On to the west coast

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Molly and I with our feet in the Pacific

After spending over a week driving across the sweltering south, the cool of California was quite a relief.  After arriving in San Diego, we put in our laundry (finally) and Janey quickly sped us off to a company dinner.  She works at a small marketing firm, where everyone is very close so it was as much a dinner among friends.  Her boss made a kale salad and a healthy version of meatball subs (because they were all on a 30-day fitness challenge of some sort).  The food was delicious and everyone was friendly, but we headed home kind of early because Molly and I were wiped.  Janey took Friday off of work and showed us to a breakfast place called The Mission.  I had a delicious burrito and Molly had some pancakes.  Then we showered and worked on our laundry while Janey went in for some kind of meeting.  When she was finished we checked out a beach at Torrey Pines and although it was more crowded than in Corpus Christi, it was nice that it was cooler too.  Later on we went to a restaurant called the Brigentine for happy hour.  We sat on the porch overlooking the racetrack so we could watch the horses run.  I know nothing about racing, and it was a bit far away but it was still interesting.  We had some dinner and drove back to Janey’s kind of early to watch the Olympic opening ceremony.  

Saturday morning we packed up the car and drove to Los Angeles.  The traffic wasn’t terrible, but I was glad that Molly was driving because Californian drivers are kind of impossible, especially in the cities.  When we got to the area we met Kristin at her friend Bryn’s house in El Segundo.  They had been brunching most of the day (it was 3 by then) but we had skipped lunch so Bryn showed us the way to a beer garden called Rock and Brew (or something along those lines) and is partially owned by Gene Simmons.  The décor was appropriately rock and roll and they had a good selection so I ordered a California IPA and Molly and I split a pizza.  We followed Kristin back to her apartment in Santa Monica and after unloading our stuff went for a walk on the cliff.  It was incredibly beautiful weather and the beach below was packed, as were the lawns above.  When dinner time struck we drove out the Pacific Coast Highway to Cholada Thai.  We ordered Pad Thai and a curry they had listed as “Kang Dang” which was delicious and amusing.  We did a lot of people watching and chatted over dinner.  Afterwards we went to a Bugsby bar to have a drink and watch the Olympics some.  We watched Michael Phelps lose and then men’s gymnastics before the bar grew too loud and we headed home. 

For some reason we decided it was a good idea to get up and take advantage of Nike Santa Monica’s run club.  Kristin agreed to sign up for the 3-miler with us, although she may have regretted it when we were the slowest in the group.  It still felt good to get some exercise.  After showering we were all starving so Kristin suggested we go out to a place she new in Malibu for lunch.  It didn’t occur to her that on a weeknight afternoon the traffic on the PCH would be terrible and it took us over an hour to get to Lily’s café and pastries.  It was really not at all what I had expected.  While the name suggested a fufu place with flowers on the table, in reality it was a to-go burrito place.  Not that we were disappointed.  I had a phenomenal breakfast burrito that came with a killer hot-sauce.  I ate nearly the whole thing and was really full on the car ride to Yosemite.

It was a pretty long drive, and we stopped at one point to buy some sandwiches and groceries.  By the time we got to the park it was dark.  Yosemite is huge and we drove for nearly 2-hours in the park before reaching the campsite.  We were both in awe of the views of the cliffs and the stars.  By the time we pitched the tent I was exhausted and went to bed.  In the morning we were moving kind of slow and left the campsite around 11.  We stopped at several of the pullover spots on the ridge to take photos and to marvel at the views.  Seeing El Capitan blew my mind, especially at night when you could see lights where the climbers are camping.  We checked out the visitor’s center and ate some lunch then took a shuttle to the trailhead.  For such a big park the trail wasn’t especially well marked so we lost it about half an hour in (at a road with other trails, not in the woods) so we wondered around for a couple of hours but we were pretty tired so we didn’t go much further than that.  The trail was nice and even though it was in the valley it had really great views of the surrounding rocks. 

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El Cap is so cool!!!!

After hiking we decided to see if they had fixed the projector on the “Spirit of Yosemite” video just for the heck of it and got soft serve ice creams before checking out the village grocery store.  We bought materials to make hot dogs and smores over the campfire.  When we returned it was already 6, so we cracked some leftover beers and went to work trying to make a fire.  Despite the fact that I have camped quite a bit and even backpacked some I am not especially skilled pyromaniac.  When we used to camp with our high school friends, the guys would never let us touch the fire unless it was to fan it or something.  The downside of dealing with eagle scouts.  We did ourselves rather proud, however, and within 20minutes it seemed hot enough to cook over.  After eating we read around the fire while it was still light out and watched the neighboring camp kids play.  They must have been having a family reunion or something because there were 8 or 10 of them pushing each other around in this stroller type thing.  We went to bed earlyish after putting a dent in our respective books.

On Tuesday we woke up kind of late and packed up the campsite.  We drove south in the park hoping to see the giant sequoias at the Mariposa Grove.  Like elsewhere in Yosemite it was so crowded seeing the trees was going to be an affair.  We decided we didn’t feel like sparing the time of parking twenty minutes away, then taking bus back before we could walk to the Grove because the nearby parking was full.  We had a lot of driving to do.  It took us about 2 hours to get back out of Yosemite, and I had fun driving on the winding roads with the sun-roof down.  Once we hit the first  major town we stopped at some pizza joint for lunch before getting back on the road. 

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