our body clocks) and went to bed. Day 1 complete, we'd arrived :thumb:

Floyd
10-07-2015, 02:06 PM
Great stuff. Continue. :thumb:

Stu
10-07-2015, 02:08 PM
We spent the next 6 days in SF, getting our bearings, working out the public transport system, getting up really early as we were jet lagged, that type of thing.

Spotted a few of the famous local sights... like Alcatraz...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1351_zpszwdfcmu7.jpg~original


Trolley cars (these are really good fun to ride on and appear to be a H&S nightmare!)...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1361_zpshavsenhl.jpg~original


Nice old cars and big trucks... (highly recommend 'In and Out Burger' by the way in the background here)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1373_zpsrcrpumpl.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1374_zpsuo94lbzi.jpg~original


Visited a bar called 'Jacks' just along from the hotel which had a rather extensive beer menu, all on taps!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1370_zpsr62d6pwo.jpg~original


Had plenty of evening sunset walks along from Fishermans Wharf to Fort Mason just along the coast towards the Golden Gate Bridge. Lovely!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_0792_zps5t3aiwrr.jpg~original

Stu
10-07-2015, 02:38 PM
So, other stuff in SF. What is there?

Well, there's this big orangey red bridge...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/P1010907_zpshvsnzpcc.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1426_zpstnvg3meo.jpg~original


This funny winding steep street, called Lombard St.

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I took this pic from the crossing of Lombard street showing the steepness of the road up from Fisherman's Wharf (that's Alcatraz in the background) that the trolley cars drive up. You can see the tracks the cables run in. It is a weird setup but seems to work and when you walk up you realise just how steep these are!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_0874_zpsvizaoltx.jpg~original


Here's a few other miscellaneous snaps. An old truck, new truck and a cop car / trolley car in one shot. Bonus!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1435_zpsh8d4wvz2.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1437_zps7wt0qkor.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1438_zpshjnypz12.jpg~original

Then we found Levis HQ whilst wandering. They have a little shop here where I bought a few pairs of jeans as they were relatively cheap. I went for a different type than I'd ever seen in the UK, 541 I think which the girl told me had been developed for the SF 49-ers as they are an 'athletic' fit. Odd as I'm no athlete but I liked the fit. Forgot to add above, I didn't realise at this point, walking about 10 miles a day all over the city that the on-going foot pain I'd had for months and was waiting for a referral on was a result of a broken right foot. Oops! Did this trip with a couple of broken bones then :shame:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_0881_zpsw4hvu0s6.jpg~original


Anyway, what else can you do in SF...? Go to prison of course - more in a min :thumb:

Stu
10-07-2015, 02:56 PM
Alcatraz!

We'd pre-booked tour tickets before we left the UK as they apparently sell out. When we got to the dock to get the boat over, we could see why - it was really filling up with people trying to buy tickets. We were on the first tour of the day so it was relatively quiet.

Boat ride over was nice on a sunny day, you can't tell how windy it is here though - SF is very windy on the coast!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1385_zps6pxtatdx.jpg~original

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Once you arrive, there is a nice old truck. Then it's off up the hill to the top where they check you in for the tour.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1387_zpsw6qnotea.jpg~original


Once inside, you get an audio tour thing which is really good actually. It's voiced by an ex-inmate and really sets the scene as he guides you around the various cells, corridors, what went on where, who tried to escape, who got shot etc. Really interesting if a little grim - but hey, it's a prison!
(As an aside, if you like prison tours, Berlin has a great one at Hohenschönhausen too)

Some sights inside:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_0814_zpsmcpbb3x5.jpg~original

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There was lots of info and stories told about previous residents:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/P1010905_zps46oznnhh.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/P1010899_zpsjxr19mhn.jpg~original


We encountered an ex-inmate signing his book in the gift shop!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1410_zpsrrzjkno8.jpg~original


Outside the prison building the island was really nice and gave good views back to the city, bridges and beyond:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/P1010901_zpsvitolxbx.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/P1010904_zpsb61uykku.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/P1010902_zpswyfjr6ax.jpg~original


Great tour :thumb:


Headed back on the boat, stopped off at a big bakery for lunch and spotted a 'Donk' go by as we were eating :lol:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1415_zps60tca6xh.jpg~original

Stu
10-07-2015, 03:10 PM
Ok, you're in SF. You've been on your prison tour - done. You've ridden the trolley cars, seen the bridge. What else can you do. Brewery tour! Obviously.

