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Old 6th November 2017, 03:09   #1
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Default Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco

This was more of a surprise and last minute trip to the West Coast. There was a conference near SFO for 2 days and things got approved at the last minute. So the plan was to attend the conference for 2 days and then do a quick weekend trip to Yosemite. I've been to SFO earlier (last winter) and while it was a vacation trip, the Yosemite part was not a great success due to bad weather. So this was another change to make up for it. So tickets/accommodation were booked, rentals confirmed and all that was left was for me to fly into SFO. The plan was NJ->SFO->Sacramento->Lake Tahoe-> Yosemite national park->SFO->NJ

American airlines(AA) has the most options from NJ to SFO and nearby areas, so i had taken an evening flight mid week. In the last year or so i had never seen an AA flight leave or reach on time, but to my surprise we started a few mins late but ended up reaching almost 45 mins earlier to the schedule arrival. I had booked through Hertz, so had already got a notification that a Nissan pathfinder was waiting for me. However i asked for a change as a 7 seater sounded like an overkill for this trip. I got it exchanged for a Ford Edge. When i asked the staff they said it was premium and 4WD, but when i picked up the car, it turned out that i was neither of the two they said it was. Since no other vehicle in the same category was available and started off for the hotel. It was a 30 mins ride and while traffic was not much, i did not feel comfortable with the car. The engine noise was more than usual and the car felt extremely light and sensitive. I've driven the edge before and definitely know that this one was feeling different. However i decided to keep it till the conference ends and then think about it.

The next two days were packed from morning to evening and the conference ended by the night of Friday. The plan was reach Sacramento and then start the trip to Yosemite the next day. I had also planned to visit lake Tahoe (as i did not visit it last time) I was still not comfortable with the call so i called up Hertz and they asked me to exchange the car at the nearest airport. I reached Sacramento around midnight and then retired for the day.

For the next two days i'll split the journey by destination instead of a day wise account

Sacramento to Lake Tahoe
The drive to lake tahoe is around 2-3 hrs with a break. I also had to exchange the car, so headed off to the airport after breakfast. The staff there was first not happy to do the exchange and they made me wait for another 40-45 mins. Finally a desi guy from Hertz came up and said we have a exchange for you. He said the only vehicle available was a Ford Explorer, which was a higher class, but they would offer it without any extra cost. Paperwork was completed in 5 mins and then bags were loaded onto the car and i started for Lake Tahoe. Emerald bay state park was the main destination there. The initial drive was on major roads, however once you start entering the forest area, the roads become narrow, no. of lanes reduce and speed also drops compared to the highway. As i was nearing the lake, the views became clear and the bluish water was visible from a distance. The lake looks beautiful on a sunny day and thank god the weekend was full of sunlight. On a good day it's difficult to find parking and i literally had to go up and down the 3-4 mile stretch almost 4-5 times to get some parking space. There was some space. Finally found a space next to the road where another car was leaving. There was a short 2 mins walk to the view point (not exactly a view point as it had lot of trees in the view). After clicking pictures i tried to look for more parking near emerald bay. There was an area next to the road for temporary parking where another car had stopped and i had to do a u turn in order for get some parking space for few mins. Took some pictures and then decided to start for Yosemite. The route was to go via the Tioga pass (which is one of the highest pass in the US, highest in California). The weather was good, so most of the passes were open. The road was winding for quite some time, going up and down in elevation multiple times. I had booked a tent there as the lodges were full. It took around 4+ hrs to reach the half dome village and on the way i stopped to take pictures at the mono lake. Registration was quick and dinner was done fairly quickly. The next thing to do before going off to sleep was to go tunnel view and glacier point to see if i could take pictures of the milky way. Tunnel view is quite close to half dome village while glacier point is around an hours drive. Tunnel view was crowded but glacier point was looked haunted with no lights or people. I didn't wait for a long time there as i was not aware of the actual hike to the glacier point (from where half dome is visible) at night. So didn't get good shots but came back pretty soon.

Pictures below

Near the view point
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_0313.jpg

Another view of the lake
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_0332.jpg

emerald bay
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_0357.jpg

taken enroute to Yosemite national park
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_0447.jpg

Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_0455.jpg

Mono Lake
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_0495.jpg

Tunnel view at night
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_0511.jpg

stars at glacier point. The milky way is the faint pattern that stretches from one part of the photo to the other.
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_0523.jpg

Last edited by aditya_rao : 6th November 2017 at 07:49. Reason: added pictures
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Old 6th November 2017, 08:50   #2
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Default Re: Work and Vacation = Fun Trip

