Let’s start with the 2nd part of the amazing road trip…
Napa Valley: after several days at Yosemite, aj and i decided to drive through Napa Valley on our way to San Fran. (which, coincidentally, is not exactly ON the way, but it was close enough..) We picked out an interesting sounding winery that offered wine tastings and tours and began the picturesque drive through northern CA. After a late start, & several directional mixups (i will not name the party responsible for these), we arrived at Hess Collection Winery exactly 5 minutes too late for the last tour and wine tasting. we laughed. and then we walked around the courtyard and down the aisles of grapes and enjoyed the day in Northern California. The climate and green plants were a welcome change from the desert weather of Death Valley and Eastern California. Everywhere we drove and everything we saw was stunning. It was definately a highlight of the trip, even without the wine tasting. (I tasted it later by the way… Just as good =)
Next stop was my friend Kathryn’s place in San Jose. We stayed 2 nights, and took a day trip up to San Francisco. Aj and I parked the car, strapped on our Chaco’s, obtained a map from an overly friendly guide at an information booth, and started walking. We went to a couple touristy places by the water, then made our way into Chinatown, which was busy, and had a lot of vendors selling fabrics and shelves full of “As seen on TV” items. Still walking up and down enormous hills, we went through the Italian neighborhood, where we bought lunch from a shop selling meats, cheeses, bread, and other Italian staples. Topped off with Gelato, it was a meal I think I could live on forever. mmm.
This snapshot is one of many that I took of the charming neighborhood houses lining the hills we walked up and down.
We then stopped by a grassy area with a good view of The Golden Gate Bridge to take a few pictures.
That evening, back to Kathryn’s for a great dinner, games, and a bed! A relished amenity indeed.
From San Jose, we got on route 1. I don’t have room to share all the pictures, and even this one doesn’t give you the whole effect: We had a sunny day, a little breeze, and good music. What more can you ask for?
That night, I had one of the most hilarious stays ever. Here’s the guy that runs Bill’s Farm hostel:you can choose to pay $15 dollars a night, or work for 2 hours, so we worked on the farm for that night’s fee. Duties included everything from cleaning the bathroom, to milking the goats, to clipping out articles that he (Bill Daneen) had written for the local newspaper. We had a blast talking to him and hearing about all the hostelers who had come through – Bill’s Farm Hostel is no longer part of the International Hostel Association, though, because he didn’t feel like meeting all the requirements (see above picture of house)
Our plan was to stay 2 nights, but one was enough for my lifetime, so I called my friend Hannah who graciously talked her parents into letting us stay with them in Santa Barbara at the last minute, after I told her how despereate were were. and we were so glad that she did, because staying in Santa Barbara was a highlight of the West Coast, and we had a terrific time. Staying in an actual home gives such a feeling of comfort and warmth to me. And some of my best memories from recent trips are centered around generosity of people who opened their home to me as a poor college student and grad. I hope some day that when I’ve established somewhat of a “home”, I’ll be able to do the same.
From Santa Barbara we drove to San Diego to stay with Trevor & Sam, and of course Asha: We stayed for quite a while, since this was the original destination of the trip. Ultimate Frisbee, lot’s of board game playing, the San Diego Zoo, beaches, and San Diego’s exclusive cuisine were all on the menu during our visit. It was really nice to have plenty of down-time for a change.
Last leg of the trip… en route to Colorado… night 1: camping in Flagstaff, AZ. night 2,3: Santa Fe with Aj’s Aunt’s friend.
An hour after we left Trevor and Sam’s place, I decided to remember that I left my wallet in their car. Then we hit a lot of traffic in Arizona. When we finally got to Flagstaff, we pitched the tent at a campsite, and had to make a decision. The Grand Canyon was only an hour away, but we wouldn’t have time in the morning to go… and since it’s just one of the 7 wonders of the world, I thought we probably should. This is the beautiful sunset that we saw on the drive up to the Grand Canyon… Which means that by the time we arrived, it was pitch black. hahahah. It WAS really funny. and cold. We took a picture anyways just to prove that we went. The sign in the fuzzy picture below says: “Grand Canyon Visibility”
and that was my Grand Canyon experience.
From there we went to Santa Fe, which I came into very very low expectations, so I was blown away with how interesting it was. There are SO many galleries and local artists there – it’s kind of odd. but great. We drove from there back up to Denver, thus ending the amazing gigantic loop we made around the country. Things that I won’t be bringing next time: a guitar that I don’t know how to play, 10 edible plant books when 1 will do, tennis rackets, waterproof winter hiking boots. Big space suckers.
Next up.. 14er’s from this summer and bizarre snowstorms in October. I promise it’s coming before next year.