My wife and I are keen real ale / craft beer fans so tend to look out for a brewery tour where possible. As it happens, we've been working through lots of nice California brewed stuff over the last year or two, various Anchor ones, Sierra Nevada, California Lager etc. Anchor happen to brew in SF, and only in SF so my wife looked up the tour and booked tickets in advance before we left home (I know, I'm a lucky man...).

Took a bit of public transport negotiating to find it, but we did.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1439_zps4sikj9so.jpg~original


Checked in onto the tour and waited for our guide. She arrived and explained the history of the brewery and how every bottle of Anchor, wherever in the world you drink it, is brewed in this pretty small building. Then she showed us how they do it...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_0883_zpsed8v8mua.jpg~original


The tour took around 45 mins and back to the company bar for tasting. Nice! We tried about 7 or 8 different brews, all included in the cost of the tour. Things started to get messy as it was only early afternoon :lol:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1440_zpskdjtcw1u.jpg~original


This is the current range. All rather tasty!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_0888_zps7p97ozbo.jpg~original


Bought a nice metal sign to put up in the kitchen, a bottle opener and went on our way. Back to the hotel in time for 'happy hour' (er... wine reception...). More Anchor Steam beer.

Note: I am tucking my empties behind me here so they don't think I'm taking the p1ss with the drinks being complimentary...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_0948_zpsqinymben.jpg~original

Stu
10-07-2015, 03:18 PM
Nearly time to leave SF and move on with the trip (and the road trip part of the holiday) but here's a couple of other miscellaneous pics before we do.

Breakfast at the Blackpoint cafe was awesome, this was the french toast:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1445_zpsepmmppat.jpg~original


I liked the look of this Microbus, love the colour scheme. Also, liked this Mad Max looking vehicle:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1449_zps5zwuzxua.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1465_zpsiqssg1o1.jpg~original


You know I said earlier that the trolley cars may have H&S issues? This is the control system!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1470_zpsfe20qhpc.jpg~original


Couple of childish giggles when looking at the map:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1461_zpsr4hzyj3x.jpg~original


Some photos from the California Academy of Sciences. Well worth a visit. Note albino alligator called 'Claude'! Rainforest exhibit was amazing with butterflies flying around your head, tree frogs and all sorts. :thumb:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_0934_zpsyxpaknsm.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_0904_zpsehcrh411.jpg~original

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Stu
10-07-2015, 03:52 PM
Time to leave SF, still a few things to see, but we were coming back at the end of the trip anyway for a few nights so no problem. Headed back to the airport to pickup the car. I booked it from the airport office as I wanted something from the Avis 'signature' series which wasn't available in town rental offices, and in any case, we'd be returning the car to the airport at the end anyway.

Bit of queuing at the rental desk, chat to the nice man about how I like cars and he tried to get me something more powerful than the Mustang coupe (didn't want a convertible) I'd booked. They had 6.2L Camaros (!) but none in stock, he recommended that for next time but I said I'd be happy with the Mustang.

It did look rather good:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1495_zpsxv4sxda9.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1498_zpssvj6bsfi.jpg~original

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http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1499_zpsfasngjwc.jpg~original


Familiarised myself with the controls, squeezed our two large holdalls into the boot, just, and off we went :thumb:

Stu
10-07-2015, 04:06 PM
Headed out of SF and towards highway one, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). We stopped off for lunch at Half Moon Bay, and then down through Santa Cruz and onto Carmel south on PCH. Scenery was rather nice!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/P1010961_zpsewphp13o.jpg~original

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We drove around the scenic '17 mile drive' and Pebble Beach. Stopped off for a look around at the golf course - so posh!

The Mustang felt great, surprisingly so actually. Very direct steering, reminded me of my wife's Cooper S, but with a lazy autobox and a (almost) 4L V6 engine. Power was more than acceptable and it made a good noise. You could stick it into sport mode and shift manually with + / - buttons but I could rarely be bothered as I was looking at the scenery mostly :lol:

Oh, then I found out it had a trip computer with all sorts of weird features. It could show digital gauges that looked like analogue ones, never seen that before. Fun! I like to know my cylinder head temp (in F) when driving, that's the kind of guy I am. Also found it had a 0-60 and 1/4 mile timer built in!

