Wednesday, June 03, 2015
Day 7: Leaving New York | Day 8: Yosemite National Park
To see you again, to be your friend, to hold you in my mind ...
Leaving It Up To You - George Ezra
This post will be combining 2 days, day 7 and 8. Day 7 was when I left New York for San Francisco. Taxi cost to and from airport is very expensive in New York and San Francisco, so for this trip to JFK I chose to use the shuttle service, Go Airlink NYC. The review for this is really bad and yet this seems to be the most used shuttle service. I had my worries, so I set my collection time to be earlier so that I would have sufficient time at the airport. During booking, they gave a 15-min window of when the shuttle would arrive and we should be ready before the start of that 15-min window. So I was ready, but then the shuttle never came. It passed the 15-min window and I was thinking, do I seriously need to call them. I was swinging between waiting a bit more and calling them. In the end it did arrive without me calling them, it arrived around 20 minutes from the start of the waiting time. While I was waiting in front of the hotel, the last interesting I saw in New York was 3 NYPD on horses. That morning was the first time I saw that. So anyway there was already another girl in the van. I wasn't sure how many more we'll be picking, but it turned out it's just the 2 of us. New York was misty that morning, another first for me there. It made it even more sentimental about leaving. Both me and the girl needed to go to the same terminal, so that's pretty nice for the driver. In the end, I arrived with a lot of time to kill.
Delta doesn't have a manual checking counter it seems, everyone have to use the machine and then off to the baggage drop. I don't like using the checking in machine because my previous passport always couldn't work, I'm not sure if the new passport could. This machine I needed to use have the option of not having to scan my passport and it was easy enough to use so I didn't have any difficulty. There was a notice asking if I wanted to enter a volunteer programme in which I am okay about giving away my seat for some compensation since the flight was full. I found it to be a rather strange question. When I was waiting later on by the gate, more announcement was made by the staff at the desk that the flight was oversold so they're really looking for volunteers to give up their seats. It is such a strange concept that a flight could be oversold, how do they do this and do the people who bought the tickets late know about this? I wonder if it's an American thing. It seems so disorganized. I guess in a way you can make money when you're compensated way more than the price you buy the ticket in, however I assume the differences in timing between the flights is quite significant. If it's like every half an hour, I think the late comer could just wait for the next flight and there's no need to ask for volunteers. Now if the next flight is like 2 hours later or so, that would make your total wait time at the airport to be quite long and while JFK is adequate, it's not like super amazing and comfortable. The flight itself is around 6-hour long and another strange thing, Delta only serves snacks, not meal. That's strange for me because it makes them feel like a budget airline. I guess it's to save cost, but 6 hours is a pretty long time without sufficient food. The good thing is they have in-flight entertainment, but not all the movies are free. I wonder if America has budget airlines and what the differences in price and service is.
Arriving in San Francisco, I decided to take a taxi to the hotel in the Fisherman's Wharf area. It was a much a better ride than the taxi ride in New York, quite long though and it was quite a gray day. I was thinking that the clouds were really low lying in this area. Also while I know there's a hilly street in San Francisco, I was surprised to find out that there are actually a lot of them and they're very steep. At times it felt like going up a roller coaster and yes perhaps I am dramatizing because I don't like roller coaster. I wonder if passing the test for driver license in San Francisco is more difficult than other cities, because I think it must need some skill to navigate these streets. If last year I said that Auckland with its slopes would make its people be very fit from walking on them frequently, then I think San Francisco would make its people even more so, unless they just drive even for the shortest distance. Anyway arriving in my room, I was very very happy. It's the nicest room I have stayed in. I kinda leveled up in my booking.com membership that I could get discount on many hotels and I got this on a discounted price. The hotel also has free wine reception every evening, but I never attended it. Here below is my room. I wonder if it's snobbish to show this. I say this is great but some people may say not so. Anyway, this is also to explain how why my trip couldn't be cheaper. I want this kinda comfort, I can't stay in hostel and such. By the way, you could see my little dog stuff animal on the bed, it's from Dagi, my pen pal. For some reason I just took it during my first trip alone to Italy and started doing so ever since. So it has been with me everywhere. These days I like to think since it's a dog, it kinda watches me when I sleep and it watches the room and my belonging when I'm out during the day. I also like to think that it's somewhat amusing for the housekeepers when they make my bed that they have to place this dog on the bed when they're done. I have some very illogical things that I do on trips, a ritual or tradition if you may, like bringing that dog and bringing Linkin Park T-shirts to be used when I sleep instead of my usual pajamas.
So anyway, after arriving in my room, next of course I had to get water. I stopped for early dinner first at the Italian restaurant next door. Had my usual go to pasta, the seafood pasta. It was okay. The fish was so dry and rather tough like a dry chicken breast and chicken breast is not really my favorite cut of a chicken. It's my second time having fish in my meal in the US and they're at proper restaurants, sadly at both occasions, I don't think they cooked the fish well. I hate to think it's an American thing. So after that, I went to Trader Joe's which was very nearby (I've googled it back in Singapore) and got my water. I was rather alarmed when the staff asked if I needed a bag, thinking if he expected me to be environmentally friendly and should have brought my own bag. It's a weird question you see. I think I only had my wallet at that time, how was I supposed to carry many bottles of water without a bag? So he gave me a paper bag which I was quite worried if it would hold, luckily the hotel is very near, so all was fine. The bag has a nice design and you suppose to recycle it. I didn't do anything else that day which now that I think about it kinda a shame, because I could have just taken the very short walk to the pier and see the seals or the sun set, but I was kinda tired and lazy and the next day I had a very early start.
The next day, I took a day trip to Yosemite National Park and the pick up time was 6 am if I'm not mistaken. Very early. By the way, surprisingly (for me at least) San Francisco is colder than New York. I was getting worried if I would be under dressed the whole time. During the evening, the temperature could really drop. I was so preoccupied with New York's weather that I didn't google much about San Francisco's before the trip, but I did a few time and somehow each time I got the temperature I wasn't alarmed. So be prepared peeps if you're visiting, it could be colder and more windy. I also learnt that they have this thing called micro climate which means one part of the city can have a very different climate than the other area. Interesting. So anyway, the trip to Yosemite, the driver / guide was Nick who's kinda cute, but I think he may need a haircut. The bus was pretty full, but luckily I could sit on my own. Yay to being selfish. I remember it was quite a long drive which was broken by a stop to get some breakfast or snacks. Then off we continued with the drive.
I was very interested in choosing this trip because it includes a walk to the giant sequoia tree. I was more excited when I saw a cross section of a giant sequoia tree in AMNH. It was seriously humongous and that cross section was taken 12 feet (~3.6 m) off the ground if I remember correctly. It took the people several days to cut the tree. However then, Nick told us he couldn't promise us if we could get to the giant sequoia trees because if there's still too much snow, it would be closed off. I was like, darn it. Turned out, praise be to God for not disappointing all of us / me, the snow has melted significantly that we could go. Nick was explaining the hike / walk to us which I think I didn't pay much attention to, I just remembered it could be laborious, we should just go if we wanted to and not spend too much time thinking if we would want to do it or not, and lastly just take the essentials like camera and water to lighten our load. I remember he said it's around 1 mile to the tree with the tunnel and then we should loop back from there. Being Indonesian, this kinda measurement doesn't connect with me and I usually tuned out this kinda information. I don't know why I didn't think to install an app that convert measurement before I went to America, I only install it recently. Anyway 1 mile is around 1.6 km. So that is the goal, get to the tree with the tunnel. I was the first to set off, because I didn't have anyone to wait around for. It was kinda weird walking into the forest alone. Then the eager Romanian girl who also traveled alone caught up with me. She was really that eager :) So we're at the front of the pack and the first to see some deer (Side note: plural of deer is also deer, like the plural of fish is fish, unless if it's describing different types of fish, then it's fishes). Anyway so, wow! That was unexpected and a very happy pleasant surprise.
