Across in California we follow a bit more coastline, before taking the scenic route through some lovely trees. (And there will be many, many more to come! Until we are “treed out”.) As evening draws near, we head to a Casino on the coast. We have heard they offer free camping in their car parks. We get set up at in a very cold & windy carpark and head in to register – “that will be $20 deposit. And it is non refundable!” We are so out of here! Everywhere else has signs up…..we end up at a trailhead day use area. Not totally legal, but quiet & we don’t get sprung.
Passing through Eureka the next morning we decide to explore (by car of course!) and find some really lovely old buildings. Must have been quite a place in its heyday. Then it is more trees as we head through: Avenue of the Giants” Phew! Finally back to the coast – more magic scenery. Our favorite spot is the cliffs at Mendocino. Naturally there is nowhere here to camp – the town, which is very quaint, is full of restaurants & B&B’s. A guy at the petrol station suggested the lake – well we can’t even find the lake. So we follow a bit more of the coast until we find some camping right on Navarro Beach. Bonus - heaps of firework.
We leave early so we can follow yet more coastline, stopping at lovely Port Arena lighthouse for breakfast. It is closed, so we walk along some more cliffs & watch more seals. At Jenner there are heaps more seals reclining on the beach. We could endlessly explore more coastline, but decide to head back to the main road and on to the big smoke at San Francisco. After a bit of research we settle on an RV park close to the city centre, and put it in the GPS. Naturally we drive right through the city centre! When we check in we are stunned at the price! In fact I can’t even bring myself to repeat it, but we are only 30 mins from the centre, and they run a shuttle bus quite regularly (naturally at an extra cost). So we book the bus, use the laundry (as our machine is still out of action), meet an Aussie couple – Greg & Heather, who are travelling in their large American RV, before heading into town to do some serious walking – up lots of those famous hills.
The next day, little do I know it, but there is to be lots more walking. It starts all good – we get onto the On/Off Bus to tour the city. Near the pier we change buses to cross Golden Gate Bridge – an incredibly windy ride on the top deck. We decide to get off to walk back over the bridge, and then to just carry on walking to town. Phew, by 3pm I am starving (naturally) after walking at least 10km. After a late lunch it is back on the bus. Again we have to change buses. This time it breaks down! We get off and walk. Finally a quick sprint through Chinatown to catch our shuttle.
That’s enough city for us. Time to get this show on the road. We drive into the city, again, so we can cross the Oakland Bridge & then another huge bridge. We are heading into the Napa Valley wine growing region. All very pretty. Sonoma Township is cute and bustling as it is Saturday. Napa, not quite as charming. Next stop – Yosemite. So we find a back route on our maps and head off. First a windy mountain range, and then some lakes where we hope to camp, but we only find huge camping grounds so we carry on to Jackson Walmart.
We should reach Yosemite today – Sunday. We are hoping that campers will be heading out, so that we can get a campsite. The Info Centre at San Fran said we should be OK. Anyway I digress. We pass through lots of old mining towns, lots of little winding roads, before I say enough. Let’s get back to a main road & just get there. Finally we arrive. Camping!! Huh! Not a chance. Sites are booked 6 months ahead. We head in anyway – the place is packed. Hate to see it in peak season. But it is SENSATIONAL. After sitting beside the river for lunch we head to the main carpark. Not many spots left. Ours is in a huge puddle (it snowed here yesterday) & we head off to catch the shuttle – with all the others. Crazy system, but eventually we get to our first hike up to Vernal Falls. Then on to next hike to Yosemite Falls (pretty easy, even for me). Give up on the crazy buses & wander over the glorious meadows – with views to take your breath away. Give up walking & bus yet again. By now it is getting late, but we fit in one more hike/walk to Bridal Falls. Phew. Time to get out of here before the ranger chases us out. John met a couple who told him where we could free camp just below El Portal outside of the park. We head there as it gets dark. A marathon day.
We decide not to head back into Yosemite as we have probably done nearly all we wanted. It would have been great to explore the other part of Yosemite – The Tioga Pass – but it is still closed for the winter & may not open until June, so we will carry on to Kings Canyon National Park. More to come….