A Travellerspoint blog

Santa Cruz - San Francisco - Yosemite Park

Bears, Beers and Beauty!

sunny 25 °C

So we did decide to stay in Santa Cruz after all.....we both had that Friday feeling even if it was a Thursday. We managed to find a tasty little happy hour overlooking the marina so while we contemplated which boat we would buy from the marina 'when we grow up' we sipped some local ale and a couple of martinis. We got changed and headed out for our first proper night out since we'd been away...it started off....taxi, Irish pub (it was about as Irish as a mojito in the Australian outback), a four block walk, another bar where everyone looked at us like out of towners, a goth bar (met a bloke called ted) and then a bar with dancing.....this is where we laid our hat! We'd had a few shandys by this point and both had a great time dancing around confirmed by photographic evidence we found on our camera 2 days later! Thanks Santa Cruz.... we had a lovely time.

Set off for San Francisco the next day both feeling a bit delicate but we enjoyed another scenic coastal drive. Arrived in San Francisco about 5 hours later and found somewhere to stay. Hotels seem to be quite expensive and it was a weekend so we were lucky to find a place that was in budget with free parking etc. That night we just went for a walk to Fisherman's Wharf, had a nice dinner and then went to the cinema as we had a big tourist day planed the next day.

Saturday we got up early and over the next 6 hours pretty much walked the whole of San Francisco. We only intended to walk up to the bay but just kept going. We hoped to go to Alcatraz but when we got to the ferry deck they were only selling tickets for Monday....thinking oh they must have put the wrong day up on the notice board....silly San Fransciscians ....nope...they sell out a few days in advance. Our 'live in the moment and book it when we get there' moto had finally backfired. So we missed out on Alcatraz unfortunately. We said we'll buy a book and read it aloud like a tour guide to try to replicate our own Alcatraz journey.
We walked through all the districts of SF went to a farmers market, saw both the bridges which were pretty spectacular ( there is Bay Bridge and Golden Gate I actually think Bay bridge is better they light it up at night too) went to downtown, had a walk round union square and had lunch in the sun in a park called Yerba Buena Gardens. We both really loved San Francisco and would definitely come back.....it's got a great city vibe, lots of young people, a bit shoreditch trendy but still lots of room. Patrick thinks its right up my street as people queue outside organic cafes for seaweed smoothies and the like!

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Tired from all the walking round we just went out for dinner and had a couple of Californian red wines.....One thing I've learnt is I really like Californian red wine....handy really!
We rounded off San Fran with doing our washing down the laundry (nothing like the launderette to remind you of home) a few coffees and then made a plan to head towards yosemite park with the vague idea of staying in a town outside it which we had found on the Internet.

Mariposa - Yosemite
We set suzie the sat nav to get us to Mariposa and stumbled across a place called River Rock Inn. We only walked in to use the wifi but they had rooms available too and the lady said she had two room left and then offered us a discount....no idea why must have been our combined charm! Rooms were beautiful and the town reminded us of an old western movie. So we decided to get changed pop down the shops and then go across e road for a locally brewed beer that the 'Inn keeper' had recommended before we had dinner. Realising that all those 3 things were in a 100 metre radius we probably shouldn't have driven to the shops! Anyway a couple of beers on the porch later next stop the brewing house. This was like walking into someone's front room there were 6 trucker looking guys sat at a bar watching the baseball when we bounced in. In true chipper form we asked the bar man so what's the story here then? They had only been open for 4 months but had been brewing their own beers for the last 10 years as a hobby before deciding to make a little business out of it.
On the board were a selection of 6-8 Ales and Stouts with silly names and very high percentages of alcohol next to the names. Knowing nothing about Ale and thinking hang on a minute if normally beer is around 3-4% and this is 7% I'll have a half and see how I get on. Patrick on the other hand being a bloke and an Irish bloke at that "had a thirst on" so stuck to pints. Now over the course of the next hour or so I realised I actually really liked Ale but stuck to halves, sampling a couple from the board. We made friends with the locals and some Canadian tourists while they explained baseball to us as The Giants were winning the world series. Patrick turned to me and said "I think that bar man thinks I'm a bit mad for drinking pints of this"....I think I agreed with the bar man! Dinner time came and passed us by as we realised that extra couple of percent made a difference but because it was Organic then surely it must be good for you! We had a great time talking to people and the beauty of a small town it closed at 10pm so we skipped off across the road full of home brew and chat.
The head was clear as day the next day.....see Organic+home made=good for you!! If you ever go to Yosemite park stay in Mariposa it was my favourite place so far and obviously pop into Prospectors Brewing Co. and have a beer! A really nice little town, they've even got a hospital which sparked an idea of 'Patrick lets just stay here, i'll ask them if I can be the town midwife and you can build all the houses' unfortunately he wanted to see the rest of the world!!

