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Cambria and Pinnacles National Parks, CA

Just two miles driving from downtown, I find a park along the beach with private houses across from the parking lot. Perfect! I don't see any signs indicating I can't park here for the night. I sat and ate the salad I made for dinner trying to decide which was the best spot to park. I want to be where I could blend into the night without getting any attention to my car and still be close enough to the houses, which make me feel safe.

Now I need to kill some time until nightfall. I returned downtown to walk around, but after the warm sun disappeared, the cold evening took over. Now I need to find a warm place to hang out. I am not hungry, but my only option is to enter a restaurant and order something small.

Since I prefer to avoid walking alone in the dark, I entered a restaurant closer to my parked car. I ordered a cup of Salmon bisque with a slice of garlic bread. So delicious! It is a cozy place with a great atmosphere. A nice-looking couple are sitting next to me. By the way, the tables are arranged so close to each other; my ear picked up the word Shabbat from their conversion and the sense that she is about to travel. I turned my head and asked if she is planning a trip to Israel. From my own travel experience, getting tips from a local is a great source of information.

Even though I no longer live in Israel, I can still provide valuable information.

My question opened a wonderful conversation between us. Janice and Marco are impressed with what I am doing but also worry about my plans to sleep tonight at the park. Marco gave me his business card and asked me to call if anything went wrong tonight, which was very sweet. After they left, it was time for me to get going as well. I asked my lovely server for my check. and was surprised to learn that Janice and Marco had taken care of my bill. Now that was a super kind act!

I am so glad I have Marco's number so I can thank them from the bottom of my heart for their generosity. How can I not be blown away by all the love and kindness I am experiencing on my journey? Without a doubt, I feel blessed. I use the restaurant facilities to prepare for bedtime and drive to the park's quiet corner.

I move from my front seat to my bed and open my Kindle to read before falling asleep. Thirty minutes into my sleep, a noise outside my car woke me up. A pickup truck is parked next to me, and someone is walking with a flashlight. Of course, I freak out, my heart is racing, and I don't know what to do. It is the first time I take out my taser, ready to protect myself.

After a while, the person gets in the truck, and the quiet is back, but I lose the feeling of security. I am sure it is another traveler with the same idea for tonight, but I am still uncomfortable with how close they parked next to me. Finally, I am able to fall back to sleep.

In a last-minute decision, I am changing my plan for tomorrow. Yesterday in my group chat with the boys, Adi mentioned Pinnacles National Park. Honestly, I am not even familiar with this park. Since the road is closed on Rt 1, I need to loop around, which puts me in the direction of the park. I only have time to visit the park's west side, and I must start my day early.

By 5 a.m., I am on the road. The dark early morning skies are accompanied by heavy fog, making my drive difficult. Since no one is on the road, I drive slowly. As I climb in elevations, the fog disappears. I am left with the dark skies, the silhouette of the mountains, and the trees. The moon's silver highlights my way, creating a magical feel to my drive.

As daylight comes, I stop at a gas station to organize myself and my car. Living in such a tiny space, being organized is a must. Even though I get to the park by 8:30, I have difficulty finding parking. I have time for one hike, so I take the ranger's recommendation and hike the Juniper Canyon Trail to High Peaks.

The sun is finally out, and it is a gorgeous day! By the name of the hike, I know I will be climbing up a mountain. AllTrails considers it hard, but I will say, moderate. The higher I hike, the bigger the reward. The view is absolutely stunning. The way the giant rocks are sandwiched between the endless green mountain and the clear blue skies is picture-perfect.

The smell of the blooming flowers is so strong and sweet that it almost feels like I can taste them.

I come to the sections that lead to the high peak, which looks intimidating for someone like me who is afraid of heights. This time, I don't have Betty or Sandra to hold my hand. I decided to test the waters. I am still determining if I am starting to get more comfortable with heights or if this is better than I thought.

Please don't skip this part; the challenging path is worth it! I sit for a while, enjoying the beauty in front of me, and am fascinated by the performance of the condor and turkey vulture gliding effortlessly through the air.

I am adding this National Park to my "places to see" list. After all, I only had a small taste of it. I would love to explore the east side next time.

By early evening I get to my campground in the mountains of Carmel-by-the-Sea. I am tired from last night's events and lack of sleep. A nice long shower is more than welcome, and it's rejuvenating me to take my time and cook a delicious dinner.

I am looking forward to tomorrow! I will be traveling on Rt 1 again, exploring Big Sur.

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