Bears, Beers and Beauty!
25.10.2012 - 30.10.2012 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!
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!!
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!!
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.
More pics to follow in a few days!
Patrick and Laura