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Got to Carmel, which was our stop off for the night. Checked in at the hotel (like a little motel, actually) and went to find some food. The town is lovely, bit like a Spanish or Italian town really, you can see the influences. We later had a beer on the balcony, this was the view at the end of the day. About 130 miles so far. :happy:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_0976_zpsnje6ge3e.jpg~original

Stu
10-07-2015, 04:22 PM
Next day was a rather longer drive, again south on PCH but around 230 miles this time to stop off in Santa Barbara.

Lots more of this:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/P1010970_zpsicbjttun.jpg~original


Then some of these guys! Elephant seals! Very noisy, fascinating to watch, but very smelly indeed!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/P1010994_zpsuchajz78.jpg~original


More of this:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1537_zps1gyu24f3.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1544_zpsr9owndof.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1546_zpsc2hfgfoj.jpg~original


Arrived at Santa Barbara, which looked like this from the roof terrace of hotel:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1561_zps3eivtldp.jpg~original


Checked into another nice Kimpton hotel we'd booked. Told them we'd come from a Kimpton in SF and they upgraded us to a 'king suite' with a four poster bed, three TVs and a bathroom about four times the size of the one we have at home :lol:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1553_zpsitpxvcmz.jpg~original


As luck would have it, it was 'wine reception' time again (5 - 6pm, remember) when we checked in. Disappointingly no beer here, well free beer anyway, so had to risk a bit of California wine. It was nice though!

Went out for food and a wander around, back to the hotel bar for a few beers and early night as it was a pretty long drive. PCH unlike the US stereotype, has many many corners and is actually a very involving drive. Loved it.

Next stop - off to the desert :shock:

Stu
10-07-2015, 04:40 PM
After some breakfast at a nice cafe and a bit of shopping and sight-seeing in Santa Barbara, it was time to saddle up the Mustang again and head off. Another 230 ish miles to do today, but heading east inland, passing north of LA and onto the Joshua Tree national park.

We'd booked to stay (based on recommendations on here, actually) at a place called the 29 Palms Inn, in 29 Palms. A fair trek but we were looking forward to seeing the change of scenery heading away from the coast and into the desert.

Off we go, looked a bit like this heading out of Santa Barbara and over the top of LA:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1574_zpsf9menkws.jpg~original

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A few stop offs for 'gas' ($60 to fill the Mustang), food, water and bathroom breaks and we finally made it to Joshua Tree. It was rather hot when you got out of the air conditioned car!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/P1020051_zpsn8ayc7ey.jpg~original

After another hour or so, we arrived at the 29 Palms Inn. A very remote and picturesque location. Website here - checkout the rooms and facilities, such a cool chilled out place!

http://www.29palmsinn.com

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Our accommodation was a little 'bungalow', looked like this. Used map to keep dash cool:

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Stu
10-07-2015, 04:53 PM
That evening at 29 Palms we ate at the restaurant, sat outside by the pool. They have a live singer songwriter playing each evening, who was really good actually and set a suitably mellow mood. The place was amazing, great food, beer, atmosphere and it was like a scene from a Tarantino movie!

After watching the stars in a dark blue sky, unpolluted by any artificial light (amazing!), we set the alarm for 5am to get up to watch sunrise in the desert.

Spaced out, and a bit sleep deprived, we staggered out of the room about 5:30am and wandered about watching the sun come up. It was rather special, to say the least...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1610_zpsdbqxvkkd.jpg~original

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We'd have loved to stay longer, but after a nice breakfast it was time to pack up and head out. We had the longest drive of the trip planned for this day, and it wasn't without it's challenges as you'll see later. We were off to Yosemite (450 miles north!), and had already been told by the inn keeper there to check ahead that our proposed route up the highway 395 and over the Tioga mountain pass was actually open? Why? Snow he said...? Really, surely not. We're in the desert here, how can we possibly find snow the same day...

Anyway, we got the 29 Palms Inn lady to check ahead for us, she called the California transport people and they said the 395 was ok and the pass was open. What could possibly go wrong? Time to check out...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1615_zpsbtb8mk64.jpg~original

Stu
10-07-2015, 05:07 PM
So, off we go out of Joshua tree and towards Barstow. Making decent progress in the heat. The Mustang feels good, we're keeping the tank topped up so it doesn't drop below half and carrying a few gallons of water as we are in the desert, after all.