Other people started to catch up with us at this point and so the deer started to go away and I thought I should too, I set off again on my own. I did stop a few times to take some pictures and so there were people who passed me by. Before getting to the tree with the tunnel, we need to pass one big giant sequoia tree. It's really really tall and it's trunk is like golden brown. I think I didn't stay long here because I didn't know how much time I needed to complete the whole walk, so I thought it's better to continue on. I ended up to be front of the pack again and then it's just me and another guy who also traveled alone, who I will just call American dad who caught up with me. We reached a point and weren't sure where we should go next. The Indian groups came and they figured we should go to the right, so we followed them. Luckily it's the right way. The tree with the tunnel has a tunnel through it or in other word a really big hole. If I'm not mistaken, they purposely did this to attract more visitors. Unfortunately even though the tree is still standing, it's not actually a vibrant tree like the majestic first tree we saw. I think it got damaged a lot over the years. I'm not sure if it's dead or if it's just sufficiently alive. It doesn't have any leaf and honestly it looked kinda sad.
Me and American dad were the first to head back from here. The walk to the tunnel tree was easy enough because it's going down, however the walk back to the parking lot was pretty hard because it's a hike up. It did occur to me as we started the walk earlier that the path would be quite a bitch when we have to walk back. I had to stop a few times, on the pretense of taking pictures, but really I needed to stop and breathe. It was hard to breathe. My main concern was I was gonna faint. I did realize that while it was hard to breathe, my heart didn't actually beat much faster like it was when I was walking the Arthur's Pass last year or when I was following the torii up the mountain in Fushimi Inari-taisha. So all and all, even though it's hard, it's not the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I have to give it up to American dad. I don't know if he had to stop but it seemed he just walked all the way and he didn't actually look like a very fit person. Well maybe he's the type who runs marathon. It was kinda nice to be the only person on the path, but I did have concerns if the path was going to get much harder and I would just suddenly drop and faint with no one around or people had to find me because that would be embarrassing. I made it though, number 2 after American dad. Looking back at it, it wasn't easy but it's doable, but as I write that I actually have doubt that some people I know will be able to do it. Flat distance may not be a problem, but once you put some elevation on it, it can be a real challenge.
After this it's the drive to Yosemite visitor center. We made a stop at the photo taking point first to see mountains and a waterfall in the distance and the valley of trees below them. Unfortunately in this trip, I really took bad pictures. I should have put it more effort :( This picture is actually from my phone. I put some filter on it before I tweeted it before, it looked much nicer with the filter actually.
Arriving at the visitor center, I decided to have lunch first at the food court. I didn't want to pack sandwich from the stop earlier in the morning because as mentioned in the previous post, I was (still am currently) kinda hating sandwich. I had cheese pizza for lunch. Wasn't great, but it's sustenance. Then I made the walk to see the waterfall. It's pretty nice, but I didn't go nearer to the waterfall because the river was very rocky so I just saw it from a safe distance. I spent some time there before going back to the meeting point, detour at the gift shop.
After that, it's our ride back to San Francisco. When we passed the plain fields with the brown grass with the afternoon sun shining on them, it was nice, truly fitting of the name the golden state. For pictures from the trip, you can go here
, again the pictures are not amazing and it's all my fault. We arrived quite late. We made another stop upon reaching San Francisco, to see San Francisco from the opposite side, I couldn't remember which side it was, there was the Bay Bridge on our left and San Francisco in front of us. It was really really really cold that after taking a few shots, I quickly went back into the bus. Arriving in the hotel, I was just happy to be in a nice room after a long day.
:) eKa @ 8:42:00 PM •