|It was always the plan to continue north from Yosemite upto Lake Tahoe for the weekend to hike and mountain bike. Having seen the snow cover in Yosemite we decided to drive to the coast for some sun and surf.
The 4 hour journey was quite painless, interspersed with a visit to the National Steinbeck museum we made it to Monterrey in one piece. It was so nice to be on the coast again that we pushed the boat out(if you'll pardon the pun) and went for a very nice meal. Mr P. had grown weary by now of reminding Mrs P. that we were travelling on a budget. After being couped up for so long in the car we decided to hire bicylces and burn off some calories. Picking the bikes up in Monterrey we cycled the 27 round trip to Carmel-on-sea. For some strange reason we ended up taking the hilly road, this was only 20 minutes up hill and missed out the most stunning views of the coastline, but we did get to see all the expensive golf resorts so the soapdodgers were feeling buoyed when they reached Carmel all sweaty and scuzzy. Carmel is were Clint Eastwood is mayor and what a beautiful little town it is. Being mayor here has got to be the easiest job in the world. After a rest on the beach we cycled up hill once more into Carmel. A minor shopping spree in town saw the cycles resembling some of those we experienced in Vietnam(over loaded) we took another wrong turn back to Monterrey. Going up hill this time was even more challenging, especially when Mr. P. crashed into the curb(why?) and went over the handle bars down an embankment. Mrs. P. being ever so supportive could only laugh at this point, until she realised the gravity of the situation. Mr. P. was not a happy cyclist!!
Feeling relieved to make it back to Monterrey without anymore incidents, saddle sore settled in.
Next day we embarked on the final stretch of our west coast road trip. The journey upto San Francisco was phenominal. The scenary was absolutely stagerring and we could only think back to all the coastal road trips we had done over the last eight months.
First thing we did when we got to San Fran was visit the Golden Gate Bridge, then, we found somewhere to stay. Ideally situated near Fishermans Wharf we caught the tram up to China Town for a slap up meal. Entering China town was like stepping back in time, we were immediately greeted with that special hawking of phelgm that only the chinese can do. The older they grow, the more prolonged the hawk and we weren't suprised to find that this one belonged to an old lady!
There is plenty of things to do in San Fran so the next day we booked onto our Alcatraz tour with the masses. After more retail therapy for one of the P's we went down to Fisherman's Wharf to soak up the atmosphere. Street entertainers, artists and the resident sea lions, yes! sea lions in the harbour who camp out in their hundreds and lounge around all day on wooden platforms. You wouldn't believe the size or smell of some of these things all vying for the best spot, right in front of the wretching / gagging tourists.
In the evening we boarded our ferry to Alcatraz. The tour around Alcatraz was really interesting with lots of history(pre-prison) and prisoner insights and you could almost picture the inmates in their cells. Plaques had been put up to show which cells belonged to the more infamous prisoners. AL Capone was the only prisoner to arrive onto the island on a train. The authority's were so worried about an attempt to bust him out when in transit that they built rail tracks on the ferry. From boarding the train in Chicago he didn't leave it once until he reached Alcatraz.
Other highlights of San Fran included the Liverpool vs. Chelsea champions league semi-final(watched on TV in motel room, Liverpool won 1-0), the Asian arts museum(which reminded us of our time in Thailand), and a drive down Lombard street(the worlds most crookedest street). Residents pay million's of dollars to live on Lombard Street, only to have hundreds of tourists flocking at the weekends to take pictures and block the roads, the japanese being the biggest offenders as they take the pose very seriously, lying down in the road is going a little to far.
With only on week left of our world tour we were sad to leave San Francisco but looking forward to the next stretch of our journey.....