Today is a heady mix of driving and laundry. Check out is at 10am, then we have a 220 mile drive back to Palo Alto to drop off daughter No 2. Checking out is a complicated affair – we’re staying in one of those places where the owners feel the need to pepper the place with multiple lists of instructions. We must take our trash out, run the dishwasher (despite not having any dishwasher tablets), reset the heating etc.
Just when I thought my poor tired legs would get a break as they sat in the car for 5 hours, the kids have managed to squeeze in a 5 mile hike en route! We plan to stop at Mariposa Grove to see the giant sequoias. The road is closed to private vehicles, but the shuttle bus has been cancelled. Hence we must walk to and from the car park 2 miles away. The wonders of off season US tourism; tourist attractions are all open and heaving with people, but facilities are all closed.
So, an hour into our drive home, we park up and walk 2 miles (uphill) to the Welcome Plaza (which is closed – so more of an Unwelcome Plaza) to the grove containing the giant trees. There is a trail which runs around the grove (also closed). So we admire the trees from afar, then wall back to the car and continue our drive to the Bay Area.
Two hours later, we stop in Los Baños for lunch at The Black Bear Diner. We thought the owners of the Cozy Bear Cottage had gone overboard on the bear theme before we set foot inside the Black Bear Diner, but this is a whole new level! However, the main thing is – the food is really good, which is a relief after 3 hours of driving and 2 hours of hiking. The kids round the meal off with a chocolate cream pie and we set off for the final 2 hour drive to Palo Alto.
We finally get back around 5 pm. We have been travelling for 11 days now, so a laundry session is long overdue.
Daughter No 1 and son-in-law decide that after a long and tiring day, the perfect way to unwind is a trip to the pool/hot tub. I do not get off so easily; having moaned about losing my running mojo recently, daughter No 2 drags me to the track for a training session. I must cycle to to track, run the session, cycle to Gotts to collect dinner and cycle back again.
Much as I moan about being dragged off, it is my first track session of the year following an injury and it’s good to finally manage to run again (albeit slowly) after months sidelined with injury. And of course, being Stanford, it’s a very nice track – certainly a step up (or a hundred steps up) from the dismal facilities at Bournemouth.
After track, we purchase dinner (the kids buy burgers and I opt for a salad, as I had a burger for lunch) and return to meet the others at the pool, where they eat their burgers. I don’t have any cutlery, so just pick the felafal out of my salad, then stare at it for a while.
Back at the flat, we sort through the mountain of laundry (4 x 11 lots of clothes – plus the contents of daughter No 2’s laundry basket, which looks like it’s been untouched for a while!) and I finally get to eat my salad, before finally climbing into bed exhausted. Phase 1 our our trip is complete. Tomorrow (sans daughter No 2) we set off (with clean underwear), driving south along Route 1.