American road trip 2011 D4 San Francisco Yosemite

Just a quick explanation: in the summer of 2011, my parents decided to take all six of us (four children between 22 and 16 and two parents) on a roadtrip through -mostly- the West Coast of the USA. This was written as a diary at the time, so keep in mind that this was written by a 22-year-old who was blogging to keep family and friends updated on our whereabouts. Enjoy! – Camille

Our first big road trip movement and we succeeded! Big Mexican wave for us!

For those of you who think of Yosemite Sam when looking at the title, sorry to disappoint… Yosemite (to be pronounced /jˈsɛmɨt/, thank you wikipedia.org, can’t find phonetic transcription on this computer it seems) is a national park based in the wonderful state of California. Further information can be found on wikipedia, because as of right this moment I know pretty much nothing about it. Who knows, maybe by tomorrow I’ll be the perfect guide to this national park (probably not, but why stop hoping right?).

Now that I’ve explained the whole ‘Yosemite vs. Yosemite Sam’ thing a bit, on with today’s schedule and adventures!

This morning we rose bright and early (maybe just a bit too early for some of our party) to pack up and leave the Sheraton on Fisherman’s Wharf. Goodbye, so long, you served us well! We took a small detour by Lombard Street (as my little sister pointed out, only in America can a city be made famous by just one street), which is basically an amusement park for cars (only the cars don’t see it that way, though the onlookers do). Lombard Street is a street that has a 28° steepness. That’s right. 28°. That’s a whole lot of steepness. So what did the city of San Francisco (or Frisco, as my father keeps on insisting it’s called) do? They created some extra turns to make the descent of the street doable by car, added stairs to the left and right for pedestrians and declared the street a one-way street. Tada! A new landmark (or should that be citymark?) was born and tourists came swarming. Hurray.

After Lombard Street (by now the weather had almost entirely cleared up and we were enjoying our first good weather in the States) we went to visit Alcatraz. As they said (quite a few times): “Those that abuse the rules go to prison. Those that abuse the prison rules go to Alcatraz.”. And we were going voluntarily. What does that say about us? After the boat trip to the island (we went with Alcatraz Cruises, of course – really, I’m not kidding), we arrived on an almost entirely bird-populated island. (Little known fact: Alcatraz basically means ‘pelican’ in Spanish. I was so happy and overjoyed. And made sure my little sisters/parents/brother were close to me at all times to scare away evil birds.) Contrary to popular opinion, Alcatraz is almost livable: flowers, cute gardens, holes in the walls that may or may not have been made by grenades and gunshots… A real-life paradise!

If you ever get the chance to visit Alcatraz, go and make sure you have an audiotour. Really, it’s fabulous. I can’t speak for the Dutch version, but the English version was wonderfully informative and definitely NOT boring (yes, I’m such an English freak I want to hear my tours in English. Sue me.). Alcatraz is… How can I describe it best? I’d say the word is ”spooky’. Some of the cells have been remade into how they were, three of the cells have make-believe humans in them (the three inmates that managed to escape the Rock by making papier-maché heads and carving their way out of their cells with spoons) and at certain times I just expected to see guards and inmates coming out of hallways, wondering what all the fuzz was about. Spooky. But: I’d recommend it to everyone I know. Why? It’s interesting, gives a good view of how inmates and guards alike lived/live in an ultra-enforced prison and happens to be history. Who hasn’t heard of Alcatraz or the Harry Potter version of the Rock (namely Azkaban)?

After our inspiring visit, we said goodbye to San Francisco. It’s true what they say: the hardest or saddest part and definitely less-liked part of San Francisco is leaving it behind. I’ll say goodbye, but never farewell: I will be back (if only for the Cheesecake Factory. Alright, enough said about that. On with the story).

We rode off to Yosemite, guided by our faithful GPS. And lo and behold: we arrived just 4 hours and a bit later!  (with just a couple of small detours to tank, eat, pick-nick and move around. Oh, and a small GPS-mishap which made some of us uncomfortable. Could happen to the best of us, could happen to the worst of us, but come hell and highwater, we arrived!) The lodge is a bit (alright, very) kitschy, we have at this very moment no clue how to get to the park tomorrow morning and we’re hoping for gorgeous weather, but the beds seem to be perfectly fine and we’ve got all the green, water (in the form of the river Merced) and space we need. What more could we want?

Those beds, of course 😉 I’m off to sleep and hope all of you in Belgium are waking up/still asleep/partying all night long/… Whatever rocks your boat!

See you on the flip side!

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