Monday, July 28, 2008

Visiting Yosemite and Mt. Whitney

We decided to leave the Bay Area a little earlier than planned before our trip to climb Mt. Whitney. We left Berkeley Saturday afternoon after WaMu placed a hold on our money in the bank (which we transferred from Chicago to Cali)! Stupid WaMu! With no money to withdraw to pay first month's rent and a security deposit, we couldn't move in anywhere. The hold was placed until this Wednesday, so we decided not to stick around while the money was transferring.

We drove east towards the Sierra Nevada mountains on Hwy 120 into Yosemite National Park. The mountains were hazy, and we saw a huge column of smoke billowing up one mountain side just before we entered the park. You could see the blaze of the fire from where we took the picture; it must have been 50ft high flames. The smoke covered most of Yosemite with a haze. But the park was open, so we decided to go.

Wildfire Outside Yosemite
Wildfire near Mariposa, California

We camped out in the Stanislaus National Forest right before the park entrance, since it was getting late. I was freaked out that a black bear was going to smell the food we wanted to eat for dinner (a can of chilli) so I decided not to cook. Instead we drank beer. We had a liquid dinner that night. The night was so quiet. There was not a single animal noise in the forest. I think all of the animals fled because of the fires in the area. The next morning, the bus was all covered in a light sprinkle of ash!

Camping Out in the Bus
Camping out in the Stanislaus National Forest

We got coffee, and the people at the gas station said that the fire was still burning, but the park was still open. So we entered the park Sunday morning. We drove along the valley floor, stopped at the visitor center, and went to see the Maripose Giant Sequoia Grove. It was hot, hazy, but beautiful! As the sun's angle decreased the smoke seemed to get hazier and it was getting difficult to see even the giant granite cliffs around us in the valley! By evening, we went back out of the park to our same camping spot.

Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley shrouded in fog

Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley
Granite walls in Yosemite Valley

More Sequoias
Giant sequoias

California Tunnel Tree
Romy under the California Tunnel Tree in Maripose Grove

The next morning (which is today) the smoke seemed to get a little cleared up, but the lady at the gas station (where we got coffee again) said the fire was still not contained! What a crazy fire! It left ash on the bus again too. Today we drove through the park from west to east on Hwy 120. We stopped for a stroll on the granite domes, where we saw an awesome view of the Yosemite valley from above. We also swam at Tenaya Lake (which was actually kinda warm) and had lunch there on the beach. We continued to drive east and out of the park. We picked up two rock climbers which were hitch hiking from the climbing spot to their campground. They were nice, and invited us to join them at their campsite for free, but we had to move on.

Tenaya Lake
Tenaya Lake

Jenn & Bus
Jenn, the Bus, and smoke in the Yosemite Valley

Fire in the Sky
The sun shines through smokey skies

As we exited the park, into the Inyo National Forest,we drove out of the 10,000ft Sierra Nevadas and into the valley between the Sierra Nevadas and the White mountain range, north of Death Valley. What a beautiful valley! The Sierra Nevadas were on the right side, and getting higher and higher and higher, eventually up to Mt. Whitney, which is 14,494ft high! Thats the highest peak in the 48 states!

We are currently in Bishop, California getting internet at a gas station for free! We're gonna go eat dinner soon, and tomorrow we're meeting up with Courtney. She's joining us on our climb/hike up Mt. Whitney. We had to apply for a permit back in April, because they only let 100 people on the mountain per day. The permits "sell out" quickly, and we were lucky to get one!

I will put more pictures up on our Flickr site when I have a better signal:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Our Day Around Campus

Us on Campus

Today we finally had time to just take a walk around lunch time. It was nice out today again, in the high 60s and sunny. It was a bit hazy though because the smoke seems to be lurking around from all of the wild fires. Otherwise it would have been a completely cloud-free and clear day.

We went up the Campanile (Sather Tower) which is 20 stories tall, over 300ft. It was built in the early 1900s. There are bells on the top which chime at every hour.
Bells in the Campanile

The Campanile

From the top of the tower, you can see all of the Berkeley campus, and all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. You could even see the trees where the hippies are living in order to prevent the university from cutting them down!

Stadium Tree Hippies

Next we went to get lunch and found some really good pizza. After sharing a whole 12" pizza, we were so full and lazy that we just couldn't walk anymore! So we found a place to stop. There is a big redwood forest on the west side of campus! It felt like you were really in the middle of a forest. It got cooler, and smelled like nature!

Romy and a Redwood

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Update on the Apartment Search

UC Berkeley
I took the picture above today in the afternoon. It is of the Sather Tower on the UCB campus. You can go up into the tower and from the top, you have a nice view of the Bay, including the Golden Gate Bridge. I think if the weather is nice tomorrow, we will go up. It's free for UCB students, and $2.00 for the public.

