California – Days 4-10: The Best Tourist in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Yosemite National Park

I started my first full day in Los Angeles with a trip to Venice Beach. A previous Couchsurfing host had given me a heads up of where to go to park for free and the beach was pretty empty down by the free parking so that was nice. I did yoga on the beach and then took a post-yoga morning beach nap. Those are, in my opinion, the best kind of naps.

After my nap I made my way over to the Santa Monica Pier and wandered around there for a bit. Then I met up with Meghan’s friend Jonna and we went hiking at Runyon Canyon which has a really killer view of the city. We could see the Hollywood sign from our hike, which was cool. Since the Hollywood sign was kind of far away on the hike I decided to try to get a closer view after we finished hiking. I drove to Griffith Park Observatory where you’re supposed to see it from, a thirty minute drive from where I was, only to learn that they don’t light it up at night. Apparently, they don’t light it up at night to discourage people from trespassing since the sign is located in a private neighborhood…what?! Lame. The sign wasn’t much closer from the Observatory anyway, and since it’s in a private neighborhood that’s as close as I could get without trespassing… Super lame. Whatever.

You can kind of see the Hollywood sign from the top of Runyon Canyon, Los Angeles, CA.

You can kind of see the Hollywood sign from the top of Runyon Canyon, Los Angeles, CA.

The next day I went downtown and saw the Hollywood Walk of Fame and checked out the celebrity hand and footprints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. I sufficiently geeked out when I found the Harry Potter square…obviously.

Cast of Harry Potter hand and footprints at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA.

Cast of Harry Potter hand and footprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA.

As I walked along the Hollywood Walk of Fame I learned that some people have more than one star… People like Bob Hope, Gene Autry, Dean Martin, and Bing Crosby. Two of Bing Crosby’s stars are on the same block. When I realized this I turned around to see if both stars had the same symbol on them or if they were for different things. They were for different things. One star was for Recording, while the other was for Radio. When I Googled Crosby to learn what the symbols on the star meant I learned he has a third star too, for Motion Pictures. Crazy! There are a lot of Hollywood stars, but you’ve totally achieved baller status if you have more than one…

I met up with Jonna again for breakfast. Together we walked some more of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and looked at the hand and footprints by the Theatre and then I headed on my way to San Jose. I thought I was on Highway 1, and I was for a bit, but I haven’t figured out how to tell Google which specific road I want to take, so I sort of had to wing the directions. By the time I realized I was super inland it was too far to turn around and go back. Thankfully, the drive was still amazingly beautiful.

Driving on not Highway 1...still pretty though.

Not driving on Highway 1…still pretty though.

I needed another blog work day so I spent the next day at Starbucks. Then, that night I met my father’s mother and a cousin on that side of my family for the first time for dinner at Aqui Cal-Mex. That was fun. It was a little awkward too. It was me, my grandma, my cousin, and both of their partners, so I was a little outnumbered. At times the conversation flowed fine, but at others it just felt like there was a lot of pressure for it to be a good meeting. Sometimes it also felt like we didn’t even know where to start to try to get to know each other better, so much time had passed already. Though at one point it was just me and my grandma at the table and then the conversation felt a lot easier and more natural. Overall, it was a good experience, and I’m glad I finally got to meet them. Hopefully it won’t be the last time I see them.

My hosts that night were fun too. They were making dinner when I arrived, so I hung out and chatted with them in the kitchen. We ate dinner and then decided to watch a movie. First we watched some YouTube videos including some of Henri le Chat Noir. We also played a few rounds of Crossy Road, which is basically like Frogger, but newer and with more characters as the frog. Eventually we got around to watching What We Do in the Shadows, a vampire movie with Jemaine Clement, the guy from Flight of the Conchords. It was pretty funny if you like Flight of the Conchords…

Since we didn’t start the movie until after eleven and hung out a bit after it was over, we didn’t go to bed until between two and three in the morning. Oy. I was starting to feel like a cold or something was coming on so when I woke up early the next morning, and it was a Sunday, I decided to sleep in. Eventually, at around eleven or so, I got up and my hosts and I had breakfast and then I headed on my way. I called Alex to chat for a bit and then finished driving to San Francisco. It was raining when I got there and since I’d planned to be outside, I hung out in the car at the park for a while hoping it would stop raining. It didn’t stop raining, so instead I just went to my host’s house.

I started my next day at the Golden Gate Bridge. It looked like it was going to rain again and I wanted to get there before it did. I had perfect timing. I also had a little mishap with the parking meter. I put in two dimes (the only change I had) only to realize there was a 25¢ minimum… I then noticed that there was a line of people behind me waiting for me to finish and had to cancel my transaction since I didn’t have enough change. As soon as I canceled it I found a quarter in the coin return slot. I apologized to the people in line, inserted the quarter, and paid for the meter and then went to take my pictures of the bridge. I got a couple pictures from a couple different perspectives and then it started to rain. Seriously, perfect timing…

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA.

Next, I drove over toward and parked near Lombard Street and took pictures of that and walked to Ghirardelli Square where I got TWO free samples of chocolate. Yay! I still had time before I needed to move my car so I wandered down to Fisherman’s Wharf and all the way down to Pier 39. I vividly remember being at Pier 39 when I was in San Francisco for my high school band trip. So that was a little déjà vu-y. On my way back to move the car I stopped at Boudin Bakery to get a loaf of Sourdough bread because it smelled amazing when I had walked by earlier. It was indeed quite tasty. Since I had to move the car anyway I drove over to check out the Painted Ladies, you know, from Full House… I was so exhausted when I got there that I took a nap in the park. I woke up when it started raining again…

The Painted Ladies, as seen on Full House, San Francisco, CA.

The Painted Ladies, as seen on Full House, San Francisco, CA.

I finished my nap in the car and then headed to Chinatown. I found a place to have dinner and the guy sitting next to me started talking to me and before he left he bought my dinner! Awesome! I love making new friends! (Especially when they buy me dinner!)

The next day it was free pancake day at IHOP so I started the day with free pancakes. Then I drove to Yosemite National Park and hiked around the Lower Yosemite Falls. It was a little rainy, but awesome nonetheless. It’s so freaking beautiful there!

One of the many incredible views in Yosemite National Park, CA.

One of the many incredible views in Yosemite National Park, CA.

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