Highway 1 - Pacific Coast Road Trip
Trip Start Apr 10, 2012
31Trip End Apr 06, 2013
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So after all the messing around trying to organise a road trippin' car for us all to afford, AK & Yelle returned with another Dodge. The spacious car was packed full of backpacks, camping gear & people, and we were off.....in a not so spacious car anymore!
So basically we had a week to travel down highway 1 between San Fran & LA, everyone was excited about the prospect of this adventure, but SJ had to face her old enemy.....camping!
Our first day driving was a reasonably short one, as were most of them on this trip. We headed south towards Santa Cruz with the music sounding out
As we approached the cool hippy town of Santa Cruz we realised 2 things, the sky above us was looking very moody & grey....not good for our camping plans. Also it was holiday weekend in the states, meaning a lot of campgrounds/motels were full. We checked the availability of numerous campsites, lodges, motels & hostels, only to find out they were either too full, or too expensive. We even tried a cool looking hostel that was built in a lighthouse right on the coast, but no room at the inn again. In the end we all decided it would be a bad idea to camp, considering we had cheap Walmart tents that would easily let in rain. Everybody was a bit disappointed at the prospect of not camping out on our first night (except SJ of course), so we opted for a dingy motel in town, something AK & SJ became accustomed to on their earlier road trip. We decided to find a 4 berth room despite there being 5 of us, we just wanted to share a room & all get drunk together on cheap, watery American beer! After all there wasn't much to choose from so we snapped at the chance of a shelter over our heads that wasn't the car roof
So AK went to reception to sort a room while everyone else waited in the car trying to look like there was less of us than there actually was. He came out with the keys to an upstairs room, and we all piled in. Now the only thing to do was decide who was gonna have the 2 double beds, and who had the floor! It was time to put five pieces of paper in a hat, with one unlucky person pulling out the floor spec....in this case, it was Hayley! Thank god for her we had plenty of bed rolls for camping, which made it that bit more comfortable for her!
Everybody got changed & we all headed out to subway for dinner, we didn't stay out for too long as our supplies were back at the motel room. Back in our small room the beer was flowing & the playing cards were out, we played a game introduced to us by Yelle on the canyons tour, shit head! That was the name of the game, not Yelle's nick name!
After a long day everyone was feeling sleepy & started to crash out, among the first was Hayley, who had sneakily fell asleep on Yelle's & Jonas' bed. She actually stayed there for half the night, until the Germanator kicked her out after struggling to sleep with three in a bed! After the German movies we've seen in the past, 3 in a bed wasn't too unusual. AK & SJ obviously shared the other bed!
After a good nights sleep for some of us, and not so good for the rest (the 3 in the other bed), we ate breakfast, packed up the car, and left before the cleaner/manager found out there was too many in our room!
An easy get away & we went off to discover Santa Cruz's day scene. First we walked about the thrift, charity & record shops. Again Santa Cruz seemed to have a cool hippy vibe about the place! After checking out the record shop, and getting tired of waiting for the girls to scan the charity shops, the 3 boys went off to look at a few other shops! They stumbled across a small, privately owned hippy shop that sold everything from old vintage guitars to incense sticks. The guy who was working there was pouring his heart out telling us he couldn't keep up with the rent, in the end Jelle just bought a bundle of sage & we got out of there. Buying the sage came from one time on the canyons tour when we stopped at a mad hippy spot in the middle of Utah called Mystic Mikes. It was here where a stoner type guy confronted us with a bundle of burning sage & proceeded to "cleanse" us using this burning mound of sage! Turns out it didn't quite "cleanse" us, but it was pretty cool anyway so no harm done!
Hayley came away from a thrift store with a pair of vintage leather cowboy boots, something she had been contemplating buying for ages, so she was very happy with her purchase
SJ bought a couple of tops from the thrift stores so she never came home empty handed either.
Next stop was Santa Cruz pier, we anticipated it would be a pretty cool place to hang out, but we got there to discover it was a pretty lame place. It might've had something to do with the fact that the weather still wasn't too pretty, but it seemed only Hayley thought it was quite cool. AK ate the biggest turkey leg which made the others laugh, the inevitable greasy beard while he was scoffing it was a sight!
