Sunday, April 2, 2017

Los Angeles to San Francisco: Hwy 1

Spring Break 2k17: March 26 - 31

Our intention was to fly to Los Angeles and work our way up the California coast to San Francisco with all the cool stops in between. We made all our reservations and purchased tickets well in advance but you still need to be flexible. We had quite a few changes prior to the trip and during. Due to all the heavy California rainfall, we had lush views, green grasses and an abundance of flowers...but also due to the rains, we had to cancel our section of Big Sur. Our reserved cabin at Detjeens Resort in Big Sur, was destroyed by mud slides and a fallen Redwood. Pfeiffer State Bridge was demolished due to its instability. Road Closures, Shut down resorts and a missing bridge...forced us to reroute around Big Sur..inland to farm country (beautiful). We were still able to sneak up towards Big Sur a little from San Luis Obispo and down from Carmel. I look forward to a future trip to Big Sur, Deetjen's, Nepenthe and the surrounding nature. 

 Day 1: Los Angeles 

We arrived at 6am, picked up our rental car and headed out into the city...
- Breakfast at Venice beach (and sights along the way)
- The Hollywood Sign (we googled best views to find a less crowded option)
- Hollywood Blvd
- Passadena: The Rose Bowl and the house Bren grew up in
- In and Out Burger
- Met friends for dinner at a Passadena Brewery (Borowski and Anastasias)
- Had "Dragon's Breath Ice Cream" (nitrogen frozen cereal) in Korea town: Chocolate Chair
- Checked into Courtyard Los Angeles next to "LA Live" (sports, eating, drinking)
- Bren and Trip went to LA Lakers Game

 Day 2: Los Angeles to Santa Barbara 

About a 1.75 hr. drive...
We had a Whale watching excursion booked so headed out early to arrive in Santa Barbara Harbor by 7:30 am..only to find out it was cancelled due to high winds.
- Had breakfast down by the harbor/on the beach in Santa Barbara
- Explored the beach
- Checked in Early to the Hotel
VERY cool hotel
- Drove to the Historic Monastery and from there drove to the parking area for the hike to
Inspiration Point 
- Back to the Hotel for a swim and relax
- Drove around Santa Barbara...checked out The Funk Zone (wineries, restaurants, breweries)
- Had drinks/dinner at The Outpost Restaurant in the hotel followed by S'mores by the fire pit

We stayed at the Kimpton Goodland in Goleta...a quick 10 minute drive from downtown Santa Barbara. The Worples recommend it and we loved it. Very Bohemian with a fun laid back kitchy vibe. My favorite hotel and one I had been looking forward to. 

 Kimpton Goodlands: You can borrow records for your room

  Kimpton Goodlands: The three of us had a few fun games of pool

Inspiration Point: 1400 ft up the Santa Ynez Mts, 1800 ft above Santa Barbara w/views of the American Riviera and beyond to the Channel Islands. About a 2.5 hr. round trip hike

Cocktails at the fun hotel bar followed by a great dinner at the Outpost in the Hotel

Different activities nightly...our night was s'mores by the fire

Other Santa Barbara Recommendations from friends:
Paddle boards or Kayaks in the harbor
Funk Zone: Drinking, Winery tasting rooms and Fig Mtn Brewery

You'll need to make a reservation –Eat through the appetizer menu and share. It’s all good
great location on the pier overlooking the city and islands – good spot for lunch

 Day 3: Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo 

We were supposed to back track back to Ventura Harbor for our Ferry to the Channel Islands...with a Sea Cave Kayaking tour (all day excursion). I had breakfast/lunch/snack ordered and ready to be delivered to us at the ferry...but the Trip was cancelled due to high winds.

So...we re-booked the Whale Watching Excursion on the Condor Express
that had cancelled the previous day.
- Light breakfast at the hotel and checked out
- Arrived by 8:30 for 9:00 am whale watching:

This was an awesome excursion...about 2 hrs. in length. 
Sea Lions basking in the sun.

 No kidding: Saw about 700 + dolphins
We came upon 1 shy grey whale (migrating season) and only saw a little of it.
Found a HUGE school of anchovies and a feeding frenzy followed. Hundreds of Dolphins, Pelicans, Seaguls, Sea Lions and the highlight... A Hump Back Whale. 
 We were able to see The Humpback feed on the surface and stay in the area for quite awhile. 
Heading back to the harbor we saw two young Grey Whales swimming together along the coast. 
(the grilled ham and cheese on sourdough, on the boat was amazing)

