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Quintessential Tours Clients - The Jenkins Family

About the Jenkins   |  About their Trip   |   Letter from Gary
Trip Length: 6 Days
Pickup Date: August 13th
Drop-off Date: August 18th
Rough Distance Traveled: 988 Miles
Pickup Location: Ritz Carlton, San Francisco (Nob Hill)
Drop-off Location: Hotel del Coronado, San Diego (Coronado Island)
Overnights: Yosemite, Monterey, San Simeon, Los Angeles
Group Size: 4 adults, 3 children
Vehicle: Passenger Van
Guide: Bob Cunningham
WHERE DID WE TAKE THEM AND WHAT DID THEY DO? Read a day-by-day narrative of the Jenkins' trip.
Photo: Jeff Lowe
San Francisco 4 nights on their own before pickup
We picked the Jenkins up in San Francisco early in the morning, after they had spent several days touring on their own. The early departure enabled them to get the most out of their next stop, with only one overnight.

Photo: Jeff Lowe
Yosemite National Park 1 night (2 days)

The Jenkins had limited time, but wanted to see as much as they could in that time. So, we employed a little creativity and knowledge, and designed their itinerary to enjoy just about two full days in Yosemite with only one overnight. We did this, by taking advantage of the fact that the drive through the Central Valley between the Sierras and the coast is not a California highlight, and drove it early in the morning on the day of arrival and late in the evening on the day of departure.

While in Yosemite, the Jenkins got to see just about all of the park that is accessible by road, enjoying the first day in the high country, spending the night in Yosemite Valley, and visiting Glacier Point and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias before leaving the park.

Yosemite Highlights
Had a picnic lunch on Tenaya Lake in Yosemite's High Country.
Took a stroll around Tuolumne Meadows.
Stayed at the Yosemite's landmark Ahwahnee Lodge and had dinner in their historic dining hall.
Watched climbers on El Capitan.
Searched (in vain) for a bear. As with many of my clients, seeing a bear is high on the list of desires. Unfortunately, we always seemed to be just seconds late on this trip, including walking through a meadow where a hiker had seen a mother and cubs less than 90 seconds earlier, and their guide spotting a cub at Glacier Point, but finding the family just a few seconds too late to see him before he meandered over a hill.
Walked among the Giant Sequoias.
Photo: Bob Cunningham
Monterey Peninsula 2 nights
After pushing the pace a little bit to see Yosemite right, we knew the Jenkins' young girls would be ready for a bit of a slow-down once we hit the coast. So, we allowed for 2 nights on the Monterey Peninsula, and took the full day in between them at a leisurely pace.
Monterey Peninsula Highlights
Visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and strolled Cannery Row.
Saw flocks of brown pelicans and played "spot the camouflaged harbor seal" on 17-mile Drive.
Shopped the upscale stores in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Went tide-pool hunting in Point Lobos State Park. The girls were delighted with a hands-on demonstration of the habits of the hermit crab.
Had a wonderful dinner at a seaside restaurant in Cannery Row.
Big Sur 1/2 day, driving through
We took our time, driving through Big Sur, allowing for some stops to enjoy this peaceful and expansive stretch of coastline.
Big Sur Highlights
Visited a waterfall that falls onto a secluded beach.
Had coffee high above the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur's famous Nepenthe restaurant.
Simply enjoyed the drive.
Photo: Jeff Lowe
San Simeon Coast 1 night
We rolled into San Simeon with plenty of time to enjoy a stop at the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery, where the seals were hauled out for the summer molt before heading to Hearst Castle.
San Simeon Highlights
Saw Elephant Seals up close and personal
Visited Hearst Castle. This was a favorite for Gary and Stella, who plan to return one day to see the parts of the castle they missed.
Had a lovely meal at the Brambles Dinner House with their intrepid guide, Bob :-)
Solvang 2 hours
The Jenkins had a hankering for pancakes after an early start from San Simeon, and the Danish town of Solvang was only too happy to oblige.
Photo: Jeff Lowe
Los Angeles 1 night
The Jenkins didn't want to focus too heavily on Los Angeles, figuring to save it for a future sojourn. Nevertheless, we did manage enough time to get in some of the requisite highlights, of which staying at the foot of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills was the group's favorite.
L.A. Highlights
Drove the Malibu Coastline.
Visited famous Hollywood landmarks.
Made a quick stop at the Santa Monica Pier.
Went to Venice Beach where they saw street performers, artisans and "Muscle Beach"
Stayed in the hotel where Julia Roberts and Richard Gere fell in love in "Pretty Woman."
Shopped Rodeo Drive.
Photo: Rex Soper
San Diego 5 nights on their own after drop-off
The goal in San Diego was to spend several days relaxing on the beach, so we recommended the Hotel del Coronado as the perfect place at which to soak up 5 days of gorgeous California sunshine. We said "see you later" to the Jenkins family at the "Hotel Del" already starting to make plans for a future tour of the Southwest national parks.
Fun San Diego Story: The McDonald's Void
The Jenkins' very well-behaved girls waited patiently for the entire trip for a visit to McDonald's. When the time finally came, and Gary announced that the long wait was over, we found ourselves in what must have been one of the few places in the US where McDonald's are scarce. Despite being in a population-dense area of San Diego, we searched for 45 minutes before Brian finally spotted the fast food Mecca, much to everyone's relief. It was this experience that led to our decision to never conduct another trip without a GPS unit.

One of many enduring memories of my trip with the Jenkins was the iPod playlist of California-themed music that Gary prepared for the trip. Essentially, if the song had "California" or a California place-name in the lyrics, it was fair game. Some of them were pretty obscure.

The one that stands out was one that was particularly popular with Gary's and Stella's young daughters, and hence got a lot of air time during the trip. It was a song by Julian Daze and the Photon Karma called "Carmel by the Sea." The catchy chorus begins, "I fell in love in California." By the end of the trip, it had really become the trip anthem.

Not to be outdone -- I'm a California Boy after all -- I stayed up late one night during the trip, and compiled my own set of California tunes, which I played for the group between San Simeon and Los Angeles. We exchanged CD's at the end of the trip, and I still like to play both on tours to this day.

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