A visit to

Yosemite Valley


Paso Robles


      September, 2019


The Setup

We had visited the Grand Canyon and four major national parks in Utah (Arches, Canyonland, Bryce, Zion) last September so this year we decided it was time to see Yosemite Valley.  Since we didn’t want to go all the way to California for just a two or three day visit to Yosemite, we decided to also visit Paso Robles and perhaps taste a little wine while in the area.  It seemed that September was a good time to visit, after the big crowds of the summer had left Yosemite, but before the weather turned cool.  That part of our planning worked well, for Yosemite anyway.


Getting there and Back

I had a free companion ticket on Delta to use, so that determined the airline we would use.  Although the large San Francisco airport might have had better flight schedules, I really don’t like that airport and decided to use the much smaller San Jose airport.  It turned out that this was a very good decision, purely by accident: the San Francisco airport (SFO) was suffering major delays because a runway had been shut down for reconstruction.  By comparison, San Jose (SJN) was a little closer to our destinations, easier to get in and out of, more friendly, and we experienced no delays at all.


We flew to SJN on Tuesday, Sept 10, arriving there about 11:00 while our return flight left SJN on Tuesday, Sept 17, at 12:30, arriving in ATL about 8:00 PM. Part of the reason for choosing these flights was to try to miss the rush hour traffic in both San Jose and Atlanta and this worked reasonably well, except for the terrible traffic in San Jose getting back to the airport.


After arriving in San Jose, we picked up our rental car and drive to our hotel near Yosemite.  On the way we stopped in Mantecca, CA for lunch and to pick up some supplies (wine, cheese, apples, crackers, etc.) to take with us.  Getting a little food to take with us worked well on our trip last year, and it served us well again this time as we made several meals off of this food.  The drive to our destination just outside of the Yosemite Park boundary took about four and a half hours, getting there around 3:30 PM.  Some of the roads into the mountain area were, to say the least, interesting, with many curves and severe switch-backs. 

Yosemite and vicinity

Rush Creek Lodge

We were staying at the Rush Creek Lodge, a relatively new (maybe two years old) facility. 

Around the Rush Creek Lodge pool.

The lodge featured a hotel style building alongside a nice swimming pool with other facilities, including a long gas-powered fire pit, around the pool.  There were also about 10 “cabins” that each had four units (two down, two up) scattered around the grounds.  We had a downstairs unit in one of these cabins and it was very nice, with a large room with the king bed and also a small separate “bedroom” with twin beds that would work great for kids.  There was also a large building with the restaurant, large lobby area, and game room.  The lodge office/administration building included a “general store” with general items and a limited, but sufficient, selection of food such as sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, snacks, and beverages.


The Lodge had a number of features that would make it great for a family to visit.  In addition to the separate bedroom we had, each evening S’mores were offered (free) from 5:00 – 7:00.  Our room overlooked the S’mores pit and each evening they built a nice fire that burned down to produce good coals by the time to make the S’mores.   



Some of the plants (flowers?) along the nature walk.


After checking in and getting settled into our room, we took a brief walk on part of their nature walk.  There was not a lot to see, but there sere some interesting flowers and plants.


We did a little research about just what tours of Yosemite might be available and signed up for a full day tour the following day.  Since we did not know our way around very well, we thought it best to let someone else do the driving the first day.  The Rush Creek Lodge was only about a half mile from the northern gate to Yosemite Valley Park, but that gate was about 16 miles (and 25 minutes driving) from the main part of Yosemite Valley.



Inside the lobby area during a wine tasting


We quickly found out that there was to be a free wine tasting that evening, so of course we had to check that out.  The wines were all from “Yosemite Cellars”, a local winery.  They were all reasonably good, not exactly great or memorable, but certainly drinkable.  We had brought some leftovers from our lunch with us and had those with some of the food we had picked up for a simple dinner on our balcony.  It had been a long day (and three time zones) so we called it an early night.


