I guess it’s time to go home – returning coast to coast: what did it all mean?

Piedras Blancas in San Simeon - Pacific Coast Highway

Finally, the cross country drive is coming to an end. Based on when this is published and when the events actually occurred, you can probably tell I have been a little busy (and slow to write the final chapter). As much as I like to travel, I think I need a little break after this journey. Hopefully in the future I can stay up to date on everything. Either way, I hope you enjoy the finale of a wonderful journey across, around, and back across the United States.

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Oh yeah I need my car – the return West and the desert

Joshua Trees along Queen Valley Road

After a brief return to the East coast, I flew back to Las Vegas where I had ditched my car. I was on the east coast for a few days basically to tell my parents (with my girlfriend…well, fiance at this point in the story) that we were engaged. After just 3 days back on the East Coast, I flew back to Las Vegas to retrieve my vehicle. Luckily I parked Sally in the shade, so the 115 degree Vegas heat wasn’t too hard on her. When I got to the Las Vegas airport, it was 10pm and a chilly 98 degrees.

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Is it really time to go? – One last drive through the Southwest

Waterfall in Orderville Canyon - Zion National Park

After a month and a half of free-spirited travel across the US, through California and the Southwest, I found myself at a crossroads. I could start driving home and hit a few places on “my list” on the road east, or I could take a week to try and squeeze a few more places into the itinerary in the west. There are too many options when it comes to exploring (especially in the US Southwest), so I had to pick a route. I have a friend that grew up in Wyoming (Laramie, not too far from Colorado) and he highly recommended Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s less than 2 hours from Denver, so after I dropped Lily and her parents off at the Denver airport, I decided I had to head west before heading east.

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The return inland – San Francisco to Vegas

Half Dome - Yosemite National Park - 7-31-2019

After almost 3 weeks along the California coast, it was finally time to drive to Vegas. It was a Tuesday and I had to be there Friday morning. No problem! What is on the way to Vegas? Well, Yosemite National Park is on the way (if you take a slightly longer route). Even though I had already visited Yosemite a few weeks earlier, it’s definitely a park where you need to spend more than 1 day. Also I wanted to summit Half Dome; something I was unable to do during my first visit as I did not have a permit (and I didn’t have enough time).

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Let’s keep going – Northern California coast – part 1

Disclaimer

What you are about to read is part 1 of a two-part series. Actually there is so much to write about, I didn’t want you to feel like you were reading a book, so I divided my exploration of “NorCal” into a northbound journey, and the return southbound journey. If you really enjoy this post, and you are thinking to yourself “I just gotta read the second part”, then check out the Northern California Coast – part 2.

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What do you mean I need a permit? Another lesson in preparation

I met a guy (an avid outdoorsman) a few months ago who told me the best place he had ever hiked was the Lost Coast in California. I had not heard of it before, but it’s one of the most rugged sections of the west coast located between Eureka and Fort Bragg. The Coastal Highway was actually diverted inland due to the terrain. I was excited for the challenge (and opportunity) since I was planning to drive up the coast, however I checked online and a few years ago the Bureau of Land Management instituted a permit requirement to hike the trail. Only 5 permits are issued per day, with a maximum of 60 people permitted to begin hiking the trail each day. On the 22nd, I checked the permit availability for hiking the Lost Coast Trail. There was one permit available the following day on the 23rd, and another available on…August 1st! Oh man, talk about lack of preparation on my part. I had heard that the trail is popular, but the scarcity of permits made it almost impossible for me to get on the trail in time (and it turned me off of the idea a little bit too). I had to be in Vegas on August 2nd so this wasn’t going to work unless I made the drive the following day to get the permit for the 23rd.

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That’s the California I know – Big Sur and the central coast

After driving out of Sequoia National Park and through the Central Valley, I stopped in Paso Robles to get an early dinner at Jack in the Box and inquire about campground availability near the coast. The answer: there wasn’t any. I called the San Simeon Creek Campground which would be the first one I passed once I got to Route 1, and they said they didn’t have anything available. I then talked with an employee at the Morro Bay location and he said “sorry we don’t have anything from here to Santa Barbara, the entire coast is booked”. It was Friday, it was the weekend in July, but I thought there would be something open!

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Big trees, mountains, and waterfalls – Central Sierra Nevada

Liberty Cap and Nevada Fall

It seems likes everything is bigger in the Sierra Nevadas. The highest mountain in the lower 48 states is in the Sierras. I think the biggest waterfall in the US is in the Sierras. And the biggest trees (by volume) are in the Sierras. While we were wrapping up our hike in the Hoover Wilderness, I asked the guys if they knew of any place(s) to see nearby after our trip was complete. I think everyone I asked said “Big Trees” at one point. If you haven’t been to the Sierras, you would probably have the same reaction I did: “Big Trees? There are all sorts of big trees.” The Big Trees they spoke of is Big Trees State Park near Murphys, CA. It’s a beautiful park only about an hour or two from where we split off in Twain Harte.

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True Nature – 5 days in Hoover Wilderness

Gear list

This post covers 5 days of backpacking in the Hoover Wilderness, part of Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. I divided up the days onto separate pages. This will also allow you to stop reading earlier if you tire of my tale since the pages will be shorter. I still hope you make it through the whole thing.

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The gifts of nature – Buckeye Hot Springs, CA

After departing from Bodie, I stopped at the nearest active settlement: Bridgeport, CA. Bridgeport is a cool little town. There is not much going on, but Lenny (who I was meeting to backpack with in the Hoover Wilderness a few days later) recommended that I stop for a burger at The Barn. I was so hungry after a long day of driving and walking, I got a burger and then walked around the corner for a milkshake at Jolly Kone. Needless to say I didn’t need to make dinner after that.

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