photographs taken by John James of jj99 for the website  "" photographs are in albums grouped under "French Touring Holidays""European Touring Holidays""Self drive tour of California""Short breaks with Tonbridge and Malling Ramblers Association""HRH Prince Charles""Chelsea Flower Shows""Alternative Fashion Show,London""KATS walking group trwinning with Actif Hainalt Marche, Valenciennes"


California 2005

A three week self drive circulat tour of California staring  at San Francisco and stopping at Santa Rosa, Lake Tahoe, Lee Vining, Yosemite,, St Louis Obisco, Morro Bay, Monterey and returning to San Francisco

approaching San Francisco (SFR)

A three week circular self drive tour of California starting from San Francisco

From San Francisco (SFR) airport took BART( Bay Area Rapid Transport) train to Powell Station near Union Square ($4.95 each) - the Stratford Hotel was just a few hundred yards away. Stayed here three nights before picking up a hire car from Dollar Car Hire just around the corner. A convenient location to see the sights of SFR. Stayed at the same hotel when we drove back to SFR.

- only the hotels in San Francisco and Yosemite were pre booked the rest were found when we arrived ( mainly Travelodge's) . The car hire was also booked from Dollar Rent a Car on the internet .

Prior to our trip we studied several routes in tour guides before deciding on this one. This route is half the distance in twice the time of many organised trips. We are indebted to an Irish Gentleman, sitting next to us on the plane,who knew California well and gave us many tips which were gratefully received and added to our enjoyment.


The total mileage was 1591 miles



Saturday 1st October 2005

Flew from LHR at 11.00 and arrived at SFR at 13.50 Took BART to Powell Street . A short walk to the Stratford Hotel where we had pre booked a room. Dinner at Macy's in Union Square - just round the corner from the hotel.

Sunday 2nd October 2005

Took Cable Car to Fisherman's Wharf, Ferry to Sausalito walked to house boats at Marin,bus back to Saulsalito and walked across Golden Gate Bridge and finally bus back to hotel

Monday 3rd October 2005

Walked to Nobb's Hill, Grace Cathedral, Fairmont Hotel ( where we went up to the Crown Suite on the 23rd floor- from the tall wrap around windows there is a sweeping 270-degree panorama of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, Coit Tower, Alcatraz, Downtown and the Twin Peaks.) then walked to Chinatown and back to the hotel


Tuesday 4th October 2005

SFR to Santa Rosa 78 miles

Sonoma Poster

Collected Car ( From Dollar Rent a Car situated in an underground car park just round the corner from the Stratford Hotel- just 5 min walk away) and drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to Santa Rosa stopping at Sonoma for lunch. At Santa Rosa went to Luther Burbank house and gardens before checking into hotel (at Santa Rosa).

Wednesday 5th October 2005

74 miles today

Drove to Kenwood Images Winery, Sonoma and mountain road towards Napa and back to Santa Rosa

Thursday 6th October 2005

Santa Rosa to Lake Tahoe 224 mils

Drove to Calistoga then via the Silverdale Trail to Napa and then on to Lake Tahoe. There was a dramatic change of scenery past Sacramento.

Lake Tahoe at Dusk


Lake Tahoe


Friday 7th October 2005

40 miles

Drove to Emerald Bay and walked toVikings Holm and drove back to Lake Tahoe


Saturday 8th October 2005

49 miles

Steller Jay

Drove to Emerald Bay and walked to Eagle Falls and Lake then to the Rainbow Trail centre at Taylor Creek

- drove back to Lake Tahoe


Sunday 9th October 2005

Lake Tahoe to Lee Vining 170 Miles

Drove to Lee Vining stopping for coffee at Topaze Lake, lunch at the Gold Mining Ghost Town of Bodie ( described in 1881 as a sea of sin, lashed by tempests of lust & passion )' and then to Mono Lake.( The Tufa Rock formations were not visible from the North of the lake) and finally to 'Historic' Lee Vining

Monday 10th October 2005

Lee Vining to Yosemite 153 miles

June Lake

Drove to Mono Lake South, June Lake Loop, went over theTioga Pass ,Touloume Meadows to Wawona Hotel Yosemite -- - mainly 35 mph speed limit in park ( I was stopped for speeding !!!)