Sunset from our balcony at Rush Creek Lodge


Yosemite: Day 1

We had signed up for a guided tour of Yosemite that started at 8:30 AM, so we had breakfast in the lodge restaurant and then bought some sandwiches, a prepared salad, and a bottle of water for each of us, as recommended by the tour instructions.  We boarded the small tour bus with about 10 other people and our guide and made the 25 minute drive to the central part of Yosemite Valley.  Our first stop was at an overlook where we could look down the entire valley, past El Capitan and all the way to Half Dome.



The cliff on the left is El Capitan and the sharp peak in the distance is Half Dome.


This overlook gave a good view of the entire valley and you could not see any kind of development or buildings, other than the road and overlook structure itself.  This video might give a better idea of the area, as it starts with a closeup of Half Dome then pulls back to include El Capitan and much of the valley.


After taking a good look, we boarded the bus and, somewhat to my surprise, we actually headed away from the main part of the valley.  We were headed to a viewing area and starting point for several hikes at Glacier Point. 


Heading to Glacier Point overlook:  note the sign to the Four Mile Trail


This is the best viewing point to see Half Dome, one of the best known of the formations in Yosemite.  From the viewing area, we had a great view of Half Dome, several waterfalls, and part of the valley.  You can see Half Dome and two waterfalls in this video.


Half Dome and the eastern end of Yosemite Valley


This was an impressive view, although we would get even better ones a little later.  What I did not realize until I zoomed in on the very top peak of Half Dome is that there were people up there!  There is a trail people can walk up the back side of Half Dome and end up on the very top of the formation.


This is the very peak of Half Dome, with people walking all over it.


I, for one, would not really enjoy being out on the edge of that peak.  We looked around Glacier Point for a while, taking way too many photos in all directions, then our guide gave us directions for our hike down the Four Mile Trail.


The Four Mile Trail descends from Glacier Point down to the floor of Yosemite Valley, about 3,200 feet, over a total length of 4.8 miles. Four of us on the tour had elected to make the hike with the others taking the bus down to the valley.  We had hiking sticks but the guide somewhat frowned at our choice of sneakers for shoes.  I knew this was a mostly prepared trail and not especially rough, so I did not think the shoes to be an issue.  We found out otherwise.  We started down the trail and the other two hikers, being young men, went ahead at a brisk pace.  We had some excellent views of Half Dome and the valley in general.


Half Dome, as seen not far from the top of Four Mile Trail.


The weather was beautiful and the walking downhill relatively easy.  About a third of the way down, we stopped and enjoyed our lunch along the trail.


Looking west through the valley from the trail with El Capitan on the right.


Shortly after lunch I started to realize why wearing normal sneakers was a bad idea.  Each time my foot landed in my shoe on a downhill slant, my toes were shoved down into the smaller toebox of the shoe, squeezing the toes together and cramping them.  By the time we were about two thirds down the trail, I was in misery: every step downhill was painful.  Apparently, Susan was having similar problems, although not as acute, but neither of us said much about it while on the trail.  After about three hours of hiking (fairly good time for the trail) we got to the bottom and, thankfully, level ground.


At the end of the trail, we rejoined the rest of the tour and rested a short time along the banks of the Merced River that flows through the park.  Getting back on the bus, we drove a short distance to a couple of meadows in front of El Capitan to view the scenery and watch the crazy people climbing the huge cliff.


Rock climbers on the face of El Capitan


The photo above gives some indication of the relative size of the climbers, but this video of their position on the rock face gives a better appreciation of just what they were doing.  There was another group of climbers, probably about 3 or 4 of them, who had suspended a platform on the face of El Capitan and were preparing to spend the night suspended about a thousand feet above the valley floor.


A platform suspended off of El Capitan where climbers would spend the night.


