Big Hills, Big Trees + Alcatraz.
After taking down camp in Yosemite, it was time to wave goodbye to the valley and head back to the coast. After lunch at In & Out Burger at 11am, we journeyed onto San Francisco, where we got our first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most iconic views in history. After driving across the bridge we had the chance to learn more about it at the visitor’s centre before walking the 1 mile across it. We got incredibly lucky as it was a completely clear and very warm day in San Fran, so we could see the whole city on our journey across the bridge. Then it was back to the hostel to get ready for the evening. For dinner we ventured down to the famous Pier 39, and went to Boudin’s for their famous sourdough bread. I went for the tomato soup, which came inside a sourdough loaf! After this it was off to find a bar that would let the 20-year-old in our group in (obviously that was a failed mission) and then headed back to our hostel for a dorm party and a few rounds of Never Have I Ever and Piccolo – which ended better than I thought it would…
We got up early on day 6 to head down to Alcatraz Island! We took the ferry across to the island itself before exploring the infamous prison, nicknamed “The Rock”. We learnt lots of interesting facts about what went down there, including the heists, attempted overthrows and riots that plague the prison’s dramatic and fascinating history – even Al Capone was admitted there for 4 and a half years. After touring the prison, learning from the audio tour (probably the only one in the world that is actually good), we went back to the mainland and went off to explore San Fran for the afternoon. The girls and myself went off to visit two of the city’s most famous movie spots – the houses in Mrs Doubtfire and Full House – before going back towards our hostel and exploring Union Square and the surrounding area. Later that evening we made our way down to AT&T Park, to watch a baseball game. It was the San Francisco Giants vs San Diedo Padres, and even though the home team lost and barely anyone got home it was awesome to see a sport played in real life that we don’t have back home. After a few hours in this enormous stadium it was back to the hostel, via a 40-minute walk back through San Fran’s glimmering downtown area.
On day 7 it was off to Redwood National Park. After another gruelling drive we landed in Redwood country, surrounded by impossibly tall trees. We had lunch at the Chandelier Tree, the one which you can drive through, before heading off to set up camp, via a stop at the visitor’s centre and the glorious beach. We watched the video about how the park itself has its own microclimate and is a totally unique area of the world, before climbing along old, fossilised trees that had fallen at the ocean’s edge. After dinner at the campsite we explored the cliff area and watched the sunset and the fog rolling in across the Pacific before coming back to camp and keeping warm by a campfire.
We had our second day in Redwood National Park, where we started off by trekking down to the main grove of redwood trees. Towering tall above our heads and held straight by impossibly large trunks, the trees in the grove are the tallest in the world. While the identity of the actual tallest tree in the world is kept secret, these trees were definitely up there. After a few miles round loop of the grove, it was back up to the top and off to do another hike. Unfortunately, day 8 was the day that illness struck me, so I had sit out on our second hike. In the afternoon, we went over to a town called Crescent City, which is right up on the border with Oregon, and had some delicious ice cream. Then it was back to camp for dinner and more chats by the campfire.
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