Shanth’s Dairy

May 13, 2009

The California Experience

Last night I came back from a four day trip to San Francisco. I was there visiting a friend. It was a perfect California Summer and SFO turns out to be quite a wonderful destination. You can not miss visiting the Golden gate, Fisherman’s wharf, Union Square, and China town while you are in SFO. But that is not all, if you care to look beyond the SFO city limit, there is much more that California offers. You will find beaches, mountains, and forests in just a stones throw away from SFO. Here are some places that I have been to and are worth considering.

Muir Woods National Monument is just about 10 miles away from the Golden Gate Bridge. Muir Woods is the home of the Sequoia (Redwoods) trees. These trees can grow as high as 300ft. They can survive thunder storms, forests fires and thus live for thousands of years.  Muir Woods is also one of the nation’s First Amendment areas.

If you go further on Highway 1, you will be driving on a wonderful ocean line road to Stinson beach. They have plenty of spots for pit stops on the high way for you to capture the splendid beaches in your cameras. It is really worth a stop. The Stinson beach is amazing stop for beach lovers. But this is where the beaches start. If you are ready to drive further for a bit more privacy, you should head towards Point Reyes.

Stinson Beach as seen from Highway 1

Stinson Beach as seen from Highway 1

Point Reyes national Seashore is located about 50 Miles from SFO on Highway1/ SF Drake Blvd. The drive from Olema on Sir Francis Drake Blvd offers a spectacular view of the ocean. There are no gas stations on your way so make sure you have enough gas and food/water. It is simply a country drive with farms leading down the hill into the ocean. SF Drake Blvd ends at the Point Reyes light house. From there it is just ocean and ocean in any direction you see. The sandy beaches extend for miles or as far as your eyes can see. You should probably visit the light house at sunset. It is a once in a life time experience.  Be sure have some ear muffs handy and dress warm if would really like to enjoy the view for while.

Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore

If you head west from SFO there is a different kind of treat awaiting you. If you really love waterfalls, hiking, rock climbing, or lakes you can not afford to miss the Yosemite National Park. Who does not enjoy the scene of a waterfall, especially if it is 1400ft high? The Yosemite Fall is the seventh highest in the world with a total drop of 2400ft. Yosemite has everything for nature lovers of any age and taste.  There are two ways to get to the park if you are driving from SFO. After you reach Manteca, you can either take hwy 120 directly to the Park or you can drive to Merced and then proceed to the park. The drive through Merced will cost you an extra 45mins or so. But if you do not want to drive on long winding roads like me, sometimes at 20mph, you should probably prefer the route through Merced. That way you also get to drive along the beautiful Merced River which flows through the Yosemite Valley.  Yosemite can host you on a single day trip or a week. But the longer you stay the more is your reward.  The park charges $20 fee per automobile.  After you enter the park you will really see what each of your penny is doing. Yosemite is the most hospitable national park I have ever been to. You have a choice stay of everything from log cabins to high class hotel (look for Wawona lodge). The park restaurant serves you a square meal. You will have access to internet. You can ride the buses that run on green fuel or you can bike around. But Yosemite they make sure that they do not put a toe across the line that nature drew for us. If you still do not trust the commitment of the park toward preserving the nature read this article in New York Times . They are actually planning to tear down a bridge and a reservoir in order to restore the Hetch Hetchy valley.

But here are some things you should not miss while you are at Yosemite. The trail to lower Yosemite falls is a piece of cake for any age group. But if you really want to sweat a bit more, I would recommend the mist trail and trust me on this, you can not thank me enough for the advice after you have reached the top of Vernal falls.  If you love to step a bit higher then go for the half dome and the Glacier point. I had just one day to spend at the park and I got so many things to tell you. If you are planning to go to Yosemite make sure you spend atleast 3 days to feel the real Yosemite experience.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

John Muir, the architect of the Yosemite falls, says, “No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite”. He is absolutely right, you will really experience that the moment you step in Yosemite.

If you want to read further about Yosemite from the man who architected the Yosemite national park, you can download the following eBook.

Yosemite by John Muir (Courtesy: Google)- Free eBook (Copyright Expired, Now in public domain)

Here is the last treat. A short video recorded at Vernal Falls


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