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Old 05-30-2015, 07:01 PM   #2101
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Further to our upcoming out & back trek between Genoa-Marseille, DW found this site/link regarding Ventimiglia on the Italian/French border:

0618 An Italian Tunnel City (Ita 097€”new) - Ventimiglia Travel Blog

Sounds exactly like the type of place that appeals to us.....anyone been?
I recall the name Ventimiglia (French Vintimille) as it was the town we passed through on the night train from Monaco to Naples in 2003. Didn't know much about it, and did not see much either as it was at night. Just now, looked it up and found it to be a tourist spot too. But it brought back some fond memories.

After a short travel from Monaco, the train stopped in the Ventimiglia station or perhaps a France/Italy border rail yard, and all the lights were out. We sat there by ourselves in the dark - we were the only passengers in that car - wondering what was going on. They couldn't possibly turn the light out and went home and left us in this rail yard!

Next, we heard workers yelling to one another, as they switched the car onto another track or pushed to hitch it onto another train. Now, it made me wonder if we were on the right car to make it to our destination, but there was nobody we could ask to verify that.

Then, the lights were on, and we were on our way.
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Old 05-30-2015, 07:16 PM   #2102
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I'm going further east of Ventimiglia, to Cinque Terre.

CT is very popular but not easily accessed by cars (the road ways are above the towns, away from the coast) so you have to take trains or ferries. Lot of hiking there.

From CT, could go to Portofino, which like a lot of the Ligurian coast is full of hiking trails.

Been to Monaco a couple of times, including with a rental car, but not across the border into Italy.

Just a spectacular area, especially some of the villages overlooking the Mediterranean, such as Eze. And then when you go far inland, you can reach the "grand canyon of France," known as Verdon.
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Old 05-30-2015, 08:46 PM   #2103
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Any advice for Yosemite travelers in August? Stay on or off site? DW and I can hike, but camping is out of the question for DW.
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Old 05-30-2015, 11:23 PM   #2104
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Camping? You'd better have reservation for campground, which was booked perhaps 1 year in advance. Ditto for lodging inside the park.

And be prepared for traffic jam. See photo linked from the Web. It's better to visit out of season, either early in April/May, or late in Sep/Oct.

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Old 05-31-2015, 04:46 AM   #2105
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No, we don't do camping. DW is roughing it if we sleep in a queen bed. Neither of us is overweight but I'm 6 foot 5.


We usually make an annual trip to Napa; now that we are FIRED, we like to broaden our travels in the area. If Yosemite is too crowded, what about the CA northern coast, Redwood Nat'l Park, etc.
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Old 05-31-2015, 07:18 AM   #2106
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Camping? You'd better have reservation for campground, which was booked perhaps 1 year in advance. Ditto for lodging inside the park.

And be prepared for traffic jam. See photo linked from the Web. It's better to visit out of season, either early in April/May, or late in Sep/Oct.

Wow, this looks like Houston in rush hour in a rain storm. No wonder DW thinks camping out is a 4 star or better hotel.
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Old 05-31-2015, 07:24 AM   #2107
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I'm going further east of Ventimiglia, to Cinque Terre.
We're going to be in Genoa for ~ a week before heading for Marseille, so Ventimiglia would be on our way.

We're contemplating substituting Camogli for Cinque Terre as we understand the former is comparable and less crowded....have you been?
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Old 05-31-2015, 07:32 AM   #2108
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No, we don't do camping. DW is roughing it if we sleep in a queen bed. Neither of us is overweight but I'm 6 foot 5.

We usually make an annual trip to Napa; now that we are FIRED, we like to broaden our travels in the area. If Yosemite is too crowded, what about the CA northern coast, Redwood Nat'l Park, etc.
You really can't do Yosemite in the summer on a whim, as NW-Bound has indicated. It requires strategic planning at least six months to a year in advance due to the summer crowds.

A better plan might be to stay in the north-of-San Francisco area and focus on places like Point Reyes National Seashore, the Russian River wine region and, as you've suggested, Redwood State and National Parks.

Point Reyes is sublime in and of itself, offering a very picturesque light house, miles of easy hiking, and an elk sanctuary. And as a bonus, there are all kinds of cheese farms and shops along the way where you can indulge and pair with your Napa area wines.

The Northern coastline is abound with picturesque little towns, and the wine regions slightly inland are wonderful, particularly Healdsburg, a personal favorite.