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I'm not sure if you can actually write much about Yosemite as you really need to see it. We will put full pictures up in a couple of days. If you were to put Yosemite into a description search engine it would come up with something like the most 'breathtaking, surreal, incredible, beautiful, magical, thought inspiring land'. I can only say we just feel really lucky to have been able to go there. While I was feeling philosophical Patrick only had one thing on his mind......bears!! How and where he might see a bear and if the meeting didn't occur naturally how he could attract one. All day long all he could think of was bears....even admitting that he woke up that morning and thought up a plan that if he has a big steak he could walk into the forest leave it out and wait for the bear come so he could take a picture. Even going as far as that he would take a spare pair of clothes with him to get rid of the scent of steak so the bear wouldn't get confused and eat him as well. Luckily this genius plan never took place I think we'll leave it to Bear Grylls to be the explorer!
So as I say I don't think you can really put it into words.....it's a beautiful land which we walked and drove though took loads of photos and hoped we wouldn't get eaten. You can go there and camp or stay in log cabins. I think it would be place we could go back to and spend longer and go on walks and camp etc that way you could explore the park more......one day hopefully he'll see a bear!!

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That night we drove through mountain ranges at dusk in the IYHO mountain range. This is where you need to make sure you've got enough water, petrol and crisis equipment. You can drive for 100 miles without seeing civilisation. Incredible for the adventure side of us but enough to give our mums a heart attack from worry if they knew! Eventually we got to a small town called Bishop, had something to eat and went to bed at 9pm wrecked from the day at Yosemite park with a plan to get up early and crack on with a big drive to Vegus (5hrs away) or to try to get nearer to the Grand Canyon (10.5hrs away) so we could do that first and then come back to Vegus on the way back to LA. We'll see how we get on.
We're both loving the road trip part of the trip, we've seen so much, we've laughed all the way round America so far and seen incredible landscapes that I hope will be permanently etched in our minds.

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More pics to follow in a few days!

Love

Patrick and Laura
X. X.

Posted by Halgerty12 19:58 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Pacifc Highway 1............... LA to San Francisco

Where they hide all the beautiful scenary

semi-overcast 23 °C

My good friend Michelle get a bit emotional when she's faced with a good bit of heritage and some breathtaking sights and i've never really understood it until yesterday when i nearly cried as we drove through the mountains and along the ocean of PCH1 (Pacific Coast Highway 1)..........it was completely beathtaking!

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The sun was shining and we were driving North, first stop was Morro Bay....we hadnt really planned any stops but we remembered Dale saying it was worth a look and we needed a caffine boost too. Parked the car (badly....im still not used to partking this bloody big jeep) and went for a walk to the pier walkway...for a minute i thought i was going mad when i thought i could hear seals barking in the distance....apparently not! Out in the middle of the water there was about 30 sea lions making a racket lying around on a platform, we conjured up a plan to atract them and barked liked sea lion....that didnt work! Then we threw in a blueberry muffin and it worked along came 3 seaguls and a sea lion!!! Keen to get some more along for a photo oppertunity we threw in few grapes.......apparently sea lions dont like grapes and none came!!
Carried on walking round and underneath the decking was around 10 more Sea Lions, some sunning themselves and some playing around in the water. We snapped away with the camera and took a video....while i was busy with the camera a cheeky seagul snuck up a nicked my bag of grapes from right under my hand....we caught the theft on video you've been framed style!!

https://vimeo.com/52189474

(i hope that video link works?!?)

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Morrow Bay is high up there in 'Rate my Town' its very pretty, a bit of a surfer town, they've got an all you can eat crab restaurant and a pack of sea lions.....tick!
We headed back into the car and continued on to Santa Cruz. Googlemaps and Suzie the sat nav said it would take us around another 2 hours....it took us about 6 hours because we stopped of to take photos so much.....every corner we turned the scenary just got better and better. We were both blown away. Had a great car trip, ate our sandwhiches we made sitting over the edge of a cliff and laughed all the way there. We even spotted a pack of Zebra in a field......now correct me if im worng but i thought Zebra lived in Africa.....we're still a bit confused by this!?!

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Its been a bit hard to relax for both of us. We're both the kind of people who always have something to do and always need a plan, me especially so its quite hard to sit back and just see what happens. We're getting better at it though. Not really having to worry about time so much and where we have to be.

Used the trusy old ipad to book a room again in Santa Cruz and we arrived around 7pm. Got changed and did a bit of research on where a good seafood restaurant was....all that coastal driving had us thinking of shrip and crab.Came across a place nearbye called RIVA and we had amazing fresh seafood from the specials list. Patrick had food envy of my dinner it was a kind of seafood soup with potatoes, crabs legs, clams, mussles and scallops.......delicious (i did share it with him though). A couple of glasses of Californian red wine later we headed back. Santa Cruz seems like a pretty cool town, its got a good vibe and seems like there are quite a lot of young peoople here too. We're contemplaing staying another night here and going out in town tonight. Theres 3 Irish bars here.....we'll have to show them how to do it! The San Fransisco Giants are in the Baseball world series final so theres a good atmosphere around....we'll hopefully hit San Fran when theres a game on to soak up the atmosphere....they won last night, we dont really know much about Baseball but we'll pretend!!!

So next stop San Fransisco which is around 2 hours drive away.......we'll either leave this afternoon after exploring Santa Cruz or tomorrow.

Sorry for all the blogs at once but we've had problems uploading pictures onto the blog pages so we did it all at once in the internet cafe.

Missing everyone still as you can imagine but we're still having a great time!!!

L & P
xxxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by Halgerty12 14:46 Archived in USA Comments (2)

LA LA Land

The road trip begins

sunny 24 °C

LA

We were planning just two days in LA to visit which was a bit of a whistle stop tour. Getting things ready for the road trip. I've been here a few times but wanted tried to show Patrick around a bit we went to managed to fit a lot of driving around, checked out the beach, Hollywood and the hills. Driving on the 'wrong side' of the road is going quite well....no major dramas just yet!! Spent the two days hanging out with Sarah Luc and their new gorgeous baby Mylo and also saw my family friends Elaine and Dale for a lovely dinner. Thanks to you guys for having us to stay, lending us sat navs, maps and giving us tips for the trip.

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So Tuesday we set off for the next leg of the trip. We're planning to leave LA drive up the coast to San Francisco over a couple of days then across to Yosemite Park, down to Vegus and The Grand Canyon then finally back to LA ....we've got just under two weeks to do all this and at the rate we're stopping to take photos we'll probably only make San Fran!!

Day one started today we went to Venice Beach on the way had a great lunch then hired bikes and cycled up the beach for an hour stopping off to eat ice cream and arse around on the exercise equipment on the famous 'Venice muscle beach' hulk hogan style!

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So we're currently driving up the pacific coast highway it's 7pm and we just used the iPad to book a hotel in Santa Maria approx 1 hour away....I love technology! I also love that for the next 11 days we don't have to be anywhere we can just drive as far as we want and then book a hotel online when we decide a destination we want to stop at. Our 4x4 is serving us well, we've stopped at the side of the road to run down to the beach and also be laughed at by the petrol station attendant when we didn't know to pay at the pump.
Life feels pretty good at the moment!

