From San Francisco we travelled across country to visit Yosemite National Park. I had booked us in to Yosemite Pines RV Park which is close to the town of Groveland.
Looked lovely on the website (as indeed it was as you will see in a minute) but what I hadn’t realised was it was 3,000ft up in the mountains and to get to Groveland you had to use US120 which climbs up the side of a mountain along a twisty road with quite large drop offs on the side of the road. I wasn’t someone’s favourite person!!
As I said though the campsite was well worth it with a lovely position halfway up a hill in amongst the pine trees.
The next day we decided to explore and go up to the entrance of Yosemite National Park. Unfortunately the weather got gradually worse, with low cloud and fog and then it started to hail, so we decided to turn back and visit some of the towns in the valley.
But by the next morning it was all dry.
Next day we decided that we had left the laundry too long and the forecast didn’t look good. Although to be honest it was a nice day and it gave us a rest!!
So the day after we tried Yosemite again as the forecast looked good, and sure enough it turned out to be a lovely day and Yosemite didn’t disappoint. Now, I am at this point going to have to apologise as this post is going to get really picture heavy, as no amount of words are going to explain this magnificent place. Wherever you looked stunning views, vistas and ……… so here goes.
As I said when I started, words cannot really describe it but I hope my pictures have given you an idea of what it is like. And if you ever get the chance to visit it yourself you will NOT be disappointed.
Our last day was spent touring Columbia Old Town State park. This town has been preserved much as it was in the heyday of the Californian Gold Rush. Here though they used hydraulic mining, using high pressure hoses to wash all the mud and sediment into the gold sluices. Between 1850 to 1870 they reckon over a billion dollars of gold was found and at one time Columbia was the second largest town in California.
That was our last day at Yosemite, so we moved on (back down that incline!!) and further north into the northern valleys of California where almonds, olives and grapes are grown.
I have updated our RV Map but it is a bit ahead of the blog as it show our route to Bend, Oregon.
Arrived in San Francisco and set up at Tradewinds RV in Vallejo in what we in England would call the “suburbs”. I had already booked us on a trip to Alcatraz at 12pm midday the next day, so needed to discover how to get there!!
We found out that down the road about 3 miles away was the Vallejo Ferry Terminal, which had parking for $5 for the day, and the fares in and out of San Francisco were $7.50 per “senior” each way. That matched very nicely to the 25 mile drive, $10 tolls for the bridges and $25 per day parking so we decided to take the ferry as there was one at 10.00am that got in at 11.00am.
Very interesting “ferry”!! Sets off gently down the river at 8 knots and then after about 10 minutes accelerates up to 33 knots for the rest of the trip to San Francisco Ferry Terminal.
Then we walked from the Ferry Terminal to the Alcatraz Tours terminal. By the way an FYI if anyone else decides to do this. Make sure you book through the OFFICIAL Alcatraz cruise site https://www.alcatrazcruises.com/ as there are all sorts of other sites on the internet that charge you anything up to $15 extra per person to book the same trip!!.
After you land as it is a National Parks Service site your ferry is greeted by a National Parks Ranger that tells you all the rules for your visit and then “enjoy yourselves”.
I have chosen a few pictures to try and do Alcatraz justice, but if you get the chance do it yourself it is well worth it and my pictures cannot show everything we saw.
We returned to main ferry terminal and caught the 5.15pm ferry back to Vallejo.
The next day we did the same ferry trip but this time stayed on it as we hadn’t realised that it docked at the main ferry terminal and then hopped down to Pier 41, which would have saved us the walk!!
Then we did our usual thing and bought a Hop On Hop Off Bus San Francisco tour for 2 days. We did the complete 2.5 hour trip first to suss everything out.
On our second day we decided to go all the way to Golden Gate bridge and take the bus that went across the bridge and then went through the “city” of Sausalito and then back across the bridge. We also drove the Spark in as it was Saturday and the ferry only had four sailings back and forth.
And the next day was …., breathe and take a rest although we had to do the laundry, clean the RV inside and out, and check the oil (engine and generator) and all the mundane tasks that go with driving an RV!!
It is amazing how when one lives a lifestyle that you forget that other people may not know the vernacular you are using!! For instance I was asked “what is a KOA?”. Never occurred to me that people wouldn’t know. Well it stands for “Kampgrounds of America”, not quite sure why it is not COA but it could be that name was already registered!!
We left the National Parks and headed west to a place called Greenfield, which is midway between Monterey and Paso Robles on RT101. We needed to access the North and South of RT1, the Pacific Highway, but it is closed in the middle near Gorda because of a landslide that took out 1/2 mile of road.
The drive to Yanks RV Resort was very interesting indeed. I decided to use a California highway (CA198) all the way, but there were warnings that some of the bends were a bit twisty and some of the grades could be steep. As it turned out it was a lovely drive along what was classified as a Scenic Route and there were far bigger lorries than our RV using it.
Really enjoyed the drive and we arrived at Yanks RV Resort about 2.30pm and wow what a site. It is a new site with concrete pads and very nicely done landscaping.
Hearst Castle had to be booked so we booked it for the Saturday. We decided to investigate Monterey and the Big Sur on Friday.
Monterey was busy with the start of the Sea Otter Classic which is one of the largest cycling events in the US, but on the Friday wasn’t too bad and we got into Monterey early in the morning (note to self don’t go into Monterey Saturday/Sunday!!).
We found a meter close to San Carlos Beach which was close to the Coast Guard Pier. On the Pier, especially at the far end was a huge colony of Sea Lions and the noise was tremendous.
We then set off down the coast from Monterey on Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, to see the coastline known as the Big Sur. We didn’t quite make the bit where the road is closed but nearly did, and there were some spectacular views on the way.
Beautiful drive and lots of pull-ins so you can stop and admire the views, although be careful of drivers in convertible Mustangs and Dodge Chargers who seem to use the road as race track!! Driving back with the sun setting in your face was an interesting experience, definitely needed sunglasses!!
The on Saturday we went to Hearst Castle. Built by William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate, with the help of his architect Julia Morgan it is a spectacular “castle” (more like a French chateau than a castle) perched on a hill with views out over the Pacific coastline. Took him 28 years to get it to its current state, but apparently he never finished his complete dream, as ill health stopped the building work. After his death in 1951, the family obviously thought it cost too much to maintain and gave it, plus some of the surrounding land, to the State of California which it is why it is a California State Park attraction. Mind you they kept the other 82,000 acres so I don’t think they are on the breadline yet!!
Now no amount of photos are going to do this place justice, so I am going to try to give you the essence by choosing a few from the many I took.
Sorry if I have bored you, but if you ever visit California, you just must visit Hearst “castle”, magnificent doesn’t cut it!!
We took the Sunday off and on the Monday we went back to Monterey. We drove a bit further on and visited a Mission in Carmel (Clint Eastwood country!!). By now you will know the story of the Missions in the Southern USA, established by the Spanish to convert the local people and control the area. Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo is no different except that it is probably the best example we have visited, and it was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1987.
We then drove back up the coast to Pebble Beach.
And then back to Monterey where we had lunch at LouLou’s.
And then we returned to Yanks RV for our last night there. Lovely campground, one of the best we have been in.
Well that is the end of this post. The next day we moved on to San Francisco.