Day 8 – Las Vegas to Mammoth Lakes
Really just a day of travel and contrast, we left the desert plains of Las Vegas and headed for the snow capped Sierra Nevada.
Arriving close to night fall, we found ourselves a little lost and tired. We wandered into the set of shops for a meal and then back to bed. The cold fresh air however was definitely a refreshing change.
Hotel: Sierra Nevada Lodge
Day 9 – Mammoth Lakes to Modesto via Yosemite National Park
Today was Yosemite day! I had been really looking forward to seeing this natural wonder. I did wonder if it would match up to my new found love of the Canadian Rockies, the challenge was on.
Entering Yosemite we were greeted with traffic gridlock. It was a slow and painful process, luckily the towering pinnacles and surrounding forest could help pass the time.
Upon arrival we had some free time for lunch (we purchased a roll at our morning tea stop) and to explore the nearby waterfalls. Cascading down these waterfalls provided a prime photo opportunity amongst the mist, but truly a highlight that day.
Next was a bus shuttle (approx. 2 hour tour) around different parks of Yosemite. This was a great way to skip the traffic and catch a glimpses of this world famous park. From spotting rock climbers perched high into the skyline, to rolling river bends, towering pinnacles and forest paths, I strongly recommend this option.
It will not compare to those able to spend days sight seeing the park, but it does provide some insight into the sheer size of this natural wonderland.
I won’t lie, the few hours we got a Yosemite was merely a tease and like the rest of my group, coming back to explore it further is on everyone’s list.
From here, we arrived at the worst place on the tour, Modesto. I mean this simply as the accommodation was the worst one all tour and there was little to do, but it was just one of things!
Ladies, perhaps plan to wash your hair and paint your nails this evening!
Hotel: Days Inn Modesto
Day 10 – Modesto to San Francisco
San Fransisco was the place I was most keen to visit. Almost everyone I knew that had been, loved it and raved about it, so I had high expectations.
Our first stop, and lets hope you get it too was a scenic photo stop. Over looking San Francisco, it’s an impressive first glimpse at this city and definitely worth the trip for those Instagram worthy pics.
Moving on we arrive into the hive of the city action. We are given a couple of free hours to explore. I head down to the Ferry Building Marketplace – Pier 1, with a girlfriend. Not to kid you, we set a cracking pace to get down there, but it was worth it. Inside the sheds, it had a range of merchants selling produce from fresh pies, to seafood, to cheeses and coffee. I highly recommend going down for a bite or wander if you get the chance. We wish had more time as we would have liked to enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants along the waterside, and sipped wine in the sun.
This evening we had a great time, squeezing ourselves onto a famous cable car for a short trip, followed by a multi course meal at a Chinese restaurant. The food was actually really delicious and lots of fun.
Day 11 – San Francisco
The next morning was a highlight and bucket list excursion for me, Alcatraz Prison. Part of the reason I choose this tour was because unlike many others, it actually included this as part of the tour. So collectively as a group we were taken to the ferries for transport, tickets organised, however toured the prison at our own pace. An absolute highlight of the trip for me.
After Alcatraz, we had time to explore Fisherman’s Wharf. Taking photo’s of the famous seals and wandering across the pier is a relaxing option. Prior to my trip, everyone told me to try a seafood chowder.
I won’t lie, the thought wasn’t overly appealing, however felt I should do it and managed to convince one of my new travelling companions to share/try one with me. Whilst it isn’t my favourite meal in the world, I’m glad I tried it and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I had a great time here, however it is geared up for tourists, so prices are more expensive and most restaurants offered the same food.
The rest of the day was relatively at leisure and at our own device. We got a trip back to the hotel, where I re-packed the suitcase ready for my early departure tomorrow. As a group we organised our own farewell dinner just down from the hotel.
For me this trip ensured I covered all the main items I wanted to see in this trip. Some accommodations were better than others, however given this is a 3* star level tour group, you get what you pay for. This was a cost effective trip for me, and I recommend doing many of the optional excursions to maximise your time. All in all, I loved my time exploring the Western Wonders of USA
Love Sparkle Palm x