Crossing back to the west on the Tioga Pass Road we had a much clearer view today unless the fire was ongoing. But at the same time it became much more crowded as it was Friday and we hurried to leave the park. Due to the fire we had to make a little detour to reach the Big Basin Redwoods State Park south of San Francisco. And again it was a loooong and hot drive through endless plantation areas with no camping options. Just with the dawn we arrived at the park when they told us everything is full and booked out… Suddenly there was a voice behind me, explaining to the woman behind the counter that his camp site would easily fit another tent. I could have kissed Roy!
This is how we met Roy and Rosy from UK who travelled a month through USA on bike they bought here. (Thank you for sharing this place with us! It was a pleasure meeting you and we wish you a save trip home and crossing fingers that you can sell the bike for a good price again!) They as well recommended a place at the coast road to us. As we were queuing in the traffic yam half of the day we started early to watch out for any camping opportunity. But it seemed hopeless. Everywhere we saw the signs FULL and BOOKED. Exactly at the camp which was recommended by Roy and Rosy we were lucky again. Emily and Arron shared their camp spot with us – thank you folks!
We were thinking of staying another night as we liked the cliffs and smell of the sea. But we were restless as we had some issues with the bikes since the couple of days. The AT seems to leak oil somewhere at the cylinder head; the TA was suddenly drinking water like a camel after a marathon and still having some power hiccups… so we continued in the mist along the coastline. A little bit further south we had a stop at the elephant seal view point. So funny to watch them; they scratch there bally or there forehead while bathing in the sun and rolling over the beach. And impressing to see them fighting and listening to their balking. We started a chat with Cam from the `Friends of The Elephant Seal´ and after a while it turned out that she and her husband are motorcyclists as well; so we were sharing travel experiences and they found out about our issues as well. Spontaneously we were invited to stay with them, using their garage to find out more details and which spare parts we might need – overwhelmed of their hospitality we agreed to meet later at their house in Cambria. We used the time and enjoyed the seaside and watching the seals and did even some more sightseeing. Indescribably how lucky and happy we are. We started immediately the research on the bikes and trying now to find any place south of here where we can order the parts to and can work on the issues. We would not like to cross over to Mexico/ Baja California before the defects are repaired. Cambria has a bracing climate; you always have a fresh breeze from the sea, it is green and we do hope to see a whale in one of these days. We are incredible thankful to Cam and Phil! These `rest´ gave us the opportunity to find solutions for our troubles with the bikes. Finally we had the chance to calm down…
In these first two month of our journey from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego we do have seen so many impressive places and met plenty of interesting and helpful people… Sometimes it is hard to capture all these moments and impressions as we are moving on nearly every day, meeting new people and seeing new places. Finally we are back at the ocean which we have seen the last time in Anchorage. It was a particular moment to smell, feel and see the open endless blue water again. We skipped driving through the Death Valley as it is just the wrong season with around 50°+C; and you always need a reason to come back to a place ;) Therefore we changed our route and just drove a part of the famous Coastal Highway No 1 in California which just opened again after being closed for 1 ½ year cause an landslide.
Visiting all the national parks became more and more a gamble as the holiday season started and most of the campsites are booked out many months in advance. And of course you are not allowed to camp wild (boondocking how it is called here) inside of any park. On the way to the ocean we had a little detour back to the north visiting Sequoia NP and Kings Canyon NP. Giant sequoia trees are the world’s largest single trees and they are really impressive. Kings Canyon is a rugged glacier-carved valley more than 1600 m deep. It includes multiple 4300 m peaks, high mountain meadows, swift-flowing rivers with waterfalls, and as well some of the world’s largest stands of giant sequoia trees. Luckily we always snatched a camp spot and enjoyed a couple of days with hiking and swimming in the rivers and the waterfall pools.
A little bit further north located western in the Sierra Nevada of California is the Yosemite NP. Everybody is saying it is a must see with its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows and glaciers. But as well it is one of the most visited parks in the US. We doubt that we would find any spot there but we gave it a try. As soon as we left the cooling heights of the Kings Canyon it turned immediately to HOT HOT HOT. South of Yosemite we had a stop at the Visitor Centre of Oakhurst. We were informed that there is a big fire ongoing just at the south-western edge of the park and that many people left the park or cancelled their reservation. The ladies were extremely helpful to find a cool place for us aside a river inside the park. So we went. Arriving at the Wawona camping it was pretty smoky and it was snowing ash. But soon it cleared up a little bit and we were spying at the red-orange sun behind the damp while having a refreshing bath in the river. The rangers told us that they will probably close the glacier point road the following day to establish a fire-fighter-camp. So we woke up at 5am the next morning to drive up there. We were not having the usual breathtaking view into the valley and to the Half Dome but we had a very special spirit… Together with an old local guy we loved this dazed view in the early morning where usually queuing hundreds of people. The ride towards the east end of the pass on the Tioga Pass Road was nice but as well pretty covered in smoke that day and later on we were surprised by a thunder storm with lightening’s all around us, pretty close too… and cached again one of the last camp sites. East of the park the Mono Lake is situated which we visited in the early morning; it is a large shallow saline soda lake which has natural limestone “tufa tower” formations. (We just heard they had to close Yosemite because of the fire – how lucky we have been, even though we had a different view than most of the people)