Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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Wake-up time was 5am. I connected to the Internet one last time, took a shower and finished packing my hand luggage (the usual, "I forgot this yesterday evening so let's still stuff it in there somewhere"). Boarding time was 6:25am, and I had been asked to be at the airport at around 6:15am.

After a short and eventless flight to Amsterdam, the first wait began - we landed at around 8am and the plane to San Francisco would only leave at 11:45. When the time came to board, they had to verify something in my passport, but apart from that boarding was uneventless.

The plane was a McDonnell Douglas, and I hadn't managed to secure an exit row seat (of which there are not many). Nevertheless, the aisle seat (20D) wasn't too bad, leg room was almost sufficient... I was sitting next to an English man with his son, and we chatted for a while during the flight. He also confirmed that the sleeping pills a friend had given me, and which I had taken shortly after take-off, truly knocked me out. There was food served at some time, but memories of that were so vague that I wasn't even sure until he later told me that I had barely touched it and he had feared that I would rather land my face in it than eat it.

This was the first few hours of the flight covered, and the rest went remarkably fast as well. We eventually landed, on time, at San Francisco International around 2pm local time. Immigration and baggage claim took about half an hour, then I took the shuttle to the rental car parking (and unlike LAX, there is only one shuttle and one multistory parking for all companies).

I got the "Intermediate" car I had reserved - a white four-door Oldsmobile Alero, and began installing all my gear in the car: cigarette light three-way adapter, inverter, GPS, laptop...

Somewhere inbetween San Francisco and Yosemite I took off around 3:15pm, taking Hwy 101 South and then crossing the Bay via Hwy 92. Interstate 880, 238, 580 and later Hwy 120, 99 and 140 were on my 170mi route suggested by DeLorme Street Atlas. The GPS was very slow picking up satellites, so I only benefited from satellite navigation somewhere on the bridge over Hwy 92, but after that it worked like a charm.

Traffic wasn't so good. There were constant traffic jams, before and in each city on the route, and my average speed was about 45 MPH - which isn't all that bad, all things considered.

The drive itself was unremarkable - a small elevation change just out of San Francisco (about 1000 feet), then crossing the San Joaquin Valley, which is entirely flat and near ocean level. The elevation change for the day was from a minimum of 2ft to a maximum of 2372 just outside of Mariposa, the latter being at around 2000ft, ascending a total of 5740 feet.

The weather was fairly pleasant, even if there were a few clouds and visibility wasn't very large. Still, coming from cold and rainy Luxembourg, this was a nice change.

Motel/Hotel Accommodation: Best Western Yosemite Gateway Motel (Mariposa, CA): D:/html/

Written on October 26th between 5:30am and 6am at the Best Western Yosemite Gateway Motel in Mariposa,CA; while drinking a cup of coffee and looking forward to a hot shower and free breakfast before a timely departure to Yosemite National Park.