Day 16 - Wednesday June 14th: I finally got my car back today. I got the call in the late morning while I was still in Coo's Bay Oregon (about 4 hours away). So I drove straight over to make sure I was able to get there and return the rental car before everything closed. I actually made it in plenty of time and was down into California before sunset. I got to see Mount Shasta along the way, which my mom actually pointed out. She was on the phone with me looking at where I was and asked if I saw a big mountain coming up in front of me. It was pretty cool because my route took me around it so you could see it pretty clearly for about an hour. Then I continued on to Red Butte California where I spent the night.
Day 17 - Thursday June 15th: I left Red Butte in the morning and headed for San Francisco. A pretty uneventful trip down central California brought me into the area around lunch rush hour and my first traffic jams since Chicago. I had my first experience of In-N-Out Burger (which sadly didn't impress me much) before getting to an overlook of the Golden Gate Bridge. I hiked up to the top of the overlook and took it all in while catching my breath. It was a lot warmer (mid 90s I think) and much more humid than I had been getting used to, so I'll use that as my excuse for feeling out of breath on the half mile hike. After I hiked back down I drove over the bridge and into downtown San Francisco. I really loved the feel of this city, and just the layout with everything on these steep hills was really cool. I went to the touristy things like Fisherman's Wharf as well as just driving around the hills. I spent a few hours wandering around, then tried (and failed) to beat traffic when I drove south through San Jose then East to Modesto. It was basically the turning point in my trip, I was done heading west and was sort of on my way home.
Day 18 - Friday June 16th: Today's plan was Yosemite National Park. I originally was going to have enough time to spend a few days here, but because of my car issues in Oregon I was really only going to have an afternoon. It might have made more sense to skip it and come back in the future when I had more time, but I'm overall glad I went to at least see some of the famous sites for the first time. I drove out later than I originally planned and got there in the late morning. By this time the park was already pretty full and I spent nearly an hour trying to find parking to take the buses there, buses which I think I was finally starting to get the hang of by the end of the day after constantly getting confused and not knowing which way I was going. The major thing I wanted to see was half dome, so I went to half dome village first. I started walking down a path which turned into a 2 mile hike that had no view of the half dome, but had some beautiful views anyway. I went back to the bus stop and spent the next few hours getting on and off buses and wandering around, going on random trails, and occasionally finding things I was looking for. Finally I was on the bus and saw a really convenient spot to see half dome, which turned out to be the same stop I went to at the beginning of the day, of course when I had been there before I went down the one obvious trail instead of turning around and walking across the parking lot to a big open field with a great view of half dome, north dome, and glacier point. I was happy now, I got to see everything and it didn't require much more walking, I had done a lot of that today already. I was ready to go after seeing those and taking my selfies but I knew I'd regret not going to the iconic tunnel view overlook, and yes I would have. It really was so cool to see so many famous landmarks all together in one spot. It really kind of looked like someone photo-shopped a bunch of famous stuff into one picture, except it was right there in front of me. I called it a day and drove up to the outskirts of Sacramento for the night.
Day 19 - Saturday June 17th: There wasn't much that I knew of in northern Nevada, but there were a few things I wanted to see in Utah (actually there are a lot more things I'd like to see in Utah, but I'd need a whole trip just for Utah to get into all of that). I drove out of California and straight across Nevada on 80. I do like the scenery there for the first few hours, but it starts to get a little old around hour 4 or 5. As I was just about to the border with Utah I passed over some hills and could see the salt flats stretching out in front of me. This is something I'd been wanting to see for a long time so I made sure I took some time to stop and wander around here. I got off in Wendover and drove down to the Bonneville Salt Flats. After walking out for a mile or so I stopped to take in the vast landscape. It was so weird seeing such a flat area surrounded with far away mountains. One of the coolest things I noticed was how quiet it was. When I was far enough away from everyone else I couldn't hear anything, it was weird because I could actually see I-80 a mile or so away with trucks passing by but they were all silent. I took a few photos, tasted the ground to make sure it really was salt (it is), and got back on the road. I made it to Salt Lake City a little after dark and spent the night.
Day 20 - Sunday June 18th: I started out the day in Salt Lake City, and because I had arrived in the city after dark I wanted to get to an overview of it before heading out. I Googled overlooks in Salt Lake City and found Ensign Peak which was apparently in the downtown area. It wasn't a very long hike, I'd blame the altitude this time for getting out of breath (I still can't believe I didn't get in much better shape after this trip), but it was worth it for a really great view of the city. I climbed down and drove straight to Denver through Wyoming. I got there just after sunset, checked into a hotel, and picked up my Dad from the airport. He was coming along on my trip for the next few days and we were starting tomorrow with the Rocky Mountains.
My Route: About 2,300 Miles