I had the opportunity to attend a conference in San Francisco, and Marcy and I decided to add a couple days to the trip and “pop over” to Fresno so we could visit Yosemite, King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Google Maps declared that it was about a 3 1/2 hour drive from the San Francisco Airport to Fresno. But March 31st was a beautiful Spring Friday afternoon and it seemed like the entire population of the Bay Area decided to head east with us. We crept along at about 20 miles an hour for most of the way and turned this into a 5 1/2 hour trip instead. With 7 hours of flying already under my belt, I spent most of this part of trip muttering about how this misery was so not worth the effort. It turned out to be so worth it though, with all the winter rain, the National Parks were spectacular.
On an administrative note, we tried using the printed directions from Google Maps on the way to Fresno but it was difficult. The route from SFO across the Bay then down California Hwy 99 was confusing because we had to change numbered routes so often. Our printed directions failed us completely about 20 miles from Fresno and we just turned on Siri on my iPhone and that worked perfectly. On the way back we used our iPhone the whole way and that was great. The route included traveling across the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge – no problems going out, but on the way back you have to pay a $5.00 cash toll. Fine, except our cash was somewhere in the trunk! With narrow lanes and traffic, we couldn’t get out at the toll booth and get it. The toll operator noticed that we had a rental car which, at least with SFO-based rentals, includes a toll transponder, so he told us to drive on. The transponder worked, and in addition to the small $5.00 toll, it added an $18.00 “admin” fee. Lesson learned. Oh, and Exit 24 on Hwy 92 is the last exit before the bridge and a very convenient place to top off a rental car gas tank before the airport.