Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 83-94

September 7-September 18

    The day before we left Lake Tahoe, we were sitting in the living room watching a movie, when we heard a noise at the back door. We thought maybe the neighbor was trying to get in the house. Neil went to go check, and it was not the neighbor, it was a BEAR! He was standing on his back legs, with one hand on the handle, and the other on the screen, pulling the door open. When Neil realized what he was looking at, he slammed the door in the bears face. We watched the bear make his way to the front of the house, and then leave down the driveway. It was quite the night! 

   After we left Lake Tahoe, which was beautiful, and very relaxing, we headed to Napa Valley, wine country! Driving to and through Napa Valley was beautiful. It was so neat to see all the vineyards! We stayed in Calistoga and we went to 3 wineries/vineyards. First stop wad V. Sattui, where we loved the Port which had flavors of brandy and chocolate. Then we went to Rutherford Grove which was a smaller family run winery. And lastly was Grgich Hills Estate. At Grgich Hills we met the man who started the winery in 1976! Napa Valley was really fun and we enjoyed all the very good wine. 

    Next we headed to Berkeley to stay with our friend Jim, who we met in Colorado. He was gracious enough to let us stay with him and tour us around San Francisco, he was a great tour guide! We rented bikes in San Fran, and spent about 6 hours biking and walking around the city. We road next to the water for awhile, and had a great view of the bay bridge, and Alcatraz in the distance. The Golden Gate bridge was a little foggy in the distance but we could still see it. We road our bikes to the Golden Gate, parked the bikes, and then walked half the bridge. Then we headed to Lombard street. Neil and Jim rode their bikes down the street, I chose to walk. Then we went to  Ghirardelli, and got chocolate milk shakes, they were to die for! Then we returned our bikes. We had a full day of exploring the city, which was amazing. On our way back to Berkeley we stopped at a viewpoint that overlooked all of Oakland and San Francisco. We watched all the lights turn on, and the sky turn pink, and then dark. It was a great view! 

   Then, we headed to Yosemite. We were hoping we had beat all the summer crowds because it wax after Labor Day, but the park was still packed, and the campgrounds were still reserved and very full!  The first day we got to Yosemite, the weather was a little unexpected, it snowed!  Only a little snow accumulated on the ground, but it continued to rain, and it was very cold! Despite the weather, we saw beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and valleys almost everywhere we looked. Yosemite valley was amazing, with great views of El Capitan and Half Dome. We hiked to lower Yosemite Falls, and the Vernal Falls. We saw upper Yosemite falls in the distance, which is the largest water fall in North America. We also saw the Ansel Adams Gallery which was pretty cool. One of our favorite parts of the part was Glacier Point. We almost skipped it but we were glad we didn't. Glacier point looks over the entire valley, and the surrounding mountain ranges. We were there in the pouring rain, but the views were still spectacular.

   We've now been on the road for 3 months! We've seen 25 National Parks, and traveled over 12,000 miles! I think we are seeing more, and traveling longer than we ever expected. 

    Next we headed to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park, they are two separate parks, but they are connected. Kings Canyon was the first stop. We did a short hike through the General Grant Grove, which was filled with huge sequoias. Then we drove down into the Canyon. The views driving down were spectacular! We kept stopping and just looking around. Then we headed to Sequoia. In Sequoia, we hiked the General Sherman Trail where we saw, literally, the biggest tree on earth. This tree is the heaviest, and has the most cubic feet of any other tree on earth, pretty amazing! They say that the trunk of the tree still continues to grow and expand outward! We also explored the Giant Forest museum, where we learned a lot about the sequoias. Then we headed to Moro rock. Moro rock is the 2nd largest piece of granite in the US. We climbed the 400 stairs, 300 vertical feet, to the top of the rock. The views, again, were amazing. We could see so far in every direction. On a clear day, they say you can see 100 miles all the way to the coast. The mountain ranges were all around us, and we just stood there trying to soak it all in. Then we stopped by Tunnel log, which is a downed tree that has been carved out, so you can drive through it.

    After we were done exploring the parks, we drove for a few hours, and we are now in Bakersfield. Next we are going to hit the coast and go see LA. 

More photos: 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 66-82

August 21- September 6

 Spent 3 days at Redwood National Forest! We loved it! We were so amazed by how HUGE the trees were. We did a bunch of small hikes through the old growth forests, and we saw the tree that you can drive through. We drove the 3 scenic drives through the park, which were all amazing! We stayed right on the beach one night as well. We did a hike through the tall tree grove and saw some gigantic trees right before we left. 

Next, we headed to Lassen Volcanic National Park and explored for a day. Lassen was filled with snow, we were very surprised because it was so hot! The views from Lassen were amazing because we were at such a high elevation. Lassen peak is huge, and you can hike it, but it was closed, we think because of snow. Then it was off to Lake Tahoe!!

Lake Tahoe has been amazing!! We are staying in a house, which is very different than what we have been used to. We finally have a kitchen to cook in, a real bed to sleep in, real toilets, and hot, free showers whenever we please! It's been glorious. We stocked up on fresh food, and we didn't leave the house for a few days, it was very relaxing. We went to the beach a few days. Lake Tahoe is beautiful. The mountains surround the whole lake, and the lake is huge. The water was very warm, about 70 degrees. 

Over labor day weekend my mom and dad came to visit! We were both really excited for them to come! It's been almost three months since I've seen them. We rented a boat the first day they were here! We all had a lot of fun, we cruised around the lake for 4 hours. We went swimming and soaked up a lot of sun! Then we went out to eat at a restaurant right behind the house. We didn't even have to drive, we walked right up the hill behind the house. 

The next day we went up a gondola with amazing views of Lake Tahoe! We stopped at the observation deck, half way up, which overlooked the whole lake and the surrounding area. It was so pretty! Then we headed up to the top of the mountain, which was 9,000 feet. We did a small hike up the mountain, and then we had lunch at the lodge. 

The next day we headed to the beach, and relaxed. We spent a few hours at the beach. Then we went to the Harrahs Casino. Mom was our lucky charm and won some money! We all had fun! Then we came back, cooked a nice dinner, and watched fireworks from the deck. 

The next morning we brought my mom and dad to the airport. We had a great few days with them, but their trip was too short!

Now we are off to explore California some more.