I ended the last post with our adventures through frozen Yellowstone, but that day did not end there. We continued another six hours to our hotel for the night and finally had a chance to settle down. My dad likes to watch TV to wind down for the night, and one of his favorite channels happens to be the Discovery Channel. But you see, the problem with the Discovery Channel is that they like to focus on disaster stories. The show they happened to be airing that night? Yellowstone: Brink of Disaster. I didn’t want to see how close the calderas of Yellowstone are to exploding and killing everything. I didn’t want to see that the animals are getting weird diseases that never affected them before. I didn’t want to see the problems of the beautiful place I had just been to, because it made me sad. I also didn’t want to see the problems of this wonderful place because we were so close to the park that if the supervolcano did explode, we would go down with it, and I didn’t want to think about that possibility. But that didn’t stop my dad from forcing me to watch it and deal with that fear that was seeping its way into my every thought. So after falling asleep to the prospect of an explosion, we woke up ready to tackle the third day.
We hadn’t planned any stops for the third day because both Yosemite and the Redwoods were out of the path, but it turns out that we were going through Reno. Reno happens to be the home of Dannae, a little angel I happened to meet abroad thanks to the fact that two of my best friends met her while studying abroad in Spain and had the bright idea of bringing her to London with them when they visited me in the spring. She is the sweetest person I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, so I convinced my dad to stop in Reno so we could see her. We had a nice little lunch, and I was thrilled that we were able to stop, even if it was only for an hour or so. After Reno, we continued the trek to Benicia which is where we were staying for the night. I have to say that I was amazed at the range of scenery we encountered as we drove through California. I know it is a big state so that is only inevitable, but it was still pretty surreal. We entered through the mountains and Donner Pass (kind of, because the highway is actually a few feet higher than the actual pass and a bit safer…which is something we were going to listen to this time). The views were breathtaking. We then continued on through Sacramento which is where I encountered my very first California traffic jam. (I have already been in my fair share of those even though I haven’t even been here for a week.) The best part of the hotel we were staying at was the fact that it had HBO so I could watch Game of Thrones as it airs. There was one particular part of the episode that I had to hold my breath at because if my dad had woken up, it would have been more of an awkward experience than I had hoped to ever encounter, but it went on without a hitch.
The next morning, we woke up super early to drive the hour to San Francisco so I could see a few sights before our Alcatraz tour started at 11. Our first stop was the Golden Gate Bridge, which is really as beautiful as they say it is. I don’t think we found the right viewing spot or the one we had originally intended at stopping at, but it was worth it regardless. The next thing I wanted to do was go to the Lombard Street portion of Russian Hill because I’ve only over seen the eight crazy turns in pictures. We got to go down it, and I was so excited. It isn’t like it is the most thrilling place in the entire world, but I was absolutely in love with it. The turns are so crazy that you can’t even see them behind the shrubbery, but I assure you that they are there. As we drove around the city, I was freaking out about the steep hills. Jeff Hill (at Ohio University) has nothing on these crazy streets. At one point, we stopped at the top of a hill—at a stop sign— and were looking at the sky. There was no way we were going to be able to see the road or the front of the car. It was surreal. So after driving around, we found a cute little café near the bay for some breakfast. We found the sea lions of Pier 39 and a store just for left-handed people that my dad was thrilled about. But the main reason I wanted to stop in San Francisco was to see Alcatraz, and so we did.
Ever since I read “Escape from Alcatraz” in middle school, I had wanted to stop and see the infamous island prison. I love reading about the history of places and was ready to walk around these places I had read about. Naturally, I loved everything about it. The island has beautiful gardens that stick out amongst the dilapidated buildings. There was just so much to see and learn. My dad was rushing me through, so I didn’t get to listen to the audio tour, but that just means I have another excuse to go back. I wasn’t going to leave without buying a book about Alcatraz, so I chose Letters from Alcatraz because there is nothing better than reading firsthand accounts from prisoners. I am beyond excited to delve into that book. After we left the island, it was down the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Maria for the night and then LA in the morning.