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2225 miles driven, 1030 photographs taken, 28 Americano Grandes drunk, 4 Starbucks City Mugs acquired (should have been five if I got my act together in San Francisco).

Picture: It’s not easy to choose one from over a thousand. But I choose this one, from the descent to Saddle Pass in the San Jacinto Wilderness. Various reasons for the choice: it was a great walk and this was the highlight, the Wilderness is the the middle of the dessert, within sight of the sea, but overall it represents the sheer physical beauty of California.

OK, so this was a road trip, a massive circle around California (with a preliminary circuit of Gettysburg), missing out San Deigo to the south and the redwoods to the north. An average of 67 miles and just under two Americano Grandes per day tells its own story. Thanks to digital photography we have one snap for every two miles. Overall multiple landscape contrasts: desert, sub-albine forests, mountains, canyons and the sea. In human terms we moved from the heroism of Gettysburg to the horrors of Las Vegas. Throughout the trip we experienced great and friendly service (one of these days Europe will catch up with the States in this respect, or perhaps not).

I can see why people fall in love with California, hell we are running a startup software company in Cognitive Edge maybe should join the rest (only slightly closer to the Yosemites ). Spending over two weeks in the more or less continuous company with my son was also a pleasure. There is something about spending time with one child, outside the context of the family which is special. This year with Huw, three years back (at the same age) with Eleanor (Niagara, New York & Saskatoon). At that age its probably the last opportunity before you become dependent on them in later life!

So if I was doing this again, what would I do differently? Well not a lot to be honest. I would have avoided Las Vegas and Big Bear Lake and instead driven through the Joshua Tree forest and up the Colorado to stay at Boulder City for the rafting trip. I would have driven around Las Vegas and not stayed there, putting some time into Red Rock Canyon and spending one night in Death Valley itself. Staying east of the Yosemites for another day, but in Mammoth Lakes not Bishop would have allowed more trails to be explored. I would have stayed in Yosemite valley itself and used the hikers’ buses to do one way hikes from the Tioga Pass road back to base. I would have also booked more in advance and avoided San Francisco. all of that is the benefit of hindsight, we did not get it too wrong, its been a great break.

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