We opted out of setting an alarm, convinced Ally would wake up early with the sun, however, the bright morning was no competition to our post-hike exhaustion. With a later start to the morning than we anticipated, we had a quick tea and English muffin breakfast, packed up camp and headed west toward the shore.
It’s incredible to see the different terrains of California, as well as the plummeting and rising thermostat. A brisk 50 degree morning at 7,000 feet quickly became a 93 degree sunny drive through the central valley and beyond. One stop to replenish some groceries and fill the gas tank was our only driving interruption … until the farm stands grabbed Ally’s attention! She couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stock up on some fresh produce—after all, we had been driving through farmland for hours, trying to identify the different crops. (We’ve decided that farmers should add some signage to their fields to assist drivers in crop identification. Not all fields have a distinguished aroma as the garlic fields do. Hmm, can we have garlic bread with dinner?)
As we approached the coast, we could see the all-too-familiar marine layer. Patrick directed us to a park in Monterey where we made sandwiches and ate on the beach. We took a walk to explore the wharf area, filled with restaurants, whale watch/bay excursions and souvenir shops.
The highlight of the day was seeing a little sea otter friend floating in the harbor munching on a clam. Day. MADE.
After Monterey Bay we drove down Route 1 to Big Sur, taking in the majestic views along the way.
Unfortunately for us, the campsites were filled at the state parks as well as the private campgrounds in and around Big Sur. We were directed to a state park back up in Monterey, but upon arrival we decided to keep driving north to get us closer to tomorrow’s destination: Mount Rainier National Park! Initially we were going to be spending a night at Crater Lake, however due to an itinerary mix-up, we were a day behind. (Even with color-coded Excel spreadsheets, mistakes can happen. Guess Patrick had his mind on something else in July…)
Despite a super generous offer from friends to crash in Palo Alto (Thanks Laura!), we picked a destination about 4 hours north—officially abandoning the idea to drive through the night and arrive at Mt. Rainier mid-morning. After checking out some helpful online reviews, we found a great motel in Williams, CA.
Tomorrow, it’s 10 hours to Mount Rainier, with a pit stop for lunch in Portland!
-Ally and Patrick
Yosemite National Park to Williams, CA – 501 miles