We have been super busy driving from one place to another and visitng many great family members!!! The following is the chronological order of what we have been up to in the last two weeks:
- LA: The total time to get to LA from our place on Caye Caulker Island was over 18 hours. This included a water taxi, a regular half broken taxi, 2 flights, a shuttle bus and the ride in our rental car. The only things we wanted to do on our first day in LA were: Laundry (Andrew's request) and a Manicure Pedicure (my request). We had an amazing dinner with my aunts and uncles and cousins, its always an unforgettable time with them!!!! Over the other 2 days we were there, we relaxed by a pool, visited the Observatory, got a great tour of Beverly Hills and area, went to an open house, got wined and dined by our family members (Brazillian food, Sushi, BBQ, Mexican, we ate it all!!!), did some minor shopping in Santa Monica. Overall, it was a great 'home away from home' feeling. I was dying for same home cooked Iranian food which was well taken care of ASAP by my aunt!!! Also, I learned to drive in LA, something I had never done in any of my numerous past visits. It was at first nerve wracking but I eventually realized that since I cant beat them, I might as well join them!!!
- San Lius Obispo and Monterey: We took our time and spent 2 full days to make the 6 hour journey to San Jose from LA and stopped in these quaint little towns. We enjoyed some beautiful coastal views and food, with views of seals from our restaurant and on every pier we visited. The area called Big Sur is a portion of the coastal highway where you have the greatest risk and reward while you drive. The road is overlooking a cliff, and the drivers are not afraid to go way over the speed limits. I could not take my eye off the road but Andrew took some great pictures of the Ocean and the waves and the sun. We did pull over so watch hundreds of Sea Lions basking in the sun, and we also visited Hearst Castle, which was a breathtaking castle overlooking the ocean. The original owner had bought art pieces from Europe dating back to the 14th/15th century to and assembled them to build this fairytale palace. You have got to visit them if you ever go, it was definitely worth the trip.
- San Francisco: We stayed with my cousin and her husband who live in San Jose for 3 nights. They were amazing and dedicated their entire weekend to entertaining us. This included a full day visit to San Francisco. We visited the main tourist area of Union Square and walked to China Town and over the Golden Gate bridge. They took us to see some amazing sceneray of the bridge that not too many tourists knew about. These are the perks of sticking with the locals!! We also got to see the Apple and Google headquarters (Andrews request) and have a picnic in a park (my request). Since our next destination, Yosemite National Park, was pretty far inland, our hosts offered to have us for one more night on our way back to the coast, and we took their offer and spent another night here once we were done at Yosemite.
- Yosemite National Park: We spent 3 days in the area and we only covered about 5% of the park. We spent our first full day doing an 8 hour, 20 km hike. In the handbook, this hike was rated moderate level and it took you all around the Yosemite Valley with amazing veiws. By the 6th hour though, I was ready to sit and not move. Andrew was very nice and understanding through all my complaints and we finally managed to make it back to our car before dark. Sitting had never felt so good. Our second day was a short 3km hike up a place called Sentinel Dome, our final elevation was 8,200 feet. This hike was rated moderate as well, but was concluded with a very steep climb up a snow covered dome. I was pretty freaked out, but eventually the beauty of our surroundings started to sink in. I could not have done this part of our trip without the hiking boots which I've been logging around for a month, but it was definitely worth it!!!
- Which leads us to today: We visited Sonoma and after asking around for a good place to do some wine tasting, we ended up at a winery outside town called Arrowood. The tasting was very fun and we ended up buying two bottles from 2007 (which according to the wine expert we met was a GREAT YEAR!!) and hope to enjoy them over the next couple of weeks as we make our way up the coast. We are currently in a small town called Fort Beggs which just happend to be the perfect distance for us not to travel to much or too little in one day. Its been interesting trying to find accomodation without really having too many restrictions of what city to stay in!! With so many choices around, we have been spending hours trying to figure out where to go next.
So, there you go!! That was two weeks, summarized. I am going to try and put some pictures for you to look at, hopefully the internet connection here will hold up for the next little while!!