An Unexpected Journey

California, here I come!

After spending two weeks in Europe and a week in Cape May this year, I had basically used up all of my vacation time, so I never imagined I’d be hopping on a plane in a couple of weeks for my first ever trip to California (actually, it’s my first trip to anywhere in the U.S. west of North Carolina).

My boss had asked me earlier in the year if I was interested in attending a conference in San Francisco. I said yes, but wasn’t sure if it was actually going to happen. The trip finally got approved in mid-summer but we were so busy at work that we kept putting off making the arrangements. As the summer dragged on and all of the hotels got booked up, I had pretty much assumed it wasn’t going to happen. But in the end everything worked out and now I’m headed to the Golden State!

I decided to turn it into a mini-vacation by flying in two days before the conference and staying for three days after it. The big question was what to do with that extra time. I could have explored more of the city (I won’t even be able to scratch the surface of everything San Francisco has to offer) or I could have visited some of the surrounding areas like Napa Valley, but when I realized that Yosemite National Park is within a four-hour drive, my decision was made. There was no way I could pass up the chance to walk in the footsteps of Ansel Adams and gaze upon the beauty of Yosemite, so I booked a cabin for two nights in the park and reserved a rental car to drive out there after the conference. Yosemite should be spectacular decked out in the colors of autumn.

Soon I hope to be standing here.

Meanwhile, the weekend before the conference I’m meeting up with my cousin who lives nearby for a planned drive along the Route 1 coast and up to see the redwoods, which will be awesome.

In between, I will be attending Dreamforce, a massive tech conference with well over 100,000 people expected to attend. It’s like the Comic Con of cloud computing. I will be staying near Fisherman’s Wharf and commuting to the Moscone Center for the conference. It should be quite an experience, though I’m not sure that I’m prepared for that type of human traffic congestion.

I will try to see as much of San Francisco as I can during my four days at the conference, though how much I’ll be able to accomplish each day after the conference lets out remains to be seen. If any San Francisco natives out there have advice on what I can do with my limited time, I’d be most grateful. I would like to try climbing at least one hill. I also want to walk through Chinatown and along the coast near Fisherman’s Wharf, and maybe visit Golden Gate Park. Any dining advice would also be appreciated (e.g., is In-N-Out Burger worth the hype or should I stick to finer dining establishments?). Thanks!

I’d also be grateful for Yosemite tips, and I’m curious if there are any places worth visiting between Yosemite and San Francisco since I have a late night flight home and can take my time driving back. Perhaps one of the Gold Rush towns?

I’m very excited about this unexpected journey. It’s hard to believe I’ll be flying for the third time in a year. I’m becoming a regular jet setter. 🙂

Writer, traveler, photographer, hiker, film/TV addict, amateur chef, casual gamer, and occasional tennis & saxophone player . . . in real life I do web design.

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Posted in North America, United States
5 comments on “An Unexpected Journey
  1. Mom says:

    This will be so nice!! Hopefully you can take in some things and save a lot of things for when you and Jen can go there together some day, maybe even drive down Route 66, I always wanted to do that. Don’t forget to tell Timmy to “color or something” 🙂

  2. Kevin says:

    I think In-N-Out is terrible. It may be worth going to form your own opinion, but I’d recommend against it.

    Since you’re staying in Fisherman’s Wharf you can try walking to the conference one day (or back, it’s only 2 miles or so) up Hyde St. You’ll get your hill, a nice view of the bay, and you’ll pass right by Lombard St. (the ‘crookedest street in the world’). And depending on what route you take, you can even meander through Chinatown on the way. I would walk every day and take a different path each time just to see as much of the city as possible, but I really enjoy walking. It’s mostly flat to the Moscone Center unless you go out of your way to go up hills.

    Golden Gate Park is good, so is Land’s End (nearby).

    Don’t forget to visit the Sequoia’s while you’re in Yosemite. There’s a grove on the south end of the park. The only gold rush town I’ve visited is Coloma (where the gold rush started) and it was interesting enough that I’d recommend making a stop at one on the way back if you have time. If you’re into history at all you can stop in Martinez on the way back at the John Muir National Historic Site and see where the father of our National Park System lived.

    I don’t eat much in the city so I only have one recommendation: Suppenkuche. Fantastic German food and beer. It gets packed right after work though, so either be prepared to arrive late, early, or wait a while for a seat (long wait times is a central theme to SF restaurants). If you have the time, you could also head up to Sausalito. There are quite a few good restaurants and you can get some nice views of the city too. For lunch you can try the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I can’t name anything in particular.

    Oh and I’m sure your cousin knows, but if you’re driving up north to see the redwoods make sure you go to Humboldt Redwoods State Park and drive the Avenue of the Giants (parallels Route 1 through the park).

    FYI, your blog is the only written review of Tour By Mexico I’ve been able to find and reading through the account of your trip gave me the confidence to book with them. I suppose this is me paying it forward. Have fun at Dreamforce, I hear it’s awesome!

    • Thanks for all the great tips, Kevin!

      Walking is good advice, I may try to do that, at least on the way back to the hotel. And I’ll definitely try to make it to Suppenküche; I love German food. Land’s End sounds great, too

      For Yosemite I’m thinking of hitting Glacier Point on Day 1 since I’ll be getting there later in the afternoon, spending Day 2 in the Valley, stopping to visit the sequoias on my way out of the park on Day 3, and then driving for a while on Rt. 49 North (the Gold Rush Trail) before I hit the freeway again back to San Francisco.

      I’m glad I was able to help you make a decision on your trip. I couldn’t find much of anything on Tour By Mexico when I was planning my trip, but I decided to take the risk and it worked out. It’s nice to know my blog is helping others. Which tour did you book?

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