San Francisco to Yosemite

After the tide pools Jeff and I made our way up to San Francisco. We hadn’t scheduled much time in our agenda for the city, it was basically just meant to be a stopping point for our journey along the coast. I wanted to see two things in San Francisco – Camera Obscura and the Golden Gate Bridge. So, first stop – Camera Obscura! It sadly wasn’t open but I was happy to see it nonetheless. This has been on my to-find list for so long. I’ve been seeing photos of it pop up from time to time for years but never really knew anything about it, let alone where in the world it was. I realized right before the trip it was in San Francisco so I super giddy about finally seeing it.

View from the end of the cliff-side tunnel

From the Camera Obscura you can see the Sutro Bath ruins. It had popped up on Roadside America when I was browsing the area but it didn’t seem that interesting considering we only had a few hours at most in the city. Being right beside it, and in the fog was another story though. We had to go check it out.

The Sutro Baths opened in 1896 and at the time it was the largest indoor swimming facility. There were slides, springboards and even a high dive. There were six saltwater pools and one fresh water pool. It eventually closed due to not being profitable. Shortly that in 1966, a fire destroyed the building while it was in the process of being demolished. (Arson for insurance money!) Now the land surrounding it is part of the Golden Gate Recreational Area which is way cool because you’re able to explore the ruins. This website sums it up perfectly “It’s allowed to be harrowing and wild in a time and place where shampoos
carry warnings and most interesting things are cordoned off for your
protection. Here’s the playground for those who love crumbling stone
clubhouses, jutting pipe monkeybars, stairways that lead you off cliffs
and shifting sandboxes that get swallowed by surf.” It’s really surprising to me that you’re allowed to explore the ruins but you best believe, I’m all about it. I wish there were more places like this.

Beside the ruins is a cliff-side tunnel which I thought was terrifying. I’m sure some local is reading this and laughing but that water was rough, it was dark, and I thought the ground felt smushy. I was afraid somehow I was going to end up in the water. I don’t know, it was just really strange experience. I’m pretty fearless when it comes to most things but that tunnel freaked me out. It’s fun to be afraid sometimes, if that makes sense. I was happy to get out of the tunnel but I enjoyed the rush of being in there.

View from above the Sutro Ruins

Next we headed to the Golden Gate Bridge which I didn’t actually get to see because of the fog. Whomp whomp whomp. We drove over it, I shot this picture, and we called it day. I have never in my life seen fog SO thick. We had assumed the sun set but after getting outside of the city we got to watch it actually set. It was really strange to watch it get dark, then an hour or so later watch it get dark all over again.

We drove into the night toward our next stop, Yosemite National Park. We got there in the middle of the night. I had a really bad stomach ache. Jeff said he had some tums or something in his suitcase so we pulled over on the top of a mountain to get it. I’m all bundled up in my seat when Jeff calls from outside “You have to come see this!” The stars, you guys, THE STARS. It was just the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my entire life. I’m literally teary eyed right now thinking about it. We got out our cameras and hung out on the side of the road trying to capture the view. I didn’t get anything close to representing how amazing it was but Jeff shot this gorgeous photo. I could have stayed there and watched the stars forever. That actually might be one of my favorite memories of the trip. Just being barefoot on the side of a mountain looking up at the stars with Jeff. They were something else!

We finally headed back down the mountain to find a spot to sleep for a few hours before making our way into the park. It was another rough night of not being able to find somewhere suitable to sleep. I remember groggily searching “how to sleep in your car” for tips because we just couldn’t find somewhere that felt safe enough to snooze at.  Rough night or not all was well because the next morning I sat on the rock wall below and put on my make-up, and got gussied up for the day ahead. Talk about a great view!

Yosemite was gorgeous but a bit crowded for my tastes. I was also crabby I didn’t have my bike because everyone there was on a bike. But I ate a killer sandwich, got some pressed pennies, and took photos that I love with the man I love.

You can find more posts from our road trip under the “travel” tag. 

Author: Kaylah

Just a green haired gal from Cleveland, Ohio.

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  • Bah. I still haven't managed to make my way to Yosemite, and it's totally because of the crowds. It's really only open like five months out of the year and obviously it's a suuuuper big deal. The hiking is supposed to be amazing but who wants to wait in line to hike up a mountain? I'm really glad you guys made it there and got to see the stars from the Sierras. It really is magical.

    • Oh, so Yosemite is notoriously super crowded? I guess I should have expected it but all the other National Parks we've visited weren't like that at all. I feel like even The Grand Canyon was less crowded.

  • A few years ago, I spent a week (ish) with my (now ex) boyfriend in Yosemite (as well as some time at nearby . Seeing your pics brings back such great memories. Once we got over it being more crowded than we would have liked, it was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. We actually rented bikes while we were there for a day, and cruising around while surrounded by so much nature (and wildlife!) was awesome.

    While the park itself is beautiful, and the stars are nothing short of breath taking. We spent the majority of our nights there just gazing up at them. I don't think I've had as much fun since that trip. I can't wait to go back now!

    • Ughhh! So jealous y'all rented bikes. We didn't really plan to spend too much time in the park but if we had we would have definitely got bikes. Someday I'd like to visit all the National Parks and actually spend like a week at each of them.

  • Okay now those baths are totally on my list. May have to detour next time we head up north! 🙂 Yosemite is so amazing, love your captures.

  • I think I remember hearing about the Sutro Baths on 99% Invisible, but I can't believe I'd never heard of the Camera Obscura. What an intriguing place. And your photos have me yearning for the West coast again.

  • Gorgeous pics Kaylah!! They are amazing, love all the foggy suspense of the San Francisco area and the gorgeous fading light on the two pics before the Yosemite sign. Where you able to go on a hike inside Yosemite? We climbed the Sentinel Dome which had great views. Oh! and wow camera obscura, wishing now I have another visit to San Francisco so I can add it 🙂