“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
I set my alarm for 7:30am. I turned on the A/C, got in bed, put on my Apple TV and watched some episodes of LOST (I am rewatching it and it’s amazing… I have forgotten everything!). Then I took some Xanax to help me sleep since I am an insomniac, plus the fact my brain kept repeating one thing over and over… this is going to be the last time I sleep in my own bed for the next 5 weeks.
The road trip begins.
I think there is a reason that Big Sur has drawn the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac and Henry Miller. The name means “Big South” and the land has gone through the hands of Native Americans, the Spanish and then Americans becoming a gold mining town where settlers cut down the surrounding Redwoods resulting in stunning views of some of the highest seaside cliffs in the United States. #ThanksWikipedia
The drive on the Coastal PCH is seriously one of the most stunning things I have ever seen. I found myself saying the words “holy shit” and “stunning” an obnoxious amount of times… but I mean, it was. If you ever get a chance to do take this route, do it. If LOST had a highway in/out of the Island, this would be the highway. I could just imagine Jack and Kate cruising down the highway as they escape from The Others… The road twists and turns throughout the sandy roadside cliffs as the turquoise-blue ocean waves crash below. It is so beautiful that this road is also one of the most dangerous – so take advantage of the areas to pull over and take photos.
We explored Pfeiffer State Beach, stayed at the State Park Campground and made Hot Chili with Grilled cut up Kubasa and topped with crumbled Kettle Potato Chips. It was delicious. The site was about 25 minutes from the infamous beach, not on the beach or across the street like I had imagined. But this beach, wow. It has these amazing rock-arches with the sun laying a golden reflection upon the water. The beach is serene and stunning. Just. like. LOST.
The next morning we packed up and headed out to Yosemite National Park. There was a fantastic stop at Wal-Mart where I washed my hands and face in the bathrooms and then we made PB&J sandwiches in the parking lot. True road trip moment.
We rolled into Yosemite after a 5-hour drive and explored around a bit. Took some photos of El Capitan (the Rock Wall where climbers spend 2 days climbing 3,000 feet to the top – sleeping in hammocks along the face of the wall) and Half Dome, the famous dome in almost every single Yosemite picture ever taken (for example, check my instagram @localsonly). We camped in Hodgdon Meadows (about 35 minute drive up from the Yosemite Valley) and had a group campsite for just two people – it was pretty amazing. I made Buffalo Chicken Wings (Grilled over the campfire) with Corn on the Cob, Green Beans, and obviously S’mores for dessert. Hurley would have been so happy.
The next day (3rd day without a shower) we went on a hike around Mirror Lake and then relaxed at the site. Reading books in hammocks, taking pictures, just enjoying the quiet moments that are personally my favorite. Dinner was the ole’ famous Tin Foil Surprise which I picked up from my youth at sleep away summer camps. I know I am at the age where a lot of my friends are getting married and having kids and if I can use this soap box for a moment, I highly advise you to send your kids to summer camp. It has changed my life in ways I am still learning… Like perfecting the trades of the Tin Foil Surprise (Meat, Potatoes, Onions, Carrots, Sauce, covered in tin foil and cooked on the open flame). But for real, it has imbedded a sincere appreciation for the great outdoors and I am so lucky to have had those experiences at a young age.
Our last day in Yosemite (4th day without a shower) was spent hiking the Mist Trail (around 7 miles but damn… a lot of those are vertical miles). We made a quick lunch afterwards with some yogurt and a cheese sandwich. Then we booked it out of there because it was Labor Day weekend and the crowds were flocking in like a black Friday sale and kinda ruining the vibe. We had the previous 2 days with the park basically to ourselves and now it was full of RV’s, kids, bikes, and giant tour groups. If possible, check this place out on a normal weekend or play hooky from work and see it on a weekday… it is worth it.
We drove for about 4 hours to a buddies place outside San Francisco and finally… showered! Sweet glory it was spectacular. Then in true Scott Bender fashion, I ordered Dominos delivery… drank beer and watched some movies with an old college friend, as if nothing had ever changed since CU (Go Buffs!).
The flashback was short lived and we woke up early the next day and hit the road. We drove 5 hours north to the Redwood National Park in Humboldt with a quick stop in Eureka (really neat small town). I wrote this blog partially from the car and finishing in the hotel – which I am appreciating more than I ever knew… as the next 3 nights will be spent camping under the stars in Crater Lake, Oregon. Where it gets down to 30 degrees at night. Woof. Let’s see how Sawyer would handle that cold…
Till next time, keep eating, keep drinking, keep reading.
A couple Facts on Yosemite:
- Yosemite National Park was created in 1890 and is one of the oldest nature preserves in the US.
- The park spans nearly 1,200 square miles on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range
- President Lincoln named Yosemite Valley as the country’s first public preserve
- John Muir is a major voice behind Yosemite and a famed naturalist; he has said, “No temple made with human hands can compare with Yosemite”.
- Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in the country with a 2,424 ft. drop