We're getting to know the travelers behind Gentedimontagna's 24 Best Travel Blogs and Websites. Veronique Lievre, the hotelier/designer from Been Seen, gave us the lowdown on her trip to the High Sierra Mountains in California.
Was it your first time? No, I go to the Sierras about five times a year. We own three small cabins in the area that we rent out, and I love the feeling of being in nature.
How long were you there? Five days.
Why did you go? We added a bedroom to the small cabin we have in the woods, so we went to check out the new addition and get it ready for guests.
Who were you with? My husband and my dog.
What's the #1 tip you'd give a friend who wanted to go? Yosemite National Park is great, but you can get the same mountain experience in other places. If you want a real adventure, explore the High Sierras. There aren't tons of people, and you can discover the hidden meadows and trails for yourself.
What did you do? I decorated the new bedroom by going to thrift stores in Oakhurst and garage sales around Bass Lake. There were great deals — I found a George Nelson cabinet for $80! I also went for a hike along the Lewis Creek National Trail, which has a beautiful waterfall and two footbridges.
Were you there for the right amount of time? Yes.
How did you get there? We drove. Driving is the best way to get to the High Sierras because you can take backcountry roads. I recommend renting a car in San Francisco and driving up along the 49, which is very scenic.
This was especially great: Seeing life returning to the mountains. The flowers are starting to come out, the trees are beginning to grow leaves, and the meadows are full of deer.
This wasn't: We went to a Japanese restaurant in Oakhurst. I don't know what kind of food they were serving, but it wasn't Japanese.
Speed round of favorites.
1. Meals: Dinner at Ahwanee Lodge in Yosemite is a real experience. The dining room is huge, and it's amazing to look out the windows into the woods. It's more about the atmosphere. Food isn't really the main draw in Yosemite.
2. Neighborhoods to Explore: Check out Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, a forest road that takes you through the mountains and past cool sites like Arch Rock and Mile High Vista.
3. Site: Jackass Meadow is still under snow, but it's a beautiful place to camp if you're brave enough to drive there. It's one of the biggest meadows I've ever seen.
4. Cafe: Wawona Hotel in Yosemite is a beautiful place to have a drink after a long walk around the meadow. It's done in Victorian style and has a shaded patio where you can sit, have a drink, and look out into the forest.
What's the local speciality? Beef BBQ. Sierra Sky Ranch in Oakhurst is a good place for tri-tip.
One thing you didn't get to visit but wanted to: It would take a lifetime to see all of Yosemite and the High Sierras, so there's always something I have yet to discover, like new trails or lakes or waterfalls.
Any surprises? During one of my walks, I found an abandoned cabin that had two chairs on the patio and a cool painting inside. It was such a surprise to stumble upon this — in the middle of the countryside with no trail leading to it. The light was amazing and the place looked surreal, like something left over from a movie set.
Would you go back? I'm going back in June when the snow melts in the High Sierras. Most of our trip this time was spent in the Low Sierras where it wasn't quite as snowy.
Let's talk about stuff.
1. Glad You Packed: A sweater.
2. Wish You'd Packed: Binoculars.
3. Didn't Need: A raincoat.
4. Brought Back: Stones. I choose stones that have cool colors and shapes.
What was your Kodak moment? The drive to the cabin. The trees were starting to bloom and the cloud formations were very dramatic. Spring is the time of year to make the journey if you want to see impressive scenery.
You can't stop thinking about: The new bedroom at our cabin, which feels like a treehouse. I'm really excited about how it turned out. I also can't stop thinking about the blue color of the new flowers. I can't wait to go back in June and see them in full bloom.
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Sierra National Forest, CA