In May of this year, our family headed out to California to hit some of the main natural attractions.
We flew into Los Angeles, rented a minivan and hit the road. We arrived very late at night and by the time we got our rental car it was already close to 1:00am.
I was trying to find a hotel with breakfast included and all the places I called were booked. Finally I found a place and got us a room.
Unfortunately it was a total dump. The hotel was gross and the “free breakfast” was literally peanut butter and jelly served out of a cooler in the parking lot…yikes!
The next day we drove the 4-5 hours to Sequoia National Park and enjoyed the mountain vistas and the gigantic/beautiful trees. Some of these trees are mind blowing because they are so huge!!
I love this tree that has been lying on the ground for the last 100 years. At one point, a family even lived inside this tree.
This helps give a size perspective on how big these things are!
Next, we headed over to the neighboring park of King’s Canyon. The gorge off the side of the road is beautiful.
One of our stops was Grizzly Falls. The wind was blowing like crazy and with the gushing waterfall and all the spray coming of the falls, it felt like we were in a hurricane.
Some areas of King’s Canyon really remind me of driving through the alps.
Near the end of the King’s Canyon road, we found this pretty little waterfall. I had never been to King’s Canyon, so I was expecting that the end of the road was going to lead to a vista point but it didn’t. It just ended in a small loop that turns you around the other way.
As we were leaving the park, the sun was setting which created some really pretty views with the mountain backdrop.
Looking back east, I love seeing the winding mountain road leading into the park.
We ended up driving about halfway to Yosemite and spent the night.
The next morning we drove into Yosemite National Park. Yosemite has always been one of my favorite places but the infrastructure there is just not able to handle the crowds. It took 45 minutes to get into the park waiting in line at the entrance. Once in the park, there was an hour long traffic jam. It then took us half an hour to find a parking spot. By the time we found parking, it was time for lunch. We wanted to go do a short hike. We waited 15 minutes for the shuttle to come, then the shuttle which was taking us about 3 miles took 45 minutes due to all the traffic jams. We did a really nice 1.5 hour hike to Vernal Falls. On the way back, we waited one hour for a shuttle with enough room for the 5 of us, then the 3 mile ride too another 1.25 hours to get back to the Lodge. In other words, it took us almost 6 hours of driving/waiting to do a 1.5 hour hike.
It’s beautiful, but the traffic, crowds, and waiting were exhausting. I will only go back if it’s off-season.
This photo was taken on the trail to Bridal Veil Falls.
Tunnel View is one of my favorite viewpoints in the world. The waterfalls and unique landscape are mesmerizing.
Here is a quick photo from the mist trail at Vernal Falls
In the evening when the park started to empty out, we drove up to Glacier Point to watch the sunset and that was definitely one of the highlights of Yosemite.
Here is a pretty shot of the side of halfdome being lit up by the sun.
From this view you can see Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls way down in the valley.
On our drive back into the valley, we had some beautiful sunset views.
This morning, Kole and I woke up at 5:00am to go do photos around the valley at sunrise. We found a few really pretty spots along the river and then went back to Tunnel View.
We then met back up with everyone else and spent a little time exploring the valley before doing a short walk to lower Yosemite falls.
Next, we drove out to San Francisco. Driving through the central valley in California, it was 102 degrees. 45 minutes later, in San Francisco, it was 65 degrees.
We stopped for dinner at pier 39 which was a fun place to explore. The boys loved the Sea Lions.
Next, we stopped at the Palace of Fine Arts.
We hoped to see a sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin headlands, but that whole area was shrouded in clouds and fog. We stayed at the Mirage hotel by the zoo.
The next morning, sunrise was cloudy. We planned to drive up to Twin Peaks for a view of the city, but that was also covered in fog. We drove out to Baker Beach. The boys played around on the beach and we enjoyed the nice view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
We stayed the nigh at the El Castell hotel in seaside. They had a cheap price, decent room, good enough breakfast and a heated pool so the kids had a blast.
The next morning, I started to feel really sick so we had a slow morning. Cheridy and the boys went and had some pool time while I stayed in bed in the room.
Since Highway 1 was closed, we had to drive back inland to make our way south. We stopped at the famous Hearst Castle and did a tour.
Todaywe made our way out back out to the coast and stopped off in Malibu, Santa Monica to explore the Pier, and then Venice Beach.
After that we got to meet up with cousin Caleb who lives in the West Hollywood area and he took us up to the Griffith Observatory and then we had a fun dinner at a Korean barbeque place near his apartment.
Today was just a long flight home with some rest on the plane!