Tues 23rd Oct - Stayed in the Rose Crown Inn in Santa Maria last night got there at around 8pm after . We've invented a game 'called Rate My Town'.......Santa Maria is not doing very well in the leader board!! The motel was perfectly fine nice comfy bed...clean, no bed bugs or stray hairs!! Took us a few minutes to figure out that the hot water was on some kind of wind up timer! Economical which is fine by me! We went to the market and bought a few provisions took them back to the room and ate soup we heated up in the microwave like two hill billies sitting on the bed watching 'The Road to the Whitehouse'.....we're both on team Obama! Had a great night sleep and then set off to find an internet cafe to upload the pics (unheard of in santa maria). Now Santa Maria is low on the leaderboard for several reasons.......
1. The people dont understand simple questions
2. They wee in the street
3. Its where all the mcdonalds and burger kings go when they get shut down and go to junk food heaven.

So we left................back in Shelby the Chevvy (our 4X4 for the trip) and headed for Santa Cruz.......now when people told me that the Highway 1 Route was a scenic drive i was not at all prepared for what we would see......breathtaking doesnt even cover it!!...........................

xxx

Posted by Halgerty12 13:05 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Mexico-LA

Boat trips, sunshine and first class!

sunny 33 °C

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So we're a bit behind on the blog already but I write this while we drive along the pacific coast highway, we've just driven through Malibu and its so beautiful. Mountains and canyons on one side and the ocean on the other side of the road.

We last left you when we were heading off into the morning sun as James Bond and his side kick. Our two person speed boat took us through mangroves and then out on to the ocean, bumping into the Mexican military on the way which we decided were on the way to bust a drugs deal! They seem to patrol the coast on big black power boats with their big boy pants on and machine guns to keep the drugs away. We found a map of which parts of Mexico are run by which cartels and cancun is pretty up there in the Mexican gangster stakes....reassuring I know!!
So we drove out to the ocean and then stopped off for some snorkelling......without sounding too ungrateful we've both snorkelled in Australia and the Mexican bark/coral didn't quite ruffle our feathers but we managed to take 27 underwater pictures of god knows what.....we'll find out when we develop the camera in snappy snaps sometime this week! Although we did see a sting ray. Now this next bit bruises my pride a bit to write but we had decided that one of us would drive the boat there and one of us back, it got to my turn and I was feeling pretty confident, started of no problem sunglasses-check, life jacket-check, lipgloss on-check! 15 minutes in, a man (it must have been a man) zig zagged his speed boat across in front of ours causing a series of particularly scary waves......my initial reaction was to move the wheel around like you did when you were sat on your dads lap pretending to drive the car which apparently is the worst thing you can do! We had to do a quick seat swap mid ocean and Patrick took over......my boat driving was over for the day so I've now decided i was born to be driven when it comes to boating. All in all the trip was lovely and pretty exciting to have our own title speed boat.

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The next two days we pretty much spent by the pool as we realised even after 5 days we were still pasty paddys!

The last day came so we packed up the things from our lovely room and Patrick said goodbye to his dressing gown before we headed to the airport. When we got there the taxi driver had taken us to the wrong terminal (standard Mexican behaviour with a $5 tip still expected). The Aeromexico steward told us that unfortunately the flight for the first leg of our journey was delayed which would mean we would miss our connecting flight to LA. We were supposed to be flying from Cancun-Mexico city -LA. so the nice lady said she would see if she could find us some new flights,. Option 1 included an upgrade to fly business class on one leg of the journey but meant arriving in LA 3hours late which just wasn't what we wanted so we reluctantly gave up that option for option 2 which was a economy class but arriving on time via Dallas instead.
However... At this point I could hear my aunty Netty screaming in my ear.....ask the woman for an upgrade!!! So I did...."any chance we might be able to get upgrades on the second option...."I'll just check for you"........5 minutes later American Airlines Business class to Dallas and connecting First Class to Los Angeles! Thank you very much....we'll take that! This backpacking malarkey is a piece of cake!!

We lived it up for the rest of the day having our coffee out of china mugs, lovely red wine with fancy lunch and watching movies on the iPad in our giant airplane seats. Flight number two we shared with a celebrity Bruce Jenner I took a sneaky photo and then realised how crap it wold be to be a celebrity as everyone whispered around him and stared at him which he tried to just get home to LA.

