The road to Hell… well, the hottest place on Earth

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I left Yosemite with great reluctance. It is a fantastic place, exceptionally beautiful and I was incredibly lucky to get snowfall on my brief visit. My next port of call and where I write this from is the hottest place on Earth, Death Valley. My journey here, though, proved difficult, to say the least. I was happily driving along when I saw a sign in the road – Road to Death Valley closed ahead due to flooding. What the sign omitted was two precious words – Follow Detour. So I asked my sat nav for an alternative route. it showed me one – 512 miles. I was only 50 miles away.
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Snow? Nobody said anything about snow!

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It’s been a funny couple of days. I went to Bridalveil Fall yesterday, so called because when the wind blows the thin strip of water that falls from the top, 620 feet from where yours truly took the photo above, it is said to resemble the veil of a bride. So quite a literal naming, then. Apart from that, I visited the Yosemite Village, not really a village but a collection of shops for tourists where you can park your car and jump on a free bus that drops you off at various highlights on the valley floor. So that was what I decided to do on my last full day in Yosemite, drive to the valley and then spend the day bus hopping and taking my final pictures. Fate, however, had other plans.

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I did not get eaten by a bear… today

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Yosemite has a land mass of 1,169 square miles. So it needs more than just a day to visit it. Most visitors, when they come here, only visit a 7 mile section that has all the famous bits – El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Glacier Point. But there’s, literally, thousands of miles more so for my first day here I decided to go further afield than usual and see some of the other highlights of this truly amazing place.

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San Francisco

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I’m writing this safely tucked up in a rather fine hotel in Yosemite National Park. It’s Friday and I arrived in San Fran on Monday. So why no postings since then? Well, the truth is, San Francisco was meant to be one of the high points of this trip but for reasons I shall come on to explain, proved not to be. Nothing wrong with San Francisco if:
1) You could see it, or;
2) You could get to it.
Allow me to explain…

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Pacific Coast Highway Part 2 – Carmel to San Francisco

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I was quite weary by the time I’d arrived in Carmel. It was late but they had my room ready for me at the excellent Hofsas Hotel. The friendly guy at reception recommended a good restaurant, I had a lovely seafood paella and fell asleep in my comfy bed.
I sleep with earplugs in when I travel, so you can imagine my surprise when I was woken by the sound of shouting at 5.30am. In Chinese. From the room upstairs.
Maybe the hotel was on fire?

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Pacific Coast Highway Part 1 – Arroyo Grande to Carmel

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One of the greatest drives in the world is the one I’ve just completed, PCH 1, the coast road that snakes along the western edge of the USA and for many, is the visual embodiment of the state of California. Sun, surf, beaches, perilous cliffs and stunning rock formations, PCH1 has it all and does not disappoint.
Although I’ve started this section from Arroyo Grande, PCH1 really starts from LA and includes Pismo and Avilo beaches which I covered in my previous posting. These sections, though are just the warm up to the death-defying twists, turns and the sheer scale of beauty that awaits you.

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3 Mishaps on the way to Arroyo Grande

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Yesterday started so well. America decided to open it’s National Parks again so I get to see Yosemite after all. A final breakfast at Renaud’s, a fond farewell to my airbnb host, a lovely trip along PCH1 towards Santa Ynez. I stopped at Cachuma Lake where the staff were courteous and helpful.
I spent a happy couple of hours taking photos by the lake, I bought some lunch from the store there and sat down to eat it while looking at the fabulous view below. I went back to my car. I didn’t have the keys.

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Ghosts

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There are ghosts in Santa Barbara. I’ve seen them but I haven’t photographed them. There’s no point. Everyone who lives here has seen them but like the boy who sees dead people in The Sixth Sense they just carry on and ignore them as best they can and learn to live with their presence, at least until they move on.
Let me explain.
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Santa Barbara is beautiful

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That’s official.You can take it from me. The weather is great, the town is lovely and the food is excellent. It’s the sort of place one could easily live in. I spent nearly 11 hours yesterday just walking around and taking pictures. It’s a fabulous place.
I have three guide books with me and two of them are strangely dismissive of the place – you can do it all in half a day, they say and I dare say you could if you really wanted to but it begs the question – why would you want to? It’s a lovely place to putter around, there are interesting shops, great museums, a variety of high quality coffee shops and food stores.

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