San Francisco & 'The' Road Trip!

July 1, 2008 - San Francisco, California, United States

Its been a while since i've updated this blog so here goes!

I arrived into San Fran by Amtrak after a stay in Salt lake City which i'd rather forget about - weirdo capital of the world! I was based at a hostel which sat on top of a hill overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, not a bad view to eat your breakfast to. I spent the first four days simply exporing San Fran, its a huge city with loads of interesting areas such as the Haight and a colourful Chinatown district which is always buzzing with life.

I was lucky enough to be spending the 4th July here and was pretty impressed with the party Sna Fran threw. It was held down at Fishermans Wharf which, at the time, was littered with tall ships for some kind of event. It provided a great backdrop for the concert (which was awesome) and the fireworks which were even better.

The San Fran highlight for me was Alcatraz. It was a fantastic trip which started with a cool boat ride across and ended with an audio tour narrated by ex-inmates and guards - v interesting indeed.

THE ROAD TRIP

My two good friends Pete and Rob arrived into San Fran on the 6th July and we immediately went to Hooters for a beer and some food to welcome them States-style.

If I had to write in full about all the fun and adventures we had on this trip I could be here for weeks so i'll try and break it down a bit.

7th JULY

We headed to the airport and picked up our ride, a brand new White Ford Mustang Convertible which we later named Sally! Our first destination was Yosemite National Park. We arrived just in the nick of time and managed to grab one of the last camp sites available in the entire park - jammy! We took a drive up to Tulomne Meadows for a beer and some relaxation after a hefty drive.

8th JULY

After a rather 'cozy' nights sleep in our 2-3 man tent (Rob had no sleeping bag or roll mat!). We headed for breakfast and decided to rent a raft for the day - what a great decision! We hoisted it into the Yosemite River, threw a six pack in the back and floated down for almost 5 hrs. The weather was beautiful and the backdrop even more impressive (Half-dome and El Capitan!). Somersaults off the side were obligatory and I can tell you that the water was absolutely freezing (its source is the melting snow from the Moutains), which made for great entertainment.  We hit land and took a bus (included in the price) back to the camp site. What a great day.

9th JULY

Today was our, and Sally's biggest test so far...driving 300 miles through Death valley to Las Vegas. With temperatures estimated at around 55 degrees celcius in the Valley, it wasnt a place to be messed with, as Rob found out when he stepped out of the car barefoot!! After a fantastic drive through, some of it with the top down for a dare, we finally got through the Valley and made it to Vegas where we had reserved a room at the Mandalay Bay. We headed straight for the pool and had a well deserved cool-off. As soon as we hit the casino floor, the free drinks began to flow and we soon found ourselves hlaf-baked in a bar on top of the Mandalay bay overlooking the entire strip - a phenomenal view at night.

10th JULY

After struggling to keep our breakfast down we explored up and down the strip using the monorial to escape from the heat (115 F). After visits to the MGM, Tropicana, The Venetian, Stratosphere and many more casino's we made it back for another rowdy night. I cant divulge all of the goings on that occured this night but it produced some memorable moments for all concerned!

11th JULY

We jumped back in Sally and headed for Laguna Beach, and my God we werent disappointed. I think the lads will agree that this was our favourite destination by far. We stayed in a Holiday Inn and headed out for the evening after a little beach therapy. Beautiful beaches, beautiful friendly people and plenty of classy eats and drinks. We met some great people (Darryl!!) and ended up pretty well oiled taking Baywatch style lifeguard tower shots at 2am. A comical end to a great night out.

12th JULY

We got up and headed to the beach for some sun and surf. Walking down the road was pure pleasure for us petrolheads as every other car which pulled up for their morning coffee's and bagels was either a Ferrari, Corvette or Lamborghini - you really need some serious money to fit in here! After a few hrs of rest we headed up the coast passing Newport Beach (a personal pilgrimage for me as my good friends will know, Gra, Kev and Dolfy you know what I mean!). We stopped at each cool beach for a quick look around, including Santa Monica, Huntingdon Beach and Malibu before arriving at Santa Barbara for the night. After some pre-drinks at Sharkeys we ended up in a great club called Tonic and good times were had by all (even if I did take a ribbing from Britney about my hair - you guys remeber right?!)

13th JULY

We took Sally up the Pacific Coastal Highway to Santa Cruz. The drive was phenomenal as the road hugged the cliffs all the way up and crossed some dramatic bridges. No wonder this drive is rated no.1 in the USA. We bedded down at a Travelodge in Santa Cruz and decided our bodies needed a booze-free night so headed for some Hawaian Style food which was great.

14th JULY

After a fantastic but exhausting journey we needed a little boost....and that came in the shape of our next hire car - A 350bhp Shelby GT-H Mustang! I got to drive 1st and pootled out of San Fran airport's rental car building at which point we hit the highway. "Come on then, give it some"I hear from the back. Jeez - I stomped my foot down and it threw us back in our seats, and as for the noise. The devil gargling ethanol is proabaly the best description. We were made up and after recreating some scenes from Bullit through downtown San Fran, we headed to the gorgeous Sausalito Marina and onto the famous Napa Wine Valley. Driving this beast through these beauitiful destinations was a dream come true! After finding a cheap hotel back in San Fran we got drinkning and somehow ended up at a street party celebrating Bastille Day??!!

15th JULY

For the guys last day here with me we decided to retrace some of the Pacific Coastal Highway in our new ride and ended up at Santa Cruz beach (after some rather lively driving down Route 1!!). We chilled on the beach and grabbed some food before heading back up to San Fran. We spent our last evening on Fishermans Wharf getting some nice food and mulling over our insane trip - the amount we managed to cram into 10 days was unbelievable and I couldnt have wished to share it with two better guys - cheers lads!!

16th JULY

After walking Pete to the BART station, me and Rob grabbed some breakfast and beat a hasty retreat to the airport to drop off the car (after a missing key nightmare moment and a one-way san fran calamity!). Me and Rob said our goodbyes and I headed back to my hostel in downtown San Fran to prepare for the next leg of my journey- a trip to Monterey, CA to watch my heroes at the US Moto G.P at the famous Laguna Seca Track!


2 Comments

Les:
September 25, 2008
What a great read.
Your adventures are so fantastic and you have a way of writing them that makes me feel as though I am there too.
Keep on Rockin'.
Les
x
Angus:
October 6, 2008
Hi Mike
Mum has kept us informed of your escapades . Hope the tummy is better now . Have a great time in New Zealand . Take care
From all in Jersey
Cheers
Angus
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