Continuing on from where I left off last time, once we had recuperated in Phoenix, Arizona with a nice comfy bed, a pool and our first ever baseball game (corn dogs& buckets of ice cream included!) we headed west in the direction of LA where we were due to return our rental car a couple days later.
Driving through the border between Nevada and California the landscape seemed to drastically change right before our eyes. Red desert sand became perfectly manicured lawns and parkways, and long stretches of road with next to nothing (except McDonald’s and subways) were replaced with shopping malls and resort hotels with a bank on every corner.
We had nowhere booked to stay that night because hostels in LA are pretty much non existent, and the ones that were available were just way out of our budget. *cue angel wing noises and twinkling halo…enter Hannah*. This absolute star of a girl I met in Thailand way back in January literally SAVED us from a night sleeping in Walmart car park. She clocked my instagram story of us shopping for bargains in Palm Springs outlet mall & offered for us to stay with her in Huntington beach, just south of the main city of Los Angeles.
So that’s where we headed. We fired her address into the sat nav and made our way there. She took us out and showed us around the funky bars on the beach. One place looked like a house that was turned into a bar& club – it even had little living room areas where young hipster looking cali guys and gals loitered around smoking and drinking, chatting rubbish & just having fun (everything fun is legal in California, remember).
California honestly has such a chilled, laid back vibe to it (maybe because everyone is always smoking…) – at least on the outskirts. However once we got into LA and started trying to manoeuvre around Hollywood Boulevard in our new hippy wagon (aside from the stares and the peace signs people kept giving us) it was pretty much impossible to get anywhere quickly. I would actually always forget the van had a peace sign on the front, so was very confused for the first few days. I thought it was a cali thing…
So we did the touristy stuff of course – what’s a visit to LA without seeing the Hollywood Sign and rodeo drive, but LA wasn’t really our scene. We wanted to get onto the Pacific Coast Highway / Big Sur and on the way to San Francisco as soon as possible really… so we stocked our little zebra pal full of supplies and set off on our way again.
It was kinda nice to be back in civilisation again, not having to worry about when we’d be able to go to the bathroom next, or be limited to gas station food. But we still had the issue of where we were gonna shower every night. Before, we had made do with being manky for a few days (everybody was, it’s hard to be squeaky clean in the desert when there’s red dust EVERYWHERE) but there was extra pressure to be presentable now, especially as we were finding ourselves driving through the mansions in Beverley hills & Malibu beach…
The hippy wagon really was doing us no favours either but we made it work somehow. Like in San Francisco for example (where the weather is pretty hit and miss…) we found a beach just below the Golden Gate Bridge that had a free (freezing cold) shower out in the open. So there we stood, shivering, while an entire school trip watched us try shower and brush our teeth in our swimming costumes before changing into “people clothes” to roam the streets of San Francisco. The joys of road tripping eh ?
It was so worth it though because I LOVED San Francisco. It was actually one of the highlights of the entire west coast for me – so much so that I actually had a little bubble driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, completely dumbfounded of how big & high & scary it was. And here we were pelting over it in our multicoloured campervan like a pair of hippy kids. I was made up. To top off the end of a cracking day we set up camp on the vista point overlooking the bridge and fell asleep to the most surreal views of the sleeping city beneath us.
But alas, you gotta keep moving on your house with wheels. It’s the whole point of a road trip. And there was still so much to see! We said goodbye to the water and headed inland, hunting for our next point of interest and the one at the very top of Taylor’s list; Yosemite National Park. I really didn’t know what to expect but the place was just absolutely stunning. Huge trees taller than sky scrapers covered the land below us as we edged further down into the canyon to the very bottom. The view points on the way down were just incredible, especially being able to see half dome from almost every single one. We passed valleys of crystal clear water with roaring waterfalls, we hiked through thick woodland to touch the cliff face of el capitan and munched dinner in the cafe before heading to our campsite at the north entrance of the park.
It was a total fluke we managed to get a spot. Normally the campsites are full weeks in advance but there was 1 spare space left, and we got it. Taylor was absolutely thrilled we could stay overnight in his favourite place thus far, I on the other hand was absolutely sh*tting myself. Did you know there were bears in Yosemite ? Yeah, me neither.
We had to stash our toiletries, food , anything that smelled like it could be eaten by a 400lb bear and lock it away in the bear lockers dotted around the site. I’m not gonna lie I barely slept a wink listening out for our furry campers, and at one point I was convinced there was one right outside the tent. Too frozen with fear to say anything, yet still too terrified to pass out and go to sleep. It was an experience for sure, one I’m not sure I’ll do again any time soon. At least not without buying bear spray…
So it was no surprise that I was up and ready to go explore early doors the next morning. I’ve been collecting National Park patches all over the country so we decided to do one last loop of the park, and hopefully manage to find one I could sew onto my patch jacket – with great success ! Patch acquired we moseyed on out of the park en route to Lake Tahoe, through Reno, Nevada and onwards to Yellowstone National Park…
*split post because oh how I love to ramble*
Part 3 en route, promise xo