We drove to Santa Clarita from Nevada to stay with Michael and Tori again for Easter. We had a barbecue on our first night and Easter brunch the next day which was lovely and learnt how traditional Mexican tacos are made with asado beef, onions, lemon juice and cilantro (delicious, simple and so different from New Zealand Mexican restaurants). We met some lovely people and got to know a bit more about the Californian culture.On a dreary Easter Monday morning we drove to Hearst Castle via the coastal route through Santa Barbara. They have tours on offer from $25 USD/$36 NZD per person; we did the Grand Rooms tour and had a look around but it was way too cloudy and chilly!
We stayed at an Airbnb in Gilroy for the night (a town mainly known for their garlic), before driving to Walnut Creek. This cost $68 NZD for the night and we got a complimentary bottle of wine, water bottles and muesli bars! We got an Uber from Walnut Creek to Berkeley and met Lea and her dog Roscoe, who we stayed with in Berkeley for 4 nights. On our first day we walked around a little bit and got some things for dinner from the Monterey Market (we made spaghetti bolognese). The next day we met up with Max’s friend Colin (from university in New Zealand) and his mum Rory. We went for lunch and shopping around Berkeley. We had so much fun, with whiskey shots in one of the shops! We then walked around the Berkeley campus (which looked straight out of a movie), giving us a taste of American College life. The next day, we went with Lea and Roscoe to Point Reyes via the redwoods and enjoyed a windy day at the beach, where we saw snakes and Tule deer (from afar).
We then rented a car from Avis for $73 USD/$104 NZD for 48 hours and drove to Yosemite National Park. We arrived at the Yosemite Valley at 2pm, and paid our $30 USD/$43 NZD park fee for our vehicle, where we spent 3 hours looking at waterfalls and doing some short walks before we drove to our campground 2.5 hours away! We were glad we went to the valley, but wished we weren’t staying so far away, and should have done a little more research on where the campground was and where the road was actually closed… We stayed at the Hodgdon Meadow campground, for $26 USD/$38 NZD per night. Note: due to the road closures, there is no park entrance fee at this point as you cannot enter the valley from here. This was a beautiful area too, but the valley is where you want to be. We enjoyed the camping, with no bears and it wasn’t quite as cool as we anticipated! They have bear proof containers for your food, toiletries, rubbish and sunblock, but the camp was so full, there was no chance a bear would come into the campground with all the noise! The next morning we went for a walk through the Merced Sequoia Grove, which was beautiful, and then we tried to find the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, but we were worried we would run out of fuel, so we turned around to refuel and head back to Berkeley in time to watch the third Golden State Warriors basketball game!
We spent 2 days in San Francisco (just outside Chinatown), walking around the town, and enjoying the various food, sights and sounds. We stayed at the Europa Hotel and Hostel, which cost $70 USD/$100 NZD per night, but was above a few strip clubs so was a bit noisy-even midweek! We caught up with my good friend Lorena (who I haven’t seen for years) and had a delicious Italian meal. We then spent a day in San Jose, before our flight out from the states (and onto our next adventure). We stayed at the Flamingo Hotel, which cost $97 USD/$139 NZD per night. There isn’t much to do here, so we relaxed and wandered through the Food Market.