21st – 22nd Sept 2018
San Francisco to Manteca 15 kms Cycled, 47 ml Driven
Aah, what a nice, restful, couple of days with Cyndi. Alas it is time to move on. We have to get across the bay, to a place called Dublin, to start the next surprise in this crazy adventure. Cyndi hasn’t owned a car in 15 years, and cycles everywhere, therefore, she knows all the best routes and public transport options, to get us there. It is 39 miles. So up and at em, hey? We didn’t have to pack up much, but we did need to do some housework to repay Cyndi for her generosity. With that done, we got back to the nuts and berries, had a coffee, and a last pat of the cats. We loaded the kids, and off we all went, following the leader.
Back in bicycle mode and busting into the city. Best mode of transport for the city for sure. We wheeled them right into the bar.
It was a great ride into downtown San Francisco, on a route called The Wiggle. It weaves into town, avoiding all the big hills, and is very well signposted, with big green arrows on the road and bike paths. It was a breeze, and even enjoyable. There was plenty of time for us all to check out the Ferry Building and “quaff” a few coldies before we depart. No, not on a ferry, we were catching Bart (Bay Area Rapid Transit). It is just a great place with some unusual markets and a wine and beer bar that Cyndi likes.
After our quaffing of a couple of beverages, we walked back to Market Street, where Cyndi showed us the elevators down to the BART station, helped us buy tickets, and find our platform, the train arrived just as Will did, so Cyndi whooshed us onto it, and we hardly got to thank her or say a proper goodbye. We can’t thank her enough, for everything. Allowing us to veg out and suck all her Wifi, giving us so much advice, and help with plotting our next route, and just being a fantastic, life filled lady.
So, what the hell are we up to? Well, we are considering the chance that we might never make it back, and what do we Really Not want to miss? The Grand Canyon! That is something we would regret, if for some reason we didn’t get back to the USA. So we decided to hire a van and do a two week road trip, to see as much as we can, making sure it involves the Grand Canyon. We rode the BART out to Dublin, east of San Francisco, then rode our loaded bikes another 2 kilometres to El Monte RV Sales and Rentals. Here we are due to collect our small RV. Well actually, we tried to rent a small one, but they ran out, and it’s the end of the busy season, so gave us a “different” one at the same price. Oh, okay, I guess that is good.
While we wait inside, I call my Mum, it’s been a bit long between calls, and while we’re chatting, our van is ready, so Will heads off to inspect it. All seems cool, I complete the paperwork, and my chat to Mumsie, and then Will comes back. He looked a little pale. “Everything okay Willsie?” “Aah, yeah. It’s all good!” Oh good, ho hum, let’s go check it out then. Around the back we go with our bikes, and all I see are massive, humongous, enormous RV’s. Shit, which of these is ours? Actually, it was hiding behind them, which gave me a bit of relief, until I came along side it.
Oh dear, what have we done? Can Will drive this beast on the wrong side of the road in this mad traffic? I don’t think I could, it’s 27 feet long, and about 8 feet wide, mirror to mirror. Well, we have spent quite a bit of time judging and picking on people in these machines, for their lack of driving skill, so, how will we do?
First we load the kids in, and stow our gear, and then we have to navigate to the nearest, and easiest Supermarket. This happened to be a little bit of a task, as Will had to figure out how this Motorhome of Madness handles and works. But, without incident, we got to the car park of Walmart, and just like a learner driver, we parked about as far away from everyone as we could. Phew, that was tense. After a bit of grocery shopping, we looked for a campground out of the suburban area, and not too far. I loaded that into google, and acted as the Sat Nav. “Take the next Right turn (onto the right side of the road, Willsie)”.
It was a very tense and scary first experience, with our right wheels, making good solid contact with the rumble strips on the white line, many, many times. Somehow, we managed to get ourselves and our beast to Turtle Beach RV Resort, in Manteca. Fucking hell, this is not going to be a walk in the park, my friends, no siree Bob!
Manteca to Aspen Campground (Lee Vining) 180 mile
After a long night of getting the Motorhome of Madness organised, stowing our gear, and making the bed, we slept pretty well. It was a bit cool with just the blankets provided, but we can fix that. So we are following Cyndi’s advice, and we are trying to do a loop, up to America’s Loneliest Road (Hwy 50), through Nevada, to Utah and some amazing landmarks, then down to Zion, and finally the Grand Canyon. So today, we are heading through Yosemite, then starting to head north towards Fallon. The drive through Yosemite won’t be adequate, but it’ll be enough to give us a taste of what it has to offer. Right.
So far so good, Will is getting the hang of it, and the road isn’t too bad at the moment. A big pullover at Don Pedro Lake, the original site of Jacksonville, which was the principal river town during the mining boom. The Tuolumne river was dammed in 1971 to provide domestic water, irrigation and for flood control. It was pretty.
It looked like a good plan, it seemed doable, and we left feeling positive. That was not long lasting, as we headed into the park, the road began to climb, winding around, and around, with lots of turnouts, and So Much Traffic. Poor Will. Poor me, I’m the one looking down into the abyss and my life flashing before my eyes. Aaahhhhh!
We took more GoPro, because we were both too busy concentrating and there were very few places for The Beast to pull up.
There were tunnels, with signs telling us we wouldn’t fit under, but we did, that is confusing, and then we missed our turn and ended up on the busiest road into Yosemite Canyon Valley. No, no, no we don’t want to go there. Wouldn’t you know it, we couldn’t find a turnout to save ourselves, at least not one that would accommodate the Behemoth Machine for a U-turn. You could smell the tension in the cab. Will was managing pretty well, holding his breath unknowingly, but doing everything slowly and carefully. Finally we found a huge parking area, with a spectacular view, and pulled in to reassess, breath, and amaze in the vista. It was the only one we could really enjoy.
check out the concentration on Will’s face. He was super happy to pull up and get out for a break. So intense, and something I would not recommend. Small car or motorbike here.
Back we went through the bloody tunnels. They didn’t seem any less frightening in the RV, than they did on the bike. Interesting. We made our turn, and pulled into the service station. Will got to topping up the thirsty beast (and figuring out the prepay system), while I bought stress relievers like ice cream and chips. Important, I felt. Upon heading off again, Will firmly states he has had enough today! So where are we stopping? Well there are few options in Yosemite, it is booked out nine months in advance, so we have to leave the park, then there are some options in other state parks on the other side. Right, let’s get the hell,out of here.
We reached an altitude of over 9000 feet, it was beautiful, and we even spotted snow in a couple of places. Old stuff that has lasted the summer. It is chilly up here.
The drive was pretty. Even though Will really did not see any of it,but I snapped what I could from the cab. It wasn’t what I thought it would be like. Very rugged, and huge. Finally, we found some camping areas outside of Yosemite, and after a couple of full ones, we found Aspen Camping Ground. It wasn’t easy to find a spot that was free, that we could fit the beast into, but we found one, and wasted no time getting in there and calling it a day. Poor Will, that was super tough. But with only one minor incident, we clipped a parked cars mirror on passing with another monster RV coming at us, without damage, we were relieved and exhausted. It was dinner, a hot shower (wow, this is nice, our own shower), and to bed.
Tenaya Lake, is a beautiful spot, lots of hiking trails and beach areas. We saw people swimming in it. It was cold, even in the sun, imagine how cold that water is. Brrrr.