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  1. Default Cities, Deserts & Mountains

    This is my 25 Day 'on the road' report of a road trip from San Francisco CA to Denver CO, via Yosemite, Big Sur, Los Angeles CA, Tuscon AZ, Grand Canyon AZ, Monument valley AZ, Jackson WY, Yellowstone & Rapid City SD, to name but a few. Finished off with a couple of days in New York City, between 28th July & 21st August 2011.

    I'm travelling with my 13 year old son, who wanted an American road trip with his dad after hearing about my solo East-West coast to coast road trip that I did 22 years ago.

    We arrived at our San Francisco hotel (Holiday Inn Fishermans Wharf) at 23:00 on Wednesday after over 25 hours of travelling. Taxi to Manchester Airport (UK), Continental Airlines to Newark NJ, and then another Continental flight to San Francisco. The booked connection in Newark had been over booked by people who had been delayed by bad weather in the few days before, but we were able to get standby tickets for a flight only 2 hours later. Fortunatly there were just 2 no shows for that flight so we didn't lose a day. Pre-booked Super Shuttle from SFO to hotel was very efficient. We paid over the odds vis our travel agent but you can book on line or just turn up at the curb side. You have to wait until they get a van load (about 9 in ours) but the driver practically sprinted round the van to load/unload luggage.

    Slept in late on 28th and then, after an 'American' breakfast (like a full English, but BIGGER), we stolled down to Pier 33 to catch the ferry to Alcatraz (Pre booked and tickets pre printed at home). Had a great time there, even though the bay was shrouded in low cloud & a strong wind whistled through the cell house. The self guided audio tour is still as excellent as it was the last time I was there.

    Did some shopping around Fishermans Wharf. We live near Blackpool in the UK, which has simmilar tourist shops, but the shops in SF are much much less tacky and the staff are very friendly. We got essentials, like a TracFone ($20 from Wallgreens) plus another $20 for 60 minutes of credit (doubled to 120 minutes as the phone had double minutes already). I intend to use this for booking ahead and in case of emergency. Also a few non essentials, such as a Twinky, which my son has been wanting to try since he saw Die Hard and I explained what it was. He took one bite and dumped the rest in the bin. We rounded off the day with dinner at the Hared Rock cafe (our first vist). Food was passable, but nothing special. Service was OK.

    Woke early on 29th, must be adjusting to PDT. Navigated to a couple of shoe shops that stock a particular brand of shoe that my son wanted, using free wifi and Google maps on his ipod touch. Where we come from there arn't enough free wifi hotspots to make this possible. Rode a cable car & then down to a company called 'Blazing Saddles' to rent a couple of bikes and ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, visit the redwood trees at Old Mill park and then on to Tiburon to catch the ferry back to SF. There are a lot of companies renting bikes and a lot of people riding them across the bridge. I chose Blazing Saddles as I had seen their web site & they also have an operation in New York City, which we might try out. weather permitting. The staff were very friendly and the bikes were in reasonable condition (not much, if any, tread on the tyres, but then you don't go 'off road'). I really needed the 24 gears, and a larger saddle would have reduced the pain in my backside. They say it's 'down hill both ways', but you have to go up the hills before you can go down them.

    We pick up our car tomorrow (Saturday) and drive over to Yosemite. Read future installments to see how we get on.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Thanks for sharing.

    Thank you for coming back and sharing your trip so far. Sounds like you have made a great start to your trip. Trust the rest will go just as well. Have you taken any pictures? We love pics. You can upload them by clicking on 'Members' on the green bar above, and choose PhotoShare.

    Looking forward to the next episode.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Another thanks here for coming back and reporting on your trip! Did you ever get the pair of shoes that your son wanted?


  4. Default

    Sounds like you're having a great vacation already and you've only been their a few days. Are you staying in Yosemite or outside? I forgot you were ending up in Colorado.

    The cheese and onion pie was great at work this week (but I would much rather be on a road trip around the United States of America).


  5. Default Yosemite & Sequia National Parks

    We picked up the rental car, on Saturday 30th, from Alamo on O’Farrell Street in down-town San Francisco. We had booked an intermediate SUV, Chevrolet Equinox ('or similar') through HolidayAutos because it had no one-way charge & I didn't want cases in the rear seats of a car. After waiting in line for about 20 minutes we got the keys to a white 2010 Jeep Patriot. We have 2 large, but not huge, cases which fit neatly in the trunk area. You could probably fit in 3 cases if you didn't want rear vision, or 4 cases if you fold down the split rear seats, but if you have 4 people then I'd get a bigger car.

    The GPS we brought with us easily guided us out of town, over the bay bridge and across the central valley towards Yosemite. At this point the tank was about 1/2 empty, so I decided to fill up. I realised I didn't know if the engine was Unleaded or Diesel. I checked the rental paperwork, the filler cap and inside the car, nothing! The green nozzle was too big for the filler, but the black one fitted, so I assumed it was Diesel (as the Diesel nozzles in the UK are black & the unleaded are green).

    After buying a 1-year pass ($80 rather than $20 per park entry) we continued into the park and followed the twisting road higher & higher. We took a couple of photos at overlooks, but due to a navigational error we turned off (at Tunnel view) before reaching Yosemite Village. Fortunately we had had a good breakfast as it was getting late when we exited the park at the south entrance and started looking for accommodation in Oakhurst. No luck though, so we pressed on to Fresno. The lesson to be learnt here is use the map that the national park service give you, not a normal road map or GPS which don't contain enough detail.

    On Sunday morning there was light rain as we headed for Sequoia National park. When the tank reached 1/2 full again I pulled into a gas station that had diesel and tried to fill up. But the pump marked Diesel had a green nozzle and the unleaded had a black one. After some help from locals I found that in the US black nozzles are unleaded.

    More twisting roads, climbing to over 7000 feet. The rain stopped just as we reached the Sequoia grove containing the 'Sherman Tree'. A gentle walk of about 1/4 mile down to the Sherman Tree was a relief from sitting in the car. I'm a poor passenger myself so I'm not surprised that AJ was feeling a bit off colour, as I was beginning to feel a little dizzy myself, so a walk in the fresh air was much appreciated. If you continue walking down hill you can catch a bus (free I think) back up to the upper car park. The main path is very well maintained and if you have the time & inclination there are a number of trails through the grove. As it had been raining & we weren’t dressed for the conditions we walked back up, observing the warning that at this attitude the air is a little thin and you shouldn't rush.

    From the Sherman tree grove it was down-hill all the way. Much of this road is currently under construction, with traffic light controlled alternate traffic flow over a couple of miles. Fortunately, as it was Sunday, there was no work taking place and we were only stopped for about 5 minutes. We left the park at the south entrance and stopped at Three Rivers where we had a great lunch, before following highway 198 across the central valley. The straight, flat road was in stark contrast to the mountain roads. As we entered Monterey county, which stretches a surprisingly long way in-land, we climbed over some low rolling hills and were rewarded with great views of rolling hills, made more impressive by the shadows cast by the late afternoon sun and the mist rising from some of the valleys. Tonight we are staying in King City.

    Ohh, by the way. AJ did indeed get the shoes he was after. Blue & white Converse, from a shop (DKH or something like that) near Macy’s.

    Tomorrow we are off to the coast, driving south from Carmel towards LA.

    I'll try & post some photos when I have the time to figure out how.
    Last edited by Seelda; 07-31-2011 at 09:49 PM. Reason: Correct Spellings

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default NP service maps.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seelda View Post
    ... but due to a navigational error...

    The lesson to be learnt here is use the map that the national park service give you, not a normal road map or GPS which don't contain enough detail.
    A timely warning, and one I am sure you will take on board at the other NPs you will be visiting. I have to admit, I keep all those NP maps as souvenirs.

    Looking forward to reading about some of your son's feelings and thoughts, on this great trip.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Thanks.

    Thanks for the update, I am enjoying the read ! Shame about the 'miss' in Yosemite, but feel free to ask any questions you may have for the days ahead as you go.

    I'll try & post some photos when I have the time to figure out how.
    In the 'tools' on the post reply box you will see what looks like a tree in a picture frame [4th from right] that will say 'Image' with your cursor on it. Simply click on it and you can load pictures direct from your computer into the post as an attachment.

    [As previously mentioned by Lifey above, you have the option to create an album in the 'Photoshare' section and link to them.]

  8. Default

    Any Microsoft experts out there? I'm using Outlook 2007 on a netbook. I can download emails (using POP3/SMTP) from both of my UK ISPs but can't upload emails. They stay in my outbox after repeated send/receive cycles. The only way I can send email is to use webmail. This setup works in the UK so all I can think is that it has something to do with the free WiFi we get in hotels/motels.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Change the SMTP settings

    This setup works in the UK so all I can think is that it has something to do with the free WiFi we get in hotels/motels.
    You need to look and see if the SMTP setting is the same as your Incoming Mail setting. If that doesn't clear it up, ask the front desk for the appropriate SMTP setting to allow you to use their e-mails server for sending mail. Sometimes I can figure it out myself -- when you log-on, look and see what the name of the e-mail client (ISP) provider is. The you can do a Google/Bing search for "Isp Name, SMTP settings" and you can usually find something that works.

    Good luck!


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Yes, I experience that too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seelda View Post
    They stay in my outbox after repeated send/receive cycles. The only way I can send email is to use webmail.
    That is what I found too. During my trips I use webmail, save the sent items and load them into Outlook Express when I get home. Over the years I have had lots of different advice on changing settings, and I forget what all, but only webmail has ever worked for me.


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