A few days turned into a month and a half, apparently. If you read my Oregon post from January and have been waiting to hear about what we did in California, I apologize. This blog has been seriously neglected lately, but life is what it is and here we are.
We left off on Thursday, October 18th with us driving out of Oregon after spending the day at Crater Lake which was gorgeous.
The drive from Crater Lake National Park down to our hotel in Crescent City, CA is approximately 4 hours long and absolutely beautiful. We tried to avoid major highways as much as possible on this trip. We did 1,600++ miles of driving through the western states on this venture and the journey was just as much fun as the destinations we hit. We checked into the Curly Redwood Lodge around 5:00PM and unloaded the entire car into our huge room. I really wish we could have stayed there more than just one night. The entire motel was built from the wood of one redwood tree. It opened in 1957 and it is the cutest, most retro little spot we stayed at. We spent the evening organizing our luggage, sorting our laundry, reading, watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, and generally relaxing and stretching out as much as possible before hitting the road again the next day.
Friday, October 19th: this was the driving day of the trip. Maybe you're laughing right now saying, "Hannah, there hasn't been a day you've talked about so far where you weren't in the car anywhere between one to four hours or more!" And that's true. But this day we put over 400 miles on the rental. That's about a quarter of the driving of the whole trip. In one day. We started the day in Crescent City at the very top of the state and made our way all the way down to San Francisco. It's been pretty much impossible to pick a favorite day from this crazy adventure spanning three giant states, but if push came to shove, this one would probably be mine. (And for the record, Cody's would probably be Heceta Head or horseback riding.) The first couple hours of the day, we spent driving down the rugged California coast.
We then moved into the Redwood National Forest, drove through an actual tree, and toured the Avenue of Giants stopping to get out and explore a lot.
Y'all. Look at these massive, beautiful trees! (Can you even call these trees?? Towers is more like it.) We took our time hiking and exploring and climbing onto old fallen logs. I felt like I was lost in a world created by Tolkien or Lewis. It was so awe-inspiring. Being in California made me feel so tiny and insignificant most of the time which was just good for my soul. To think that God created so much massive, expansive, awesome beauty, yet He has numbered the hairs on my little head...what do you do with that?! You worship Him.
I tried to be super selective with the photos, but I could only narrow it down to about 60 for California so....sorrynotsorry.
If there's only one thing you do in California, go drive through the Redwood National Forest.
We drove out of the forest and right into the Napa Valley. So, I mean, how many synonyms can we use for beautiful because I hate to be repetitive but...
Our day worked out so that we were actually driving across the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco at sunset.
Once over the bridge the traffic was insane. We definitely hit the getting-off-work rush, and I think it took us something like an hour to go a measly 5 miles. Welcome to the big city. We finally got to the Mirage Inn & Suites and ordered in from Taraval Pizza for dinner. All said, from the time we left Crescent City that morning to getting in to San Francisco that night, we put in about a 12 hour day of driving and exploring.
We loved our hotel in San Francisco. We loved it so much that we ended up spending the entire day on Saturday, October 20th in our room. Everything was clean and up-to-date, we had a gorgeous view of the bay (the beach was literally right down the street), and by this point of our trip, we had been going and seeing and doing pretty non-stop. We didn't plan a hotel day, but it was so nice to take a day to rest and recharge before hitting the city.
Sunday, October 21st: Golden Gate Bridge. We spent this day exploring the Golden Gate Bridge from every angle and it was so fun. We walked all the way across it and back. The day itself was perfect. Started out a bit overcast but by the time we were out on the bridge it was sunny and breezy and apparently the perfect day for boating. There were so many sailboats out in the bay and we also stopped in the middle of the bridge to watch a whole pod of dolphins playing down in the water right below us. We recreated some of our favorite moments from Extreme Days and just had a blast.
Yummy Pasquale's pizza for dinner (there was a Pasquale's right next door to our hotel! we miss you in Winter Haven) and then a solid night of sleep before really hitting the city the next day.
Monday, October 22nd: called my Dad from the most notorious prison in America to wish him a happy birthday. We spent the morning exploring Alcatraz Island.
This was not my first time on Alcatraz but it was just as much fun the second time around. The audio tour is fantastic (not boring at all) and the view of the San Fran skyline from the island is out of this world. We really enjoyed everything about our Alcatraz experience. (And I ended up buying a book and reviewing it on this very blog so check that out if you haven't already.)
