Northern California Road Trip
Airport YOGA ROOM
A yoga room in an airport. Leave it to California to be the OG of airport yoga rooms. The first of its kind, the San Francisco airport has yoga rooms that are open 24 hours at no charge. This brilliant idea involves space for travelers to relax, practice yoga, and self-reflect. To my travel partners, if you ever lose me at an airport with a yoga room, you can find me there in shavasana. Note: Shavasana is that pose typically done at the end of a yoga practice where you lay on your back hoping you don’t start snoring.
TURO RENTAL CAR
Once the fascination with the yoga room wore off I picked up my rental car. I used the company Turo, formally known as Relay Rides, a network of private car owners who rent out their vehicles. For eight days and just $250 total, I was driving around a blue mini cooper convertible. First destination: YOSEMITE. Well, between you and me the first stop was an awesome fruit stand along the way because I’m always hungry, but then, YOSEMITE. After spending my first night in a beautiful Airbnb in Ahwahnee, I went over to the park to start exploring.
THIRTEEN MILE HIKE
With 30 pounds of camera gear in my packs, I left early to start a 13 mile hike. I began the hike along the Four Mile Trail, which is actually 4.8 miles long. Go figure. Two hours and forty-five minutes later I had walked up 3,200 feet and completed the four mile trail. Spoiler alert: I was not done. I continued the hike along the Panorama Trail to the beautiful Vernal Falls. After another 8.6 miles and 4.5 hours later, I completed the 13 mile hike. What a wonderful accomplishment, although my shaking legs may not have agreed with me at the moment.
For the next couple days, I explored the park. Did you know that Yosemite is home to two of the largest sequoia trees in the world? One of them is 210 feet tall and 30 feet in diameter, think 30 Michael Jordans tall and 5 Michael Jordans wide. This Grizzly Giant can be found in Mariposa Grove, the most southern part of Yosemite, along with the California Tunnel tree. Hint: it will be the tree with a tunnel cut out of it’s base.
Exploring Yosemite left me with stunning visual images forever. I drove from view to view, explored the park by foot, and met woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and bear... yes I was lucky enough to see a bear. No, using “lucky” to describe running into a bear was not a typo. A Yosemite ranger taught me that black bears may show dominance by bluff charging (think: what testosterone filled boys do to act big and tough without making the first move), but unless they feel the need to protect themselves, their cubs, or their food, they won’t attack. In fact, no reports have ever been made of anyone getting killed or seriously injured by a black bear in Yosemite.* Fun fact: black bears can be black, but are more often different shades of brown in Yosemite.
*Please take caution if you come across a bear.
Day four. Napa Valley. Time for wine! My first stop was at Chateau Montelena at the 108 acre Montelena Estate. I did the walk-in wine tasting and explored the chinese garden. Next stop was Casa Nuestra Winery and Vineyards. This was my favorite; not because of it’s cute sign in front reading, “Embrace peace, make wine not war;” not because of the two goats in the back, Elvis and Colonel Parker; but because after a business deal made with the vineyard, Casa Nuestra got beautiful new photos for their website and I got bottomless wine at the winery and 10 bottles sent to my house back home. Can you tell I like wine?
san francisco Pt. 1
With (surprisingly) no wine hangover, I woke up the next day and drove to my San Francisco Airbnb. I stayed in a private room with my soon to be new friends, Elle and Nick. This is why I love Airbnb. What better way to learn about a new city then from people who live there. To begin my adventure, Elle brought us to Ocean Beach where we hung out and then walked over to the Sutro Baths, or what’s left of it. This facility used to be the world’s largest indoor swimming pool, but sadly it burned down in 1966 and today only ruins remain. From there, we grabbed lunch from Souvla and a juice from Juice Shop. Not only does Juice Shop sell juice meant to rid our bodies from toxins, they also help save the planet by including a $2 bottle deposit in the price to encourage the return and reuse of their glass bottles. After lunch we had dessert at Smitten, an outdoor stand that crafts their ice cream using liquid nitrogen. The ice cream features local ingredients and is made in front of you. Yum.
SAN FRANCISCO PT. 2
The next day I explored on my own. I started the day near the Golden Gate bridge. Next to the bridge was Planet Granite, a rock climbing gym I decided to spend a couple hours at. To go for the day it costs $22. They discount the day rate to $18 if you go before 1pm or show your student ID. Don’t lie, I know you still use your student ID to get discounts even though you graduated years ago. From the gym I stopped by the more popular tourist locations in San Fran: Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 to see the sea lions, and Lombard street, the most crooked street in the world sitting on a 27 degree angle.
until next time, san fran
Finishing up my last day, I took a San Francisco Bay Boat Cruise wine tour under the golden gate bridge. For $70 per person I watched the sunset by the Golden Gate bridge. When we returned to shore, I spent the rest of the evening at Martuni’s, a piano bar featuring a high class karaoke where talented singers from well known plays took turns singing alongside a pianist.
Be right back, have to go practice my singing.