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You struggle to believe people live out here, but the mailboxes say they do. Stopped for a few pics and definitely did not do a massive dusty Starsky & Hutch type burnout when re-joining the road... :whistle:

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A T4, or Eurovan (?) out here?

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/P1020134_zps6ikp2zie.jpg~original


Made a few stops here and there, and it was mostly plain sailing looking like this all the way up to Bishop on the 395. Surely not too far to go now? Stopped for a coffee, switched drivers and carried on.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1637_zpsnroqrbt3.jpg~original


Suddenly just North of Bishop it started to go a bit dull as we gained altitude. Also noticed the outside temp reading, which was showing 80+ F all the time was dropping a little, towards 70, then 60, 50, 40... is that snow on the mountains...

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http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/P1020149_zpsntqzoj7a.jpg~original

Whilst my wife was driving I used my phone to checkout what 40F was, hmm... getting quite cool. Then noticed the temp dropping to 30s F... which is freezing point really. Heavy sleet started next...

She carefully drove, in poor visibility as far as the turn off to the Tioga Pass (highway 120) from the 395. We pulled up at a tourist info stop for a bathroom break and to check the map, got out of the car (in shorts) and it was bloody freezing, like actually icy :lol:

Hmm... switched back drivers, my turn again if there's a mountain pass to negotiate in a RWD 300bhp car then. We've been on the road about 9 or 10 hours by this point today. Oh goodie!

Stu
10-07-2015, 05:16 PM
So, the 120 - Tioga Pass. I'm sure it'd be lovely to drive in a). good weather, b). an appropriate car, c). if you weren't knackered! As it was, it was a bit of a 'twitcher'.

Started like this, 30F remember:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1639_zpsrz8gywap.jpg~original

Went a bit more like this:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1644_zps8nrqrqhp.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1652_zpsablflcra.jpg~original


Then onto this as we got higher, now well below freezing and rather slippy to say the least. Doesn't look too scary in the pics, but it really was!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1654_zpsq5n02muw.jpg~original


This went on for hours, chugging along at max 40mph, massive drops off the side of the road, cars ditched in snow off the other side. Higher and higher.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1657_zpsppi5gool.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1660_zpskfxxatqe.jpg~original


A little nerve wracking, but we finally crested it and came back down the other side and started to see civilisation and signs for Yosemite national park etc. Kept going on and got to our B&B called the Blackberry Inn (lovely!) for a well deserved kip! :happy:

Desert to mountains in one day, 30+C to below freezing too. California is varied!

Sunset at the B&B that evening:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1668_zpstarpi64a.jpg~original

Stu
10-07-2015, 05:22 PM
The Blackberry Inn was great - http://www.blackberry-inn.com

Lovely accommodation, great breakfast and fantastic location. The thing I remember most of all, though was the hummingbirds! Yes, hummingbirds feeding right outside on the porch. They buzzed around a coupe of feet away from you, amazing.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/P1020155_zpsplgdnhev.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/P1020158_zpstexy5ies.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/P1020167_zpsluri5ps6.jpg~original

Floyd
10-07-2015, 07:42 PM
Fabulous:thumb:

Stu
10-07-2015, 09:33 PM
Fabulous:thumb:

Cheers, Floyd - lots more to come, but I won't have time to add the next instalment for a while.

edh
11-07-2015, 09:36 PM
Great pics & report do far - glad you enjoyed 29 palms

orsonbuggy
20-07-2015, 09:50 AM
Great read - thanks :thumb:

Sim
20-07-2015, 09:21 PM
Fantastic!:thumb:

Missed it first time, but really enjoying it, and on the "to do" list!

Neil Mac
21-07-2015, 07:15 AM
Absolutely fabulous! Keep it coming! :thumb:

RichW
21-07-2015, 01:15 PM
Brilliant! Thanks for sharing :thumb:

Stu
22-07-2015, 11:44 AM
Cheers, All :thumb:

More to come soon, bit delayed as we decided to go away last week to Cornwall and have the camping trip we originally intended earlier in the year before it turned into the California trip :lol:

Karl
23-07-2015, 07:26 AM
Loved reading this, I love the states :veryhappy:

Stu
26-07-2015, 04:15 PM
Here's a bit more. So, last post we were staying overnight at the Blackberry Inn in Yosemite. We were pretty knackered after that big drive up from the desert so just found some food, familiarised ourself with the place and went to bed that night.

