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I always wanted to visit California and especially Yosemite in winter. The trip started in San Francisco, also in winter the city is very expensive. For the carpark fee you can get the complete hotel night in another city… So I decided to stay close to the airport (with nice views…) which was a bit cheaper. I wanted to visit sites I would need a car anyway and not Fisherman’s Wharf again. Sadly 2 sites were closed, Treasure Island was a huge construction zone, Hawk Hill on the other side of the Golde Gate Bridge was closed due to the government shutdown. But on the other points I wanted to visit the views of the city and bay were fantastic, especially from twin peaks with a rainbow over the city.
Yosemite was the next highlight. It snowed just the day before so the whole park was covered in snow and I had my view from Tunnel View with Yosemite in snow. Due to the government shutdown I changed the route. Instead of Sequoia that was closed the destination got changed to Lake Tahoe. Very good decission. Lake Tahoe we had 2 sunny days! From Lake Tahoe the route continued to Mono Lake. At both lakes the sunset and sunrise were fantastic. The lowest point of the trip was Death Valley. The Hotel was under the sea level in the middle of the park. The drive to Joshua Tree Park was another 5 hrs, where we were surprised by rain. People were happy, we were not… It hasn’t rained liked that for years… All dirt roads in the park were closed due to the rain. The last afternoon it cleared up and gave me some nice photo opportunities. A long driving day took us to Pismo Beach where we stayed at a nice Hotel with views of the bay. Highway 1 is open again which we took to Monterey with mandatory stops at the elephant seal rocketry (babys at this time of the year!) and Bixby Bridge. I was surprised how nice Monterey is when it is sun and people are out. Last time some years ago when I was there (it was raining) it was totally dead. The last evening we did the 17miles drive at the shore which is nice but 10 dollars to see some nice houses, golf courses and a bit of costal scenery?
Winter is a fantastic time to go, a lot less tourists (but still more than you would think) lower rates at hotels, good deals for rental cars and the all the time changing weather what gives fantastic photo opportunities.
The only down part was our rental car consumption. Our almost brand new Volvo XC90 had a battery loading problem and got exchanged against a Range Rover Sport, which then had a tire problem. So we got a Range Rover Velar… Everytime we had to wait 5-7 hours to get the replacement car from San Franscisco…

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