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After 13 hours of travelling we were super tired, picked up our new wheels from the car rental place and headed for my friend Sarah's in Hollywood where we were staying for a couple of days before heading off on our roast trip....................................

xxx

Posted by Halgerty12 12:44 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

Mexico!

two old ladies in fluffy dressing gowns and a tropical sea.

sunny 32 °C

So a few days ago the adventure finally began! After way too many goodbye drinks after over the last few weeks, the hardest most emotional goodbyes we've ever had to say and a bit of packing anxiety we got the plane to Mexico! The flight was rubbish Virgin airlines have let themselves go....TV's didn't work (tell Sam I couldn't watch hunger games even after a lot of disappointed head shaking to the cabin crew manager) the food was rubbish but on the upside I was sat next to a guy who must have been a London cabby so while Patrick slept we moaned about everything like true Brits! 10 hours later and two wins from me on trivial pursuit we landed. Patrick nearly had a small kitten when his bag still hadn't come through the conveyer belt after 45 minutes....he was weighing up the possibility of how he might look in a bikini if it had got lost, luckily we bumped into london cabby man again and resolved the issue with a big old moan!

Both shattered by the time we got to the airport and Patricks nicotine levels though the floor we arrived at the fancy hotel. Room was incredible defiantly worth the upgrade.....white fluffy dressing gowns folded on the bed with a bottle of sparkly wine chilling in a cooler. Now when met Patrick I though I had met a strong Irish builder, a real mans man.......the kind of man who wouldn't be seen in a white fluffy dressing gown.....or so I thought! 3 days later the fluffy white dressing down is firmly on his back only to be reluctantly removed for dinner or swimming!!
We hadn't contemplated the thought we might get jet lag but woke up at 5am wide awake, had a coffee (that always helps to get you back to sleep obviously) and Patrick ordered a club sandwich from room service just because we could for free. We watched the sun come up, I went to the gym and then we proceeded to get lost in the hotel many times throughout the morning as it was so big. Got all the important things out of the way like where all the bars were, which one stayed open the latest and what restaurants there was. To follow on with the fluffy dressing gown theme we both went for massages that night in the spa pinching ourselves that we were actually in this great hotel with all these added extras thrown in!
Day 2 and 3 rolled out to be quite similar.... Displaying our milky white paddy skin to all the brown Mexicans via the pool and the beach. The beach is one of the loveliest I've been to....when the brochures say white sand and crystal clear warm water they weren't lying!

There are seven restaurants to eat at which you have to book the day before we started with Mexican (our favourite one so far) chilli sauce as hot as the sun and margaritas as big as your head. Italian the next day bit disappointing which we made up for in wine and Capricosa cocktails and then French last night (apparently romantic....some torn up carnations on the table courtesy of Jose the waiter!) and some more sparkly vino.


We've both become very competitive over any game we've played so far....cards, trivial pursuit, mini golf and snooker.... It's pretty neck and neck on scoreboards but for some reason Patrick seems to think otherwise!! I would like to thank my uncle Jim for teaching me putting skills in the living room which I put into good practice on the 18 hole mini golf course....it was neck and neck all the way resulting in us having to go to sudden death penalties for the decider....after a replay of holes 1 & 2 Patrick won even if he did annoy the mini golf owner by hoofing the golf ball into a corner 5 holes away which ended up in a sewer drain......quite a skill in itself I feel!!

So all in all we've lazed around, surprisingly not drank that much even after we went on a boat trip where they forced us to drink red tequila. We're very relaxed like two old ladies on the annual vacation who's biggest decision is whether to go to the beach or the pools. Patrick has found his inner child again on two fully blown water slides at the hotel.....hilarious video to follow!

Tomorrow we're hiring mini speed boats on a tour we've booked where he's going to be James Bond and ill be a Bond girl and we get to zoom through the jungle lined lagoons and stop off for snorkelling in a coral reef.....Patrick assures me he'll drive smooth and sophisticated like James Bond.....somehow I don't believe him!!

Photos to follow we need to upload them from the camera but we don't want you to get too jealous just yet!

Having a fantastic time......we're off now to make the daily deliberation of whether we really need a second plate of dinner.....it like the all the other times will no doubt result in 'yes we do'

Lots of love to everyone

Laura and Patrick
X. X

Ps. Saw my first ever shooting star!

Posted by Halgerty12 17:21 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

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