Thursday, April 09, 2009

USA: Big Trees, Deserts and Ocean

So Steph and I got hold of a car for a couple of weeks and over Spring Break went on a little road trip. The plan was to get to the Grand Canyon, but due the massiveness of this country it just wasn't feasible. We ended up doing some camping at two national parks: Sequoia National Park and Joshua Tree National Park.

Me on some rocks over looking the Sierra Nevada's in Sequoia National Park

We started out camping in Sequoia National Park which is in the South of the Sierra Nevada's (the mountains along the east of California, not to be confused with the very good beer of the same name). The first camp ground we got to was 3ft deep in snow, so we opted for the camp in the foothills and drove up to the hikes. The wild flowers were blooming which was fantastic, and there were signs everywhere warning about Bears!

A Giant Sequoia. The little trees are big too.

We did a bunch hiking around the park. Saw high peaks, knobby rocks, lots of snow, and wild flowers. The highlight was a meadow of Giant Sequoia tree's. These trees were massive. It was a little surreal really.

Highway in the Mojave

From the first park we drove a sneaky 6 hours to Joshua Tree National Park. The trip there was awesome, as we came over the mountains all the green just disappeared right on the pass and we hit the Mojave desert. It was awesome. Hot driving though!

Joshua Trees in Joshua Tree National Park

We camped next to a collection of massive boulders in the Park and did a but of hiking around. It was rather cold, even during the day, which was a little surprising. The signature Joshua Trees were very cool, scattered through the valleys in all sorts of odd shapes and sizes. Some over 6 metres tall. I do love to visit deserts, they are so different from home!

Sunset over the Park

After the desert adventure we packed up the tent and drove for 9 hours halfway up California back to Davis. I had the opportunity to drive through LA which was pretty cool. Although the interstates go over the city, rather than through it, so I only had to change from one highway to another... nothing too stressful!

The weekend after Spring Break we went on a camping trip to Bodega, which is up on the North coast of California. We camped in a Redwood grove and heard Mountain Lions trying to eat our left overs.

Sonoma Coast

The coast reminded me a lot of the Kaikoura coast, with out the ranges right beside it. Sloping away were some pastures used for grazing (sheep!). It was so much like home. After Bodega we hit Sebastapol which is a small town with not much going on except a tasty micro-brewery, a tasty cookie company and a farmers market with free rice and chocolate at closing time!

Looking North from Bodega Head, over a Californian Poppy.

So those were my recent adventure. We plan on some more camping this weekend, and of course more adventures to come. I haven't yet ventured much past California (aside from 5 days in Portland, which is another cool city) but have got a good taste for this State and I love America.

Ending Thought: Before I arrived in America I believed the stereotype that all American beer was bad. Fortunately after some research I have discovered I was grossly mistaken.

USA: Davis, San Francisco

I am now in the United States of America, and have been for 2 months and 1 day. Life is pretty sweet, sweeter probably as I am eating way more quality American peanut butter (its so much better/sweeter than all others!). The adventure began way back in February when I arrived in San Francisco and has continued out here in Davis where we are living at the moment. Davis is a small college town in the middle of.... lots of farms. About 1.5hrs from San Francisco.

We live on C St, near 1st St.

Its a nice town with everything you need. A good number of pubs, parks with basketball courts and pick up games, an In-n-Out Burger, an excellent bike path network, easy to navigate, lots of young people, and a shisha shop. What more do you need? Oh, and excellent (albeit expensive) public transport connections to near by cities.

Our apartment.

From Davis we have been on some adventures. More on the big ones in the next post. But we did get one day in in San Francisco. From what I saw walking around and sampling tasty treats its a pretty cool city, and one which has a very good reputation for being awesome. There are some massive bridges and steep streets with houses that Danny Tanner would be proud to live in.

China Town, looking towards the Bay Bridge. 30c Pork Buns!

We did some exploring around the city, over to Oakland and also down south in Silicon Valley. I could very easily seeing myself living here, I am a big fan of big cities, and in my field this is the place to be (outside of Bangalore).

View of SF from above Oakland. Golden Gate Bridge on the right.

So that is me. I am in Davis and loving it. Next post: Road trips around California!