Page 3 of Dr Gwen Travel Blog Posts

Not such an early start needed for today's sea kayaking so we got to breakfast - muffins, bagels & fruit. We then headed back into Monterey to find Montery Bay Kayaks HQ for our 9am sea kayaking tour. After a bit of confusion as to where the car park was we got there before the store opened and stood apart from the school group who were there too. We also met the two couples who were doing the tour with us. We got in, met our guide and got into our wetsuits and had a brief "kayaking 101" briefing before getting on the water and heading out. Felt odd having un-feathered paddles but soon got used to them. Our tour was a four hour, 5.5 mile, trip through Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary​ and over to Lover's ... read more
Harbour seals
Point Lobos coast
Harbour seal suckling

Today was day we'd booked to go on an 8-hour whale watching trip with Monterey Bay Whale Watch, owned & run by marine biologist Nancy Black. We had to leave the hotel before breakfast was served so took cereal bars as well as sandwiches etc for lunch. The main aim of this all day trip was to find and follow killer whales so Nancy & crew could gather further data on them. We headed out past sea otters in the harbour and sea lions on the harbour wall towards Monterey Canyon to begin our search. We soon encountered humpback whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins and Risso's dolphins but no orcas yet.... The Sea Wolf II can apparently hold 69 passengers, but there can't have been more than 20 people on board so there was plenty of space ... read more
Humpback whale breaching
Orcas from the boat!
Sea otter vs gull

We got up early, packed up, filled our flaskes, checked out & heading up Glacier Point Road to Washburn Point to have breakast, not quite at sunrise, but pretty early. It was stunning. we then headed to Glacier Point to see if the first rays of sun on Upper Yosemite Falls would produce a rainbow, but alas no. Pretty awesome watching the light creep round, hit just the spray & then the whole falls. We then hiked up to Sentinel Dome to admire the views from there, passing some cute chipmunks playing on route. We even climbed (& slipped) over the snow to get to the summit - the one time our yak-trax crampons would have been useful & we'd left them in the car! Up top it felt like we were on top of the ... read more
Sentinel Dome
Sea otter
Yosemite Falls

The morning dawned clear & bright, Glacier Point road was still closed when we drove past se we decided to walk there instead. We drove into Yosemite Valley & parked up at Four-Mile Trailhead. This was down as one of the more strenuous day hikes in the Yosemite, but the other one we were looking at, up Yosemite falls, was described as a "Stairmaster workout" so we opted for this one instead! It turned out to be less bad than we feared, most of the trail isn't too steep, despite going up a very steep mountain side, as it zip-zags so much. Plus we stopped loads to admire the stunning views that greeted us with every turn. We took so many photos of the vally, of Yosemite Falls, and of Half Dome all fromslightly different angles ... read more
Four mile trail
Yosemite Falls
Royal Arches in Yosemite Valley

Weather forecast for Yosemite Valley still bad so the Hetch Hetchy plan was a on. The morning weather was good though and as we had to drive in & out of the valley to get to Hetch Hetchy we stopped at the various scenic points which we failed to get photos from yesterday. Although Hetch Hetchy is within Yosemite National Park you have to drive out & in again to get there. As the pay station was closed when we came in on Sunday we stopped in the way out & they said it would be easiest to just pay entry at the quieter Hetch Hetchy entrance. Just before we got there there was a golden eagle sat at at the side of the road!!! Sadly the road was too twisty to stop, & the eagle ... read more
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
Carlon Falls
Yosemite Valley

Up to grab a quick tea/coffee from the lobby then back to the room to make sandwiches (peanut butter as we had no fridge) before setting off into Yosemite Valley to hike the Mist Train up to the Vernal and Nevada Falls. We got there early enough that there was plent of parking at the trailhead then headed off, out plan to hike up the Mist Trail and back down the John Muir Trail, making it a loop walk, was scuppered as the upper portion of the John Muir Trail was closed still! The perils of holidaying in the mountians at the start of the season... Lots of tourists on the lower part of the trail, some only going as far as the Vernal Falls Footbridge (first views of the falls), many going up the Mist ... read more
Vernal Falls
Half Dome & Nevada Falls
Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View

Having stoken the fire high the night before & topped it up just before 2am it had still gone cold by the time we woke in the early morning! The free tea & coffee (available 24/7) helped us warm up as we packed, then after breakfast we loaded the car & set off to Sequoia National park in the sunshine. We parked at the Giant Forest Museum to hike the Moro Rock - Cresent Meadow trail. The Cresent Meadow Road was still closed for winter so we were hoping it would be fairly quiet over there. There was a small stream of folks visting Moro Rock, we took a brief detour up to Hanging Rock to admire the view, which was good in spite of a lot of low cloud, but the altitude of the park ... read more
Sequoia girth
Moro Rock views
Into the mist...

After waking at first light freezing cold we got up to a frosty morning and watched the sunrise over the mountains. Buffet breakfast not so good as supper but we did get given free packed lunches for the day. On the way out of the lodge we saw a coyote! First stop was Grant Grove to get some petrol, only to find out the only open petrol station in the park was at Hume Lake so we detoured there, very pretty drive down a side canyon. We were then delayed on route 180 by a lane closure as they cleared a fallen tree off the road.The road had only opened for the summer the day before though so this wasn't too bad going! These delays meant it was nearing 11am by the time we got most ... read more
Black bear
The trail...

Friday morning Chavaunne had to pop back into the lab at UCLA to finish up some work whilst I had a lazy morning getting up slowly then taking a stroll around the university's botanical gardens & failing to get a photo of a pretty hummingbird! I also saw several butterflies, a bees nest in a tree & several ant trails. After checking out of the hotel at midday & Chavaunne picking up the last of her research we headed to pick up our hire car, we got there slightly late but no matter as the didn't have our car anyway! After an hours wait a suitable car turned up (delay was due to traffic from the airport where our car was coming from) & we headed out of LA. Slowly. Very slowly. LA traffic is a ... read more
Rustic Mountain View Cabins
Hills by LA

North America April 26th 2018

This adventure started with a couple of hiccups.... firstly the weekend before I flew out I realised I'd made a stupid mistake. In booking my return shuttle bus to/from Heathrow I booked the return stretch for Monday 7th, the day of my flight home... only that's an overnight flight so we actually arrive back on the 8th - oops! Apparently they can't just change dates and as I'd got the early bird discount they count refund me the cost of a single ticket, but the lovely people at the bus company did set me up with a free m.ticket on their app. As I still don't own a smart phone i had to set it up on my tablet & hope it worked... The second hiccup occured less than 24 hours before my flight out, just ... read more
Signs of human involvement...
Canada - crossing Hudson Bay

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