They had a Jolly Roger flag hanging from the platform.  I did wonder a bit about just what kind of bathroom facilities they had and decided it would be best for us spectators to not get too close under the platform.  We watched the rock climbers for a while and then loaded back onto the bus and headed back to Rush Creek Lodge. 


We had a light meal in the restaurant and relaxed for a while before calling it a night after a fairly strenuous (and somewhat painful) day.


Yosemite: Day 2

After a breakfast in the restaurant we picked up some sandwiches in the general store and headed out in the car.  Since we did not get to the main part of Yosemite Valley the first day, that was to be our first destination.  We found the parking area for the visitor center and wandered around there for a while, watching a video about the area and visiting the Ansel Adams Studio, drooling over some of his images of Yosemite, and catching our breath at the prices on the prints they had for sale. 

Rather than driving around in the car, we hopped on a shuttle bus that makes a loop around the main part of the valley, stopping at various points of interest and camping areas.  There were a lot of camping areas and they were all marked as “Full”, although this was somewhat past the peak season.  We got off the bus at one trail head where there was a nice area to walk and a small nature center that we took a look at. 

The river formed some minor rapids close to the Nature Center building.


After looking around a while, we got back on a shuttle bus, rode back to the visitor center, made our way back to the car, and we only got “slightly lost” in the process.


A friend had told us that one beautiful, but lightly visited, part of Yosemite Park was an area called Tuolumne Meadows, a ways to the Northeast of the main Yosemite Valley.  The valley and visitor area seemed to be getting crowded with more cars pouring in, so we decided to take the road less traveled and headed toward Tuolumne Meadows.  The road to the meadows was only about 45 miles, but it was the typical mountainous twisting roads and had an unusual challenge for us.  For several roads in the area, including several places on the road to the meadows, road crews were creating a kind of ribbing or “rumble strip” down the middle of the road, along with reflectors, and new center striping.  This was very effective at telling motorists when they crossed over the center line of the road, but the work also created long sections of one lane roads where we had to take turns, controlled by the workers.  On the way to the meadows we probably waited our turn a total of over 30 minutes so the total travel time for the 45 miles was over 90 minutes.  There were some interesting sights and nice views while we were on the road and the views from Tuolumne Meadow was memorable.


The views from Tuolumne Meadow were very nice.

We paid a quick visit to the visitor center and then found an unused picnic bench to enjoy our lunch sandwiches.  Although not as crowded as the main Yosemite Valley area, it appeared that Tuolumne Meadow had been “discovered” and there were quite a few people here also, so finding a proper parking place and an available picnic table was not trivial.


The large grassy areas did certainly resemble a meadow. 


We took a walk across the meadow, enjoying the views and taking photos.  There were several trails and we took one that would take us to the “Soda Spring”.  Unlike other bubbling springs we have seen, this one was not formed by hot underground volcanic action, but by the natural carbonation in the relatively cold water. Other trails intersected the one we were on, including one with a fairly famous name.


The John Muir Trail wanders around a bit and ends up at the base of Half Dome.


There were squirrels in the meadow who seemed to watch us as much as we watched them and several kinds of birds foraging in the tall grass.  But no matter which way you looked, there was a nice view to be seen.


Mountain peaks seemed to surround the meadow.


After walking the trails for a little over an hour (my toes still hurt any time we walked downhill) we got in the car and headed back.  We were slowed by the work crews again, although not as much on the way back.  When we got back to Rush Creek Lodge, we relaxed and broke out some of our wine and cheese for a simple dinner on our balcony, watching the kids prepare their S’mores.


Yosemite, Giant Sequoias, and Paso Robles

The next morning, we checked out of the lodge and initially headed south through the park.  Driving from the north gate of the park to the south gate takes about an hour and brings you to the Mariposa Grove, a grove of large Sequoia trees located just inside the boundaries of the park.   On the way through the park, we were frequently reminded that there were terrible forest fires throughout much of the park last year, leaving burned and charred trees for mile after mile.

This scene was all too typical throughout the park.

