After four incredible days in San Francisco, we picked up our rental car and headed north for some serious wine tasting.
Such serious were out tastings that we hardly took any pictures while touring Napa. 🙂 After doing insane amounts of research, we decided to only include wineries that didn’t require reservations and also didn’t charge an admission fee. I may have obsessed over finding the perfect winery a little too much in advance since you can hardly drive a couple of feet without stumbling across a winery in Napa. Personally, we liked V. Sattui in St. Helena the best. Their staff was super knowledgable and we got to try wines that we normally wouldn’t have tried, they were spot on with their recommendations! In the end though, we settled for something a little more budget friendly and headed to the next Trader Joe’s to stock up before heading to Yosemite.
After a brief stop at In’n’Out Burger in Stockton, we headed towards our vacation rental near Yosemite. We ended up staying in a fantastically remote camper with private hot tub roughly 90 minutes outside the park. It could not have been any more perfect! We had breakfast every morning overlooking the river and lazed around in the hot tub after a long day at the park while BBQing.
On our first day in Yosemite, we embarked on the Mist Trail (Vernal & Nevada Falls), which was a bit crowded in the beginning but we were soon well alone in the mountains, occasionally passing or being passed by the same groups of hikers throughout the day.
The views along the way were truly spectacular and even with low flow in the fall, the waterfalls were well worth the hike.
Half Done! On day 2, we finally got to spot our favorite mountain, Half Dome! We headed up Glacier Road but parked a couple of spots before the Glacier Point parking lot, which was an absolute tourist madhouse despite being there during the off season. If you go, take the Sentinel Dome parking lot, hike up Sentinel Dome and then hike all the way over to Glacier Point. The views are EPIC and there were few if any other hikers past the parking lot.
When then hiked back to where we came from and over to the Taft Point outlook after briefly getting “lost” on top of Sentinel Dome. To the elderly couple who asked us for directions: we’re sorry.
Next time, we’ll have to spend a full week in Yosemite although I feel it still might not be enough. This might be our new favorite National Park. We were, however, excited to head to Sequoia the next day, where we started our day at the Giant Sequoia Museum and got excellent hiking advice from the ranger on duty. For some reason, they don’t hand out hiking or trail maps like all the other National Parks so instead, we had our own hand scribbled notes of directions that come natural to any Vermonter “past the parking lot, take the trail to the left right past the picnic bench”. Easy Peasy. 🙂
We hiked from the museum to Moro Rock and battled the crowds on the way up and down but once again, no crowds on the trails in between. From there, we hiked through Crescent Meadow and came upon Congress Trail from “the other side” where the light was just magical.
We hiked the Atlas Trail back to the museum and our car, which was the last one in the parking lot before making it down the mountain through hair needle turns.
As a former Angeleno, I’ll always love California and the California Coast. There’s something so magical about the waves hitting the shore and Californians are some of the nicest and most relaxed people to boot. We also rode horses along the beach, which was a special treat!
Passionfish in Pacific Grove – Mind blowing sea food.
La Costanera in Half Moon Bay – Peruvian Food to die for.
Monterey Beach Trail Rides – super fun, easy phone reservation and very mellow horses.
Antoinette’s Coffee & Goodies in Three Rivers just outside Sequoia. It looks unassuming from the outside but they offer a awesome breakfast menu (more than just the pastries you see from the outside).