By Felson Palad
It has been almost four years that I had been in the US as an Entertainer. I live in California. I don't get to see my surroundings during gigs and savor the sceneries around me. I focus on the road to go to my gigs and events, always on the go. However, Pandemic came from 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, event place and occasions were all postponed and or canceled permanently. February 2021, I decided to backpack with some of my four adventurous friends and explored California's beauty in 3 days. Mind you, this is wintertime in the US. Warm and heavy garments will help. Hiking shoes with spikes are advisable for grip both for soil and snow.
I live in Orange County, which is the south part of California, past LA. It's an additional 1 hr of travel from the usual 8 hr drive from LA to Golden Gate San Francisco. Our itinerary: first stop was Big Sur, then San Francisco, and finally to Lake Tahoe at the Heavenly City. It's worth the time and money to spend with trusted friends. We were thrifting. We paid for Gas, food, and accommodation, plus the Gondola in Lake Tahoe that highlights our trip. We spent more or less $1250 US Dollars for five back backers is very affordable and reasonable. I own the car, so we didn't rent. If you plan to do the same, it's better to be with a local with a car willing to have an adventure with you. If you are around and want me to be with you, maybe I can offer this service.
We left Saturday at 6 am. We prayed and asked for traveling mercy before leaving. Remember! to have someone in the passenger seat talking to you. The roads for a long drive are a little hypnotizing thus will make you want to sleep. I didn't. Kudos to my friend Che who is surprisingly comedic. We have arrived at our destination by 3 pm. After the fun 9-hour drive with two full Gas stops with half of my passengers asleep, we finally arrived at our first destination Big Sur and Pfieffer Beach.
I thought to myself, my country Philippines is a paradise, but the US's treasures are equally extravagant. No contest here, but I realize it's the same hands that formed these beauties. God is an artistic creator
Big Sur, The beauty of the big waves from the Pacific crashing to the big rocks are splendid to see. How the ends of the green mountain are connected as you pass the coastline is mind-blowing. The collaboration of God's engineering and man's bridges are spectacular to see. It's a therapy for me to see how small myself compared to the nature around me. You get to realize that your problems and challenges in life are nothing with the wonders around you. I love to travel.
From Big Sur to Pfieffer Beach is another 40-mile drive. My friends and I all agreed to be pro-active in taking photos. We planned the picture taking of surroundings and instagramable shots (the term) with our phones, then by the end of the trip, we all airdrop to each other (iPhone users only). We ended having more than 1000 pictures and tons of videos to remember.
In many of my corporate shows, I usually sing the National Anthem or America the Beautiful; the composers beautifully wrote both songs and best describe America. Whenever I sing, I try to internalize the lyrics to picture the songs I am singing. In the song America the Beautiful, there is a line "for purple mountains majesties." It's one of those songs that didn't make sense. "purple mountains?". I am an islander from the Philippines, which is not normal for me. Maybe a green mountain I would understand but purple?, but yes the hills and mountains of America goes purple come after the Sunset
Don't you feel hungry, guys?! For the last 12 hours, we have been munching chips and gummy worms; how about real food? We tried this restaurant downtown near Carmel monastery. I intend not to mention the place, I don't mean to harm them, but it's not delicious and expensive. Usually, when you are hungry, you are extra appreciative. We had a chowder for the starter, then a little salad. My friends ordered their house special for burgers and chips. I had salmon with cream sauce for $35. Not worth the taste. But see, these are part of your adventures. I believe there is more delicious food around that area.
It's almost night, and we have arrived in San Francisco. We booked ahead of our hotel, so we got a significant discount. Since it's still Pandemic, the streets are a little empty. I know San Francisco is a bustling city, but it's only 9 pm on a Saturday, and I barely see people outside. I parked on the street on a yellow lane. Our hotel said it's free to park on the road come Sunday, but it is safer to ask. The time you read this and make this reference, the local law may have changed. No harm in asking than to have a ticket or towed car. As it says on one of San Francisco streets, "Illegal parking will be toad" LOL.
I love history. I think history makes what we are now, but it doesn't define our future but our current choices. I say this because I guess many of the people from San Francisco's past made many big choices and good ones. It's a beautiful city. The Architecture of the houses that they have preserved. The interesting Lombard St. that many take pictures and experience. The Alcatraz. The famous Golden Gate is astounding to look at. The genius behind the bridge and how it had been a help and connect lives for decades. People may not remember the architects, engineers, and workers names, but it continually adds value to many people's lives until this present time and future. There are many more significant and long bridges in San Francisco to see.
From San Francisco to Heavenly City, Lake Tahoe is approximately 120 miles drive. You may need a gallon of coffee again (exaggerating) and sour candies. We brought a lot of caffeine and sugar during the trip. We also have the theme song of the journey, "Hopelessly Devoted To You," only the chorus. It's so fun with friends that you can just be yourself and tell what you observe without judgment. We asked questions with each other, and with the technology on hand, we get to be inquisitive in researching and learning more with Mr. Google and many more travelers.
We finally arrived in Heavenly City in Lake Tahoe. It's already dinner when we came to the place. Again, we have booked ahead of time for a place to save money. We expected a welcome person, but there was no one in the Inn's office. Ruby, one of my friends, reread the booking paper, and it says there that "the key to the room is left in one of the mailboxes." I am saying this so you won't freak out should you come to this place and find no one. Read your reservation paper.
The next day came, and it is our time to see the snowy Lake Tahoe. We are so excited to ride Gondola and see the top of the mountain. We first booked $175 worth of rides per person. We didn't know that that price includes skiing. We were not prepared to ski, and it would cost us an additional $200 more per person. You would need to rent pants, helmets, shoes, skiing gear, etc. We don't have that money. We decided to change our tickets just to the introductory ride to Gondola. It's $75 each per person.
There are two stations: Station 1 is halfway to the mountain top, you can take pictures and see the whole Lake Tahoe and the white mountains. Station 2 is where the cable cars are to go to the mountain top and ski down to the base. There are restaurants and shopping centers available. It's a fun, cold, and sunny day. Going up and going down in Gondola is just one of my memorable moments. I am with ladies, and they love photos. Different angles, thousands of pictures, the same face, hahaha. Nothing wrong with that; I am just making fun of them.
We started our day as early as 8 am in Heavenly City to explore Lake Tahoe and left the place around 1:30 pm to drive back to LA. Pray before leaving or traveling. It's always a good lifestyle wherever you go. We still wanted to see the road with the Sun going back because there are more beautiful sites to visit while driving down. From Lake Tahoe to LA is a 12Hr drive. We arrived safely at our homes. Ana, Ruby, Che, and Charlie. I love traveling with you.
Work but don't forget to live. Live life to the fullest by traveling the world with less care with expectations of meeting and seeing God's handiwork through nature. Then He will fill your heart with thankfulness and His presence. We are not to travel life alone. It's always good to share these precious moments with family and friends. Remember we are "TravelersOnly" in this world. Back to singing. See you in my next blog.