Some areas that had burned a couple of years ago were showing good recovery with green bushes and a few small trees, but the areas burned last year showed only occasional green patches of a fast growing brush.


At the Mariposa Grove we parked at the visitor center and took a shuttle bus for the short ride into the area of the actual grove.  There were nice walkways and maps to point out the various large trees and groupings. 

The beginning of the walkway to and through the Sequoias

Since we still had quite a ways to go this day, we decided to not spend a long time at the grove and only walked a little over a half mile into the grove, but we still saw some large trees.  Most photos of the trees by themselves do not give a very good feeling for their true size, but this video should give you a good idea of some of the smaller trees.



Susan in front of one of the larger Sequoias, named “The Bachelor”


The trails and much of the grove area had recently been renovated and were in excellent condition.  It was a comfortable walk, but my toes were still complaining about our hike down the 4 mile trail.


A few of the large Sequoias with some large Pines interspersed.


I was a little surprised to read some information about how much the large trees continue to grow, even when several hundred years old.  Their thick bark is a natural shield from most forest fires and the fire is actually a necessity as the heat from a fire causes their seed cones to open and release the seeds.  After spending about an hour among the giants, we got back to the car and soon left the Yosemite Park.


About a half hour after leaving the park, we came down out of the mountains to the rather flat valley that would continue to our destination of Paso Robles.  The drive to Paso Robles took about three hours and passed through a lot of agricultural areas.  We were continually trying to guess just what the crops in the fields were.  There were lots of various fruit trees as well as fields of various vegetables.


Arriving in Paso Robles in early afternoon, we found and checked into the Hampton Inn on the south side of the town.  Since we had not stopped for lunch yet, I asked the young lady at the reception desk about wineries close by where we could also get a light lunch, and she mentioned a couple and provided directions.  The first winery she mentioned, and about the closest one, was Grey Wolf Winery, so we headed there.  We ordered a couple of sandwiches and then started a tasting while they were prepared.

Susan at the Grey Wolf tasting.  (One of those glasses was mine.)


The sandwiches were good, the wines were good, and once we had some food in our stomach, we were ready for some more tastings.  Next on the list was Tooth and Nail winery which was inside a castle, and a very impressive one at that, complete with a moat filled with very blue water.


Susan is about to cross the moat to enter the Tooth and Nail Winery.


We tasted about 6 wines here and they were all reasonably good, but none really seemed to stand out.  I think perhaps the problem was that the building and environment was somewhat distracting from the wines.  We had time for one more winery visit this day, so we headed to another close-by winery, Austin Hope.   The facility was not nearly as elegant as Tooth and Nail, but the wines seemed better.


The Austin Hope tasting room was much simpler, almost industrial.

I liked that, besides the normal varietals such as Cab Sav and Chardonnay, they also had some lesser known ones, such as Mourvedre (normally used only for blending) and Grenache.  After three tastings plus an extra glass or two in a fairly short time, we decided that we had tasted enough for the day.  We would have plenty more wine to taste the next day.


Wine Tour in Paso Robles

Two years ago when we stopped in Temecula, CA for a couple of days, a wine tour worked very well to introduce us to some of the local wineries while we relaxed and let someone else do the work.  Based on that experience, I had reserved seats on a wine tour in Paso Robles and it was even the same company as had done the tour in Temecula, “Grapeline Wine Tours”.  The small bus was not scheduled to pick us up until 10:00, so, after having breakfast at the hotel, we got in a 45-minute walk around the area close to the hotel.  We had just gotten back to the hotel and changed into our “tasting clothes” when the front desk called and said the tour bus was there about 20 minutes early.  We were out to the bus in about 2 minutes and ended up waiting a couple of minutes more for other passengers.  There were two “hosts” on the bus, an older gentleman who was obviously the experienced person and a younger man who was apparently in training to be a host, so we had two people to take care of us. 