Mono Lake

the road past June Lake

Ellery Lake - just before the Tioga Pass



Tuesday 11th October 2005

86 miles

Half Dome 8842 ft at Sunset



El Capitan 7072 ft

Yosemite National Park

Wawona Meadow Walk then drove to Yosemite Village, Alawanee Hotel and then on to Glacier Point for Sunset

Wednesday 12th October 2005

57 miles

outside Wawona Hotel

Bus to Mariposa Grove, lunch at Wawona Hotel afterwards drove to Brideveil Falls and Curry Village

Thursday 13th October 2005

Yosemite to St Luis Obisco 244 miles

A long clear road - not even telegraph poles

Drove to St Luis Obispo and had trip to Morro Bay

Road to Fresno was mainly a busy urban freeway but after that ir was a deserted freeway with barren mountainous landscape with no stopping places or shade

Friday 14th October 2005

San Luis Obisco to Morro Bay 88 miles

Morro Rock

Drove to Morro Bay, lunch at Hearst Castle and afterwards San Simeon to see sea lions. Extravigance beyond belief at Hearst Castle set way up on a hill with far reaching views to the Pacific ( across its own airport ! ) well worth a visit.

Saturday 15th October 2005

at Morro Bay

Sunday 16th October 2005

Morro Bay to Monterey 146 Miles

The Big Sur

Drove from Morro Bay thro' Big Sur( Humming Birds) ,stopped at Point Lobos Park - walked - Monterey -----a very scenic twisty road along coast

Monday 17th October 2005

47 Miles

17 miles Drive, Carmel and Pacific Grove

An interesting drive through a wealthy private residential estate with five or more prestigeous golf courses and pretty beaches. At Pacific Grove we managed to find the Monarch Butterfly Eucalyptus trees where the butterflies migrate to every year.


Tuesday18th October 2005

5 miles

Fisherman's Wharf, The Cannery & Monterey

Fisherman's Wharf is very commercialised but old Monterey is very pretty and interesting

Wednesday 19th October 2005

Monterey to SFR 129 Miles

Pigeon Point

via Santa Cruz - lunch at Half Moon Bay - SFR returned Car. The town of Half Moon was inland from the coast - we found an excellent cafe there for lunch.

Thursday 20th October 2005

Looking down Lombard Street

Walked through Chinatown to Coit Tower and then to the twisty hill of Lombard Street ( 'the crookedest street in the world') then on to Fisherman;s Wharf and back to Market Street




Friday 21st October 2005

Took bus to Haight Ashbury then walked to Golden Gate Gardens - had tea in the Japanese Garden before having lunch outside the park and taking the bus to Twin Peaks . Walked up to Twin Peaks and down the other side. Had coffee at Castro before taking the underground back to Powell Street.

view from Twin Peaks

.Didn't go up Coit Tower because of the morning mist but got reasonable views from Twin Peaks despite the patchy swirling mist

Saturday 22nd October 2005

Walked to Chinatown, on to Fairmont Hotel and back to Powell Street for coffee. Picked up our bags from the Stratford Hotel and caught the 12.35 BART to airport. Departure time was 16.30

Fairmont Hotel

Enjoyed our spell relaxing in the sumptious surroundings of the Fairmont Hotel

Our last drink at Lefty O'Doul's

And finally our flight back home

Backing the bid


A few more images taken on this tour



Looking back at SFR from the Ferry to Sausalito

SFR from Golden Gate Bridge

Balclutha 1886 Fisherman's Wharf


Aids (HIV) Memorial, Golden Gate Gardens






The Californian Republican Flag


Costa Hummingbird, Big Sur

Egret in Golden Gate Gardens


Ground Squirel

The Big Sur


TheBig Sur

Big Sur


Santa Rosa


Santa Rosa


Imagery Winery Poster







Monterey Picture


A cool spot for lunch (in river) on Big Sur


Hotel Normandy, Carmel



Marin Houseboat

Marin Houseboat

Marin Houseboat

Marin Houseboat

Bill Dan Balancing Rocks , Sausalito!

Amazing but true !!! see him live on You Tube


Picture of Golden Gate Bridge


Picture, Sausalita





Pebble Beach Market


The long dusty road to Bodie



on our way up to the Tioga Pass

Sunbeams, Yosemite

Wawona Hotel, Yosemite

Lee Vining


What a lens!! unfortunately not mine




Monarch Butterflies on Eucalyptus trees

Monarch butterfly


Where do they come from? Monarchs of the western migration fly here from as far north as Canada and Alaska and as far east as the Rocky Mountains. Monarchs east of the Rocky Mountains migrate to Mexico to overwinter there.

Are they the same butterflies that were here last year? No. These butterflies are the great grandchildren of the Monarchs who overwintwered here last year. When last year's butterflies mated here in the spring and flew north (and east ) to lay their eggs and die, that ended the longest 8 month generation. Three short 4-6 week generations followed with each generation flying further north until this year's Monarchs emerged from chrysalises on the farthest northern milkweed. Instead of living only 4 - 6 weeks, mating and dying, this generation will live 8 months, will delay mating until February or March, and use its energy to fly south to this sheltered microclimate so that the species can survive the winter.


The Lone Cypress, Monterey


The much photographed lone cypress tree