Everyone decided it would be better if we moved on to Monterey further south to check out what was going on there, plus there was the exciting prospect of camping in the Californian hills along the coast tonight (much to SJ's delight). The weather was looking better by the time we got there so camping was very much on the cards, it was by far the cheapest way for us to sleep....and a lot more fun! Campgrounds would however be hard to come by, with it only being the Saturday night of the holiday weekend. We even tried a couple more motels & hostels, which were unsurprisingly full. We were directed by a hostel owner to a campground about 10 minutes down the road, when we arrived it was, again full. Despite this latest failure to find somewhere to sleep tonight, the kind man who ran the place, told us of another campground 20 minutes away that would definitely have space for us
So we found our spec, emptied the car of all camping gear, and the girls were sent off for a couple of hours to do what they do best....shopping! The boys in the mean time would do what they do best....setting up tents, collecting firewood & starting the fire. All the campgrounds were equipped with a fire bin with a pull down grill for cooking! The girls took quite a long time to return from the far away supermarket, so after collecting firewood, starting a fire & setting up camp, the boys started on the beer.
The girls returned with some nice looking meat for our bbq, more beer & plenty of munchies for the night. So we promptly got to work on dinner & kept the fire going all night. After swapping stories & getting merry, the boys thought it would be good to try out a different kind of herb....the sage purchased earlier in the day back in Santa Cruz
SJ & Hayley had decided earlier they were gonna give sleeping in the car a try, seemed like a pretty good idea at the time considering the car was big & all the seats folded down. The three boys were to share a two man tent....cosy! At least they had the air mattress to sleep on! After muchos beer & other luxuries, it was time for bed, and time for AK & Yelle to experience the Germanators snoring skills again.
The boys woke up to the sound of racing cars on the track by where we were camping, something they never expected when they set up camp the night before. SJ & Hayley, having spent the night in the car, were still asleep & oblivious to the sound. The fire from the night before was still showing signs of life so they immediately got to work on bringing it back to life, meanwhile Jonas was still knocking the z's out in the tent!
Slowly but surely after a couple of hours people started to arise from their sleeping quarters, it was at this point we found out that SJ's & Hayley's good idea of sleeping in the car was not such a good idea after all
After packing away our camp & taking a shower, we set off to our next destination, Big Sur! This is one of the main places we were looking forward to visiting, we'd heard a lot about it's beauty. The drive along this particular part of the coast was absolutely beautiful, the sun was shining, the different kinds of music were blurring out & we drove pretty slow to appreciate the picturesque view all around us. We weren't long in to our drive when we took a spontaneous detour to Carmel Beach. After being stuck behind a long line of cars, and taking what seemed like forever to find a parking spot, we arrived at a beautiful Californian Beach. Everything was perfect about it, except for the wind. We had to wear jackets on there, which sort of spoilt it a little bit. This didn't stop us from staying a while though & enjoying it. Jonas, Yelle & AK managed to find a small football to kick around, while SJ & Hayley lounged on the beach trying to take in the sun with out getting too cold. We only stayed for about an hour & then moved on to Big Sur
After a slow couple of hours & much sightseeing along the coast, we arrived at Big Sur. Big Sur was a large forest area along the coast that was known for it's beauty, and a must for camping! The next task, with it still being holiday weekend (Sunday night), was to find a campground for us to stay at. We had already decided that we wanted to stay here for 2 nights. After a lot of searching for somewhere to stay....again, we found a nice campground in the forest not too far from the coast road. The only thing was we had to camp in one spot one night, and move to another for the next. Luckily for us we noticed the spot next to us was unoccupied so we wouldn't have far to move the next morning.