Our tour bus for the day


We made three more stops, picking up other guests, eventually getting a total of 11 people.  This included four young ladies in a “bridal party”, one single woman about our age, and two other couples.  Everyone turned out to be pleasant and we all got along well during the tour.


Our first stop was at the “Derby Wine Estates”.  Despite the “estates” name, there was no wine estate here, just a rather industrial building in the middle of town.


Derby Wine Estates was in an old Almond processing facility building.


Despite initial appearances, the building turned out to have an interesting history that we learned about as we got a full tour after tasting their wines.  It was initially built in 1922 to process the almonds grown in the area and even backed up to a railroad spur so the processed almonds could be shipped out.  The tower at the top of the building provided a nice view of downtown Paso Robles and surrounding area.  The building was almost completely rebuilt about 7 years ago in order to be turned into a winery and meeting facility, but the actual winemaking area of the building was relatively small.

The fermentation tanks and barrel room.


The wines were all good and came from three different vineyards, but I thought their whites (including a nice Albarinrio) were better than the reds.


Our next stop was at the Robert Hall Winery, a little east of Paso Robles, as were all the remaining wineries.  As to be expected, all the wines were reasonably good.  One of the things I liked about all the tastings we attended is that they all had some relatively unusual or seldom used varietals.   For example, as at Austin Hope, Robert Hall had a very good Mourverdre, a wine that is usually used for blending, but you seldom see it as a single varietal wine. 


The tasting area at Robert Hall; a nice large facility.


While we were tasting the wines, our tour hosts were setting up some tables off to one side and preparing our lunch. We had selected sandwiches the day before (online) so they were laid out, along with a little salad and drinks.  Since the outside temperature at that time of the day was in the 90s, we were glad to be eating inside.  After finishing lunch, we headed to the next winery.


Arriving at Riverstar Vineyards about 2:00, we all filed into the relatively small, but comfortable, tasting room.  This was a little more casual than the previous winery and everyone was starting to feel good from the alcohol. 


Everyone is lined up at the bar, ready for a tasting.


As at the other wineries, the wines were all good, but nothing really memorable.  They did have a couple of blends that featured Zinfandel and a single varietal Zin, and I tend to like Zins, so I was happy. 


We relaxed a little while and then headed to our final winery of the day, Graveyard Vineyards.  Yes, there was a graveyard close by but even closer was a pond right in front of the tasting room with some large trees around. They made the area seem cooler than the 100 degrees that the thermometer indicated.  They had a guitar player/vocalist providing some entertainment and a friendly dog laying on the floor, almost blocking the doorway to make sure he got the appropriate amount of attention.  The tasting seemed a bit disorganized but perhaps that was because the four ladies in the bridal party had consumed a significant amount of wine and were having a good time.  Although not my favorite style, the most memorable wine for me was a blend of Cabernet and Petit Sirah, combining two varietals that are both high in tannins, resulting in a very “BIG” California Red. 


We were the last ones to be dropped off at our hotel a little before 5:00.  Maybe I had consumed too much wine, or perhaps everything was just starting to run together, but I cannot remember just what we did for dinner that evening.


A Visit to Morro Bay and More Wineries

After breakfast and our usual morning walk, we decided that it was too early (9:00 AM) to start visiting wineries so we decided to take a tour over to Morro Bay.  The Pacific coast is only about 20 miles from Paso Robles and Morro Bay just a few miles south from there.   We made the drive to the Pacific Coast Highway (US-1) and headed south toward Morro Bay, stopping at a couple of scenic overlooks along the way.


The cool air and a little fog just made the water look cold.


At the first overlook (photo above) as we were walking back toward our car across an area about 300 feet wide of tall brown grass, we saw a Coyote just walking along a path parallel to the ocean.  He didn’t seem to mind us and we certainly did not attempt to disturb him. 


This Coyote did not seem to mind us or the other sightseers. 


