Return to the Jenkins' trip details
Day 1: San Francisco - Yosemite National Park
We picked the Jenkins family up early at their hotel in San Francisco, where they had spent a couple days exploring on their own. From San Francisco, we headed east, toward Yosemite National Park, stopping en route to pick up a booster seat for their youngest. We drove straight up to Yosemite's underexplored high country, where the family spent the bulk of the afternoon hiking along Tuolumne Meadows and having a picnic lunch along the shores of the picturesque, granite-lined Tenaya Lake.
As the afternoon drew into evening, we headed towards Yosemite's famous valley, where the Jenkins would enjoy dinner, and spend the night at the Ahwahnee Lodge, after a short trek through an apple orchard in search of a mother bear and her cubs that had been hanging around for the previous week.
Day 2: Yosemite - Monterey
The second day of the Jenkins' trip focused again on Yosemite. For the better part of half a day, the family explored the Valley floor, visiting Yosemite Falls on a short hike, and stopping to search for climbers on El Capitan. From the Valley, we drove up to the spectacular overlook at Glacier Point, where the family grabbed a bite to eat, and took another stroll to enjoy the commanding vistas of the entire park. There was a near miss on a bear-sighting, when I spotted one while the family was having ice cream. Sadly, by the time I was able to retrieve them, the bear had meandered back off into the forest. Before departing Yosemite, we stopped at the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, where everyone got a chance to stroll among the largest trees on the planet.
Finally, we took advantage of the coolness of the evening to make the drive from Yosemite, across the Central Valley, and over to the coast, and Monterey, where the Jenkins stayed at a Cannery Row hotel.
Day 3: Monterey and Carmel
After 2 days of heavy activities, the Jenkins took this day pretty easy. A slow-paced drive along the windswept seascapes of 17-mile Drive was followed by several hours of window shopping in Carmel-by-the-Sea, before a return trip to Cannery Row where the family enjoyed the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and dinner overlooking the kelp forests and the seals and otters that populate them.
Day 4: Monterey - Big Sur - San Simeon
After a day of relative calm on the Monterey Peninsula, we set back out on the road heading south. Our first stop brought us to Point Lobos State Park, where the family enjoyed a stroll along the rocky coastline, enjoying the company of numerous harbor seals and pelicans. The girls were delighted to be introduced to their first hermit crabs.
After Point Lobos, we continued south, through Big Sur's thrilling coastline, stopping for coffee at Nepenthe, and taking a walk through the coastal redwoods at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. After several stops for photos, we reached the end of the Big Sur coast, stopping briefly at Piedras Blancas to see the remaining bull elephant seals still occupying the beach at the end of the summer molt.
Finally, came the second highlight of the day: Hearst Castle. The Experience Tour was a big hit with everyone, leaving Gary and Stella hungry for a second visit in the future to try some of the other tours. After the castle, dinner at the Brambles Dinner House in Cambria was the final item of the day.
Day 5: San Simeon - Solvang - Malibu - Beverly Hills
Setting out early again, we headed straight south from San Simeon, seeking to put some miles under us before lunch. A couple hours later, we arrived in the Danish town of Solvang, where the group took some time for pancakes and a bit of a stroll to enjoy the town's atmosphere.
Leaving Solvang, we took the back road through the Santa Ynez Mountains, before rejoining the coast at Santa Barbara, and continuing south. We ultimately approached Los Angeles from the west side, driving the length of Malibu's coastline, before heading inland along Sunset Boulevard.
A final turn down Rodeo Drive brought us to the Jenkins' hotel, where we parted ways for the afternoon, as they decided to do some shopping on foot in Beverly Hills before settling in for the evening.
Day 6: Beverly Hills - Hollywood - Santa Monica - San Diego
This day saw us spend the morning and early afternoon getting a glimpse of some of Los Angeles's landmark attractions. A stop at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood gave the family time to see the requisite Walk of Fame and several other Hollywood landmarks. A short trip northeast gave us a good camera shot of the Hollywood Sign, and a 30 minute drive across town, landed us at the Santa Monica Pier, where I dropped them off, arranging to meet them a mile south at Venice Beach. Seeking to avoid the legendary Southern California traffic, we set out from Los Angeles a little before 2 for San Diego.
After the drive through Orange County and Camp Pendleton, much of our final hour together was spent in search of a suddenly elusive McDonald's restaurant between La Jolla and Mission Beach. The girls had been anticipating this treat for days, and finally, when it came time to deliver, the McDonald's seemed to be intent on evading detection. Alas, the anxiety was short-lived when grandpa spotted what must have been the only McDonald's in Mission Beach, and the day was saved!
After a lovely bite to eat at the Golden Arches, we completed our journey to the Hotel del Coronado, where I dropped the Jenkins off to enjoy several days relaxing on the San Diego beaches.