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Category Archives: California

My Hitchers

After leaving the beautiful still serenity of my campground in the Redwoods (The Journey to Ft. Bragg post), I started looking for a gas station in town. My plan was to make the long drive to Coos Bay, Oregon. I didn’t have a place to stay lined up though, so I was pretty much up for whatever. While I was driving I saw a young couple walking in a ditch down the side of the road and I felt strongly that I should pick them up. I’d never picked up hitchhikers before. I kept driving though and pulled into a nearby gas station to fill up. While filling up my tank, I noticed that the couple had walked to the gas station and set up shop in front of the door with their cardboard sign. I walked up to the boy. He was a short, shrimpy looking kid between the age of 18 and 20. “Where are you looking to go? I’m on my way to Oregon.” He got all excited, “We’re looking to go to Eureka.” “Ok, I’ll give you guys a ride.” “Oh, thank you! What can I do for you? Can I wash your windows?” “Um… ok…” I rearranged my car, while the boy washed my windows.

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The Journey to Ft. Bragg

The Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, I decided to leave San Francisco. I thought that if I left before noon, I’d miss traffic. Everyone in San Francisco seemed to have the same idea.

I spent three hours crawling along the 101 at 20 miles an hour, when I finally decided to take the next exit wherever it may lead. The exit was for Petaluma. A charming little town, I carried my lunch to the park to eat and bought the next book in my series… I had just finished A Storm of Swords. I found many of the stores interesting and I enjoyed walking along the old docks.

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Left My Home in Georgia, Headed to the ‘Frisco Bay

San Francisco is the weirdest place I’ve been. I heard I would love it. I heard I could make way more money if I lived there. Well, I suppose I could make more money if I lived there, but considering the price of rent it wouldn’t really mean very much. The hostel was twice as expensive as any hostel on my trip. In addition to being more expensive, I also had to pay $24 for 24 hours to park my car in a nearby garage. I did the math and determined I wasn’t going to be staying in San Francisco for very long.

The HI San Francisco City Center was one of the most beautiful hostels. I rolled my suitcase across the marble floor of the lobby in the old 1920s hotel feeling elegant. The hostel was filled with unique and beautiful decorations, a chic romantically lit bar and a mezzanine on the second story that overlooked the lobby. They played old black and white movies at night, but I didn’t stay in very much.

I spent some time walking around the neighborhood aka Little Saigon. San Francisco is filled with beautiful architecture, there were interesting shops and galleries in the area to stop in, murals to take pictures of and TONS of homeless people. Actually all of San Francisco is filled with people living on the street, which makes the entire city kinda dirty (um… that poop on the sidewalk probably isn’t dog poop. Dog owners are pretty good about scooping up in California. Sidewalk squatters aren’t quite as considerate.) Feeling a little overwhelmed, I decided to call the one person I know in San Francisco – my friend Robin I met at the hostel in Austin during SXSW. Here’s the recap if you want the background story.

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Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel

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Pigeon Point LighthouseAbsolutely beautiful and relaxing, the Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel is located right over the cliffs from the beach. It is known for its hot tub overlooking the water. The view is amazing. I enjoyed eating dinner and having a few beers with some of the other hostellers. I met lots of interesting people: a lady from the area, coming back after a long time, two guys bicycling the coast and some girls from Europe. Flowers grew all along the cliffs. I heard that many of the flowers are actually non-native and that they were planted there to prevent erosion. It was breathtaking.

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When Yosemite is Your Yard

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The roads from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite wind around and around. I’m not used to mountain driving, but it doesn’t really scare me. You just stay on the road. The height doesn’t really worry me too much, because I keep my eyes on the road. Paying attention is probably the most helpful thing one can do in mountain driving where staying on the road becomes even more important than it is on flat land.

I was happy to rest in Angel’s Camp for a while. A cute little town, I loved how they had clothes hanging over the street. It reminded me of shoes that hang above Spectre in Big Fish. Signs were in every window for the upcoming Culaveras County Jumping Frog Jubilee. Apparently Angel’s Camp’s claim to fame is that Mark Twain published a story about a frog from there.

I didn’t really have a place to stay planned out for Yosemite. I thought I’d find a camping spot either inside the park or somewhere nearby. I had heard rumors about maybe some nearby BLM camping. I was caught off guard though when I found out that all the campgrounds in Yosemite were filled to capacity and that there wasn’t any BLM land nearby. I decided the smart thing to do would to be to stop and rent a bear can at least, so if I did make some last-minute camping arrangements than I wouldn’t have to worry about my car being broken into.

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Lake Tahoe

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I drove up to the Lake Tahoe area from Bishop, California. My cousin used to work at Lake Tahoe, and I had to check it out for myself after hearing such good things.

The first natural wonder I stumbled upon was Mono Lake. From a distance I was in awe of the beautiful colors reflecting off the water and interested in the strange formations coming up from the water. I found out that the water in Mono Lake is actually really salty, saltier than the ocean. I walked up to the edge, it had an alkaline smell. Gulls hang out and nest there before making their way to the Pacific on little islands of rock in the lake.

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Bishop, CA

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I arrived at dusk in Bishop, CA. I decided I was going to enter Yosemite from that side, as my climber friend John, who I met in Vegas was free camping out there and invited me to join him. He also has his car set up to sleep in and I felt more secure with the thought of camping parked next to someone I knew. I found the rode and drove down it, as the sun set behind the mountains. I drove and drove and never found his car. I ended up finally getting ahold of him and I found out he had already left for his next stop. Disappointed and in the dark, I decided to try to find a place in town. Unfortunately the only place I found was the Super 8. I hated spending so much money on a bed! It was the only motel I’ve stayed at for this entire trip.

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