We made our way to the Morro Bay waterfront and found a place to park the car and explore the area some.  One of the first things you notice is what appears to be a big rock at the north end of the bay that looked a bit out of place in the otherwise flat bay area.  There were several docks extending out into the bay and it appeared that you could explore them with little restriction.  As soon as we started out on one dock, I noticed something floating in the water.  At first, I thought it looked like an otter but decided that it was too motionless to be anything alive: it must be a piece of trash.  Then it finally moved, just a little.  It was an otter that was taking a nap while just floating next to the dock.

This otter appeared to be sleeping off a busy night.


In addition to the otter, there were a couple of seals swimming around the dock, apparently fishing for their breakfast, but we could only see them when they surfaced for a breath of air.  Speaking of seals, there was a small island out in the middle of the bay which appeared to be a popular place for seals to come out of the water and bark at each other.  You can see and hear them in this short video.  After a couple of hot (100 F) days in the Paso Robles area, the cool air around the bay felt good.  There was just a light fog over the bay, giving it a slightly eerie look.


It was really a pretty sight, looking at the boats in the distance.


It was getting close to lunchtime, so we considered going to one of the Morro Bay restaurants but decided to head back toward Paso Robles and see if we could find a winery that offered some food.  One of the wineries the young woman at the hotel had mentioned was Opolo winery.  We found it on the map of wineries we had and it appeared to be fairly close to our route back toward the hotel, so we headed that way.  It was further down a rather narrow country road than I expected it to be, but the ride turned out to be well worth it.  There appeared to be one large building with one front corner open and several tables spread around.  The best feature was the wood fired brick pizza oven in one wall.  We saw the oven and pizzas on the menu and we were happy.  We purchased a couple of glasses of a red blend and, while waiting for our pizza, visited some of the grape vines (Merlot and Cabernet) which were literally within an arm’s reach of the covered area.  The grapes looked and tasted just about ready to pick and one of the workers there said they would be picking them in a week to 10 days. 


The grapes are looking pretty good, aren’t they?


After enjoying the pizza and wine, we went inside the enclosed part of the building where there was a tasting bar and gift shop and enjoyed a tasting of their wines.  Perhaps it was an aftereffect of eating the pizza, but I enjoyed the Sangiovese the most.  All in all, it was a very pleasant visit and was made even better a couple of weeks later when were visiting our son and family and my brother and his wife in Tallahassee.  We were taking everyone out to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant my sister-in-law had recommended (good cholce, Lisa!).  When I looked at the wine list there were a couple of wines from Opolo on the list.  I figured that had to be a good omen so I ordered the Cabernet and it worked very well.  


After leaving Opolo we went a little further down the road to the Oso Libra (free bull) winery.  The name comes from the fact that they also raise Angus cattle for beef.  The tasting room and facility were smaller and more “homey”, complete with a couple of friendly dogs and the owner ended up leading our tasting with a couple of other customers.  The wines were good, but I suspect the beef might be more memorable than the wine.


With enough wine consumed for the day, we headed back to the hotel to rest up for dinner.  We got in the car and drove to downtown Paso Robles, parked the car, and looked for an interesting place to eat.  We had considered a couple of places when we went past a Bar-B-Que place.  Although I don’t think of California as a place for BBQ,  Susan thought that might be a good possibility and then I noticed the special for the day was beef ribs.  I like beef ribs but cannot find them very often, so that sealed the deal.  It was nothing fancy, but good, and plenty of leftovers to take with us for the next day.


From Paso Robles to Monterey Bay

We got up, ate breakfast, took our normal morning walk and then tried to decide what we were going to do that day.  We’d had quite a bit of wine, seen Morro Bay and looked around Paso Robles.  Other significant “attractions” in the area would require a relatively long ride there and back.  Our plan had been to spend the night in Paso Robles then get up a little early and drive the 3 hours to San Jose, but we decided to modify that plan.  If we spent the night somewhat closer to San Jose, we would not have to get up so early and would have an easier drive to San Jose.  Looking at the map, Monterey seemed to fit the bill and I was able to reserve a reasonable hotel room there. We checked out of the Paso Robles hotel and made the drive over to US-1, the Pacific Coast Highway, and headed up the coastline toward Monterey.


