For some time I’ve been planning a trip in my head. That trip was to drive or train up the Pacific Coastline and enjoy the scenery and feeling of freedom that this country affords us. When my company decided to apply a new vacation policy and forced me to “Use or Lose” my banked vacation this year I knew this was my best opportunity to make this happen.
The original plan was more grandiose but given the time available I decided to drive up the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to the SFO/Bay Area and back in a matter of 3 or 4 days, stopping whenever the I felt like it where my and where my curiosity took me. I have a very over scheduled life so a part of the plan was to not be scheduled knowing that there were a few major beat points I wanted to hit.
This trip if taken on the 101 or I-5 would only really take about 4-6 hours. But that wasn’t the point. The point was to take my time and enjoy the atmosphere and environment of the California landscape and especially the oceanfront. There is an amazing amount of freedom being able to consistently see the expansive view of the Ocean and cruising along the coast at moderate speeds.
I’ve discovered a lot of the experiences I think I’d like to have are pretty unique. It’s difficult finding people with the time and desire to jump on board with a similar vision so I’ve decided that this would be a solo trip. In a short conversation about our plans for Thanksgiving my good friend Tara offered to come along. I wasn’t sure if she’d actually do it, cause a lot of people tend to say things they don’t deliver on when they hear about something exciting. There was also a bit of trepidation on both of our parts; I wasn’t sure if she’d really want to be a part of the vision of wanderlust with little structure being “a planner” type person and she was afraid of imposing. In the end I think we hit the perfect balance of “structured freedom” that can enhance any experience. We only listed experiences we thought we’d like to have along the way had an end destination in mind for each day, but were not emotionally invested in where we had to be. We each named our “really like to do’s” on this trip and the “miss-ables”. Ironically we hit every experience we had listed and added a few along the way. It was a pleasure finding a good travel partner to as traveling tends to be quite revealing about people’s personalities.
Traveling on the road can be a great way to realize how small we are the grandness of our world. I loved watching the scenery of the landscape change from Southern California desert beaches to the Mountainous Pine forests of Big Sur. It’s an ever changing environment of Flora, Fauna and Geology set against the constant waves of the ocean coastline. The Pacific Coast Highway provides a unique seamless experience that is unparalleled anywhere in the world that I know of. In the end it was the perfect detachment from the grind of the day to day. A great way to see the amazing scenery and freedom this nation provides for us.
Tara is an avid photographer and videographer. She really was able to capture the essence of the vacation in this short video.
- Sunday evening: Got a head start on the traffic.
- Los Olivos: Thanks to the Nichols family for accomodations.
- Solvang: The Danish City: Breakfast at Solvang Restaurant
- Monarch Butterfly Grove: Millions of Monarch Butterflies stop here on their migration to Mexico.
- Pismo Beach: Arguably the Best Beach in California
- Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo: Novelty stop.
- Morro Bay: The Rock: A stop at Joe’s Surf Shop.
- San Simeon Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery
- Cayucos, CA: A bit of backtracking for a nights stay
- Surfing at the Cayucos Pier
- Hearst Castle
- Big Sur
- Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park / McWay Waterfall
- Nepthune Restaurant
- Belmont Turnaround point.
- Wednesday: Head home.
- Half Moon Bay
- Santa Cruz
- Return via the 101 to Pismo Beach
- Pismo Boardwalk: Meet up with a new friend
- Follow the Coast home
- North Hollywood, CA
Other Pacific Coastline trips (I’d like to take)
Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner.
Amtrak’s Coast Starlight