I’m back from my adventures down the coast!
There were some snags along the way – Other Sarah told us she couldn’t go three days before we left, we had some rainy weather, lots of wind, and some problems with reservations, but it was fun all the same!
This post is pretty long since I wanted to include all the awesome things we got the chance to do.
Hibby and I started in Olympia, WA and drove eight hours to our first campground in the northern part of the redwoods. California was hit with a rainstorm that turned half the state into a muddy mess. The first time California has a rainstorm in years and it’s when we’re camping in it. The tent sites were soggy so we got moved to a cabin spot but still stayed in our tent.
We set out from our campground in the rain and hit Damnation Creek Trail. It was sprinkling when we started and by the time we hit a downed tree on the trail and had to turn around it was dumping rain. The trail started sliding out and by the time we got back to the car we looked like we had jumped in a lake. We kept driving to our next campsite and stopped at one of the drive-thru trees and the Avenue of the Giants along the way. We found our campground, north of San Francisco, parked, and hiked to our campsite.
We headed into San Francisco, drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, and parked in a little alley off of Lombard street. The plan was to walk a pretty big loop through the city. Lombard to Boudin’s Sourdough, to Fisherman’s Wharf, to Chinatown. While walking we also got some awesome views of Coit Tower, Alcatraz Island, and the Transamerica Pyramid. We drove to Monterey and found a great little hotel to stay in for a pretty good price. Our campground had called to cancel because the bad weather had knocked down some power lines over the camp. After checked-in we decided to go explore since we didn’t have to set up camp or the grill. We hit Cannery Row, which was still mostly open but nice and empty since it was a Sunday evening.
We got a good start after the hotel breakfast and hit one of the nice beaches in the area. We spent about two hours walking along it, looking in the tide pools, and climbing the rocks. We drove from there down Big Sur but had to turn around after about 20 miles because all the landslides had closed most of the road. Mcway Falls was a no-go because the road was closed, but we did stop at Gaviota State Park to hike to the wind caves. The hike had an impressive number of insects thanks to the recent rain, but the view was worth it and the caves were amazing. We drove to Carpenteria and made it to our campsite on the beach right at sunset. After setting up camp we went for a walk along the beach in the dark once the tide started going out. There were some awesome shells left on the beach and we had an amazing view of the stars without any lights around us.
We woke up early because it was pouring rain. We didn’t want to pack up in that weather since everything would stay damp, so went for another walk on the beach and ran back to camp to pack up once the rain stopped. Our stop for the next two days was LA. We parked at the La Brea Museum and went to see the tar pits and museum. the installation pieces outside the LA County Museum of Art were a great stop as well. We walked around for a bit looking at the little boutiques in the area. We wandered to Beverly Hills and stopped at the Goodwill there to see if we could find anything good (we didn’t). Blaze Pizza was a great lunch stop. They make awesome baked-to-order pizzas. We stopped at the Walt Disney Concert Hall for a self-guided tour but were too late for that day. We also tried to hit the observation deck at City hall but got there just after five and couldn’t go up. Then we stopped by The Last Bookstore and spent hours there. The bookstore is great, and if you’re ever in the area it’s a great place to waste some time. We had to walk through a neighborhood on our way there that we christened Little Portland, though I’m sure it has its own name. Our KOA campground that night had a hot tub we spent a few hours in.
We went back to the Walt Disney Concert Hall for a self-guided tour that was actually really interesting, and the hall itself is gorgeous. City Hall had a sign on the door saying the observation deck was closed for the day. We hit Santa Monica beach and pier and trekked to Venice Beach. The boardwalk seemed to be about half closed because of a windstorm that hit and was blowing things away, as well as through windows. Our hotel that night was south of the city. When we tried to check-in they wouldn’t let us because the reservation wasn’t under our names. We tried to get them to call the number on the reservation or make an exception, and not only didn’t that work but the woman behind the desk was so rude we chose to go to another motel rather than stay there for the night. There’s a petty little review online now.
The first stop of the day was a sculpture garden in Costa Mesa, then an Anti-Mall shopping center, and a macaron bakery. We accidently went to the closed bakery trailer rather than the actual store, so that tacked some more time onto our trip. We ended up at the Spectrum Center in Irvine for Honey and Butter creature macarons and wandered around the beautiful shopping center for a bit. It was all outdoors, had fair rides, and a stationary store that I’d only ever seen in Australia before. La Jolla Children’s Pool was our final stop. The beach was closed for pupping season, but we could still walk along the sidewalk and climbed some of the cliffs nearby to sit over the water. We walked around the town a bit to enjoy the sunshine since our last day was the only sunny day. We headed for Balboa Park, but by the time we got there we saw how late it was and drove inland to spend the night with my Aunt and Uncle.
We made a decision we’ve vowed to never repeat, to drive from Ranchita to Olympia ( a 20-hour drive) in one day. We only stopped for gas and bathroom breaks.
Tip: We kept everything in our trunk so that we would feel safer leaving the car parked in the street in the cities. The only thing we left in plain view in the car was a milk crate that had things like snacks, bug spray, and wipes in it. Then it just looked like a soccer mom car.