California isn’t all beaches and sunshine. Although it does contain beaches and sunshine, California has a lot to offer away from the shoreline. We took a slightly different approach on our California dreamin’ and enjoyed the majesty of Yosemite, the beauty of Hollister, the beaches of Santa Cruz and the lights of San Francisco.
Yosemite – We could have stayed forever
If you love to hike and climb, this is the place. There are so many different rocks to climb and hikes to explore that various ages and fitness can enjoy the vast beauty of rock face thousands of feet up in the air.
If you enjoy hiking, there are hikes to waterfalls and there is also the grand 14-mile hike of the Half-Dome. You don’t need a permit to do the lower part of Half-dome but as you get to the dome, there is a chain-led path up to the top. A permit is needed to go up the dome which permit is drawn by lottery.
While we were in one of the greatest areas to climb, we decided to throw on our harnesses and climb in Yosemite. If you are not comfortable with finding a climb yourself, there is a Yosemite Mountaineering School and Guide Service you can call. Most climbs in Yosemite require trad gear. It was a fun experience to climb in Yosemite and on a granite wall.
Camping is also a very popular activity in Yosemite. There is a huge campground at the base of half-dome and a store in Yosemite village if you need food or basic essentials. The store even carries camping gear in the instant you forgot an item.
If you are RVing through California, there is a little Oasis right off the road called Casa de Fuita. A water wheel runs by the power of the elements, and antique trucks and equipment line the side street. There is a fruit market, restaurant, wine store and more. Free parking is available for your RV if you park in the truck parking, but just to forewarn, it can get noisy.
If you want to pay for a spot, there is a camp-ground just down the road where you can stay. They will even let you use their dump for small fee. This was a great stop on our way from the Mountains to Santa Cruz and the girls loved watching the peacocks walk around the parking lot.
Enjoying Santa Cruz
We had planned on camping near the beach in our hammocks the night before we were going to explore Santa Cruz but as luck would have it, we weren’t allowed to hang on the trees. Seriously, right? No hearing the waves wash up on shore all night. Anyway, that is another story for another post.
We had done a video the night we checked in to the hotel so we turned on the lights in the car. When I turned the key to start it the next morning there was just an low, soft and short attempt from the car. It was dead. We had left the lights on overnight. Thankfully we were able to talk to a nice family from near Sacramento that were willing to give us a jump.
As we were talking to them, they told of many wonderful and free things to do in Santa Cruz because that was where they grew up. They mentioned activities such as watching the sea lions on the wharf to visiting light houses, and viewing the monarch butterflies at Natural Bridges State Beach.
We started out driving to the Beach Boardwalk. This is a full-on amusement park but it doesn’t open until noon. We wanted to enjoy the beach and not be distracted by rides so we decided to continue up to Natural Bridges State Beach. We loved it.
The best part about the beach was watching the waves roar up and then come crashing into the rocks/cliffs on the side of cove. There was one sequence of waves that were so big they came clear up on shore and totally wiped out a nice little family enjoying a picnic. I looked over and all I saw was the mom picking up her 18 month son to calm him and get him on his feet. So be ware of the waves. You may even see surfers in the distance.
By the time we were done playing in the sand and water, the girls were soaked and cold. I totally forgot that we wanted to go look for the butterflies. I guess we will just have to come back another time.
California left an impression on our hearts all the way from Yosemite Valley to the beaches on the shoreline! We will never forget the very, very windy and steep roads in the mountains (I did get sick on our way back from Yosemite) and the feeling of the hoppin’ city of San Francisco.