I am FINALLY doing this! I’m here to share all of my thoughts, tips and tricks on life, fitness, travel and the randomness that is my life. So where do we start? Cali of course. After a recent 2 week road trip I have so much to share. I’m going to try my best – no promises – to make this short so if you have any questions or just want more details on anything just leave a comment below or find me on social media and ask away.
San Francisco & Yosemite
As soon as we got off the place we went straight to Trader Joe’s to stock up on food, drinks, and snacks for Yosemite. Don’t bother packing all of this stuff with you. It’ll just take up unnecessary space in your bag.
FYI – We carried on the plane 2 light backpacks plus 1 “carry on size” hiking pack and then checked in 1 large hiking pack. No suitcases or other luggage.
After Trader Joe’s we grabbed some sandwiches from Ike’s and then headed for Yosemite. All we did was plug the address into Google Maps for our campsite (Lower Pines)- super easy.
Once we arrived to our site we setup our tent, locked everything up in the bear locker, and got some rest.
– Do NOT wait to make last minute reservations for Yosemite or you won’t be camping at Yosemite. And choose your site (we chose Lower Pines) based on the hikes and things that you want to do – thanks Doris for the tip #lifesaver.
My friend Doris has an awesome blog – you can check her out here http://doristheexplorist.blogspot.com/.
– There are bathrooms at Lower Pines but there aren’t any showers so pack your baby wipes. You can take a sink bath but the water is ICE cold. I heard there are showers over at Curry Village but do your research. There may be a cost associated.
We got up early and attempted our hike to Half Dome. We made it to the switchbacks right before the cables and had to stop there – the snow was up to our knees. The cables were down anyway so we were okay with this. To there and back took us 12 hours so bring your head lamps, your water filters and lots of snacks.
– If you want to hike Half Dome just keep in mind that the cables aren’t always up. It is based on the season. I think there’s also a permit required.
– If you are staying at Lower Pines you can walk from Lower Pines through Upper Pines to Happy Isles (start of Half Dome trail) or you can take the shuttle. We passed on the shuttle and just walked.
We decided to just nap, read our books and hang out on this day. We also got a little rain on this day so we knew the trails would be a mess.
We said goodbye to Yosemite and the plan was to head to Mono Lake. Unfortunately the road to Mono was closed so we decided to head up to Lake Tahoe. Ask me if I was mad about that!
When we got to Lake Tahoe it was explore time. We stopped at the Emerald Bay Lookout, at the Logan Shoals Vista Point and at the Bonsai Rock then had dinner at Orchids Thai. I recommend it all.
– It was FREEZING and because we hadn’t planned for Lake Tahoe we weren’t prepared. We found a cheap hotel (Travel Inn) and crashed there for the night. I recommend using Hotels.com for booking hotels. I found it to be the easiest way to find a cheap hotel near me and after you create an account and book through them you get points/discount codes that help out a ton.
Mono Lake, Convict Lake, Hot Creek Geo Site, & Alabama Hills
Mission Mono Lake was back in action! We made it there and we loved the Tufa Towers. You will see them from Highway 395. You only have to pay a small fee for parking.
After Mono Lake we headed for Devil’s Postpile but the road there was completely snowed it. Another seasonal road fail! #floridians
Again, the detour options were not bad at all. We went to Convict Lake and Hot Creek Geological site. Both so cool!
On this night we stayed in Alabama Hills, which is now on the top of my list of favorite places to camp. It’s free for tents and RVs and you can pitch your tent pretty much anywhere.
– The Wild Willy’s Hot Spring was really close to the Hot Creek Geological site but it was closed – total bummer. Give a try if you’re in the area though. I’ve heard great things.
– The easiest way to find these places is to use Google Maps and just put their name into your map. Just make sure you load the full map before hitting the road. If you hit the road while the map is loading and lose service while it’s loading…..you’re in trouble.
– Alabama Hills – there is only one porta potty and it is by the start of the Mobius Arch trailhead so just count on popping a squat. You’re not going to be pitching your tent there and in the middle of the night you aren’t going to be walking all the way over there.
– If you need to re-stock on anything there is a store in town close to Alabama Hills called Joseph’s Market. They also have meds. There are also fast food options if that’s your thing – Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s, etc.
– No matter where we stayed we would step out of our tent in the middle of the night and just look up and stare at the stars! Alabama Hills has some serious starry nights. Don’t miss out!
Alabama Hills, Mt Whitney, & Death Valley
As soon as we got up we went straight to Brenda (the face rock) and walked the short trail to the Mobius Arch. I recommend both. Awesome photo ops 🙂
Then it was time for Mt Whitney – only 13 miles up Whitney Rd.
There was plenty of free parking when we got up there. This is also where the Whitney Portal Store is located so if you need to stock up on gear or food (FYI – they have huge pancakes) this is your place.
The hike itself was awesome. It was around 3 miles to the first lake, which is where we turned around. I’m pretty sure there are other lakes but I think you need permits.
After our hike we drove a little over 2 hours to Wildrose Campground in Death Valley.
We got in pretty late so we picked a spot, setup our tent and enjoyed the STARS. They were even better than Alabama Hills – if you can believe that.
– Brenda and the arch are both easy to find, they’re both in the hills. Brenda you just can’t miss because she’s a huge rock and the arch trailhead is where the porta potty is, which you also can’t miss.
– You will want to read all of the signs that are along the sidewalk before you hop onto the actual trail at Mt Whitney. It has maps, tells you how far into the trail you can go without a permit, etc.
– The Wildrose Campground is free for tents and RVs. No reservation is required. Each site had a firepit, a parking spot and a picnic table. There’s also a bathroom, trashcans, and an information board with maps. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Death Valley & Mojave
This was our day for exploring Death Valley. Our favorites were the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes (close to Strovepipe Wells) and the Badwater Salt Basin.
After Death Valley we drove through Mojave to check out the Mojave Cross and the largest Joshua Tree forest. Yes – I did a lot of research before our trip and I had a list of places I wanted to explore.
– For Death Valley you want to pack lots of AGUA! We went in May and it was crazy HOT.
– You can camp at Mojave but we decided to make the drive to San Diego to stay at a friend’s.
Days 8 – 12
We spent these days in San Diego eating, shopping and hanging out with friends.
– For food go to Poke Go, CREAM, Otay Lake Pho, and Great Maple.
– For shopping I recommend Brandy Melville in Pacific Beach. I also liked the Everything but Water shop at the Fashion Valley outdoor mall.
I promised to keep this short so the rest of my trip will be up tomorrow in a Cali part 2 🙂
Questions? Comments? Leave them below! Would love to answer any of your questions and to hear what you think about my very first blog post 🙂
Soooo much more to come so stay tuned!!
P.S. Thank you for all of your sweet compliments on my blog design! I am so happy with it 🙂 I have to give a huge thanks to designer Kotryna (@kotrynabass) for working with me on it!