Hi there, sorry for the delay in posting. We’ve been relaxing in Fiji and the wifi wasn’t so great. Btw, if anyone wants a random postcard at some point, email me your address to leaying(at)hotmail.com and just replace (at) with @.

So we went to Yosemite and found a nice camping spot next to the river below – this was outside the park as the park itself is crazy busy. Also met quite a few people who live in San Francisco and Los Angeles and think nothing of driving 5 hours to get here for a weekend break… tmp_2529-photo(66)1210639004

Upon a couple of people’s recommendation we did a hike in Yosemite which was 7 miles there and 7 miles back to a place called Clouds rest where it was about 10,000 feet in elevation and you geta  360 degree view. The environment was more like the Grand Teton National Park. The hike was an interesting mixture of green, massive boulders, meadows, trees, burnt patches and a nice little lake. It was really beautiful. We did wonder whether we’ll come across bears as there’s so many signs about not leaving food in your car overnight (Yosemite bears  have learnt to get into cars like how you use a can opener to open a tin of beans) as well as your tent etc but we did not see any.

(Nb, these pictures aren’t in the right order although the deer was certainly at the start)tmp_2529-photo1282745623So there’s been fire around here too, I’m guessing this tree must have already been dead when it happened for it to burn so badly.The second one below where there are lumps in the tree was interesting, we spoke to a guy called Connor at the Visitor Centre in Lee Vining (small place near the east entrance of Yosemite) and he said they were called burls and tend to form under stress.

tmp_2529-photo(6)-785127583tmp_2529-photo(7)1388061720Some sort of bracket fungi!

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tmp_2529-photo(11)201924624Getting to the top! It was seriously spectacular and hard work at high elevation. The way back seemed a lot harder, probably because we were tired.

tmp_2529-photo(12)-1876474628tmp_2529-photo(13)2051882986tmp_2529-photo(4)-734190141tmp_2529-photo(5)1001085341We rewarded ourselves with tacos for dinner. Mango fish tacos, yum! Tacos in America are way better than what I’ve had in the UK. You can get soft ones.

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We avoided Yosemite valley as we were told it’s super busy and there’s also shuttle buses like in Zion but far busier so we stuck to the highland which was good enough! But yeah, this is one of my favourite National Parks – well worth visiting.

From there, we headed early towards San Francisco in California to cut short our time in America by 10 days as we have spent over our American budget! America is expensive even with camping.

So west into California – wow, you can definitely tell that they have had a drought here (about 7 years), all the grass were brown and dead. No wonder why it’s so easy for fire to start. We had ash landing on our tent from a fire in the distance. When we got closer to LA, you could see the humongous cloud of smoke from Santa Barbara, crazy.

We met this lovely family from Ventura at the campsite at Lopez Lake  further down the coast and their kids (Hi there Giana and Lorenzo) find it interesting when they go somewhere else outside of California and see a lot of rain. Here’s a couple of pictures although it’s from Lake Lopez but it neatly demonstrates what the landscape is like. You can also see how the water level has really changed in the second picture below. There’s a sign on the bridge as you get into the campsite saying no diving or fishing, which is funny because there is NO water but a lot of plants that have grown where the river would have been.

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Anyways, back to San Francisco. We didn’t do much and were happy to chill plus I was in a lot of pain with my gums at this point, it would hurt all the time and more so whenever I ate or brushed them so wasn’t really in the mood for much. Luckily got an emergency appointment at University of Pacific dental school and got some steroid gel to use. In total it was about $115 (and $45 was for a 15g tube!) which wasn’t bad by American standards. Yet again, I would like to highlight how lucky we are with the NHS in the UK – do not take it for granted or say it is rubbish because it isn’t. There was a gentleman in front of me at the pharmacy whose medicine came to over $300 but he had health insurance – I think the health insurance providers (depending on your level of cover) pay up to a certain amount and you have to cover the rest and I bet it wasn’t the 8 GBP (or whatever it is now) we pay in the UK for a prescription.

I didn’t realise San Francisco was so hilly and windy. The gradients were crazy, you’ll definitely be really fit if you lived here. The fourth picture below is Alcatraz, we decided we were too cheap to pay and visitso here it is from the outside :p The Golden Gate bridge was pretty much covered in fog or cloud all the time.

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It was a cool place but onwards down the HIghway 1 for a coastal drive. It’s quite pretty but not unusual to be really foggy in the summer. We just drove through Big Sur, the national parks were shut due to nearby fire so there were no available campsites and the private ones charged $60 for a camp site…what the…

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We saw some elephant seals resting on the beach although there were a couple of male adolescents (I think) having a not too serious fight. Only the males have the proboscis – the big nose.

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Hey Sheila and George, we got round to eating the freeze dried food and it was pretty good, thanks! We don’t think entree really serves 4 people though, we ate it between the pair of us…Can you guys email me your email address so it would be easier to contact you both?

I’ve never seen anyone so happy about a cinnamon roll with a side of frosting!

tmp_2529-photo(28)696225614tmp_2529-photo(29)-1117646360As mentioned before, we met this awesome family from Ventura and Giana and Lorenzo showed us how to make a good campfire!

tmp_2529-photo(30)1065008994tmp_2529-photo(31)1462780560They fed us carnitas (pork) tacos, s’mores and pancake : D  which was so good. Thank you. It was our first time for s’mores and they’re amazing – graham crackers  sandwich with a filling of giant toasted marshmallow with a square of chocolate. Chris is stuffing his face below. You should try them in the UK.

tmp_2529-photo(33)691607179We made new friends 🙂

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I like the plug sockets in America so will end this post with a picture of it.

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