It’s time to pack up and leave this beautiful National Park behind and head for the big city of San Francisco. There’s just time to reflect on our visit, and Mr Fletche and I are both in agreement that Yosemite has been our favourite part of the trip so far. But there is still so much to see!
After much discussion on whether to exit Yosemite via the CA-120, CA-140 or the CA-41, we decide to take the slightly less straightforward route of CA-41 so that we can visit Mariposa Grove on the way out… You can never see too many trees can you?
We retrace our route from the previous evening; this time we are delayed by roadworks at Tunnel View – not a bad place for a 10 minute delay as we can get out of the car and take some early morning pictures of this breathtaking vista – and then again at Wawona. Total delay time is probably around 20-30 minutes.
We take the road to Mariposa Grove which is directly by the CA-41 Yosemite exit. It’s not a good sign when we see people driving around and around the parking lot. Vehicles have been squeezed into every available space, and yet still more cars are pouring in.
After doing two circuits of the parking lot in the Fletchemobile, we decide that the big trees aren’t going anywhere, and it gives us yet another excuse to come back. So, earlier than expected, we’re on the road to San Francisco.
Our lunch stop is planned for Merced, a lovely little town about 180 miles from Yosemite. We arrive earlier than planned, which is a good job as I have clearly drunk far too much water on the journey and I need to empty my bladder. Now. With the need for a toilet greater than my need for food, we find ourselves at Bishops on the Square on Main Street. We are greeted by a hostess whom I almost bowl over with my growing urgency (“Please tell me you have a restroom… You do… thank you thank you thank you….”) so we think it’s only polite to order lunch there too. A half sandwich with salad each (huge, so glad we only had half!), a shared bowl of fries, a soda for Mr Fletche and a Bud Light for me (replacing the liquid I had dispelled with such relief…) – $24.
We would have been happy to stay and have a mooch around this little town; however there were parking restrictions due to the Merced High Homecoming Parade so it’s back on the road.
After the wonderful journeys we’ve taken so far, the journey to San Francisco is disappointing… a succession of freeways and interstates. I even find myself having a bit of a snooze… then suddenly we’re in Oakland, and San Francisco glistens ahead of us!
Mr Fletche negotiates the sudden increase in lanes and mad traffic extremely well; we’ve paid the $6 toll and we’re on the Bay Bridge! Now, I feel sorry for the Bay Bridge… Golden Gate Bridge gets all the press, but this is a pretty impressive piece of engineering too.
Tiff the crazy GPS is telling us that our exit is approaching… and that’s how we find ourselves in the Financial District. In the middle of rush-hour on a Friday afternoon. With the Fletchemobile facing impossible angles as it negotiates its first San Francisco hill…
Oh, and then Tiff gets intimidated by the huge skyscrapers and loses her GPS signal altogether. Mr Fletche and the Fletchemobile work as a team, with me frantically trying to locate our position on a very sketchy street map, and we eventually find ourselves on Lombard Street.
Fab, our hotel’s just on the left…next left turn… Except there are restrictions on turning left off Lombard Street and we’re smack bank in the middle of them. Tiff clearly shows no mind to these restrictions and forcefully suggests we turn left NOW. And then forcefully suggests that we do a U-Turn NOW.
Showing total disregard to Tiff, who has clearly never been to San Francisco before in her short life, we finally negotiate a right-turn, then another right-turn, until we’re on Webster Street, and the Hotel Del Sol is in sight.
We check in; and once in our room, Mr Fletche has a well-deserved beer and I nurse a horrific San-Francisco traffic-induced headache. Or maybe it’s the multi-coloured walls of our room which are causing the headache..
After an hour or so’s rest, we unpack and then head out into the evening sun. We walk down towards Chestnut Street, and then to Fort Mason Recreation Area. We love the way so many people are out and about – walking dogs, jogging, relaxing with friends in the park, cycling – and we both know that if we were going to live in a city in America, this would be it.
We didn’t plan to go very far on our first evening, but we find ourselves at Ghirardelli Square – huge queues outside the Ice Cream Parlour – and then meandering into Fisherman’s Wharf. We half-heartedly try and find the Hyde & Beach Street Cable Car Turnaround to purchase 3-day Muni Passes – we don’t find it that evening although we possibly walk past it at least twice – and then end up at The Cannery.
Something catches our eye. A bar. Outside in the courtyard. Where smokers are positively welcomed! And just to satisfy all of Mr Fletche’s vices – 65+ beers on tap! We pull up a stool at the bar, pass over $15 for two beers (we didn’t see much change from that…) and smoke to our heart’s content. (I know, it’s not big and it’s not clever, but smokers are ostracised so much both here in the UK and in certain states in America that it makes a change to see that a bar has catered to their needs by creating this outdoor space. So, a big thumbs up to Jack’s Bar at The Cannery!) 2015 note: I am pleased to say that Mr Fletche and I have both now kicked the habit!
Feeling a little light-headed and in need of food, I try to recall what was on the “Dinner Option List” I’d researched, printed off and consequently left back home. We were in Fisherman’s Wharf, and the only restaurant I could remember was Cioppino’s. Despite the fact that this was prime eating time on a Friday night, we were seated quickly, and I was soon nursing a Mai-Tai…
Mr Fletche orders the Seafood Risotto, and I make the mistake of ordering the Fisherman’s Platter. I say mistake, not because the food was in any way bad – it wasn’t – but because the plate was huge. And piled and piled and piled some more with fried shrimp, fried calamari, fried rock fillets. Oh, and fries. This meal would definitely have served both of us, and my plate looked like it had been barely touched even after I couldn’t manage another mouthful…
Check came to $60, and the food was wonderful, but I can’t say it was value for money because I ended up wasting so much. If only our hotel room had been equipped with a fridge, I could have been eating leftover fried seafood for days….
Completely stuffed to the gills (see what I did there, a little “fishy” pun…), we made our way back the way we came to Hotel Del Sol. Strangely the walk seemed longer going back than it did going…