Woke up to hummingbirds (as above) and watched them while having a nice home made 'family style' breakfast with the other guests. We're normally pretty anti-social, but actually really enjoyed the group breakfast and hearing where people had travelled from etc.

After breakfast we checked out and decided to head back into Yosemite national park for a look around, even though it was the opposite direction to SF where we would be staying again for the night.

Driving around Yosemite is lovely, looks like this:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1705_zpsnpnwxokw.jpg~original


Now and again, you spot a massive chunk of rock through the trees... like this.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1710_zpscf0tlatd.jpg~original


That one turned out to be especially massive, as it was 'El Capitan' (900m high!). Here it is with our car for reference:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1041_zpsbphjw7rq.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1714_zpsafkxatzw.jpg~original


Those photos are straight from my iPhone, no photoshop funny business, it actually looks like that! The scale of everything is just unbelievable! :shock:

The other side of the photo is like this, massive rocks everywhere...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1718_zpsdy8gkuii.jpg~original


This was nice, pulled into a lay-by for a quick pic. Waterfall!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/P1020171_zpslppm8rnu.jpg~original


We carried on into Yosemite and parked up at the 'village' in the centre for lunch and had a look around. It'd be great for camping as the facilities are great, we decided we will have to come back here on another trip and spend more time as we only had a morning to scratch the surface and with my knackered foot couldn't do much hiking or exploring.

We set off after lunch back towards SF, about 150 miles, mostly downhill and the first section very windy and through some lovely scenery... more soon :thumb:

Stu
14-08-2015, 01:28 PM
Ok, update time - hopefully I can finally finish this report!

So, we were on the way back from Yosemite to SF, Mustang cruising along nicely, windy roads (almost all downhill), hot sun outside and amazing scenery.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1747_zpscxmkoidk.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1750_zpsogxtt4ui.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1756_zpsfoe64jed.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1765_zpscnhih23v.jpg~original


After a gas and lunch stop we were onto the busier highways coming into the city and used yet another bridge to get back to SF.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1772_zps7g0daz74.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1783_zpsrckcanky.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1788_zps0wbarb0n.jpg~original


Spotted this cool old van just off the bridge. Also started to notice lots of signs, flags, banners etc. in support of the SF Giants baseball team who would be playing this weekend.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1785_zpsjdgocmsd.jpg~original


We were staying back the the Argonaut hotel again up in Fisherman's Wharf so made our way there in the car and parked in a nearby multi-storey - the same one the hotel's valet service used, but at half the price as we just paid directly and parked our own car. Quick walk back to the hotel and got there just before 6pm... yes, we made yet another 'happy hour' - free beer again, perfect! :thumb:

Stu
14-08-2015, 01:42 PM
The next day was 'game day'. As it happens, neither my wife or I follow any sports in the UK, but were very interested in the experience of a baseball game whilst in the US. I had pre booked tickets to see the SF Giants play an afternoon game against their arch rivals the LA Dodgers.

My brother in law is a big baseball fan and had advised me that the stadium in SF was amazing. He wasn't wrong. So, we had breakfast and walked down to the stadium, about 4 miles or so through the streets and various districts, Italian, Chinese, Financial etc. and it was all very interesting to see the fever about the game building up. We felt underdressed though with no Giants gear so knew we'd have to hit the shop first.

Outside the stadium, it was getting quite busy...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1791_zpsulceec1d.jpg~original


The 'gift shop' was pretty well stocked...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1794_zpsskb02xbm.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1796_zpsreldpmbb.jpg~original


We bought some paraphernalia (hats, scarf, t-shirt, gifts for brother in law) and went into the game. Hit the hot dog stand, picked up a 10 dollar (!) squashy pint or two and found the seats. They were quite good! :thumb:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1798_zpsglzubc1b.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1801_zps8f5hot1f.jpg~original


Here is a pic of wife and I getting in the spirit now appropriately dressed! It was roasting and the view from up there across the bay was great, even if we had little idea what was going on in the game :lol:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1799_zpsvnqtvuwu.jpg~original


We latched onto the name of one player who was a big deal called 'Madison Bumgarner' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madison_Bumgarner) who the fans all called 'MadBum' which we found especially amusing, so we bought brother in law a cap with his name on. We also made sure to keep shouting 'go home Dodgers', 'Gettout of our ballpark' and other such things as that seemed to be the done thing. Great fun!

