Hmmmmm, woke up soooo early this morning, after such a late night!!But, I was both excited and nervous, so the adrenalin kicked in as soon as my alarm went off - no snoozing this morning…I hit the showers, packed the last of my belongings into my bags, had a bite of toast and coffee for breakfast, and waited for my cab.While I was waiting, I was getting more and more anxious, so I called home to chat to dad for some of his words of wisdom and encouragement!!!But dad wasn't home, so I got to speak to my sister instead, and she told me under no uncertain terms to get off my butt and get out there and be the person that I am, and of course they will all like me, and I will have a fabulous time!!!Well, it took me a while to be convinced, and a few tears shed later, I was pumped up and ready to go!!!I said my farewells to Billy & Christine, and climbed into the cab.
The cab driver was very charming, and insisted that he should call his wife and tell her he won't be home that night, because he was going to go away withme!!!LOL!! JOne way of boosting my confidence before going into the Lion's Den - which is how I felt at the time!!!Thanks Mr Cabbie!!
Anyway, I walked into the lobby of the hotel to find it overrun by the Trek America group.We had taken over the hotel lobby with all our luggage, and were all sitting around filling out forms with our details, next of kin, and insurance details.Wayne Hunt introduced himself as our tour leader, and collected all the forms.There were a couple of teething problems with 1 or 2 group members who didn't have their insurance details, but things were soon smoothed over, and our details were all faxed over to headoffice.Another hitch in our plan was that one of our group members had been delayed in Europe, and missed his flight to SFO.So Wayne suggested we do a mini tour around SFO, as his flight was due in at around 1.30pm.
We loaded up our luggage into the trailer, and boarded the TA bus.I landed the co-pilot seat up front with Wayne, and suggested to him we all go around and introduce ourselves.I, of course, then had to go first!! (lesson learnt).We had Claudia, 22 from Spain; Dan, 35 & wife Maxine, 29 from UK; Hokee, 31 from UK; Rachael, 26 from UK; Dawn, 31 - UK; Charlotte, 21 - UK; Marta, 25 - Poland;Robert, 31 - UK (MIA enroute, to be collected from SFO at 14h00); and the back seat clan, David & Marc, both 19 from UK and the den mother, Joanne, who wanted to keep her age private, but I reckon she is 33 - 35!!!So, the majority were from UK, but that was ok with me, as having lived there for 10 years I kinda felt like part of the crowd.
So, we all felt a little more relaxed after that.Wayne decided to show us a little of SFO while we waited for Robert's flight to come in that afternoon, so we got dropped off at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge, and I finally got the opportunity to WALK over the bridge - really awesome!!Wayne advised us the it gets really cold up there, due to the winds off the Pacific ocean into SFO bay, so I took along sweatshirts and warm fleece top, only to be pleasantly surprised by how hot is was!!!SFO was still experiencing the mini heatwave, so it was a really lovely walk!!!We took the opportunity to chat to each other along the walk and find out a little more about each other ~ a really nice ice breaker…We met up with Wayne and the TA bus on the other side of the bridge,a nd headed North to Muir Woods.This is a Redwood forest about a half hour drive north of SFO - We stopped for a hike through the woods.Redwood trees are quite incredible.California Redwood (it is one of three species of trees known as redwoods). It is an evergreen, long-lived, monoecioustree living for up to 2,200 years, and is the tallest tree in the world, reaching up to 115.5 m (379.1 ft) in height and 8 m (26 ft) diameter at breast height.
We then drove back into SFO and the Haight district.The district is famous for its role as a center of the 1960's hippie movement, a post-runner and closely associated offshoot of the beat generation or beat movement, whose initiated and "beatific" youth swarmed San Francisco's "in" North Beach neighborhood two to eight years before the "Summer of Love" in 1967. Many of those who could not find space to live in San Francisco's northside found it in the quaint, relatively cheap and underpopulated Haight Ashbury. The '60's era and modern American culture has been synonymous with San Francisco and the upper Haight neighborhood ever since.
Here we stopped for lunch for 20 minutes.We were all back on board, and drove down through the Castro, the gay district of SFO.The streets are lined with the Rainbow flag, the gay symbol, and the street café's were bulging with gay couples all competing with each other - quite a sight to see!!!
We were on schedule to meet up with Robert's flight into SFO, so we drove out to the airport hotel we were meeting him at.We parked up in the car park, and had a great view of SFO over the water, and sat in the sun waiting for him and watched the planes come into land - awesome!!!Finally Robert arrived!!! YAY!!!!We all piled back into the bus, and were on our way!!!Ahead of us was a 5 hour drive to Yosemite National Park ~ our first stop on the BLT Western Cruisin' Tour - AKA Wayne's World!!! (BLT stands for Basic Lodging Tour)
We arrived at a town called Midpines, about a 30 minute drive just outside Yosemite where we would be staying for the night.Our lodgings were at the Yosemite Bug Hostel. www.yosemitebug.com .What an awesome hostel!!! We were accommodated in log cabin dorms with bunk beds and ensuite facilities.Really clean and nicely appointed.The main dining area was a great rustic lodge, with log fire place and sofas around.We all met up here for dinner, and the food was really great as well.The food on tour isn't included in the price, but the prices at the hostels etc are really reasonable.Most of us ordered the grilled chicken breast with vegetables and a bowl of soup.Really good value for money.After dinner we gathered around the lounge area and Wayne gave us the downlow for the next day's hiking at Yosemite.He stressed the importance of being hydrated and drinking loads of water, and to carry energy bars and trail mix for snacks along the way.Trail mix is a mixture of nuts, raisins and M&M's.Quite good actually…We got a briefing on the different trails we could hike, or for the non mountain goats, there were various other activities to keep you busy while the others hiked.We were all done by 9pm, and the group broke up.Some stayed at the lodge for a couple of late night beers, others went to the dorm to get an early night, and I decided to induldge myself at the hostel spa!!!LOL!!!I just couldn't resist.They have a newly finished upmarket spa with massive hottub, sauna, steam shower, massage rooms and beauty treatment rooms.I changed into my swimsuit, and headed for the Jacuzzi!!Aaaahhh, wonderful!!So good to soak my mussles after all the walking I'd done in San Francisco, and to just be able to relax.I was back in the dorm by 10.30pm, and all the rest of the girls were also getting ready for bed.I had made use of the fantastic shower facilities at the Spa - massive walk in shower with surround shower jets - much better than the dorm showers!!JWe were all in bed by 11pm, all looking forward to our first big hike the next day - YOSEMITE FALLS!!!