Monday, March 4, 2013

Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip Fantasticness Guide :)

My last roadtrip blog left me in LA for a weekend hiatus. It was a weekend of tacos and too many vegan cookies and neighbors and catch-phrase and indecipherable board games and laughing-so-hard-your-stomach-hurts. It was beach crossfit, beach volleyball, the world famous “mess” plate of greasy yumminess, jacuzzis, waffles and whip cream, mimosas, unexplainably ruined clothing, and the craziness that only Sereen Bean and I with our outrageous personalities can get into;).  We met when we were only 5/6, so it’s an honor to call her one of my best friends this many years later, when we’ve grown and changed and developed into our true selves, unlike many early friendships that fizzle with time or distance or incompatible morals and views. The one sure common thread linking all of the people I hold so close to my heart? Attitude. I am universally attracted and drawn to people that have an amazing attitude, and Sereen has been put to the ultimate test. Late last year, her boyfriend of seven years died. He was only 37. She went thru some awful stuff in dealing with it; before, during and indisputably still... but I have to give credit where credit is due, I don’t think her attitude could be any better. You can’t just fall over and die too; well, you could, but what good would that do? My intention for the visit was to be whatever she needed, and as it turned out, being a distraction was just the thing! My forte :). We filled those four days with enough memories and inside jokes to laugh on for years, but of all the fun and amazingness had, the most significant and worthwhile part of the trip for me were the moments when the diversions wore off, reality and mourning crept back in, and I could just be there. The night we sat and talked for hours about life and its obstacles. About love and it’s ups and downs. About attitude and dealing with crisis and being strong because there really is no other option.  Seeing my oldest friend in simultaneous weakness and strength, and her wisdom and poise in both.

I left Monday morning feeling a deep pride for the friend that she is, and 100% sure that she’s a survivor.  That some days and even more nights will suck royally for her, but she’ll work thru them. Time is a healer, and I’m pretty sure time is nicer to those that bring light and love and positivity into the world. Sereen, you are a real rockstar of a human being :).  

Love you Sereen :) 
Unplanned coordinated outfits... no wonder we're friends ;)!

My roadtrip continues, with a roaring engine in my soul that we can never know what life will throw at you, so it only makes sense to make the absolute gosh dang most of it!! 

Los Angeles to San Francisco, one of America’s top “things-you-must-do”.  The Pacific Coast Highway, PCH. A stretch of blacktop dedicated to simply allowing all humans a chance to marvel at nature’s incredibleness. 5 days to drive only +/-450 miles... taking in scenes of such beauty should not be rushed :). There are turnouts everywhere, and I advise stopping at all of them. My trip was so successful, in fact, I think I will put it out there as a model, so when you make this trip (because it’s worth it!) you won’t miss anything fantastic!!!!! Soooo, here it is:

“A guide for a PCH Roadtrip of Fantasticness” ...beejfromm style ;) 

1. On your way out of town, stop for a quick run up the Culver City stairs. Try and do a handstand on one, then be mind boggled over the rumor that Woody Harrelson’s brother has supposedly gone up all of them in this upside-down position!  Whoa. If anyone can verify (or prove untrue) this rumor I'd greatly appreciate it.

2. Take the touristy drive thru Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive. Especially South Rodeo Drive. Considering the reputation, there are some really quaint, modest homes, worthy of seeing. Pass thru the ridiculous retail section and don’t buy a thing :). Continue along N. Rodeo Drive, and be widely impressed by the diversity of the architecture (gaudy, classic, prairie, country, victorian) in the homes and the impeccibly clean and fresh and beautiful street with it’s painting perfect trees!  Ponder whether the pronunciation of Rod-ay-o, (as opposed to cowboy rodeo) is similar to those that say Tar-jey (as opposed to Target) in order to give it a classier vibe?!? Seems pretty possible :) 

3. Have lunch at Crave (I, with another wonderful friend Bianca- whose birthday it is today!!! Happy bday Bianc-dadonc! Love you!). Note the super cute/colorful artistic menu board, the third so far here. California hippies got it going on :). Try not to get a stinking expensive parking ticket for being 2 minutes late to the meter though, dang it! 

4. Officially hit the blacktop, as laid-back as possible. Enjoy the sky and the ocean and the trees and life. Stop many times just to enjoy the view, at the Richfield Pier, then in Carpintera, a cute lil ocean town, with awesome tree lined streets. Put your feet in the sand, then drive on barefoot :).

Near Richfield Pier


5. Stop in Santa Barbara. First see their famous fig tree. give it a climb and try and take your own picture in it, unsuccessfully ;). Then park, (for freeeee!) and walk out on their historically significant wood wharf. Eat some candy, marvel at the obvious investment the city has put into their downtown beautification, at the green and the birds and sand sculptures. Drove out thru Main street of this reallllly beautiful city. 

Side note: with an earlier start here, a bike rental would be quite ideal :) 

Sweet figs!
Santa Barbara wharf
6. Drive on to Refugio state park, arriving just before dusk. Set up your tent, then sit and watched the sky change colors and the ducks be ducklike and the trees and mountains turn to silhouettes.  Drink lots of water so you have to get out and use the bathroom a few times that night, and love on the stars that exponentially duplicate and light up the night. 

7. Wake up early and head off, first thing passing thru Gaviota tunnel. Note a sign seeing that the population is 150. Wow. ha. Park at the trailhead for Gaviota Hot Springs. Make sure you have two single dollar bills to pay, so you don’t have to leave a big apology note that you only had a $20...oops. Notice two big signs warning against mountain lions, and for this, hike with a stick in one hand, camera in the other   ;0). 

8. Don your birthday suit, and sink into the clear, but murky, hot water. Be thoroughly entertained by not only the bubbles that come from the ground, but those that totally cover your body... especially interesting to note how they accumulate in a certain patch of hair ;) hehe. Plan to have a second towel because it, and you, will reek of sulfur until your next washing! 

Here comes the sun, do do do do

9. Stop for lunch in Lompoc, stop for a .50 cent thrift store shirt in Guadalupe, stop at Oso Flaco lake... mostly because the name is cool. Skinny bear lake :) Pass by the sign for Harmony and double take the statistic, “Population: 15”.  Can that even be considered a town? ;) Keep the windows down and sing loudly to whatever is on the radio even without know the words. I do believe song writers are born on an open road ;).

10. Arrive to Pismo beach, electing to save $80 by not renting an atv, and spend $5 instead to take your own truck out on the sand :)  It’s a nice stop, a pretty beach....a killer spot for a beach party or a leisurely day in the sand if one was so inclined to come back during the summer (waayy too chilly today). Leave the windows down so you can splash yourself as you drive thru the mini rivers!!

Pismo Beach

11. And then, Shell beach!!! Whoa, yes, this is the spot! It’s cliffffsss and huge rocks and amazing staircases down to the sand!! I suggest walking down the one at end of Wilmar Avenue, back up the one at the Sea Crest hotel and back, to get the full essence of it. Climb the huge solo beach rock while you’re down there :). After, whether you like looking at houses or not, spent some time (me 2 hours!), driving thru the residential neighborhoods, scoping the houses and the views. Most of the drive is cliff side (again a wonderful gift to the public) with ginormous parks dedicated to the magnificent vistas. There is a small section with like 8 SICK homes on the cliff side. With a location like that, plus unique and interesting architecture, hard to not be dazzled! 

note:  I’m adding ‘awesome staircases in nature’ to my list of things I want to design :)

Shell Beach!
I really liked this place :) 
12. Just as you’re leaving, notice a sign advertising Monarch Butterflies, and make an awesomely worthy u-turn to go back. It’s a free butterfly garden and exhibit!!! 2013 boasts 23,050 monarch butterflies here now for migration! Sooo neat! First you see hundreds of them, the bright orange fluttering every which way.  As you walk back thru the trail, you think there are none :(. Then you notice, a few big odd thick branches in the trees. You wander to the random telescopes set up for viewing..... and realize these odd branches are really 1000’s of butterflies, “clumping” all over each other!!!!  It’s friggin’ amazing looking!!! Super awesome random find!!!

13. Driving on then, pick up a hitchhiker (see note below for the fearful hearted).  Chitty chat to discover he, Lee, had just had a doctors appt with bad news, a fight with his dad about it, and needed to get away, even though it meant walking. Giving him the 12 mile ride brightens his day :) 

Side note: I’m sorry for those of you that don’t agree, and I do appreciate your concern, but I am standing up for hitchhiking. Becky getting on soapbox: Millions of cars driving, most of them with one person inside, going in the same direction as a person walking along the side of the road. A person walking does NOT signify murderer, rapist, druggy, or loser. It simply signifies a person without a car at that moment, many times of which I have been. I really hope hitchhiking makes a come back in my lifetime, along with fanny packs and big hair :).  I trust my intuitive sense when I stop, exercise caution, and am perfectly comfortable that I am taking a very small risk in exchange for the greater good: A world in which we share resources. You don’t have to do it, but hear me out that it’s not all bad as the news harshly portrays it.  Read this story about my own amazing hitchhiking experience last year for a alternate tale that should make the news! Miss you Ty!! 

14. Drive on, becoming accustomed now to choosing “route 3”  (if you have an iphone) on your gps, which usually takes the most scenic, slowest, roundabout way. Pass by Los Osos state park with it’s odd (but neat) waterways in otherwise big open fields, up over the golf course (which looked pretty good if you are looking for a reco), down the tidy street hills to Morro Rock, the big attraction here in Morro Bay. Its the last in a chain of 7 (well 9 really, 2 underwater) volcanic plugs coming from the east, this one showcased with it’s massive size and in-ocean location.  You can drive to it, but don’t even think about climbing it. There’s a ‘keep off’ sign about every 10 feet, deterring those of us who may like to find signless spots and act oblivious ;). It’s still certainly worth the visit: the beach, the city view, and especially the jetty with it’s giant waves crashing up and over it.

Panorama wowza
The crashing waves at Morro Rock jetty

15. Back to main street, eat at a cute cheap taco waterfront place with super nice employees and watch the sunset, listening to the seals honk. Peruse the cute shops (noting that they close way early, so plan to arrive sooner if you can).  Fall for a super cute overly priced car magnet, intending to send a happy message to all the cars that pass you for driving so slow.  Find out your truck isn’t magnetic on the back, put the magnet on your driver side door instead, and be happy every time you go in and out of your car, which is 20+ times a day :). 

Morro Rock, Morro Bay 
It works :)
16. Drive to the Morro Bay camp ground and be surprised again to see a $35 camping fee. Do a quick google search, and find that you can get a hotel for $30 (well $40 w/ tax)!!! Elect to go for the hot shower, a warm room, a comfy bed, free wifi and continental breakfast, for less than leaving no trace. Hmmm... ponder the ludicrosity of such a deal.  A low cost campground would do well here in Morro Bay if someone needs a new business idea! 

Side note: Heard the exxxxccciiitttting news that my middle sister Julie got engaged this night!!!! Wahoooo! This is soooo excitingg!!!! So happy for you and Josh sister!!! 

17. Quick drive thru of a super darling town called Cambria... cutest car wash you’ll ever see!

18. Wake up fresh and sulfur-less, driving only a short while to your first stop, to see the elephant seals. Whoa! Huge!!! and hundreds!!! many even 1000’s!!! As it turns out, around Valentines day (conveniently) is mating season... and umm... yeah... it was!!! The reality of the 30 minutes I was there:  I was watching Elephant Seal porn!! haa!! The males are savages! and the females belloooowww. The volunteer guide says they do NOT consider it conscentual! OMGosh! I feel.... dirty?? haha

Elephant Seals!!! Wow!

Caught this one mid-sand tossing! 
19. Pick up a backpacker. John, who’s heading up to Jade Cove. Pre-advise him you’ll  be stopping a lot, and give him the options to wait or join or keep going or whenever he chooses. Be happy when he choose to join! Over the next 3+ hours, drive and hike and chat about finding each own’s unique path in life, making your way to two different waterfalls. First, a steep descent to the beach at Ragged Point to see the Black Swift Falls (and find a seal skull!) then to the Salmon Creek falls. This one is awesome. We had to rock hop up the creek a while, even did a tightrope act across a jimmied bridge to get there!!! Of all the waterfalls the whole trip, this was my favorite :)  From there we got to Jade Cove, which I would never have gone to if it hadn’t been for John.  It’s very popular for rockhounds (which he is) because you are allowed to take Jade if you find it.  We ate lunch, and then I left him to find his treasures!  

Side note: Another perfectly friendly, safe, and pleasant hitchhiker story. Just sayin’ ;)

Awww California, I love you :) 
Black Swift falls.. waaay at the top, see it?!

Salmon Creek Falls! 
John mid tightrope walk! Cool! 
Side note #2: Right in this area is the famous Hearst Castle. You may be interested to take the tour... seeing it from the road was enough for me :)

20. Limekiln State Park is next. You can park up top and walk in for only $2, compared to $10 for driving in. Chat for a while with Ranger Mike. He is super friendly and talkative... he bets I’ll like this park better than the Big Sur one’s. He is righttt!!!! If you're feeling energetic, take all three trails to a pretty neat waterfall, unexpected giant lime kilns (ahh.. the name makes sense now), and get giddy about the dozens of ghetto-made creek crossings and the magnificent, majestic, amazing redwood trees!!!!   Try and get there in late afternoon, so the sun filters thru and creates some major “Natural Glitter” on the paths :) 

Perfect :) 
21. Head to the Esalon Institute.  A community of likeminded souls, who meditate, do yoga, be good people.  Unknowing arrive to find it’s by reservation only, but be nice enough to the guard that he allows you to go in and explore for a bit. Watch the sunset from this amazing cliffside property, in the giant lawn that is sprinkled with viewers, chairs, hula hoops, frisbees and balls. Umm... awesome? Yes!  Walk out thru a ginormous garden, quite possible the most well kept one you’ve ever seen.  

Side note:  This place is extremely similar to what I want for Barefoot Village.  BV will have a more artsy, funky edge to it, but this is awesomely similar prototype.  

22. Upon exiting, be informed by the guard that you could join the ‘night baths’.... a 1am-3am soak in their hot springs. Yes please!!! Park your truck and feel soooooo good about life! Take the photo below!! Get into a “focus frenzy” and write a blog (or a letter!) about love and let happiness take over your heart! At 1 am, join 8 others, escorted by flashlight to an amazing building perched way down just above the shoreline.  Note the bathtubs everywhere on the deck! Cool! Spent the next two hours in a giant tub to yourself; Naked, floating, listening to only the roar of the crashing waves, and your own heart beat amplified under the water. With an open view to the perfectly clear sky, see the biggest, longest most amazing shooting star you’ve ever seen, and know there is a magic at work in your universe!! 

First attempt, self-timer photo. Wow. An amazing day this was!!!! LOOOOVEEE!

23. For your first excursion the next morning (for me on Valentines day) go and see the incredibly famous, worthy of it’s praise, McWay waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.  It’s right off the road, a short trail that rounds the way, progressively bringing the falls into view. The water bursts from the cliffside cove onto an appropriately inaccessible beach, guarding it’s pristine view.  It IS as awesome as they say: postcard perfect ;).  

Side note: Although beautiful anytime, this landscape would probably be better viewed  in the afternoon light, with the sun shining on it from the west. My photos don't do it justice.

24. Take your slow poke time over the next few miles, an amazing stretch of road, of coast, of mountains and trees. Stop at a neat gallery, a library (that I skipped and then heard it's totally cool-grr), and then for sure at Nepenthe. Wow. This is a restaurant perched over possibly the best view yet.  It’s spendy, but certainly worth the extra bucks to and sit and eat, looking out at this absolutely incredible piece of America. The restaurant doesn’t open until 11:30am, but their gift shop is pretty amazing and easy to kill time in anticipation, not to mention a stroll around the grounds. Overall 5 stars.

How cool are these birdhouses at the Big Sur Coast Gallery?

Cool fence tucked into the woods
Can't complain about a thing :) 

25. There’s a beach you’ll hear about, Pfeiffer Beach. It’s well known, but unmarked from the road, but be sure and double back as I did if you should miss the turn off.  If you get to the Big Sur River Inn, you’ve passed it, but this is a great place to stop in and inquire... and take a moment to sit in the best seats of the house: chairs actually in the river!! (Another benefit there, free wifi, so if you did write a blog, you can indulge with a delicious chai tea latte and a chocolate caramel brownie, and post your blog :).  It’s only a few miles back to this amazing Pfeiffer Beach, one of my now favorites, as it has sooooo much going for it. A nice 2 mile drive thru the trees. Then a short walk thru them, to emerge right onto the sand. Ginormous rocks fill your view, sitting just off the sand's edge, waves thrashing thru the caves within them. Cliffs all along the edge andddddddd areas of purple sand to boot!!!! Definitely a magical beach.

I love this beach!!
A bit of everything! 
How cool is that??? Purple sand!!!

26. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park after that. There’s a short hike and an 1,100 yr old redwood they call “Colonial” to visit. Hopefully you got more sleep than I did the night before.  My tiredness kicked in. The waterfall trail was closed, so I started the other trail hike, then realized I really didn’t want to finish it. I stood for a moment and pondered the “consequence” of not actually getting to the end. No consequence at all ;)... and turned back.  I am evolving :).

Redwoods rule!
27. This next stretch of blacktop is perfect for drooling over the homes and their accompanying pieces of incredible cliffside land, as you’re now nearing city life again. As you enter Carmel, zig zag your way thru the residential streets, and prepare to be amazed. It’s almost like riding thru a Disney scene, so perfectly put together, thought out, luxurious, brilliantly, impeccably maintained, and tactfully tasteful.  Cruise on down to the water, find a bench (park for free!) to take in the always amazing sunset, and the bonfires blazing on the beach.  After, a stroll thru downtown will further validate your suspicion that being uber loaded must be a requirement to live here!! Everyone I saw was dressed to the 9’s (granted, it was Valentines Day, so it makes sense, although I hear that’s an everyday event). I have a bit of an contradictory spirit here. I love the obvious care and thought and precision that has gone into everything... but not so much the price tags that tend to accompany it. Unless you’ve got a fat wallet, prepare to simply window shop :).

Carmel by the Sea sunset :) 

28. If you couchsurf at Walter’s house, maybe he’ll loan you his bicycle as he did me the next morning!  Ride Monterey’s amazing waterside bike path, which leads you along the harbors and marina’s, passing by otters doing their cute bathing ritual and seals loafing on rocks, appearing almost like the rocks themselves. It leads you to both the main touristy spots of Monterey: Cannery Row and the Fisherman’s Wharf. Both are worth exploring. Cannery Row is a real treat; cute and clean and unique little shops. There’s a store called Del Sol in which every single item changes color in the sun! Cool! There’s a sock store, a hat store, and a store where the clerk passes you his phone number;). Past that is the popular Fisherman’s wharf, with about 7 different restaurants all vying for ‘the best clam chowder’.  You could potentially have a free lunch by just accepting all the samples they each offer as you stroll by ;). Also here you can hold a bunny and sing with homeless men :). A bicycle tour is def the way to go here!  Once back home, grab the car for a sunset drive (appropriately on Sunset Drive road) around the peninsula. It’s a undeniably breathtaking place. There’s really no spot here that’s not amazing. Monterey gets a big two thumbs up :).

Those are seals on that beach! 
Seals on rocks!! haaa! 
Bike Ride Monterey= good stuff!! 
His bunny jumped off his lap so I scooped him up and joined in :) 
29. The next morning, give yourself plenty of time heading north, veering off at Santa Cruz onto Highway 9, which is an awweeeesome small road in lieu of I-17. Stop to see an old covered bridge and at the hill lookouts as you driving thru an entire forest of redwoods. Be lucky enough to have a local friend who meets you, with a meet-up group, for a morning mountain biking session on the Russian Ridge!!!! Long views over the hills, brutal climbs and sound-effect worthy declines :).  Wooohoooooooo...awesome country!!! 

Mountain Biking!!! 
Kate!!! SOOO nice to catch up!! 
30. Continue the highway 9 amazingness into Palo Alto, where you spend the day catching up and thoroughly enjoying time with old friends, touring the town, being impressed at the ‘country feel’ that such a big city can have. Toss in a super fun game of sand volleyball at Stanford while you’re at it, then dine on a yummy home cooked meal, courtesy of great hosts Kate and Ginty!!! Thanks guys!!!


This is a completely natural, mid-game, unposed photo. Ginty is an intense player!! ;) Ha!

So there you have it! A surefire way to have an amazing PCH roadtrip!!!  .....Okayyy... so’s not reeeally a guide. It’s just what I did... and it was awesome (and you so could use it as a reference ;)!!!  I recommend going full of life and love and openness and willingness and with a seize-the-day, make-the-most-of-life attitude for this trip. Actually, in all you do. Everyday is a good day for a good day :)

Random shots of awesome :) 

Random shots of awesome :)

Random shots of awesome :)

Random shots of awesome :)

Random shots of awesome :)

Random shots of awesome :)

p.s. Before heading back to PVS, I ended my 3-week journey with a 3day/2night trek... but I’m saving that for another blog:).  This one has reached my writing capacity, and possibly the end of your attention span! In two weeks I’ll finish the journey thru San Fran and back up to WA. You would be correct in presuming (and I’m suuuure licking your lips in anticipation over) the future writing of “A guide for a PCH Roadtrip of Fantasticness; PART 2”!!! Ha :) 


  1. Becky, I got emotional when I read about your friendship and time with Serena. So many memories of you two growing up, and here you are both super awesome women.
    Loved having a peek into your PCH trip. Love, Mom with a heart

  2. Amazing trip and a wonderful experience to share it with such a good friend!