Country number: 32
Territory number: 34
When? August 1991 – coming from Hawaii, last leg of Round the World 1991
How? On foot, bus
Who? With friend Raye
‘The youth of America is their oldest tradition. It has been going on now for three hundred years. To hear them talk one would imagine they were in their first childhood. As far as civilisation goes they are in their second.’
When? July 2019, First leg, going on to Sydney
How? On foot, bus
A whizz round San Francisco revisiting all the sights, first on foot and then on a tourist bus. Fisherman’s Wharf (doubled in size), Pier 39 also hugely extended looking across to the Golden Gate, now familiarly disappearing in rolling cloud, Grace Cathedral, with its white spires looking like something out of Disneyland, Chinatown, the odd zig-zag of the Crookedest Street with its floral decoration and the Nob Hill area, with all the beautiful timber houses. Fireman’s hose shaped Coit Tower perched on Telegraph Hill and the weird triangular skyscraper that is the TransAmerica Pyramid crown it all.
The boats are running to Alacatraz today, but I’m opting out. I’ve got a pretty good view from all my vantage points and I’m not sure what there is to be gained by taking to the chilly water. I’m eating on the run as OMG the pound doesn’t go far here. San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the USA anyway and the Brexit effect on the currency isn’t helping. Fortunately, the pier clam chowder is still delicious.
There’s also time for a (very long) day trip to Yosemite National Park. Ponderosa pine and chaparral bush line the route. I’m reliving my TV-watching youth. Our first stop is what’s advertised as a very arduous hike to see sequoias. These trees are 3000 years old and thirty feet in girth (but not the oldest trees in the world, which are the Bristol pines at 5000 years old.). They’re not lying about the arduous, though the track looks deceptively easy on the way down. It’s gruelling climbing the mile back up the steep hill in the heat – 40 degrees Celsius and I’m still suffering from yesterdays’ hilly walks and eight hours’ worth of jet lag. I’m convinced a heart attack is imminent. To be honest, I’m not convinced it was worth the effort. There’s a few, huge but not especially beautiful specimens. At least I didn’t miss out.
Here, traversing the Sierra Nevada, the lowest and highest points in California are juxtaposed: Death Valley and Mount Whitney. When we finally reach tiny Yosemite Valley it is horribly congested. The roads and car parks are chock a block and all the viewing spots crammed with camera waving tourists.
I can see why they’ve come. The mountain views are straight from Microsoft screensavers. El Capitan, a sheer towering rock face with pin pricks of intrepid (or stupid) climbers (they take up to three days to ascend), Half Dome Rock, Bridal Veil Falls (definitely the most popular name for waterfalls around the world) and Yosemite Falls.
The tour really consists of looking at these four sights from several different vantage points, sometimes in spectacular combination. We have an hour and a half’s stop at the Park Lodge near the 2,400 feet Yosemite Falls. The rock pool where the lower fall cascades is crowned with foam and heaving with splashing bodies. Ninety minutes sounds like enough time for a restful sunbathe, but queuing for ice cream takes longer than the half hour walk to the bottom of the falls and back and it’s back on the bus.
Next stop Sydney.
The USA is a great, diverse and easy country to travel in: car, plane, train, bike,horse
There are 50 states – Alaska and Hawaii are both separated from the main part of the country
The US is the 4th largest country in the world by land area and 3rd by population.
The US has the world’s largest economy
The current 50-star American flag was designed by a 17-year-old as a school project in 1958. He got a B-.
To see more of my photos of the U.S.A. visit this page.