Redwood State and National Parks goes on for miles and miles, through lots of little towns, so finding a place to stay in the summer on short notice should be a breeze.
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Old 05-31-2015, 08:42 AM   #2109
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You really can't do Yosemite in the summer on a whim, as NW-Bound has indicated. It requires strategic planning at least six months to a year in advance due to the summer crowds.

A better plan might be to stay in the north-of-San Francisco area and focus on places like Point Reyes National Seashore, the Russian River wine region and, as you've suggested, Redwood State and National Parks.

Point Reyes is sublime in and of itself, offering a very picturesque light house, miles of easy hiking, and an elk sanctuary. And as a bonus, there are all kinds of cheese farms and shops along the way where you can indulge and pair with your Napa area wines.

The Northern coastline is abound with picturesque little towns, and the wine regions slightly inland are wonderful, particularly Healdsburg, a personal favorite.

Redwood State and National Parks goes on for miles and miles, through lots of little towns, so finding a place to stay in the summer on short notice should be a breeze.
+1
Also the waterfalls in Yosemite are snow melt supplied so by August they would be dry...visit earlier in the season (and hope the drought is over!)

We made reservations at Yosemite Falls Lodge about a year in advance- then my niece scheduled her wedding with a possible conflict (even though I had specifically asked my brother what dates we would be safe booking &#128534. Anyway one week after booking - no vacancies left for changing the date! Luckily the wedding did end up on a date that we were able to keep our original reservation. And it was spectacular! Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen. The Lookout from Washburn point is not to be missed.

We also did Kings Canyon and Sequoia- The Sequoias are amazing and more impressive then the ones in Yosemite. Still, if doing both, in one trip, do KC/S first then Yosemite.


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Old 05-31-2015, 10:21 AM   #2110
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Any advice for Yosemite travelers in August? Stay on or off site? DW and I can hike, but camping is out of the question for DW.
We've enjoyed staying in Mammath Lakes on the eastern end of the park. One drives through the High Sierras and over Tioga Pass at 10000 ft. Beautiful drive with several hiking trails along the way and Toulomne Meadows too. Then you descend to about 7000 ft. Mammouth Lakes is around 45 min drive (as I recall) from Tioga Pass. There are good lodgings and decent restuarants there.

For further hiking, there are lots of hikes in the Mammoth Lakes area itself. Stop off at the rangers station before entering town. Then one can drive back up into the Tioga Pass area to get in some high sierra Yosemite hiking. Not nearly as crowded as the Yosemite Valley.
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:31 AM   #2111
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They couldn't possibly turn the light out and went home and left us in this rail yard!.
1963.....two of us grabbed a (4th class?) train heading from Karachi, Pakistan to the Indian border.......never did figure out what happened, (perhaps everyone else got off when were dozing), but we ended up stuck on a siding for 24 hours, no food and very little water......one of life's experiences.
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Old 05-31-2015, 11:44 AM   #2112
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Any advice for Yosemite travelers in August? Stay on or off site? DW and I can hike, but camping is out of the question for DW.
Kind of OT, but some nice destinations other than Yosemite that have non-camping options:

The Mount Shasta area is very nice (assuming there are no wildfires in the area). Lots of places to stay up there. If you're really not at all into roughing it, the Mount Shasta Resort has nice lakeside cabins (er, "chalets").

Lassen Nat'l Park has the Manzanita Lake camping cabins and Drakesbad Guest Ranch, a bit rustic but you have a roof and a sort-of real bed.

Closer to the Bay Area, Big Basin state park has tent cabins. Might be more roughing it than you'd like, but a beautiful park imho.
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Old 05-31-2015, 04:07 PM   #2113
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We've enjoyed staying in Mammath Lakes on the eastern end of the park. One drives through the High Sierras and over Tioga Pass at 10000 ft. Beautiful drive with several hiking trails along the way and Toulomne Meadows too. Then you descend to about 7000 ft. Mammouth Lakes is around 45 min drive (as I recall) from Tioga Pass. There are good lodgings and decent restuarants there.

For further hiking, there are lots of hikes in the Mammoth Lakes area itself. Stop off at the rangers station before entering town. Then one can drive back up into the Tioga Pass area to get in some high sierra Yosemite hiking. Not nearly as crowded as the Yosemite Valley.
Great idea, but be careful! I know we're in a drought now so there are no issues, but in some years, this pass can stay closed past June 15.

We visited in 2011 in early June. The road was closed, and it was still snowing occasionally in early June. In 1998, the pass was closed until July 1.

That said, the slight off-peak visit was a great time. The waterfalls were rocking beyond belief. Some regulars said the volume was a once in a decade event. So you get your plusses and minusses and have to take what mother nature gives you. (Half dome was also closed and had snow on it.)

Here's a nice site giving road closing/opening history.
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Old 05-31-2015, 05:29 PM   #2114
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Regarding Yosemite in the high country, we always go in late August for the day hiking. This year one could probably go earlier.

Mosquitos are annoying near the lakes right after snow melts, hence our later timing. Then there are the occasional fires which could make it smogy ... no fun. A few years ago we came up during the Ridge fire. Could see the clouds but they stayed away from the eastern end so that worked out lucky for us.
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Old 05-31-2015, 05:56 PM   #2115
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We're going to be in Genoa for ~ a week before heading for Marseille, so Ventimiglia would be on our way.

We're contemplating substituting Camogli for Cinque Terre as we understand the former is comparable and less crowded....have you been?
I've been once, as a day trip from Deiva Marina, which is two stops away from Cinque Terre.

I believe the main thing with Camogli is really as a train station where people go to in order to visit the Portofino promontory, which is a national park.

From Camogli, you can hike up to some small towns (or maybe more accurately, hamlets) where you can look down on the coast.

There are boat services which go around the promontory, to the furthest point called San Fruttuoso, which can only be reached by boat or by hiking over the mountain. There's an old church or abbey there.

On the southeastern side of the promontory is Portofino, formerly a fishing village turned into a jetset port. Small compared to Monaco but it attracts the same crowd with big yachts.

Then the next train station, which is also an entry point for Portofino promontory, is Santa Margherita Ligure, again with a port and high end restaurants.

Camogli seems more working-class, certainly not as glamorous as Portofino or Santa Margherita Ligure.
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Old 05-31-2015, 06:00 PM   #2116
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Thanks for the input explanade....much appreciated!
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Old 05-31-2015, 06:51 PM   #2117
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Any advice for Yosemite travelers in August? Stay on or off site? DW and I can hike, but camping is out of the question for DW.
Re: Yosemite hiking: you might try staying in June Lake area. There are cabins, and you could drive into the park for day hikes. Or hell, just stay at June Lake and rent a kayak or do day hikes there. But I agree with the others who say that high season at Yosemite might need to be avoided. If you want to come up to the north coast of Cali, there are myriads of experiences to be had! Mount Shasta area in extreme northern Cali is awesome! Stay at Stewart Mineral Springs nearby in a cabin. Tons of day hiking to do in that area. And then you can have a hot soak after. What I would urge you to do is try to have a genuine experience outside the main Calif advertised areas. Personal message me if you want and I can give you some other ideas. Best of luck!!
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Old 05-31-2015, 08:16 PM   #2118
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We've enjoyed staying in Mammath Lakes on the eastern end of the park. One drives through the High Sierras and over Tioga Pass at 10000 ft. Beautiful drive with several hiking trails along the way and Toulomne Meadows too. Then you descend to about 7000 ft. Mammouth Lakes is around 45 min drive (as I recall) from Tioga Pass. There are good lodgings and decent restuarants there.

For further hiking, there are lots of hikes in the Mammoth Lakes area itself. Stop off at the rangers station before entering town. Then one can drive back up into the Tioga Pass area to get in some high sierra Yosemite hiking. Not nearly as crowded as the Yosemite Valley.
I have not visited Mammoth Lakes, but agree that the eastern side of Yosemite is less crowded and more easily accessible via US Hwy 395. Tioga pass should be opened by August. One can stay in Lee Vining and make day trips into the park, but I wonder if the few motels there would get booked up too.
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Old 05-31-2015, 09:57 PM   #2119
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I have not visited Mammoth Lakes, but agree that the eastern side of Yosemite is less crowded and more easily accessible via US Hwy 395. Tioga pass should be opened by August. One can stay in Lee Vining and make day trips into the park, but I wonder if the few motels there would get booked up too.
Lee Vining is very small but might work out. The food is better in Mammoth Lakes. I think Mammoth Lakes tends to cater to the LA ski people but in the summer it's off season.
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:45 PM   #2120
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I have driven through Tioga Pass twice in the years, traveling in each direction once, and both times it was snowing in late June or early July. I also stayed in Lee Vining once, and it was more than 25 years ago. Recently drove past the area and Mono Lake on my way up to Oregon, and there were some new lodgings in Lee Vining, but not much.

Anyway, if one has an RV, can boondock around Mono Lake, as it is sanctioned. Or the few campgrounds up in the park not too far from Tioga Pass may still have some open first-come/first-serve slots, but these CGs may not be reachable by RVs. And it is still cold enough to freeze your buns off.
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