Departure.

So after a busy summer with work always ongoing with the van, it is time to call a halt to that work, and depart! I must say that despite my nonchalance to the impending departure, the actual event had my mind in absolute chaos. Constantly worrying about stupid things. Needless things. Going around in circles with ‘what-if’ scenarios, that I couldn’t have any idea about until I experienced them.

Upon departing, I headed down to my Grandmas. I had cried already several times, and couldn’t even give a proper goodbye to my brother, save for my throat clogging up. God knows what would have happened if my parents were there. I may have never set off. We’ll find out when I meet them in France. Meeting Grandma was also tough. Saying goodbye is so easy until it really matters.

After saying half a goodbye to Grandma, I left for Sheffield. At least in this part my mind had settled a little. I didn’t have to constantly cycle over things to remember to put in the van. I was on my way, and I wasn’t turning back. The drive went surprisingly quickly, and I was soon outside the door of my friend’s, Liam, household. After picking him up, we headed for the Peak District, to do some classic gritstone bouldering. Managing a few hours before rain settled in, and thereby displacing us from our climbing, we retreated to the comforts of The Foundry, for some plastic pulling. Parking is easier said than done in a 6.5m long van…

Finally we had to retreat home, our fingertips being worn to satisfaction, after an unsatisfactory grit outing. I managed to edit a few photos, and have some good banter with Liam and his housemate Joe, before turning in for the night.

Morning comes after a shallow night’s sleep. Most likely, I’m still highly stressed about everything, but I’m still in control of my mind for now. Liam and I headed straight down to Bristol, where I dropped him off at the train station, so he can see his granddad, whilst I headed into the centre to meet with my former tutor at university to talk PhDs. After a useful conversation, I headed to Redpoint to say hello to my friends and colleagues in arms.

It was great to see all the familiar faces, most of which were excited not because I was saying hi, but that there might be someone to do some work! After saying hi to anyone and everyone I knew, I departed to get provisions for the van, then for some climbing!

Driving into the gorge is as nostalgic as ever. Surrounded by cliffs that distract the eye from the road, it reminds me of Yosemite. The British Yosemite. Parking up a Sea Walls, I do some laps on Sleepwalk and Nightmare, two brilliant routes. After that I had a need for food, so I settled in to cook dinner. Risotto rice in a bag. Looks alright enough, so I start it on the hob…

 

At this point, I start writing a diary, which will replace this now that I’ve caught up with the events…

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It was over so fast…

After an extremely busy roadtrip, in which I was just able to edit photos and upload them to Facebook, I am currently in the airport waiting to board my next flight to Canada, to begin another roadtrip! The fun never stops!

Not only has the trip been busy, the internet has also been very variable, with some places like Yosemite (not too surprising) having an extremely slow connection, meaning that it takes too long to get the photos on WordPress. So I started writing the blogs in the car, and just need to upload the photos for the blog and they’re good to go. I doubt I’ll be able to post whilst in Canada, due to camping for the most part, so the connection is unlikely to exist at all. Once I return to the UK I will be posting about the trips, most likely in separate posts for each city and region rather than two huge posts.

To give a summary for the road trip, the locations we have been to are:

  1. San Francisco
  2. Davis
  3. South Lake Tahoe
  4. Yosemite
  5. Bishop
  6. Las Vegas
  7. Los Angeles
  8. San Diego
  9. Santa Barbara
  10. Monterey
  11. Santa Cruz

For now all I can say is that the trip has been utterly fantastic, and I’m excited that it isn’t over yet, with two more weeks of travelling with a friend hiking and climbing in British Colombia and Alberta!

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My family at the Golden Gate viewpoint – Mum & Dad left, Aunt & Uncle right

The Roadtrip so Far…

After spending a few days in San Francisco visiting many of the major attractions except the Golden Gate Bridge that we will see at the end of our trip, a day viewing Davis campus, and half a day viewing Lake Tahoe, to finally arrive in Yosemite. As I haven’t had as regular postings as I’d hoped, I’ll provide an update up until things stand now, which is our final night in Yosemite before heading to Bishop, and then Las Vegas.

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The view from the window of our hotel room

San Francisco still held many curiosities despite the fact I had gone twice before, and now I feel I saw much more tourist locations. Previous times I had gone with relatively local people so I got a good view of what they enjoyed, namely in Chinatown, where we got moon cake together for the festival of the moon. On this trip with my family, we went to many of the places I had seen with my friends before, but with the addition of the streetcar to Fisherman’s Wharf, and Golden Gate Park. Golden Gate Park was interesting to walk around, but limited for what is free to view. There is a pond which was very tranquil and for some reason had a significant population of turtles! To add to this were blue herons nesting in the tree on the island, giving sights of wildlife we never would have thought could exist in the centre of a city. The place that intrigues me the most, were I to go back, is the Japanese tea gardens, which looked like they would be very beautiful as well as a large cultural experience. I am also tempted to avoid it, and just go to Japan directly to experience it. Other park attractions were the Conservatory of Flowers, and the Museum with its interesting architecture.

The last thing we did in San Francisco is a twilight tour of Alcatraz. This was a truly fantastic experience that I would happily recommend. The views of the bay are incredible on the way to the island, and the tour is a sobering and ‘eye-opening’ experience. The prison still maintains its aura and foreboding nature. Then to top it all off, a sunset ferry back to civilization which gives a truly spectacular panorama.

The next morning, we headed to the airport to get the car, and head to Davis, and then Tahoe. The timing of Davis was fantastic, coinciding with the graduation of many of my coursemates from Aerospace. After seeing some of my friends to say my final goodbyes and congratulate them, we walked around the campus, touring the engineering buildings and the arboretum and social areas around Davis. After a hurried tour of Davis, which was somewhat peaceful and emotional on my part, being the final time I will see the campus for the foreseeable future, we made our way to South Lake Tahoe. Thankfully we managed to still make it in the light, with the mountains in a silhouette, giving an imposing introduction to Tahoe. In the morning we went to the beach to observe the mountains, and then headed to Emerald Bay on the western shore of Tahoe, which gives a fantastic view of the blueness and clarity of the water in Tahoe.

Now on our way to Yosemite, we stopped by above Mono Lake, where a breathtaking view takes you off-guard as you round a corner. Continuing in to Tioga Pass, to head through Tuolumne to Yosemite, mountains flank you on either side with remnants of snow that have yet to melt reminding you of their height. As you drive along, you continue to gain altitude, wondering when it will summit, when you eventually reach the Yosemite park limit, at an altitude of 9975ft, which is close to the highest train up to Gornegrat, that we did a few years ago, at a height of 3089m. After passing through the Tioga toll, you enter into the Tuolumne meadows, a brilliant panorama of long grass fields surrounded by granite domes; a campers’ paradise. After some time, you eventually get your first view of Yosemite Valley, with Half Dome in centre stage. Never in my life had I seen so much exposed rock in a single view. It appears like an ocean of granite flash frozen into position, that you could spend multiple lifetimes exploring.

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First view of Half Dome
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The vew of Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View

The Valley from the front is no less impressive, with El Capitan and Bridalvale Falls take the foreground. The Tunnel viewpoint gave an utterly incredible view of the valley before we headed to our cabin, but in that moment I understood why people give up everything to live their lives in Yosemite Valley, dodging rangers and freeloading. It made me quite tempted to join the craze. Unfortunately, we were pressed for time, otherwise we may have done a quick drive around the valley before heading up to get some sleep. As it stood, we just headed to the cabin. The next day I did a hike with my mum, which I’ll give its own post. For now, I’ll leave this post there, which gives a brief written and visual story.