Just one of several squirrels that appeared to be well fed.   Where’s that Coyote?


We stopped at a number of overlooks along the way and a couple of them featured some very well-fed squirrels.  There were signs all over saying “Do not feed the animals”, but based on the behavior of the squirrels, the signs were mostly ignored.  The squirrels were not at all afraid of people and certainly not bashful or shy.


One of the nicer looking beaches….  But it still looked cold!


There were some nice-looking beaches and views, but there was always Kelp (a sure sign of cold water) and rocks out in the water.  Compared to our preferred Caribbean beaches, they really did not look inviting.  The signs leading up to one overlook said there were frequently Elephant Seals in the water.


Two Elephant Seals sticking their heads above the water


It appears that the Elephant Seals like to hang out at the outer edge of the Kelp beds, putting them quite a ways from the shore and making them rather hard to spot.  We finally realized what to look for and where and were able to see a couple of them.


There were some nice views along the PCH.


Between all the winding roads, the traffic, and the multiple areas of road construction (single lane roads again), you could not cover much ground, so you might as well slow down and enjoy the views.   I had initially thought that we could get to Monterey in time to do some sightseeing along Cannery Row, but at the rate we were going, that was not going to happen.


This view was not so nice, but we saw way too many of these.


As normal along the Pacific coast, the weather was fairly cool and comfortable, with occasional marine fog or very light rain. 





There was some very light rain as I took this photo.


The weather did change quite a bit and quickly.  The photo just above was taken in very light rain and a bit of fog while the one below, taken only a short time later, was in the sunshine, although it was still cool.


High cliffs and rocky shoreline: typical of Big Sur..


We saw several landmarks along the say, like Hurst’s Castle up on a hillside, some classic bridges, and lots of views of the coastline.  As we came up to the Big Sur area it was about time to get something to eat.  There was not a lot of choice and we decided to try a place along the road.  It appeared to be geared toward the tourists and I expected to be stuck with high prices and mediocre food, but was pleasantly surprised at the reasonable (not cheap) prices and pretty good food. Of course, a glass of wine certainly helped!


It was a little after 3:00 when we pulled into the Embassy Suites in Monterey.  By the time we got checked in and unloaded, it was a bit late and we didn’t feel like getting back in the car to drive over to the Cannery Row area.  Instead, we took a walk over to the beach which was close by and then walked along a bike/walking path parallel to the beach, but didn’t go far as the bikers seemed to be rather aggressive in their speed and maneuvering.  On the way back to the hotel we detoured around a lake that appeared to have a couple of homeless campsites.  That evening we finished the BBQ leftovers from the night before and cleaned up whatever food and snacks we still had, as well as enjoying some wine and snacks at the Embassy Suite nightly “reception”.  We did save some cheese, sausage, and crackers to take on the flight with us. 


The beach along Monterey Bay


To San Jose and Home

The Embassy Suite hotels do serve a pretty good breakfast, and we took advantage of it before loading the car and heading to San Jose.  The Drive went well until we hit traffic in San Jose itself, where things really slowed down.  The very round-about and confusing route to the airport rental car return didn’t help any either, but we got there, checked in for our flight, got through security, and relaxed for an hour or so until time to board our flight.   I had a decent window seat so, as we left the bay area, I had a pretty good view of San Francisco.


San Francisco from quite a distance.  Can you pick out the Golden Gate?


The flight was uneventful and we did enjoy our snack along with a glass of wine for lunch.  We landed in Atlanta a little after 8:00 PM which, thankfully, put us on the Atlanta highways after rush hour.  Overall, it was a successful trip.