I'm currently in a fairly terrible Motel 6 in Merced, California as a half-way point to Yosemite. I've been looking forward to this part of my trip (Yosemite, not the Motel 6) since I booked my accommodation for the National Park about two months ago. It's about another two hours drive from here to Yosemite so I decided to break the journey here overnight so I wasn't driving tired. Pleased I made that call as it's been a series of early starts for the last few days - I'm looking forward to a bit of a lie-in tomorrow. (My smugness is being slightly abated at the moment by the incredibly loud sound of a train passing by what feels like right outside my window - let's hope they don't run all night...).
My last day in the 'Bay Area' of California was cool - I went up to Berkeley with two purposes in mind: to visit the The North Face outlet shop and to check out the University campus. The day was a big success on both counts - I snagged a new fleece, a zip top, a hoodie, a base layer t-shirt and a hat for $108 - about £70 - stuff that would cost at least three times that in the UK. Now I just need to think about how to get it all home! This obviously sets me up well for the upcoming trip to Yosemite. Big thanks to David at work for suggesting a visit to this store!
I then headed over to the University of California campus at Berkeley. There was a strange wetness in the air which I am told is something called, "rain", I am unfamiliar with this at this stage. Further research may be required... The campus is incredible - totally blows away my alma mater of The University of York - and made me wish I was 19 again so I could study there! I loved just wandering about the campus and dodging the various student societies urging me to register to vote, attend a football game, pledge to support Israel, pledge to support Palestine and something about good dental care that I never truly understood.
The libraries (27 of them!) are certainly impressive and I loved seeing all the different architectural styles of the different academic, residential and social buildings. Plus I'm obviously still retaining my boyish-good-looks as I kept getting asked for directions to various places as if I was an enrolled student...
I then popped down into Berkeley proper (the campus is like a town to itself) to grab some food at Triple Rock Brewery and Ale House. I had a slightly disappointing pint of beer but some good food that set me up for the rest of the day.
About 2pm I decided to head East out of the Bay Area and into California proper so as to avoid the rush-hour traffic. In the end it was very light and I got to the motel about 5.30 - it was still very hot which hopefully bodes well for the Yosemite action!