This is a customer review from the Sumner party who went on a Western USA fly drive at the beginning of June 2016.
Dear David and Kerry,
Mick & I have been back home 3 weeks now – we would have been in touch sooner following our trip but were waiting to share photos from our Half Dome hike. We first walked with John DeGrazio in 2011 having taken advantage of CNA’s 2 for 1 offer and we had a fantastic day, hiking to the top of Nevada Fall and back. We always promised ourselves a return trip to Yosemite and made it an ambition to take the cables to the top of Half Dome – the holiday this year was really all about that achieving that aim. As you will see from the attached photos we made it – it was without doubt the hardest thing either of us have ever done but it was also the best day hike we have ever had anywhere and the sense of achievement was and still is amazing. John is a great guide and so knowledgeable and on both trips we saw things – birds, plants, wildlife, we would have missed had we walked on our own. More importantly on the Half Dome trip his calm authority not only got me to the top and back, it also got a number of other people on the cables up and down – that rock face is very intimidating and I know there were a number of people who were grateful for his guidance.
The Ahwahnee, or to give it its rebranded name, the Majestic Yosemite Hotel was worth every penny – we loved everything about it and the location is just stunning. Yes, it is pricey but we would recommend it, especially to anyone who is planning a long day walking as it saves the 40 minute drive into the park. It was a shame there was some building work going on as that limited the dining options but I think the work was almost complete and it certainly didn’t inconvenience us or spoil the experience. The food in the hotel dining room was better than we expected, breakfast was particularly good and the service was excellent.
It is probably fair to say the rest of the holiday was a bit overshadowed by the Yosemite experience – however putting Yosemite to one side we did have a fantastic time everywhere else. The weather in San Francisco was great which was a bonus and we enjoyed the first 2 days of our holiday walking round the city taking in the sights. We also had a bit (well quite a lot actually) of retail therapy – the shopping in Union Square is great and we loved the Fairmont – its location is excellent.
After Yosemite it was on to Death Valley – the spring fed pool at Furness Creek was very welcome as we still had weary legs from the walk and the 2 nights there certainly helped ease those muscles.
Charlotte suggested the Vdara for Las Vegas and it made all the difference – I enjoyed Vegas for the first time, having been twice before and I think staying in a hotel that doesn’t have a casino to walk through on the way back to your room makes a huge difference. I’d almost consider a trip to Las Vegas in its own right based on that stay…..and then on to New York, somewhere we hadn’t visited before. We decided in advance we would treat the 4 nights as a bit of a recce – and that’s what we did. We visited the 911 memorial which is so well done and very moving, we had oysters in Grand Central Station, we went up the Rockefeller building which scared the life out of me which was ridiculous as I was nowhere near as high as when I was standing on the top of Half Dome, we strolled in Central Park and we took the subway to Brooklyn and walked back over the bridge. In fact we walked miles during those 4 days. The Distrikt Hotel is well located and the staff were very welcoming and helpful.
On balance and Yosemite aside this trip was up there with the Washington State trip and Route 66 and Mick & I would like to thank everyone at CNA for putting together another memorable trip – as always, everything went like clockwork. The transfers to and from San Francisco were very much appreciated as was the upgraded room at the Vdara – it sounds odd to say but the view of the Bellagio Fountains was as good if not better than from the lake view room we stayed in at the Bellagio in 2011.
We are off to Greece in early September for a couple of weeks doing not very much and no doubt the conversation will turn to ‘where next’, we shall see !!
I am not sure whether Charlotte is back from maternity leave yet but if she is please will you share this email with her and send our best wishes.
All the best,
Angela & Mick Foulston