California: San Fran to L.A.
Travelling with or without kids is not always all it's cracked up to be. We hit San Francisco - previously my favourite US city - in a freezing fog, and with a bad hangover. We'd booked a cheap hotel in the centre which was like a cross between a bad student halls and a refuge for down and out oldtimers, I'm not sure which we were closest to.
In our $60 room, we could barely swing a cat, we had a shared toilet which didn't flush, and a shower that left you feeling dirtier than when you went in, It was all we could do not to sink into a depression wondering why we hadn't got on the flight back to London with the rest of the UK wedding party. To top it off we realised we'd lost both our kindles somewhere on route and, what with the plummeting pound and the expense of the US we could barely bring ourselves to spend the £30 on a 2 dish cheap Chinese in an unappealing Chinatown restaurant.
The bad mood lifted eventually, as did the fog, and we did enjoy sliding down the concrete bobsleigh on cardboard boxes in Golden Gate Park. And thankfully things improved even more once we moved out of the city to the Crowne Plaza in Burlingame with private bathroom, swimming pool and amazing buffet breakfasts. And even better where we met up with George & Pam who we'd not seen for about ten years!
Jess & Otto were once again bowled over by a playroom with loads of toys and delighted to have two new playmates in Izzy and Sammy; favourite sticks and rocks were forgotten in favour of train sets and princess crowns. And the driveable fire engine was a huge smash!
A few days of enjoying great hospitality again from our far flung friends and we were ready to head off for our camping trip.
Now, we've been fairly unprepared many times on our trip but setting off on Sunday 3rd July to camp in Yosemite with no reservation and no tent has to be right up there. To be fair to us, we had ordered a tent to pick up in store on the way. so it wasn't entirely our fault when they had no such tent waiting for us.
A few hours delay and a bit of trawling round Walmart and Target and we were with tent and on route. We camped about an hour outside of the park at Mariposa Fairgrounds, at just $20 a night it was a bargain. Yosemite was scenic and grand on a grandiose scale. To spot people climbing up El Capitan through binoculars brings it home how small us humans are.
We spent three days trekking in the park. The highlight was definitely the climb to Sentinel Dome (2,500 m) and the trek to Taft point (1 mile vertical cliff straight down to the valley floor and not for the faint hearted - Mikey Newitt!). We managed both in one long morning with the kids. That's 4.2 miles at altitude which we for a 2&3yr old was pretty impressive. They looked like they'd been trekking for weeks by the amount of dust and dirt on them by the end, but the mini-troopers made it and they were far less scared than Mikey.
4th July weekend camping in Yosemite with no reservation, surely if we can manage that we can do anything..yes?
Uh, it didn't feel that way as we were checking in to an overpriced motel at 10pm on Thursday 7th July back in Monterey Bay after having visited all the campgrounds in Big Sur and basically been laughed out. ‘No free spots till October’ was the usual response and ‘Did you not book in those first ten minutes of the reservations opening 7 months ago? No? Then you've no chance.’
Not to be discouraged, we were back on the road trying again at 7 the next morning. We had breakfast and boiled the kettle for a nice English cup of tea whilst waiting 4th in line for the office to open at the State camp ground at Pfeiffer Big Sur and our luck was in. We got a spot. An amazing spot with wild deer feeding at the back of our site.
We spent three days camping in Big Sur and one more near Santa Barbara and met some great people. Jen and Joel and their girls JoJo and Charlie who were the perfect adventurous playmates for our two. And Matt, Crystal and Hayley in Refugio who were also lovely.
It was about time to get a wash again so we invaded more friends, Paul and Stef who put us up in their beautifully stylish home in LA. We had a great fun day and a half with them playing on monkey bars and flexing muscles at Venice beach and enjoying great smokehouse BBQ food, before it was time to head off to Costa Rica. I can't believe the time has gone so quickly it's almost 10 months on the road already!
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Kelly and Mikey (but mostly Kelly). We sold up in the UK to travel with our two littluns for a year or so. If you want to know more click the about us!