The first night we pulled into a small clearing high on a cliff and took a look around. There was a bluff rising at least 100 feet from the water and on either side were giant rock outcroppings being continuously pummelled by the waves. Every few minutes an especially large wave would converge on an undercut boulder on the north side of the cliff, slamming underneath and forcing the air out with a distinctive slamming cardoor/piledriver sound. The south side of the cliff consisted of several large, protruding (what looked like) basalt columns, eroded by the unrelenting waves into a partially submerged labyrinth. The maze of giant boulders kept the intermittent rogue wave at bay, so I decided if we could get down there, it would be a great place for our campfire. Also, it would be hidden from view of the highway, just in case someone, seeing a fire atop the cliff and considering the horrendous fires in this part of the country, would think that California was burning down.
We hiked down a faded path, ever increasing in steepness, to the base of the cliff on the south side. Climbing back up posed a problem: Pete took the main route, which was no more than loose dirt and gravel at a 45 degree angle, and the barrage of rocks he dislodged fired down like a meteor shower. Brett's improvised path took a steeper but seemingly more stable route to the top, I emphasize the word 'seemingly'. Near the top every step forward sent me sliding two steps backward towards the jagged rocks and water 100 feet below. I managed to toss my paco pad to the top and scratch my way, fingernails bleeding, back to the main route and to the top. Pete was surprised to see me emerge 10 minutes after him dripping with sweat and dirt.
Thankfully that was the only frustrating (or should I say terrifying) moment of our trip up the coast. We hiked back down, built a fire, cooked a can of soup with a pot we borrowed from mom before the trip, and returned to the top of the cliff to sleep under the stars.
Since we don't know anyone who lives between San Francisco and Seattle, Pete and I finally had the chance to use our -30 degree sleeping bags we bought in Vegas. We drove from the time we woke up to sunset every day, taking our time to stop and enjoy the coast. There are a huge number of state parks along the Pacific coast that allow you to stop and walk around during the daytime, but do not allow camping at night. We therefore officially name California the No Camping State.