Today we saw two apartments. The first one was on Prince & California in Berkeley. It sucked. Well, the apartment inside was nice, but the area was bad, it had bars over the windows, no laundry facility to use, and it was kinda grungy. The manager kept trying to justify the apartment, after we asked about the bars and if anybody ever broke in before. She said it was in a bad neighborhood, which she admitted right away, and said "thats why rent is so cheap." We're talking $1100/month. That's "cheap" for Berkeley.

But there was a turning point when we saw the second apartment. It was in Oakland, in the hills, near a park. It was also for $1100/month, but it was way better! One car private and deep garage, your own backyard (private), a washer/dryer hook-up, okay-sized kitchen, and cozy. It was in a duplex which is side-by-side, and apparently the only neighbor was an employee of United Airlines and is out of the country months at a time! This was the landlord's only property, and he was really cool. It is exactly 7.4 miles south of the North UC Berkeley Gate. The landlord liked us, and we liked him. So most likely we will take it. Tomorrow we'll talk business with him. He told us he had a lot of people calling him, and a few came to see the apartment, but he didn't have a good feeling with the other people. Hopefully things will work out with this apartment. That means that we might have an address as soon as Friday this week!

My view of Cali drivers

I have just a quick opinion to throw out there about California drivers...they're tarded. It's like they all learned to drive at gun point. The don't signal, they don't look when merging, they make sudden lane changes and turns, they accelerate like it's a drag race every damn time (then get all pissed when the bright orange bus from Illinois in front of them doesn't), and they just generally suck at driving. No wonder California leads the nation in all sorts of car related controls, the people here are just douches. If I had a gun, there'd be a lot of dead and/or injured Cali hippy-fags.

That's all, there's my rant.

Still Looking at Apartments. . .

Yesterday, we saw a total of three apartments, all in Oakland. The first two were in the same building, in the Oakland Hills area. They were okay. The area was really nice, in the hills and in a million-dollar house residential area. Very safe and quiet, but the apartments were so-so. They were really old, and the appliances were from the 60s or something. I don't know if it was on purpose like that (some had real vintage/retro style), or if the landlord/apartment company was so cheap that they never updated it. Both were a little over-priced for what they were. Possibly they were so expensive because of the nice neighborhood they were in.
The third apartment we saw was also in the Oakland Hills, but in a slightly not as nice neighborhood, but it was still safe and clean. The apartment was huge, updated, and clean. It also had a personal 1 car garage included in the rent, along with a backyard patio with fruit trees. We liked this one the best so far, so we turned in our application for rent. The landlord was really nice, too. He said that if our application goes through, we could move in on Monday, and possible earlier depending on how quick he can finish cleaning it up for us.
Today, we will go see another apartment in Berkeley, but we don't have any high hopes for this one because its not in a great area and the garage is too small. I don't think the Bus will fit inside. We may also see a few more in Oakland today if it works out.
We found a great rest-area off of I-80 in the North Bay area where we sleep in the Bus, and then we go to the UCB gym locker rooms to shower and stuff. The campus is so beautiful, and today especially because it is sunny and warm. The past few days have been foggy, cloudy, windy and cold (in the 60s).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Looking for Apartments

Today we will be seeing our first apartment at 4:00pm in the Oakland Hills/Piedmont area. We have four apartments in mind, but who knows if we will see them all. We have high hopes for the one we will see today. It is on Canon Ave in Oakland. It is about 5 miles away from campus.

Monday, July 21, 2008

We Made it to Berkeley!!

After a long long drive, we finally made to to Berkeley. The drive was really nice, at least the second half. We drove through Iowa, then exciting Nebraska, and then into Colorado. We passed over the Rockies on the second day, and drove into Utah. Utah near Moab was the first place we stopped and ventured off the highway. We got off of I-70 and drove along the Colorado River into Moab, where we had lunch on Friday. Then we barely made it out of Utah that day. We camped out in Fishlake National Forest, near the Nevada border. On Saturday, we headed into the long and lonely Nevada desert on Hwy 50. We expected Nevada to be really dry and dead, but it was surprisingly green and mountainous. Towards the end of the day, we made it to Reno, and then got back onto I-80 over the Sierra Navada's and into California. We camped out in Auburn, where we had our first shower since leaving Chicago!!!

Now we are in Berkeley, on campus. We got our UC Berkeley ID cards today, and hopefully we'll start looking at apartments soon!

Here are some pictures from the journey:

Packed Up Pick Up
The pick up truck is all packed up with our boxes and ready to go!

Goodbye Berwyn!
Saying goodbye to family. Left to right: Bill, Mom, Nicole, Jenn, Romy.

Filling Up in Colorado Rockies
Filling up at the gas station in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado.

Two Gold Prospectors
Two gold prospectors.

Camping Out
Setting up camp in Utah, in the Fishlake National Forest.

Bus in Tow
The bus in tow. Driving through the Nevada desert along Hwy 50.

Dust Devil
A dust devil swirling on Nevada salt flats.

Public Storage
Our HUGE Public Storage space. We moved in for only $1. We have room to store the Daewoo or the Bus inside along with all of our stuff.

The Golden Gate and San Fran
A foggy day over San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge!

More pictures are posted on our Flickr site: