Big Sur and Yosemite Valley
The famous Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur. After leaving San Francisco (where we flew in), we had lunch in Carmel by the Sea and strolled around a bit before heading into Big Sur.
We spent the night in Big Sur Lodge, which turned out to be wonderful. We had our own cabin with a wood-burning fireplace. This view is from the restaurant, Nepenthe, just down the road from the lodge.
As we made our way down the coastline, we stopped at a few different state parks and overlooks. This is Pfeiffer Beach State Park.
Lisa was impressed by the alien-looking seaweed.
The next morning, we made our way south down the Big Sur coastline, on our way to Yosemite.
Just outside the southern point of Big Sur is an Elephant Seal beach. At certain times of the year, the seals migrate to this beach. We lucked out and were able to see them around the peak.
It was really cool to see the seals up close. The smell was a bit overwhelming though. Think rotted milk mixed with stale seawater.
Lisa caught these two males “fighting.”
Our original itinerary was to begin in Big Sur and drive to Sequoia National Park. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks before our trip, a fire broke out and made its way into Sequoia, closing the park. We were forced to pivot and rebook elsewhere.
We decided on Yosemite National Park, even though it was a bit further away. We were able to catch a pretty amazing sunset during our drive into the park.
This is the view driving into Yosemite from Fresno, along Wawona Road. It is roughly a thirty minute drive from the park entrance to the valley.
Due to our last minute booking, the only available accommodation in Yosemite Valley was The Ahwahnee Hotel, one of the pricier options in the park. We did have quite a view of Yosemite falls from our hotel window, seen here.
Directly behind our hotel was one of the more famous “trails” in the Valley, Mirror lake. The trail was an easy paved mile path that went to the base of half dome.
Mirror Lake. Unfortunately we didn’t get a good view of Half Dome this day due to the cloud cover.
El Captian is massive. There were rock climbers camping out overnight, suspended from the side of the mountain. You can look up at night and see thier flashlights on the side of the cliff.
We ended up spending more time than we thought we would need becoming familiar with the park layout and amenities. We chose a hiking trail based on the recommendations of a ranger called the Columbia Rock Trail.
The trail started out relatively flat, but quickly gained in elevation towards a waterfall at the top.
The waterfall at the top of the trail (at least, as far as we went).
Tunnel View is a short drive up, just above the Valley. It is famous for its views of Yosemite Valley.
There is a short loop trail in the valley with great views of all the major landmarks.
The next morning, we tried our luck on the Mirror Lake Trail again. This time we were able to get good views of Half Dome.
We stopped at Tunnel View for one last view of Yosemite on our way out of the park.
We only had a couple of short days in Yosemite, but we really enjoyed it and plan on making our way for a more thorough experience of the park. Much of the park was closed due to snow/weather, and we’d love to revisit and see some other areas it has to offer.
Our last stop during this visit to California was one of our favorite places, Sonoma. We lucked out and found that Pliny the Elder was available this time of the year. We even got to enjoy it on draft at a local microbrewery.
Known for being dry, Sonoma was rainy the first day we were visiting. We drove out to Point Reyes, where we had visited during our previous trip to Sonoma.
Seals gathered on a beach at Point Reyes.
Yes… food pics. We had one of the greatest meals we’ve ever had this night, at The Girl and The Fig. We sat at the bar and ordered the bartender’s recommendations, and were blown away. This is the crispy chicken thighs. Sounds a little boring to read, but the flavors were on point.
The Duck Confit at The Girl and The Fig. We would 100% recommend having dinner here for anyone visiting Sonoma.
The next day, we rented e-bikes and did a self-guided winery tour. It turned out to be a great way to see and experience the area. Our first stop was Gundlach Bundshu Winery, just outside of Sonoma.
We made our way to a few different wineries on our e-bikes before returning to town in the evening. This trip solidified our love of Sonoma.
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