You’ve been California dreamin’ about your big road trip for weeks: a few days in L.A., driving up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco, then winding your way out to Yosemite.
And today, your dreams are about to become a reality. You fly into LAX, pick up your rental car, and hit the road. First stop? Traffic. Lots and lots of traffic.
You’re stuck in the gridlock, listening to the low buzz of the road and the occasional horn when you come to a frightening realization: You may never leave the freeway. This might be your entire vacation. Heck, this might be the rest of your life.
But eventually, the traffic breaks, and you’re cruising again, headed toward The Griffith Observatory. You’ve got to snap a picture of the Hollywood Sign. When in Rome—er, Hollywood, right?
There are lots of tourists mingling about, and you pick up a variety of languages. French, Spanish, Japanese, Russian—everywhere you turn, your ears are treated to a different slice of the world. They’re also treated to the noisy sound of cameras snapping dozens of photos of the sign, but hey, you’re in LA checking out one of the biggest stars around. Of course the paparazzi are going to show up.
You hop back in your car and decide to spend some time at Venice Beach. And after yet another hour spent stuck in traffic, you find yourself on the sand. You’re sprawled out, listening to the surf, when you hear something in the distance. It’s a steady, pounding beat. You get up and head toward it, the beat growing louder with every step.
And then it comes into view: hundreds of people with drums, congas, and percussion instruments, dancing, chanting, and jamming on the sand. Yup, you’ve stumbled upon the Venice Beach Drum Circle. You soak it in, listening to the rhythmic pounding of drums, the sharp bite of a shaker, the joyful whoops from people dancing without a care in the world. You watch until the sun sets, then head back to your hotel. You’ve got a couple more sun-soaked days to spend in LA, and you want to be well-rested.
After you’ve had your fill of sun, surf, and potential celebrity sightings, you start your drive north toward San Francisco. The weather is perfect, so you open your sunroof and enjoy the sunshine on your shoulders and the tunes on the radio. After many hours of driving, you get to the city by the bay, San Francisco. First stop? Your hotel.
You’re exhausted, but as soon as you have a good night’s sleep under your belt, you head into the city. You want to hit all the tourist hot spots: Golden Gate Park, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, maybe take in a show at The Orpheum.
But first things first: you’re going to ride a cable car. You hop on board and hear the iconic ding! ding! of the cable car bell. The cable car climbs up and up and up the hills of San Francisco, and you listen to the hustle and bustle of the city streets around you.
Once you finally disembark, you make your way to Fisherman’s Wharf. The sea lions are lounging on the rocks, barking their hearts out. Seagulls cry overhead as they swoop down toward the sun-speckled bay, searching for lunch.
You’re also searching for lunch, but rather than scooping up fish fresh from the bay, you decide to treat yourself to clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. You eat outside, slurping your chowder and enjoying the breeze off the water. Once you’re stuffed, you roll out toward Oracle Park. You’ve got tickets to a home game.
It’s a beautiful night for a ball game. The sun is just starting to set, painting the sky in soft pinks and purples. The Giants are playing well, but you’re more focused on one sweet, sweet sound: “Hot chocolate! Hoooooot chocolate!”
And Oracle Park doesn’t mess around. This is Ghirardelli hot chocolate. You get yourself an overpriced cup that really doesn’t go with your garlic fries, but somehow, you’ll make do. You listen to the roar of the crowd after a slick double play, the sharp crack of the ball making contact with bat, the alluring siren song of the churro guy—and then the game is over.
The Giants win, and you’re treated to the dulcet tones of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” crooned over the speakers by Mr. Tony Bennett. You head back to your hotel, tired, but excited to explore more of San Francisco.
And when you’ve had your fill of the Bay Area, you hit the road, excited for the ultimate stop on your California road trip: Yosemite National Park.
After so many days of city living, you’re excited to get off the grid for a few days. All you want is to take a few hikes, say hello to Half Dome, and camp under the stars, surrounded by the quiet, gentle sounds of nature.
You park your car, slam the door shut, and take in the peace and quiet. All you can hear is the chirping of birds and the gentle rustling of wind through the trees. Your boots crunch over leaves and snap twigs as you make your way toward Lower Yosemite Falls. And once you’re there, you sit down on a rock, tilt your face toward the sun, and unwind, listening to the roar of the waterfall and the soundtrack Mother Nature’s providing.
When the sun starts setting, you hunker down at your camp and start a fire.
You listen to the crackling pops of the flames licking the marshmallow you’re toasting, insects buzzing all around, the stillness of the night that makes you feel like you’re the only person alive. And after you’ve eaten your fill of marshmallows, you watch the stars shimmer and twinkle until your eyes grow heavy and you finally succumb to sleep, excited to do it all again tomorrow.
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