14.05.2010 - 19.05.2010 18 °C
After Yosemite, we had a drive through California to our last campground at a small town just north of San Francisco, called Petaluma. We arrived on a sunny Friday afternoon, and there were queues of families all arriving for the weekend in their RVs (or motorhomes as we know them!). It reminded me of a Saturday morning at Beachside!
It was the last day together for our group and so a big night in the small bars of Petaluma! Then the following day we made our way to the finishing point of our tour, just outside San Francisco. About half the people in our group were then going on a second tour, so we spent the afternoon at the hotel enjoying the pool!
The next morning after some emotional goodbyes we all went our separate ways and I joined my second group. It was fairly hectic that morning at the hotel, I think there were five Suntrek tours leaving and it took me a while to find my group - it didn't help that my new tour guide was calling out a different name for the tour than on my itinerary! But everyone found each other in the end and we were off. First stop Santa Cruz...
We spent the morning at the Boardwalk funfair. Our group is great and our tourguide Steve Coogan (yes that is his name!) has everything under control! Our group of 11 is well mixed, Rianne is from Netherlands, Isa and Iris are from Switzerland, Anne is from UK, and from Germany there is Christina, Basti, Kai and Jan. Hoon is from South Korea and Katrina from Russia.
After our first night camping we drove south on the Pacific Coast Highway to Monterey. Apart from Monterey Jack cheese, Monterey is apparently famous for the setting of a book called "Cannery Row" written by John Steinbeck, about the sardine cannery industry in early 1900s. We then continued our drive south and saw hundreds and hundreds of sea lions sleeping on a beach. I've never seen so many sea lions before - amazing, but they are so lazy!
The next day we stopped at Santa Barbara, a very wealthy part of California full of expensive clothes shops and lobster restaurants. Very nice but a bit beyond my shoestring budget though!
Later that day, we drove through LA and stopped at Rodeo Drive, which is apparently the shopping area of rich Hollywood stars - we didn't see any, but the shops did all have bouncers outside! We drove along Sunset Boulevard and saw lots of the rock clubs I had heard about on the radio when I was younger. Then we walked along Hollywood Boulevard and saw all the 'movie theaters' where the premieres are held.
Last stop of the day was Santa Monica, - an amazing beach, and then a group meal out at "Yankee Doodles"! It was a characteristic American bar and while we were there someone was trying to complete the challenge to eat an entire HUGE meal and get it for free.
That evening, when we arrived back at the campsite, another Suntrek group was there and it turned out to be Anke's! (who was in my group for my first tour). The next morning was Venice Beach, the final stop in the LA suburbs and a chance to catch some rays on the beach. Besides the beach, the promenade was probably the weirdest place I have visited so far on my trip. Hippies, Bodybuilders, Tattoo shops, "Medicianal" drug dealers, it has it all - and apparently its legal! The next stop will be San Diego!