Havn't had a chance to update in a while so a lot to catch up on.
First thing is first. Mum I arrive in England on Friday at 11am. Sorry I couldn't let you know earlier, havn't had a chance to get on the net and my mobile has been broken since Miami. I don't need a lift, I will catch the train so should hopefully be home at about 2pm give or take am hour.If everybody is at work it might be an idea to leave the key with David as I'm pretty sure he has fridays off. Send me a message asap to let me know.
Now to the blog. Will be a long one and probaly all over the place as I am typing fast to get it all in before my internet time runs out.
After leaving San Fran we headed to Yosemite which is incredible. The views are sublime, a 360 of mountains and forrests. Lots of warnings about bears when we got to our campsite, unfortunatly we didn't see any while staying in Yosemite but came across plenty of deer. On our first day we hiked for a few hours and decided that the next day we would attempt the trek to the top of Half Dome. Half Dome is Yosemites most famous mountain. It rises 9000 ft above sea level and about 4800 ft from the Yosemite Valley floor. The trip is a 17 mile round trip and is estimated to take 10-12 hours. We knew it would be a challenge but we were both up for it. The idea was to head of at 8 giving us plenty of time to get up and down before sunset at 7pm but we awoke latye and didn't head of until 9.30. The first major stop was at the top of Vernon falls which is beautiful. We were able to walk across the granite slabs and look down the cliff face. Hours later came to a campground which is the about half way up Half Dome. From hear we headed through a forrested area. Eventually we came across a sign saying 2 miles - Half Dome. It was to be a tough two miles. A steep stairway of rock steps begin the ascent to the top. These suddenly came to a stop and we were forced to walk along huge granite slabs heading further up. It began to rain as we approached the final ascent. I had read that the final ascent was not for the 'meek of heart' as it was a cabled ascent to the top. I wasn't sure what to expect so when we reached the cables my stomach began to churn. The ascent is a steep walk up a sheer rock face with no hand hold. It is to steep to walk up normally. Two cables head to the top with wooden planks every 10 or so foot. You have to grip the cables and walk up the rock face between the planks. People coming down said it was starting to get very slippy and a sign at the bottom adivsed not to attempt the ascent if a tunderstorm was brewing which seemed to be the case. Nonetheless we decided to try. It was terrified as the rain had made the rock and cables slippy making it hard to maintain my footing. Someone on the way down nearly slipped and I had to put my arm out to steady him. My brain was telling me that if my hands and feet went at the same time I'd fall and die and when we got over half way my breathing became very heavy and I began to panick. The rain was picking up and Eddie wasn't enjoying the experience either as it was getting steeper. He suggested we headed down and I jumped at the chance. Going down was even worse. It was the most scared I've been in my life. I planted one knee on the rock face and slid down one plank at a time. My knee was cut up by the time we got down. I can't say I'm not dissapointed we didn't make it right tot he peak but at the same time I'm glad we came down. We were only about 50 metres from the top, maybe less. However as we started to head back down the mountain on the steep steps, the wind pciked up and it began to rain heavily. About 20 minutes later thunder and his campanion lightening made themselves known. Lots of other people at the top didn't attempt the final ascent which made me feel better. Oddly we ran into an Australian at the top who we had seen at the Greyhound station in Santa Cruz, very strange meeting him atop a mountain. There was a great sense of comaraderie between the people coming down at the same time as us. We completed the trek in 8 and a half hours so were very happy. Brilliant experience and the views from the near top were incredible. We spent the next couple of days lounging about and enjoying the views and met a wonderful old Canadian couple at the bar who let us have some of their pizza. Yosemite is right up there with NYC as a highlight of this trip.
After Yosemite we caught a train to Portland which took over 20 hours but was much more comfortable than the Greyhound. Portland is quite nice but grey and rainy like England. It has more brewpubs(brew beer in the pub) than any other city in the world so we obviously tried a bunch of different ales. The largest independent bookshop in the world is also in Portland and was brilliant, I spent a good couple of hours in it and although I have too many books with me I couldn't help but get a couple more. We spent a couple of days in Portland. We were going to head to Seattle but the hostels were booked up so hired a car and decided to cruise down the Cali coast as we didn't get a chance to see it properly on the way up.
Day one in the car we headed down to Klamath at the top of the bautiful and rugged Northern Cali coast. The north feels a world apart from the south. On day two we headed to Humbolt Redwood National Park. The trees were amazing and obviosuly huge. They can live for over two thousand years and the largest in the world is nearly 400 foot high. We drove from here down to the Monterey area crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on the way. From here we hit the Big Sur coastline famed as one of the most beautiful in the world. Lush green hills on one side and the spectacular cliffs and the lovely pacific on the other. We stopped at one point when a bee flew in to the car and down Eddies pants. Providence would have it that at the point we stopped, 20-30 seals were frolicking in the water by the beach. The same day we hit Santa Barbara wine country and styed in the Danish village Solvang, as featured in Sidways. Headed past the Windmill motel and the hitching post in Buellton. Drunk some nice wine a a wine bar. Back in Santa Monica, LA today. Will spend my last two days soaking up the sun. Will update the blog with the rest of my phtos back in England before jetting of to Japan.