A Tale of Two Cal­i­for­nias

Travel Guide to California - - EDITOR’S NOTE - —LARRY HABEGGER, Ed­i­tor

This year I had the priv­i­lege to visit Yosemite twice dur­ing peak sea­son. The fa­mous na­tional park gets five mil­lion an­nual vis­i­tors, so I knew traf­fic would be ter­ri­bly con­gested on my trip for Me­mo­rial Day week­end. I schooled my­self to prac­tice pa­tience and look for­ward to re­lax­ing at my camp­site when the or­deal was over, and it worked. Once I’d parked the car and un­loaded, I was set for a re­lax­ing week­end of camp­fires, hikes in the val­ley, a climb up the Mist Trail to spec­tac­u­lar Ver­nal Fall. I didn’t think about traf­fic again.

Later that sum­mer, my 19-year-old daugh­ter and I took a back­pack­ing trip in the Yosemite back­coun­try. We hadn’t planned much in ad­vance, and when it was time to book a per­mit we were out of luck. Our only hope was to show up at the park en­trance and see what we could do. Well, we didn’t get our first choice for a hike, but we got one that turned out to be bet­ter, with fewer hik­ers, and our three-day jaunt from Tuolumne Mead­ows to Yosemite Val­ley be­came an epic ex­pe­ri­ence for us. We even got to climb Half Dome, a dream for us, get­ting two of the 75 cov­eted daily per­mits that are re­served for wilder­ness back­pack­ers.

The view of the val­ley from the top of Half Dome is one of Amer­ica’s grand­est spec­ta­cles. But what equally touched me was when we were de­scend­ing the Mist Trail and joined the conga line of day tourists and val­ley cam­pers. Many were un­fit and wear­ing in­ap­pro­pri­ate clothes for hik­ing, but every­one was smil­ing. They were hav­ing the time of their lives.

This made me think about the two Cal­i­for­nias. One is crowded—pop­u­lar beaches and cities and restau­rants and parks. The other is un­crowded—hid­den beaches, small towns, road­side mar­kets, un­known holes in the wall that serve ex­quis­ite meals. Of­ten, as in the case of Yosemite, these two Cal­i­for­nias are right next to each other, and it’s easy to in­dulge in one and then the other with­out miss­ing a beat.

In truth, there are many Cal­i­for­nias, from San Diego’s beaches to the crest of Mount Shasta, Los An­ge­les’ en­ter­tain­ment glitz to San Fran­cisco’s fa­mous bridges. You can surf, kayak, wine-taste or re­lax in a rest­ful spa, catch world­class opera, sym­phony, jazz or the­ater.

In these pages we help you pre­pare, with pro­files of the state’s main tourism re­gions, es­says on his­tory, cui­sine, mu­se­ums, theme parks and many other top­ics, plus re­source pages with in­for­ma­tion on vis­i­tors bu­reaus, driv­ing dis­tances, Cal­i­for­nia Wel­come Cen­ters and more.

As you make your plans for a trip to the Golden State, it’ll be up to you to de­cide which of the many Cal­i­for­nias you’ll ex­pe­ri­ence. Whether you de­cide on one, two or sev­eral, you re­ally can’t go wrong. Be­cause some­times even spon­ta­neous plan­ning can lead to an ex­pe­ri­ence you’ll never for­get.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.