The Great Loop Part I – Kalifohnia

Here we are. The adventure mecca of the European traveller boasting a concentration of national parks where every lazy National Geographic photographer dreams of.

Upon entering the California Republic near Redding (pronounced as written, unlike the UK equivalent which is pronounced the same, but is written differently) the state’s Fruit Nazi did their duties and with a clean bill of health (i.o.w. no fruits or veggies present) we continue Southwards.

California’s North is basically an extension of Oregon and the rainstorms we carefully avoided over there smilingly greet us above lake Shasta.

A storm is coming - Northern California
A storm is coming – Northern California

A indoor dam(n) visit it is, then. Willie Wonka, our free tour guide for the afternoon, is not too happy to show us his factory and I guess my constant lagging behind to photograph the creepy corridors did not help, either.

Creepy corridors in the heart of Shasta Dam - Northern California
Creepy corridors in the heart of Shasta Dam – Northern California

A disastrous attempt to visit Lassen National Park (unplowed mountain passes, even mid-April) made us take a detour towards lake Tahoe. Not a bad choice, not a bad choice at all. Alpine scenery, wild geese and Steller’s Jays. Jay!

Lake Tahoe - Northern California
Lake Tahoe – Northern California

Great was the contrast with our next destination: San Francisco, where the girls wear flowers in their hair. And carry a gun in their purse! A police drive-by shooting? Drugged out crack-addicts suffocating in their own vomit, right in the middle of the city’s main business district? Yeah, peace and love, baby!

Luckily they have cute little tramsies to carry you swiftly passed all this :)

Cable Car - San Francisco
Cable Car – San Francisco

So, where are all those national parks, you ask? Right here. Photo opportunities to spare for every wannabe Ansel Adams.

Vernal Fall - Yosemite N.P.
Vernal Fall – Yosemite N.P.

A full moon and crisp night skies resulted in a slightly different take on a classic image.

Moonlit Yosemite Valley - Yosemite N.P.
Moonlit Yosemite Valley – Yosemite N.P.

More into trees? Sequoia National Park has larger-then-you-can-hug Cypresses.

Sequoia National Park - California
Sequoia National Park – California

Perhaps the most striking fact is how easily accessible all these natural wonders are. While Yosemite benefits from a little bit of leg muscle to walk up and down the waterfall trails (and mind you, there are dozens of signs preparing you for the “extreme physical effort” required to complete said hikes), Sequoia N.P. is literally a wheelchair accessible stroll through the park.

Next up: The Great Loop Part II

Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco