Monday, August 2, 2010
After a well deserved celebration of the winning of the football world cup, we went to buy groceries for the next days , including 2 camping chairs, a gas stove and a pot. I was really tired of eating cold meals all day long so I thought a little stove might help us make our diet easier for the stomach. It was a good decision because the same day as we entered Sequoia national park I heated some vegetables from a can and also I fried some sausage just to be sure we attract enough bears to our table. Sequoia National Park is beautiful, and in this park are found some of the biggest trees in the whole world, tall, voluminous, some of them older than 3000years, real books of history.
We did some walks through the park; saw about 8 bears in 3 hours, including a mother with her 3 baby bears. Since I come from Brasov, Romania, and I know how bear mind works I was keeping enough distance to be safe but Jan on the other hand, that probably never heard or saw a bear attack was approaching them at a very unsafe distance….still surprisingly nothing happened to him but the whole park was full of signs indicating security measures in case of bear attacks. We were also informed that we should not keep the food in the car during the night because the bears can brake into the car. As always Jan loves hard core adrenalin so we spent the night camping in the park with our nice van full of yummy food.
I could not sleep all night having nightmarish thoughts of a bear jumping on the car, breaking the window and cutting my head off. Next day as you can imagine it was change of policy day, so I told Jan we need to park safer next time because I cannot afford 2 sleepless nights in a row. It seems difficult for Jan to understand my fear of bears but I remember the times when I was living in Racadau and if I was visiting a neighbor that was living in a different house I had to stay overnight because you could not cross the street due to hungry bear presence. Close to Sequoia Park there is another smaller park called Kings Canyon, a drier and hotter place, but still very beautiful. The landscape of eastern California is amazing, yellow fields, hills with trees and yellow grass, many fruit trees, horses, farms, it gives a very idyllic feeling. They say that California is the state that has everything: from ocean to high mountains, dry deserts to snow, green valley and yellow hills… surely I would say it is one of the most beautiful regions of the world.
If you come to California, another destination that you should not miss is Yosemite National Park. The park is located on the west side of Death Valley in a higher mountain zone with green beautiful woods, meadow, lakes, animals, high picks. We stayed only 2 days here although you can spend much more time doing easy trails or more long and difficult ones. Something that is very typical here is to go and see the water falls, which are amazingly beautiful. The best light to catch the true feeling of Yosemite in a photo is the sunset light when all the east wilderness of the park is illuminated by the sunset. Although Yosemite is such a beautiful place, you can get tired of being surrounded by so many people spending their vacation and making the whole place look crowded. This is something that happened to us a few times here in the US, being summer, everyone has a vacation and many people seem to chose camping trips to the national parks so the beautiful scenery can be sometimes disturbed by the multitude of people. After spend 5 or 6 days relaxing through the parks it was time to hit again the coast of California with a destination that no one should miss in the US : San Francisco.
I have been searching for a host in San Francisco and it was difficult to find someone so I looked outside of the bay and I found Kevin in San Leandro and he responded positively to my request. We arrived late in the afternoon at Kevins house, a small but relaxing 2 bedroom property with a big living and a nice little garden. Immediately Kevin made us feel like at home giving us the possibility to recharge batteries, clean clothes and work on the computer. Later we had a small dinner together commenting details of our trip and he detailing a bit about his life, beliefs and sexual orientation ( he is gay).
I knew that San Francisco is the capital of the gay , with a large community residing in the area, with less prejudices and maybe more freedom of expression. Actually I think we were very lucky to be accommodates in his house because like this we could learn how society influences their lives and their political choices. Kevin declared himself still a Christian (he is of Irish origins) but not involved with the authoritarian catholic church and a supported of Obama. Most of the people in San Francisco support Obama. The second day in the hose of Kevin, we met Francisco, his partner (of Cuban origin), who is a philology doctor and a psychiatrist. We could enlarge our themes of discussions and also learn many more things over a dinner that I prepared. The same evening we were invited by Francisco and Kevin to a movie. I loved the idea of watching my first Hollywood made movie in an American cinema and actually it was quite an interesting film, with limited release, about a gay family and their problems. We spent a great evening, also going to a folk concert in a bar, Kevin also drove to some interest points of San Francisco. The night that we drove to the cinema we were coming back home on the motor way and we saw a big traffic jam in front at 10.30 pm , police cars and we felt that something happened so I tell Jan to take the first exit on the right and get out of the motor way to be able to avoid the jam. We did not know what was going on but there were maybe 30 police cars, ambulances, and firefighters…like a whole army blocking the motorway. Many cars were stuck there and it seemed like something really bad had happened. We were able to cross the motorway on the sides although it was blocked for several km’s and we arrived home before Kevin because he was stuck in the jam. Next day we discovered what happened. It seems police was following a car for speeding and when they managed to stop the car the van was full of guns and the man in the car started to shoot. It seems that the policed killed the guy but still they secured the whole area for more than 24h and the FBI was investigating the case. It was exactly one of those nights from the movies.
We spent 5 days relaxing in the house of Kevin but also visiting the Bay area. We had to cross the bridge into San Francisco every time paying 5$. We went to the old hippie area of San Francisco on Hait Street, where you can still see the hippie shops and a lot of tourists and homeless people. San Francisco is famous for many things and one of it is the architecture, old Victorian houses in colorful colors, big skyscrapers in downtown and the Golden Gate Bridge and the Golden Gate Park. We saw all the attractions, but probably the most impressive in the Golden Gate Bridge.
The cold and the mist were making sightseeing a painful job. In the summer the whole west coast but especially the bay area of San Francisco is affected by the cold currents coming from Alaska, creating the fog. All day long it seems that a huge, demonic storm is about to release its power on the city but every day passes with no rain. The wind that blows into the bay area is no less demonic dropping the temperatures severely. (No more than 14•C during day time). We were lucky also because we could celebrate Jan’s birthday in San Francisco and Kevin and Francisco invited us to Francisco’s house in San Francisco for dinner. They even bought a cake and two other lesbian friends came so we were 3 couples, 1 heterosexual and 2 gay. It was really a lovely evening, being able to share ideas, clarify prejudices and understand the American society in a better way. It was one of those nights that you will always remember and it will always give you the feeling that what you are doing in life is right for you and that our travel is the best thing of our lives.