Yosemite Valley
I had initially planned to take the valley floor tour which is a 4 hr guided tour, but since there were no seats left, they asked me to reach at 7:30 in the morning to be on standby. I had slept after midnight, so decided to drop the plan and see the valley myself. After getting ready in the morning, checkout did not take time. Once the keys were handed over it was breakfast time. There weren't many vegetarian options, so took from the limited choices available and then headed for the visitor center. It took about 30 mins to get to the ranger desk, who was extremely helpful. She helped me mark the points and also told the route i should take to cover the major spots till evening. Glacier point was supposed to be the last part on the way back. So the main points to be visited were Tunnel View, Valley View, Sentinel bridge, lower/upper yosemite falls, bridalveil falls, washburn point and glacier point. the hike to yosemite falls is around an hour (to the lower portion), sentinel bridge is also walkable from the falls and the views enroute are quite good. The sunset was around 6 PM, so the plan was to reach by 5:30. After finishing up the other places of interest, i finally reached around 5:20 near the glacier point parking. From there it's a 5-10 mins hike to the view point. Once you reach the viewpoint the valley views with half dome in front of you will leave you mesmerized and you can sit there for hours together. I saw atleast 2 newly married couples who had come there for a photo shoot. The golden hour was approaching fast and soon the rays of setting sun were falling onto the half dome. I didn't plan to take lot of photos but each time i looked at the view, i kept clicking more and more pictures :d . Eventually the sun had set and it was time to start back the journey to SFO. I had to take one break to fill up gas just outside of the park as i was running low on fuel. So after that the next stop was near SFO to pick up food and then to the hotel.

View after coming out of half dome village towards the visitor center
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_1856.jpg

lower yosemite falls
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_1921.jpg

another view of half dome
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_1992.jpg

near sentinel bridge
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_1993.jpg

bridalveil falls
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2185.jpg

tunnel view
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2204.jpg

Bridalveil falls from a height and distance
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2237.jpg

Both falls seen from a distance
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2241.jpg

view from washburn point
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2251.jpg

half dome
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2326.jpg

another view of half dome
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2344.jpg
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Old 6th November 2017, 09:27   #3
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SFO:
A big part of the day went into working and attending meetings over phone (breakfast was also done during this time). I had a late night flight, so had some time in the afternoon to visit some places in SFO (due to the timezone difference). The hotel guys agreed to allow me to keep the car in their parking till 4 PM, since there were hardly any cars.

The first thing i wanted to do was take a cable car ride (which i had not taken in the last trip). So took a short trip from fisherman's wharf and got down midway and then took a taxi back to the hotel. From there i went to lombard street (which is famously called crooked street for a short portion) and from there to baker beach. The beach gives views of the golden gate bridge from the side that's closer to the ocean. There was lot of wind and tides were strong reaching around 2-3 ft alteast. After clicking some pictures it was time for some quick lunch and then to Mt Tamalpais - east peak. You need to cross the golden gate bridge and from there its around 30-40 mins. The roads are winding and the max speed you can go is 30 mph and at some places its difficult to do 20 mph also. There is a 8$ fee at the parking lot that you have to deposit in the fee envelopes. From the parking lot there is a .6-.7 mile hike to the top from where you can get a view of the entire area. It was windy so didn't plan to going to the top, plus it was hazy too, so while i was able to make out SFO downtown, other areas were not clear (and too hazy from the camera). After staying for some time, i started back towards the golden gate bridge. There is a toll on the way back into SFO and we have 2 days to pay for the toll before/after the bridge is crossed (I decided to pay it afterwards). Took a quick stop at the golden gate bridge park and then headed back towards the city. I had two quick stops - one at facebook and one at google offices. Although it was dark, i did manage to take a photo at the facebook sign posted at the intersection and then at the google campus. The google one was difficult to find as there are multiple buildings and it took almost 30 mins to find the right building. I reached an old building first where they had put figures of all android versions, but the glass building is at a different location. After that it was another 40 mins to the airport rental return center. Return process was quick and then i had to wait for the air train to go back to the terminal. The flight left the gate early and reached almost an hour earlier (which was a second surprise during this trip from AA). The two weekend days were quite fruitful in terms of what i could see compared to last time, so all in all it was a good weekend getaway

Cable car
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2581.jpg

Alcatraz island (used to be a federal prison)
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2590.jpg

SFO streets go up and down the hills
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2595.jpg

another street view
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2602.jpg

cable car museum, this is a stop on the trolley
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2606.jpg

cable cars going past each other
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2612.jpg

view at crooked street
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2619.jpg

another street view
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2636.jpg

Golden gate bridge from baker beach
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2661.jpg

baker beach
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2685.jpg

another baker beach view
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2886.jpg

view enroute to Mt Tamalpais
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2980.jpg

View from east peak mt tamalpais
Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco-img_2998.jpg
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Old 6th November 2017, 14:31   #4
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Default Re: Work and Vacation = Fun Trip

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 6th November 2017, 15:48   #5
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Default re: Work & fun on the West Coast: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite & San Francisco

Good travelogue. Yosemite is one of the most picturesque national parks in the US.
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