The game went well, and we wandered back to the hotel through the streets which were packed with fans afterwards. Made it back for happy hour, obv!

Stu
14-08-2015, 01:58 PM
Next day as we still had the Mustang tucked up in the parking garage, we thought a bit more touring was in order and had a few sights we wanted to get to. Spotted this old Splitty on the way out of the hotel and into town...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1818_zpsrrruh0ov.jpg~original


We headed over to Sausalito, which of course meant a drive across that big red bridge...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1829_zpseu7tihby.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1831_zpsm3tlbtcs.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1833_zpssywqw6eg.jpg~original


Sausalito was lovely. Stopped off at a coffee shop and had a wander around. Spotted this interesting sight, a Boxster being used to transport a canoe with a roof rack on top of the convertible roof!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1068_zpsoamapnpd.jpg~original

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1839_zpsw7eoncpt.jpg~original


Carried on driving in the afternoon, next stop silicon valley as I'm a nerd and wanted to see Apple HQ in Palo Alto, which we did after passing Facebook and a few other big ones. Also spotted a Tesla dealer there as you see tons of those in California, as an aside, they don't half accelerate when joining highway slip roads etc.

Apple's HQ is called 'infinite loop' because it's, er... a loop, like this...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1815_zps3xtla1d3.jpg~original


Obligatory nerd shot... you can't tell here, but for double nerd points I'm wearing a t-shirt with a SF trolley car on it, with a sea lion on the roof and Japanese writing, which could say anything to be honest! :lol:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1849_zpsozxeywmx.jpg~original


At Apple they have a special 'company store (https://www.apple.com/companystore/)' which is like an Apple shop anywhere else but doesn't sell electronics, only gifts and stuff. I bought a nerd mug for my desk at work and a couple of keyrings for my apprentices. If so inclined, you could also buy all manner of Apple branded clothes etc. Bit nerdy even for my tastes so I didn't.

Spotted loads of electric / hybrid cars parked in the staff parking area as you'd expect. Electric MINIs, Fiat 500s, Teslas etc. but one really interested me, a Beetle (proper old one) on charge!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1846_zpsu6thjlvd.jpg~original

Stu
14-08-2015, 02:12 PM
We stopped at a Safeway for supplies near Apple HQ and I noticed a bit of the front splitter flapping around on the car, not sure if someone had stood one it as I didn't remember grounding it or anything like that? At home I'd always have cable ties, gaffer tape and a tool box in the car, but on holiday that can make you seem like a murderer, so I 'fixed it' with the best thing I could find for sale in Safeway. Black shoe laces. Well, it was either that or some neon cable ties so I went for the discrete option :lol:

Headed back to SF and decided as it was our last full day we better do a bit of 'Bullitt' style driving and use the manual option on the car to make unnecessary brum brum noises and go up and down steep streets for fun. Found a likeminded local and followed him...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1859_zps9xcsg0gg.jpg~original


Drove Lombard St whilst we were at it...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1852_zpsrr3edthf.jpg~original


Good fun! Got back to the hotel and really ought to have been packing as we were heading home the next day... but the lure of one last 'happy hour' was too much, frankly.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1073_zps3f1q7vtu.jpg~original


Last one, from the plane the next day. Two weeks away, absolutely amazing. Want to do it again. California is so varied, friendly and beautiful - highly recommend it to anyone! :thumb:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v648/Beesley/California_2015/IMG_1867_zps8vvbgb2c.jpg~original



Footnote: Got home to heavy rain at Manchester, couldn't find Volvo wherever I'd left it but did in the end and it started first time. Got home, house was freezing so put central heating on.... nothing happened. Discovered central heating pump p1ssing water out all over electrical connections, blew fuses and took out hot water system too. Replaced pump whilst jet lagged and cold, tried to bleed system and worked out hot water cylinder was goosed too and ended up replacing that too over the coming weeks in-between being back in work, and still jet lagged. Not fun!