Once we escaped from Alcatraz, we made our way down to Pier 39 for the best clam chowder in a sourdough breadbowl you ever did taste.
After lunch, we found Musée Méchanique which was the funkiest little joint ever. For any unfamiliar, this is the spot Mia Thermopolis takes her grandmother Queen Clarisse Renaldi in one of my favorite movies The Princess Diaries. We beat the arm wrestler, got our pictures made in the vintage photobooth, and had a great time checking out all the antique games and machines.
After we were done exploring Fisherman's Wharf, we walked to Twitch Headquarters so Cody could check it out while I grabbed a Pumpkin Spice Latte at a Starbucks down the street. The original impetus for this entire trip was Cody's desire to go to TwitchCon 2018 which was being held in San Jose. When we decided to make that dream a reality, this insane roadtrip of epic proportions was born. So he took a quick peek around the headquarters, came and got me from Starbucks, and then we went to Blades Co. Barber Shop for the best haircut of Cody's life (shout-out to Brandy!).
After Cody's haircut, we made the trek back to our car and got to our hotel in time for Wheel and Jeopardy. (Don't laugh at me for my 80 year old tendencies. Those are my two favorite shows on television and we don't have cable so it's a treat to stay at a hotel where I can watch normal TV on vacation.)
Tuesday, October 23rd: checked out of the Mirage, said "Sayonara!" to San Francisco and began the three and a half hour drive east toward Yosemite Pines where we'd be staying the next two nights in...
...a covered wagon. That's right. Just go ahead and check off all my Little House on the Prairie dreams right now. This was so fun I can't even stand it. Before I say any more though, I have to mention that we stopped at In-N-Out for lunch this day because California, amiright?!
Anyway, we made it Yosemite Pines and got checked in to our covered wagon which was so cute and cozy inside.
As you can see, there are bunkbeds inside so if you're planning a family trip to Yosemite, I can't recommend this place highly enough. They have wagons that will easily sleep six (with room for more if you have littles and don't mind getting cozy) and there is a pool and playground on site.
We had dinner at California's oldest saloon the Iron Door (established 1852), and then got a good night of sleep before our day at Yosemite.
Wednesday, October 24th: Yosemite National Park. Pictures don't do it justice. Wow.
We were up long before the sun to make the almost two hour drive from our covered wagon to Glacier Point for the sunrise and man-oh-man was it ever worth the 3:30 wake up call. We watched the sun come up singing How Great Thou Art and then drove down a little ways to Washburn Point to check out the view from there. My parents, brother, and sister had been out to Yosemite the summer before and said the popular spots like Glacier Point and Washburn Point were crawling with people and parking was a nightmare, but we were the only people at Washburn Point and we had no trouble finding parking all day everywhere we went. Highly recommend visiting this national park during off-season. Late October was a dream for us. We also beat everyone to the top of Sentinel Dome where we were commanded by my mother to go when we visited. (She was right, like always. Sentinel Dome was awesome.)
We probably had a solid 30 to 45 minutes on Sentinel Dome completely to ourselves before other hikers started making their way up. It was phenomenal. 360 degree views that will absolutely take your breath away.
Definitely put Yosemite National Park on your list of places to see if it's not there already. I don't have many words for it. It was overwhelmingly beautiful. We spent our last night in our sweet covered wagon before checking out the next morning to head back west to San Jose.
If you are reading this and you've made it this far: you are a trooper, I applaud you, and we're almost done, I promise.
Thursday, October 25th-Monday, October 29th: I'm grouping the last several days together because once we checked into the Wild Palms Hotel in Sunnyvale, CA on Thursday, it was a pretty chill weekend. Cody spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at TwitchCon winning stuff and meeting cool people while I laid out by the pool reading and hanging with my brother (who made the six hour drive up from LA to spend the weekend with us) living my best life. It was a great way to wind down from such a huge trip before heading back home on Monday.
And a fun anecdote from our return trip that is pertinent to the actual purpose of this blog: I got stopped going through security at SJC because my carryon had too many books in it. Cody got a big laugh out of that.
California : done.
9 states down, 41 to go. We've got 4 states already on the calendar for 2019 so stick around to see where this quest to #SeeAll50 takes us next!
Have you been to California? What part? It's crazy to think that we didn't even cover half the state on this trip. Cody and I have both been to Southern California separately before this, but I just can't get over how spread out this state is.