I arrived in San Jose pretty late after hiking in Arroyo Secco. I was able to catch up with my uncles before passing out after a long day of hiking, swimming and driving. My Uncle Juan took the next day off, and we got to spend the day exploring San Jose. We went to the Apple World Headquarters where my Uncle Dennis works, what a cool experience! The Apple campus is massive with everything you need, including a fully loaded cafeteria featuring all kinds of food from around the world! We got a little tour of the campus and had lunch there. I was able to meet my uncles’ good friend, Lucky who also works for Apple under the Human Resources department. After an awesome tour of Apple, my Uncle Juan and I headed over to the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge has tons of different birds, snakes and little mice. All the animals at the refuge have an important role in the ecosystem. The refuge helps to revive all the species and protect the area. After that, we headed over to a cool coffee shop that my Uncle Juan helped open up as San Jose’s Small Business Ally. We then explored Japan Town which was really cool; there are lots of interesting shops, restaurants and an awesome buddhist temple.
The following day both my uncles had to work, so I decided to head down to Santa Cruz to do some mountain biking! I wasn’t able to hangout very long outside of riding, but Santa Cruz seemed like a cool little beach town! I would definitely like to go back and explore some more of the town and beaches. The riding, however, was great, nothing too technical, but there was a good amount of climbing in the rolling hills of tall grass. I ended the ride with a cool short loop right on the coast. I was able to catch some great views and a pod of dolphins swimming by, It was definitely a good day in Santa Cruz!
The next day, I flew out to Hawaii for the week to visit my friends Nick and Shanti! I had an amazing time, check out my Hawaii post.
Upon returning from Hawaii, I came back to San Jose to spend a few more days. So I met up with my Uncle Juan for lunch, and we got to walk around downtown San Jose for a little bit. We walked through San Jose State University which is a beautiful campus with lots of cool old buildings. We got lunch and then had ice cream at the Karaoke Ice Cream Truck, another small business my uncle also helped launch.
The following day, both my uncles were able to get off work and we got to do some more exploring! Our first stop of the day was The Lick Observatory. The observatory is on top of Mt. Hamilton over-looking San Jose. The observatory has a couple of huge telescopes which are pretty fascinating! We then started working our way to Concord to see my other aunt, uncle and cousins, the Ramirez family! On our way there we stopped at The Junction for an awesome lunch out in the back-country of old California. The Junction has awesome burgers... and even better milkshakes!
After lunch we stopped at a cool winery for a wine tasting just outside of Concord. We then went to meet up with my Aunt Rosie, Uncle Hugo and their four boys Hugo, Mathew, Max and Sebi. We had a great time catching up, as I haven’t seen them in about 3 or 4 years. It was great seeing them, and the young men they are growing up to be! After catching up we had a great dinner at a Mexican restaurant before we headed back to San Jose. I’m so glad that I got to see all of them!
The following day my Uncle Dennis and I went to explore San Francisco. Our first stop was Haight and Ashbury. We had a good time walking around and checking out the interesting shops. We then headed over to Baker Beach just southwest of the Golden Gate Bridge. We didn’t swim since the water was pretty cold, but we walked down the beach for a bit before heading back into the city. After the beach, we headed up to Twin Peaks for a great view of the city. We had dinner at a nice Thai restaurant before heading back into San Jose. We had a great time exploring the city which wrapped up my stay in San Jose. I headed out to Yosemite the next morning. I had such a great time exploring and seeing family! Thanks again, Uncle Juan and Uncle Dennis, for having me and showing me a great time. I Can’t wait to come back!
I headed out to Yosemite the next morning but arrived a little later than expected. This only allowed me to see a couple spots before searching for a place to set up camp for the night. I was able to get a little hike and a dip in the South Fork River in Wawona. I set up camp just outside of Yosemite at a cool dispersed camping area. The next morning, I woke up and headed back into the park. I did a short 2 mile hike up to Sentinal Dome to catch some great views of Yosemite. After Sentinal Dome I continued on to Glacier Point, which offers incredible views of Yosemite Valley. It’s cool to see the river wind through the valley. There are beautiful sand beaches along the river. From Glacier Point you can also see Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Yosemite high country and a number of mountain peaks in the high country. This was an absolutely stunning view of Yosemite!
Next, I headed down into Yosemite Valley. The valley offers incredible views looking up towards Glacier Point, Half Dome, and sheer cliffs shooting up towards the sky. Being down in the valley really gives you get a sense for how small we actually are, and a scale for how vast the landscape is. After cruising through the valley and taking a dip in the river, I headed out to Tuolumne Grove. Tuolumne Grove is a Sequoia Grove on the west side of Yosemite. The Sequoias are pretty incredible trees. Not only are they fire resistant, they are the fastest and largest growing trees in the world! Sequoias have a special chemical in them called tannin, which gives them an incredibly strong resistance to rot, boring insects, and fire. This allows the Sequoias to grow up to 3,000 years old! On my way out of the park I went for another swim at Tenaya Lake. This was one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever been to. The water was a crystal clear blue color, with an absolutely amazing view. After exploring Yosemite for two days, I set up my camp just outside the park next to Mono Lake. My campsite was right at the foothills of the mountains overlooking Mono Lake. It was a great view to watch the sunset!