Footnote 2: After all that mither, within two weeks of being home we booked flights for a 'fall' 2015 trip to the east coast of the USA for a New England road trip. YOLO as the youngsters say, expect a trip report!
:veryhappy:

RichW
15-08-2015, 08:58 AM
Thanks for finishing the trip report - its on "The List" :lol: :lol: :lol:


:thumb:

Neil Mac
17-08-2015, 07:45 AM
Excellent stuff! :thumb:

Floyd
17-08-2015, 09:20 AM
Fabulous :thumb: And another trip booked up - wow!

Simon
17-08-2015, 11:09 AM
Really really enjoyed reading that :veryhappy:

Cheers for posting & something I would love to go do one day.

N/B
17-08-2015, 11:40 AM
Great report fella :thumb: I see California continues to charm the pants off of everyone who visits!
Hoping to head out there myself before the year's out...

Dave B
17-08-2015, 02:05 PM
Great read and some food for thought for us next April. Great tips that'll save us time and hassle :thumb:

orsonbuggy
18-08-2015, 08:48 AM
Really good read - thanks for posting :thumb:

Stu
19-08-2015, 11:00 AM
Cheers, All - I enjoyed writing the report and it's nice to look back on. Glad you enjoyed it. What a trip and yes, N/B - California was just amazing and so far beyond (already high) expectations that we really couldn't believe it. Want to go back!

Dave - drop me a line or reply here if you need any specific info I might be able to help with for your trip. Probably loads of stuff I missed out of the report above.

We did another big road trip about this time last year in Canada, if anyone's interested I could write up a report for that? Wouldn't be as detailed as this one but took plenty of photos and went from Calgary to Banff, through the rockies, onto Kelowna, down to Vancouver, back via Revelstoke to Calgary. Crossed time zones on that one and saw some amazing scenery! :thumb:

Sim
19-08-2015, 12:46 PM
Loved reading it and need to get there one day!

And yes please with the Canada trip!:thumb:

Gary Kinghorn
19-08-2015, 03:59 PM
Just spent the last half hour or so reading this from start to finish. What an amazing report, I really enjoyed it.

Thank you very much for spending the time creating and posting it :thumb:

Crossle
20-08-2015, 09:07 AM
I drove all the way to Yosemite a couple of years ago, what an amazing and spectacular place!

I'd love to camp there, but an ex-colleague of mine who rock-climbs and camps there told me enough bear stories to put me off...

The only downside to our trip to Yosemite was bumping in to a fellow Northlooper who had been stalking us all across California for a week.

His badly parked rental Mustang was taking up two spaces in the car park, and he then led us on an 80 mile detour to a restaurant he'd spotted that was "just at the bottom of this hill"....

Floyd
20-08-2015, 10:25 AM
Yeah, but what a restaurant!:thumb: I still chuckle at the thought of you having to drive back a billion miles, in the dark, along the narrowest and twistiest roads known to man :rolf:

Crossle
20-08-2015, 11:24 AM
Yeah, but what a restaurant!:thumb: I still chuckle at the thought of you having to drive back a billion miles, in the dark, along the narrowest and twistiest roads known to man :rolf:

With a convertible car full of food, through bear country...

N/B
20-08-2015, 02:11 PM
Out of interest, what does a Mootang or similar cost to rent?
Planning a trip now. I'd be up for having a cabrio...

Stu
23-08-2015, 03:55 PM
Hi All,

Thanks for all the positive comments. Took ages to write that all up but glad I did and nice to see people enjoying reading it. I'll do one for the 2014 Canada road trip we did when I get time :thumb:



Out of interest, what does a Mootang or similar cost to rent?
Planning a trip now. I'd be up for having a cabrio...

The coupe I booked was a fair bit more than a convertible if I remember correctly. I think around £450ish for a week all in once converted to UK money? We had every insurance going on the thing included, unlimited mileage etc. which added a fair bit to the initial cost. Regardless, it was worth it :happy:

What have you got planned for your trip so far?

Stu
02-06-2017, 10:57 AM
Bump for the road trippers... :happy:

Stu
24-02-2018, 04:34 PM
Bump for Crossie :thumb: