Hey guys! Virona here, This post is actually long overdue.. So long that I was debating on whether I should post it or not, but I have been getting many questions about this specific adventure to this day, so I figured, why not? In this post, I’m going to be talking about my adventure to San Francisco back in June ’17.
Yes, It was almost two whole years ago when I went! I couldn’t find the time to write about the experience while balancing work and other things. Now that everything has settled down in my personal life, I look back at this amazing trip and I’m ready to share the details with everyone!
Like I said, this vacation was back in June 2017, so I won’t be going into specific detail, But the most memorable events will definitely be mentioned.
So basically the mission for this whole trip was to visit Sequoia National Park. This park is known for their big, beautiful sequoia trees. Rodrigo had visited with his family a while back and fell in love. He wanted to take me here for a while, and we felt that there was no better time to go. With both of us loving San Francisco so much and it being somewhat close to Sequoia Park, we decided to stay in SF for a few days, then dedicate the last day to seeing the big trees!
Lets talk about the first day of the trip. Getting to our destination was a long journey. Las Vegas to San Francisco is a 9 hour drive! I’m pretty sure we left around 7:00 AM and got to SF at 5:00 PM or something like that. We checked in to our room immediately to unpack everything and settle down. Our whole trip was on a budget, so we chose a hotel that was affordable with good ratings. The Inn At Golden Gate was the best choice, and it was really convenient to all of our needs. I remember this place specifically for it’s color! The whole hotel is painted orange and I thought that was pretty fascinating. The staff was also really friendly and helped us with everything we needed.
After checking into our hotel and getting settled, we set out for an adventure. We walked a couple blocks down a road that lead us to a trail called “Lovers Lane”. This place was really cool to find. We discovered that it was a well known area in history. This trail is known for Spanish soldiers passing in the 1860’s to meet their significant others. It was like we were walking through history! There’s more information on Lover’s lane here if you want to learn more about it. Apparently we were at the end of one of the trail when we started, so you could say that we were going backwards.
We went a little bit further off trail and ended up in different areas that were all unique and beautiful in different ways. The whole scenery was amazing because the sun was going down and everything looked foggy. The whole setting had a sepia tone which gave me some great shots. The trees were huge and everything was completely green! I remember telling Rodrigo “I haven’t ever seen trees this big before..”, and he just said “Wait until we get to Sequoia Park!”.
We kept exploring unknown areas to the point where I don’t know what turns we made or how we wound up where we were, but we ended up going high up on this mountain. As we were making our way up, we realized what was in front of us. We were both in amazement of the sight that we were seeing. The whole city was in front of us! As we walked higher and higher, more and more of the city was in sight. From this view, you can even see Alcatraz and the misty ocean. You could see every color of the sky.
After this adventure, we walked back towards the hotel and stopped at this little pizza shop right next to our hotel called Pizzeria Avellino.(It was delicious and the staff was really nice!) We ate and got good rest so we could be ready for the next day.
Our second day in San Francisco was all about exploring the city. We had already visited Pier 39 and traveled near the ocean before and we wanted this time to be different. People suggested that we visit the Golden Gate Park, so we stuck with that. I came up with the “smart” idea of walking to there all the way from our hotel, and realized later how valuable cars are. I would say it took about an hour or two to finally arrive, but it was the walk there that amazed me most. Going uphill then downhill and the little stops in between. There were certain areas where you would just be crossing the crosswalk and you could see the ocean below. There were so many shops too! The streets always smelled like sandwiches, bread, coffee, etc.. Some houses were actually slanted or underground and I thought that was incredible.
The only thing that was upsetting about this adventure was how tired we were. When you look at a destination that’s about a mile away in Las Vegas, you’d think “no big deal!” because you’re walking in one straight direction with no bumps, but the hills of the city in SF made it such an exhausting walk.
Arriving at the golden gate park made it well worth the struggle. Everything was beautiful. We arrived in the middle of the day so had plenty of time to roam around. We walked around the park for a bit before realizing that there was a botanical garden! The San Francisco Botanical Garden! I knew that we had to visit. The tickets were about ten dollars each (but for SF locals the entry is free!).
I won’t go into detail about every moment of the garden, but I can say with all honesty that this was one of the most beautiful, peaceful, and spiritual environments that I have ever been in! It was a massive garden filled with so many different cultures and themes designed to make you feel as if you were taking a tour around the world.
There was this specific moment that stood out to me that felt like a dream. The sun was setting and there was this area with beautiful flowers swaying back and forth from the wind. Besides the beautiful chirping from the birds, everything was quiet. It was so peaceful. I luckily captured the moment with my camera and this ended up being one of my proudest photos! I was so proud of this capture that I decided to frame it later on. (The second picture is of me with it framed!)
Shortly after this moment we realized that the sun was setting and we were very far from our hotel. We decided to eat at this place right next to the park called Park Gyro. Gyros are basically sandwich-like meals made with pita bread. It was our first time trying these and I’m so happy we got the opportunity! We were both super hungry from the long journey we just had, so it was a great meal.
The atmosphere of the walk back to our hotel was completely different from the walk there. We chose an easier route this time, but the walk was terrifying. It was already dark about 20 minutes into the walk. Our cellphones with GPS were dying. We got to this point where everything was almost completely dark. No streetlights or anything! I still don’t understand why we didn’t just take a bus back, but its most certainly an experience we will never forget (and a lesson learned!). There were some pretty sights on the way back home such as these unbelievably huge houses and a stairway that overlooked the night time city. Moments like those made that walk a bit better, but there’s no doubt that we’re going to take a bus the next time we need to get back to a familiar area at night.
The third day was the last day of this adventure. It was finally time to visit Sequoia National Park! We left our hotel at checkout time and immediately started driving. Sequoia Park is about 5 hours away from SF, so we made sure to get plenty of rest.
The national park is 14,505 feet above sea level, (Crazy, right?!) meaning we had to do a lot of uphill driving. We arrived to the ground entrance around 3 PM. After paying the entry fee we started heading up. At first, it was just a casual drive up a mountain, nothing too extraordinary. I remember us reaching a certain point where there was a tree that was massive. After spotting that one tree, the whole drive became interesting.
More and more giant trees would pop up, and the higher we drove, the more green the roads became. Eventually it got to the point where all we saw were giant trees. The trees were so big that words, pictures, and videos won’t do them justice. Some of the trees were so wide that I remember saying “This tree’s width is equivalent to the size of a small house!”. I’m not sure how else to describe the size of these trees any other way. Not only wide, these trees were so tall that you would look up and wouldn’t even be able to see the top.
Once we reached the park we were so relieved to get out of the car from a five hour drive! As soon as I opened the door, the smell of fresh forest hit me. The giant trees provided shade everywhere so the weather was nice and cool. This was an experience unlike any other I have ever had.
Fun Fact: This national forest has the largest tree … IN THE WORLD! We didn’t capture a picture of it, but Rodrigo took a panoramic picture of me with one of the other ones!
After taking pictures and admiring the trees, we drove a bit higher to see what we would find. There was a hike called the “Moro Rock Trail” which is a trail leading up to the top of Moro Rock. This rock is special because it hangs over the edge and the sights are insane. We got our gear ready and started on this trail. Being afraid of heights gave me a huge adrenaline rush that I didn’t expect. The steps were really narrow and if you leaned over just a bit, you could see the ground almost directly below. It was purely forest. It felt almost spiritual to be so high up, seeing so many trees! Knowing how small we are as people and comparing it to the distance of the ground, trees, and world overall… was unbelievable.
There was a point Rodrigo and I reached where you could see the rock actually hanging off, and we were approaching those steps. We started walking slower and slower up the steps and both gave each other the same exact facial expression. We were afraid! We wanted to turn back. All I kept thinking was “This rock is going to break and we’re going to end up falling with it!!”. We both let the fear get to us. We wanted to get to the top, but didn’t want to take a risk to get there. We turned around.
We were both walking back down the trail in disappointment. I felt the regret immediately as I turned around. We knew that we had to do it. We both agreed that we wouldn’t ever be able to forgive ourselves if we didn’t finish what we started. We cleared out all of the what if?‘s from our head, took a deep breath, and moved forward.
Up we went! We were smart to move forward, but that doesn’t mean that we weren’t scared. We were cautious and moving very slowly with every step we took. It wasn’t long before we reached the very top. It was amazing.
Everything was clear in sight. From the ground and roads, to the trees, the sky, the mountains overlapping each other for miles and miles. It almost felt as if I was in the air, like a bird! The ledge in a way reminded me of being on a giant boat looking out at the ocean because of the railing and shape of the rock– but of course instead of it being sea, it was forest everywhere! I wish I took more pictures, but I was too into the moment to think about anything else. One thought came to my mind however, that I now apply to my everyday life .. “I’m glad that you kept moving forward.”.
I think that’s the most important part of all. You have to take risks and keep moving forward to truly succeed and reach the top. This experience will forever stick with me because of the lessons that came with it.
After this emotional journey we headed back home with a lot of lessons learned. I remember the drive being so exhausting! We were still about five hours away from home. When we did, we went straight for the bed. We were too exhausted for just about anything else. The whole trip was basically played by ear and not planned really well, which in my opinion are always the best trips.
Lessons I learned from this vacation..
* make sure you’re accurate on how much money you will be needing for vacation! Make sure to be conservative with your estimating!
* be safe and secure at all times! bring a charger with you, try to have GPS with you. Take the bus if you have to! Ask questions if you’re not sure where to go!
* don’t let fear get in the way of a beautiful moment.
Thank you guys for taking the time to check out this post about my experience to San Francisco and Sequoia National Park! If you want to see more, stay updated with my blog and social media, there are plenty more adventures to come!
HERES A VIDEO OF RODRIGO AND I HIKING DOWN MORO ROCK!