These particular camp spots were very spacious & with the usual fire bin & grill for cooking, this was perfect for us & we were all happy with the idea of staying here for the next 2 nights. We payed for our spot & it was then the usual script, the girls were sent off to buy the goods, while the boys set up camp. Again the supermarket was pretty far away, so the boys had plenty of time to get set up. The tents were set up pretty quick, and straight after the boys set out to collect the firewood from the forest floor, which was available in abundance
The girls were washing their grub down with Malibu & vodka, and the boys were drinking beer, scotch & JD. Everybody was merry, except for Hayley, who had drank rather a lot of everything, so she was several levels ahead of everybody else in terms of being drunk, she spent the next couple of hours stumbling around the camp shouting out sheizen & nien. These were the two German words we had been saying to Jonas since the Canyons tour, he just laughed along with it normally despite sheizen not even being the correct word for shit. Tonight though was different, these were the only 2 words coming out of Hayley's mouth, very loud & very slurred, in her drunken state! In the early hours we started to go to bed, Yelle had the difficult task of putting Hayley to bed in her one man tent, AK in the tent next door was lying awake listening to Hayley "hitting on" Yelle, telling him how sweet he was
SJ, Yelle, Jonas & AK all woke up at pretty much the same time, it was a beautiful morning with the sunshine scattering its way through the trees. Hayley was still well asleep in her tent, so we decided to play a little prank. Hayley didn't know we could take the camp spot next to ours for the second night, just on the other side of some trees, so we proceeded with quietly moving the tents & gazebo (without taking them down), to the next spot a few metres away. We moved everything in about 20 minutes, including food, firewood etc. All that was left of last nights camp was Hayley's tent, with Hayley still asleep inside it. The plan was to let her wake up & open her tent to see everything & everyone was gone, but she just wasn't waking up, not surprising with the amount of alcohol consumed the night before. We decided to shake her tent & sneak back over to the other camp, so we did this, sat down & watched her sore, confused head pop out the tent. After watching her for about 30 seconds, we decided to give her a good morning shout & let her in on the prank
Today the boys decided they wanted to do a little hike, and the girls decided they would prefer a laze around on the beach. We packed up some supplies in the car (beer & munchies), and set off to find somewhere. We found a spot where you could walk about 25 minutes on a trail to the beach, the boys decided this was enough walking for them so they would join the girls at the beach. It was a nice walk that included wading across a large creek, were at the other side we were confronted with a over excited American woman banging on to us about there being poison ivy on the trail to the beach. She was trying to warn us about getting stung by it, the way she was describing it made us think we would almost die if we came in to contact with it, when we found out you would just come out in a bit of a irritating rash, we weren't too bothered, and thought the woman was just a bit over the top!
We made it to the beach, SJ managed to stand on nail on a piece of wood as soon as we got on there, no serious damage done but she wasn't happy. The beach was beautiful but terribly windy, a lot worse than Carmel Beach the day before. Even the man made wooden shelter made from tree branches couldn't protect us from the constant onslaught of the strong wind. This made SJ even more moody so she left to go back to the car, while the rest of the group contemplated what to do. After all deciding it was in fact too windy to enjoy we headed back along the trail & waded back across the creek to the car
After enjoying a can of beer, we all decided it would be a good idea to go back to Carmel Beach, where we visited yesterday. It would be a 45 minute journey towards Monterey where we came from the day before, but the closest supermarket was there & it would also be a nice place to watch the sunset. SJ jumped in the drivers seat, AK & the other boys opened a can of beer, and we set off. After a nice drive along the coast we arrived at the beach, finding a parking spot around here was, as we found out the day before, a nightmare! After circling the parking area for several minutes we found a spec, we parked up, jumped out & walked to the beach as the sun started started going down. This was one of many photo opportunities we were to enjoy on the trip along Pacific Coast Highway. The sunset was amazing & we all had a good time watching it. After it we made our way to the local supermarket that Hayley & SJ had gone to the night before, a quick whizz around to buy, yes you guessed, beer & food, and we were on our way back to our campground at Big Sur.
By the time we got back it was dark & everybody was hungry, so with our collection of firewood we started up a nice fire & put some food on the grill. On the menu tonight was meat we didn't eat the night before, with bbq baked beans & baked potato, and also pasta with sauce. Hayley & SJ got to work on the pasta after everybody had their fair share of burgers, beans & potato
It was in the late hours, while we were slightly merry & glossy eyed, that we noticed we were sharing a camp with a group of foraging skunks. SJ & Hayley had gone to bed at this point, so the boys were all sat down on a log, staring at these opportunistic skunks that weren't scared to get too close to us. Before going to bed, all the food scraps were thrown away from our tents to ensure we weren't going to get invaded & attacked by these potentially smelly creatures through the night (the skunks, not the boys).
We woke up again to the sun fighting it's way through the forest canopy, now we had the task of clearing up our camp, but first we had breakfast, which was the usual cereal & fruit. It took a little while to de-camp, but afterwards we were rewarded with a nice, hot shower. Everyone was clean & fresh & we decided to leave towards our next destination, Santa Barbara
The drive down the coast was again, beautiful in terms of scenery ect. Again we stopped at every opportunity to take some good pictures. We were driving along at a nice speed, admiring the view, when someone said "wow are they seals on that beach", everybody looked down and sure enough there was thousands of elephant seals all lazing around on this particular stretch of beach. We quickly pulled into the lay by & all got out to watch & photograph these amazing animals that we had all suddenly come across without knowing!
We got talking to a woman who over seen these animals, she informed us that these particular elephant seals were all males, and were there for a couple of months to shed their fur. Some of them were having a bit of a play fight, apparently it was them getting prepared for real battles ahead. The sight of these seals scattered along the beach was amazing, the collective smell of them all on the other hand, was not so.
After plenty of photo's & observing, we set off towards McDonald's, after about an hour we came across one
Using Jonas' iPhone sat-nav we found the pretty obscure campground, quite easily. On our way in, a couple of lads told us of hot springs a couple of junctions up the highway, as it was going dark when we got there, we decided to visit them tomorrow. We pulled in to this strange, but nice campground to see that there was hardly anyone there. AK & SJ volunteered to try & find a supermarket while the others got set up, which wouldn't be an easy task as the area was incredibly windy. While AK & SJ were out the man who ran the small campground visited the others who were in the process of putting up the tents. He couldn't believe that we were actually gonna sleep in tents with the wind being as bad as it was, no wonder the few other people on the camp were in campervans!
AK & SJ returned with no food or beer as they couldn't find a supermarket for miles, we just had enough leftovers from what we accumulated over the last few days, so we made do with that. The fire was going but it was pretty wild with the strong wind, we decided it would be a good idea to put it out in case the flying embers started to burn the tents. Nobody stayed up for too long that night, we were all pretty tired from the late night camping in the past few days, plus there was nothing to do, especially without a campfire
We retired to bed with the sound of the wind flying over our $30 Walmart tents. AK woke up in the middle of the night to SJ with her head out the tent, after sitting up to see what was going on, he noticed a pack of skunks right outside the tent, trying to climb into a box with some of our left over bread in. It was funny to watch one in particular trying his hardest to climb in, to then fall back out. After several attempts he made it in, grabbed the bread, and climbed out, only to be confronted by the others, who clearly wanted a slice of his winnings! They were rolling around fighting & squeaking, until they ran off with their own share. So after about half an hour watching this, AK & SJ went back to sleep.
Today we had all decided we would like to visit the hot springs we were told about the day before, so after packing up we left to go straight there. It was just a couple of junctions back north, in the direction we came from yesterday. We pulled in to the junction that was described to us, but there were no signs for hot springs. There was however a small trail that lead up towards a pretty steep hill, so we decided to follow this and see where it lead us. After fighting our way through some pretty dense shrubbery, we arrived at a very natural, very murky, small hot spring
We didn't have too far to drive as we'd done a long stretch the day before, but the coast was still very nice to drive along. We arrived in Santa Barbara and decided tonight we would stay in a hostel, much to SJ's delight. The hostel we checked into was a decent place, only about a ten minute walk from the lovely Santa Barbara beach. So we got checked in by this Californian stoner dude at reception, and decided who was to sleep where in our small room. Like the first night of our road trip, we were all staying in the one room. Hayley had the single top bunk, and after a heads & tails contest, AK & SJ got the double bunk under Hayley, while Jonas & Yelle had to make do with cuddling up on the sofa couch....by this time they liked it really
So wasting no more time we were off to check out the local beach, getting there was easy as it was just a walk down one long road for about ten minutes. When we got there the boys got stripped off & straight into the sea, while SJ & Hayley decided to soak in the sun & sit on the beach, while taking photos of Jelle, AK & Jonas trying to hit each other on the head while in the water, using the ball they had "acquired" at Carmel Beach a few days before.
After a nice break at the beach, it was time to head back to the hostel. On the way we bought some beverages for the evening, as this was going to be our last night together. We returned to the hostel, we all got showered & changed, then it was off to the recommended pizza place down the road called "little ceasers". You could get a big pizza for $5, which suited us down to the ground. These pizzas were huge & when people couldn't finish theirs, Das Germanator soon disposed of it...he was a eating machine! We ate & drank on the terrace at the top of the hostel, talking to a few other travellers & swapping stories.
At the end of the night, we retired to our room, with all of us having the giggles for what seemed like hours...a nice, funny end to our last night together, plus one last time for us all to experience Jonas' snoring skills
We woke up early & had our free pancake breakfast in the kitchen area of the hostel, then it was on with the packing & loading of the car. AK & SJ had a load of camping gear from their Coachella/road trip days, so decided to donate it all to the hostel, who would then go on to use it at burning man festival....we were glad it was going to good use. During breakfast we had all booked the hostels we were to be staying in that night, in LA. Hayley, Yelle & Jonas booked a hostel in Hollywood so they could do some sightseeing, AK & SJ booked a hostel in Venice Beach, it was closer to the airport, which was easier for them as they were flying out the next day. Also the hostel was right on the beach & parade, which was very good.
So the car was packed up, with a lot more room than we had all week, because of the extra camping gear etc we had off loaded. The extra room would come in useful about ten minutes down the road, as we entered the slip road for the freeway. We took the turn & drove straight past a hitch hiker, which we never noticed in time to stop. Continuing on the slip road, and on to the freeway we all agreed we should take the next junction, turn around, and pick him up
We dropped him off at the junction he needed, and it was south bound to LA for the rest of us, not too long to drive but beautiful coast line again, one of the themes of this trip. We got closer to the skyline of LA & drove through Malibu, which looked like it does on the tv, big mansions, nice beaches, and beautiful weather! We battled through some traffic, then through "little Ethiopia" and made our way to Hollywood. We found their hostel, parked on the side of the road, and unloaded their backpacks.
We said our goodbye's and decided to try & meet up tomorrow, but we knew this would be unlikely as we were staying in different parts of town. Would we ever see each other again? We don't know but we're sure we'd all like to think so. We'd spent so much time together on the canyons tour, in San Fran and on this road trip
After saying our farewells, it was back through "little Ethiopia", and on to Venice Beach. We found our hostel easily enough, parked the car up about 5 minutes away, and checked in. We were shown to a room with a window that over looked the beach & parade, we couldn't have asked for a better location. We didn't waste any time, and headed to the beach. As we walked across the parade, there were bands playing, skateboarders (of course) & just generally a lot going on. There was even a sort of samba band on the beach, which was pretty cool. AK got stripped off & straight into the inviting water, SJ chilled on the beach & took photos of AK trying to tackle the big waves.
After a couple of hours on the beach, we got showered & changed in our room, and took a stroll along the promenade. What an experience this simple walk was. We walked past Muscle Beach, grinning at the ripped, oiled up weight lifters flexing their muscles. There was so many medical marijuana clinics handing out cards, trying to get you to sign up, thank god we were leaving the next day, or AK might have started complaining of a "bad back"
After our walk we returned to our room when it was dark, it could get quite shady out there at night. AK went out to buy beers, and returned with a huge smile! We sat & drank for a few hours whilst sitting at the big open window, watching the people & sights of the night, of which there were many. We took photos, watched a sea rescue helicopter hover over the end of a pier with the search lights on for about an hour, and video'd the hippy guy on roller skates with the electric guitar. Great entertainment considering we were just looking out of our window for a while. We went to bed ready for our last day in the US.
Today technically wasn't part of the road trip, but it was our last day in America
After all the organising we decided to pay one last visit to the beach, AK was hesitating for about half an hour, whether to get in the water or not. He wasn't sure if his towel & shorts would be dry in time before we left, but after much dithering, he decided to go for it
After the excitement of the beach, we sat around in the hostel for a while until it was time to take our rental car to the airport, and catch our flight. We left in plenty of time as we didn't have a sat nav, it was a good job as it's not a good idea getting lost at night in Inglewood, which is what happened. After finding our way, it wasn't long before we arrived at the Alamo rent a car drop off point at the airport. We drove in to be greeted by a fascinating middle aged man working for Alamo, he had been all over the world & spoke 15 different languages. He was a cool, fascinating man who was due to work at the London Olympics in August. He was so interesting we could've stood there & spoke to him all night, but unfortunately we had a plane to catch, so after him & AK swapped farewells in Greek, we took our shuttle to the terminal we were flying from
We would really miss the people we met on our USA trip, including the friendly & fun people from California, Colorado & New York at Coachella, Sarah's sister Lisa & the people she introduced us to in layed back east Tennessee, the workers & travellers at Green Tortoise hostel in San Fran, everyone from the Canyons tour, and of course Yelle, Hayley & Jonas. We would also miss the places we visited, including Tennessee, all the NP's in the west & southwest, San Fran, & our road trippin' destinations.
But it was time to start a new adventure, and meet new people in another country, hope you continue to follow our adventures & enjoy them. Until then....