Been nagging the guys to write a blog for a few days now, but no luck, so I guess I'll write another one before we fall too far behind. Might be stuck with me the rest of the way...
A lot has happened in the past week or so, so I'm gonna try to stick to the highlights and get us caught up again.
As I mentioned at the end of the last blog, we had an interesting first day in Yosemite. Arrived at the park in the afternoon, planning to see a few waterfalls and maybe get a decent hike in before the end of the day. About 10 miles inside, we pulled off to let the bus cool down, and Luke noticed that the lug nuts on one of the wheels looked like they had loosened quite a bit. Worried that we might lose a tire if we kept going on the park's winding roads, we turned around and stopped at a gas station with a mechanic. Unfortunately he didn't have the equipment to help us, and neither did the truck sent by AAA a couple hours later. So, we drove slowly back out of the park to a town with a few auto repair shops. In the morning, we stopped at a few different places, but nobody was able/willing to take on the job. We were told that we actually might be fine, and that as long as the lugs are tight, it's alright for them to not be threaded all the way. Not exactly what we were looking for, but it saved us from what may have cost a small fortune. So we marked the lugs with a marker to make sure they didn't loosen further, and headed back into Yosemite.
At that point, we had basically lost a full day that would have been spent exploring and hiking. But we tried to pack in as much as possible, stopping briefly to take in the iconic view of the valley outside the tunnel on our way in. We then took a quick walk to the base of Lower Falls before taking the shuttle over to Vernal Falls. There we had a much more substantial hike that led to the top of the falls and left us exhausted and soaking wet from the spray. After resting for a bit, we walked around to Emerald Pool, and then hiked back down to the trailhead. We had wanted to check out Mirror Lake, but decided to skip it to try to make the drive to Glacier Point for sunset. We had our minds set, but the bus had other plans, overheating and forcing us to take it slow. We had to settle for a different view of the sunset, but kept on going to Glacier Point and had about 20 mins. of light left to take in the view. And it was one hell of a view...maybe my favorite of the trip so far. From the point, you could see almost the entire valley, Half Dome and other mountaintops, and the park's largest waterfalls. It was incredible, and we decided that we needed to see it in better light, so we slept in the parking lot that night (may or may not be frowned upon) and got up to watch the sunrise from the point, which was well worth the shortened night's sleep. After that, it was back on the road to San Fran, wishing we could've stayed longer - a feeling we've had in many of the places we've been.
I think I speak for the whole crew in saying San Fran was definitely a highlight in CA. We had learned our lesson with the bus in LA, so we decided to park outside the city and take BART (public trans.) in. Our first night, we met up with a friend from Northeastern, Ben, to make dinner and get some much-needed showers. We spent the following day with him too, exploring the Mission area and hiking up to Bernal Heights for a great view of the entire city. He was headed off on a weekend trip, so he took off in the afternoon and we continued on to the Ferry Building (SF's equivalent of Quincy Market in Boston). Then we hopped on an old school tram to Coit Tower, with great views of the bay and Alcatraz. Next was Fisherman's Wharf, where we walked around for awhile, saw the seals, and got some food. After dinner, we hit a couple bars before heading home (to the bus that is).
The next day, we got up and explored downtown before walking quite a ways out to Crissy Field, where we got our long-awaited view of the Golden Gate, walking through a garden district of sorts and along the beach. After admiring the bridge and watching some kite surfers for awhile, we headed to Dolores Park, a real cool park where people go to hangout and relax. That's what we did, grabbing drinks and snacks on the way and chilling out on the lawn for a couple hours. We had tickets to the Giants game that night, so our next stop was AT&T Park, where we got a bite to eat at Anchor Brewery before heading into the game. It was a cool stadium, with a great view of the bay from our seats in the upper deck. The Giants lost 4-0, but we enjoyed the game anyway as Sox fans (minus Shane). After the game, we met a few friends out and bar-hopped for awhile before calling it a night.
Throughout the day, we also did a social media takeover of the DOCF account, which was a fun way to help us reach some more people.
In the morning, we said see ya later to SF and started our drive to the Redwoods, again opting for a scenic coastal drive (Rt. 1) in place of the more direct route. Despite the winding roads, it was well worth it, with great views of the Pacific and plenty of beach pull offs. Had a pretty crazy coincidence when we happened to run into Shane's friend from the landscape architecture program on the side of the road. What are the chances? Ended up sleeping at a pull off, still a little ways from the Redwoods.
Spent the following day driving through most of the Redwood forest, admiring the great trees from inside the bus as we drove along the coast. Stopped towards the end of the day in Jedediah Smith State Park, where we took a ranger's suggestion to walk the trails off Walker Road, leading us through groves of massive redwoods, streams, and decaying fallen trees. Then we kept on going to Crescent City, a small town where we stopped to cook dinner and check out the lighthouse at Battery Point. It was a cool Cape Cod style lighthouse on a little peninsula jutting out from the beach. We walked out to the point - where it was crazy windy, almost lost my hat - and got a sweet view of the sunset (one of the many incredible sunsets we've seen). Got back on the road after the sun went down, putting in a few more hours of driving en route to Crater Lake. Made it to Grant's Pass, Oregon, where we decided to call it a night around midnight.