Before we head off to Europe, we've first taken a slight detour via the United States. We'll be driving an RV down America's west coast, before then turning inland and up through the Grand Canyon, looping back around to San Francisco, via Oregon.
We've planned our trip around some key photography locations, using mainly Instagram and Google Maps as our research tools. We'll be stopping at Muir Woods, Big Sur, LA, Monument Valley, Grand Tetons, Multnomah Falls and Yosemite to name just a few.
This is the first time we've been to America, and so we're quite excited to visit a bunch of new locations and hopefully get some good shots along the way too. This blog covers the first part of our trip, San Fransisco to Los Angeles.
Thoughts On America
We hopped on a flight from Sydney, Australia, in early March and 12 hours later we arrived in America. Our initial impressions of the country have been of one that instantly feels familiar, yet at times can seem completely foreign.
Growing up in Australia we have been surrounded by American culture, be it in the form of music, movies, tv shows, food and more recently, the internet. For better or for worse the inescapable influence of American culture has shaped the people we are today.
So things like ordering a pizza, connecting our devices to free wifi and recognising TV shows playing in reception all felt familiar, like we'd only travelled to another to another state in Australia. Yet there were other practices that made us feel unsure of ourselves in this big new country.
Things like learning a new set of roads rules as we go, tipping at restaurants and seeing the large number of homeless on the streets of San Fran as we walked to our hotel. They were new concepts that we weren't previously familiar with, and at times it made us feel uncomfortable and think of home where we could navigate our city with ease.
But I've come to appreciate that that's what travelling is all about.
It's about new experiences and expanding your previous conceptions of the world. Yes, of course things will be different, it's a whole new country. But it's about about opening your mind to new people, and new ways of doing things. It's about taking some reward in facing unfamiliar situations and handling them the best you can, always learning from these new experiences to broaden your own horizons.
SAN FRANCISCO + SURROUNDS
Before embarking on the RV road trip, we first spent 3 days in San Fran, using the city as a base camp for our trip.
We took our time to walk around the streets, check out some local cafes and get a feel for the city. But to my dismay, none of the coffee shops had heard of a 'Flat White'. After asking for one, all I got in return were blank faces. Although drowning my black coffee in creme wasn't too bad at all.
We were quite keen to pay a visit to the city's 'Painted Ladies' (above), a group of brightly painted neighbouring houses, made famous by the TV show Full House. We also made a visit to the city's main icon, the Golden Gate Bridge, although when we went it was shrouded in thick fog. Our road trip sees us loop around back to San Fran, so perhaps we'll get another opportunity soon.
Being the Instagram enthusiasts that we are, we had seen a certain tree covered driveway pop up time and time again. After some research, we discovered that the location of this Cyprus Tree Tunnel was in a property in Point Reyes, to the North West of San Fran. On an overcast day we took the RV out to Point Reyes and were not disappointed. The tree tunnel is very much as impressive in person as it is in pictures and well worth a visit if you're in the area.
Muir WooDs National Monument
Another sight worth visiting just north of San Fran are the towering Redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument. On (yet) another overcast morning, we walked through the forest, with the giants towering above. Despite the rain, there were still plenty of like-minded tourists enjoying the trail along the forest floor. Although they didn't distract from the humbling experience, where we were able to stop in pockets of solitude along the walk and enjoy feeling small among the ancient giants.
After leaving San Fran, we made our way down California's coast along the very beautiful State Route 1. It's a world-famous scenic drive for a good reason, where the lush mountainside meets the untamed Pacific ocean. The only shame was that we had to make the drive in our not so nimble RV.
As with the tree tunnel, I'd seen numerous pictures of McWay Falls (in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park), and had to make it a stop on this road trip. The falls are located right off the main highway and we arrived on sunset, just as the clouds were illuminating a soft pink glow. And with all the recent rains, the falls were flowing very healthily too. After months of picturing this scene in my head, it was one of those picture perfect experiences that I'll hold on to from this trip.
While most people would place Los Angeles as an essential stop on a west coast road trip, it wasn't for us. Well, apart from one small attraction knowns as Disneyland.
We spent two nights in LA, and were generously shown around the city by Ivy's cousin. We were able to experience Boba Tea (yumm!), LA traffic (zzz) and In-N-Out Burgers (oh my, they were amazing, and amazingly cheap at $2.55).
The next day was saved for Disneyland. We both insisted that we make the world-famous park a stop on the trip and were eager to relive our childhood, if only for day. And what a day. From the moment we arrived we knew this place was magical. From the carefully crafted buildings, to the not too boring nor not too scary rides to the friendly staff, we had a blast. Juts make sure you get a fast pass for the rides!
Next stop, Zion National Park! :)