- Stopped at UCSB (University of California Santa Barbara). 
- Did a quick college tour for Trip and stopped at the bookstore for his first UCSB shirt. 
Gorgeous campus overlooking the water. WOW.
- Headed to San Luis Obispo (originally we weren't going to arrive in San Luis Obisbo until 7pm after our all-day kayaking adventure but now we had extra we shifted our schedule a bit)
- Headed up Hwy 1 and Drove directly to Morro Bay to see Morro Rock 
- Continued on Hwy 1 to Cayucos (9min north of Morro Bay) Funky California Beach town trapped in the 60's
- Picked up some Brown Butter Cookie Company Cookies: YUM (brown butter/sea salt) recommended by friends
- Turned around and headed towards San Luis Obispo

 Morro Rock: worth parking and walking around. 
Saw Sea Otters, great views and fun to climb on the rocks. 
Rocks around Morro Rock

Morro Rock

- Checked in to Hotel in San Luis Obispo 
(booked in Apple Farms because we originally would have checked in late and checked out was generous for the 3 of us, hot tub was nice and location was fine...decor was not my thing) If I could do it over again, knowing we had more time, I would have booked The Madonna Inn. We did have breakfast reservations there for the next day so that was a consolation. 
- Trip enjoyed the hot tub
- Went downtown for a casual dinner at The Firestone Grill: Tri-Tip Sandwich came highly recommended (it was a bit too casual/fast food)
- Novo was recommended. We wished we had sat on the back patio by the creek instead:
- Walked to Bubble Gum Alley
- Downtown has great vibe/shopping/restaurants
- Headed back to Hotel

Bubble Gum Alley

Bubble Gum Alley

Day 4: San Luis Obispo to Carmel

- 8:00 breakfast reservation at Madonna Inn
- Had to get off Hwy 1 and go inland through farm country to head up north to Monterey/Carmel

Madonna Inn: Known for its cake and Outlandish Rooms and Decor

 Homemade corned beef hash...(sugar is pink, cakes are pink, tennis courts are pink) 


Bathroom and Dinning Room

- Drove to Monterey...passing lush green vineyards and fields of fruit and vegetables
- Passed a Huge Dune Park but access was closed due to heavy rains


fields of strawberries, spinach, kale, artichokes, many field workers

 - Arrived in Monterey (originally would have done Monterey the next day but by calling ahead, I found out high winds were headed up the coast and this would be the only opportunity for us to Kayak in the Monterey Bay’s

Ready for our Kayaking

Views from the Kayak

Sea Lions and Seals on the Rocks

Pulled in to a little beach to explore
- After Kayaking we drove around Monterey and headed to hotel
- We stayed at Hotel Carmel:
enjoyed their comfortable room, private balcony, hot tub, outdoor fires and convenient location.
The Hotel Carmel Lobby

The Hotel Carmel: Breakfast area for the morning w/granola, coffee, juices and bagels

 - Our room was not quite ready so we headed into town after a partial change of clothes from the trunk of the car/lobby bathroom
- Walked the streets of Carmel:
- Went to AW Shuck's Oyster Bar for oysters, clam chowder and drinks:
- Headed to the Beach: dogs dogs everywhere...missing our pups
- Great views of pebble beach and the incredible waves due to the winds.

Pebble Beach behind us

slippery moss covered rocks

Wild sun bleached trees on the dunes

 - Checked in at the hotel and relaxed for awhile
- Trip opted to chill in the room and wait for us to bring back dinner for him
- Hogs Breath Inn for Dinner

Bren and I went to The Hogs Breath Inn, recommended by friends...and we would pass on the recommendation. Fun atmosphere in the enclosed patio with a giant mural...fires everywhere.

table by the fire...

Hotel robe and a hot tub to finish off the evening (wine is mine) ;)

 Day 5: Carmel
- Bren and I went down to the beach...he ran the beach and I walked...enjoying all the dogs and activity at 7am. VERY windy
- Breakfast in the Hotel
- 17 mile Drive: We really took our time. An incredible drive with amazing views and stops along the way....worth every penny of the $10 fee.

Views from 17 mile drive: Spanish Bay

Seals out in the choppy water

close up of the seals 

findings on one of the beaches

mossy pool of water on one of the rocks

250 year old cypress tree

- Went to Nielson Brothers Market in Carmel and put together a picnic 
- Drove down Hwy 1 towards Big Sur (only 22 mile stretch was open)
Gorgeous views...felt like we were on the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland
- Pulled in to Point Lobos State Park (3 miles south from Carmel)
Drove all the way to the end of the park, parked and picnic'd from the car with a bottle of red wine, bagguets, ham, cheese, boiled eggs and chips. (there were designated picnic areas so we opted for this cozy option with a view of the ocean)

Point Lobos: Stand on the edge of the rocks as the Ocean Spray Blasts its way towards you...

Point Lobos
- Regrouped at hotel
- Trip chilled, while Bren and I went downtown to shop and do a little wine tasting
- Got a beautiful linen bag at a french shop and they monogramed it for me
- Picked Trip up and the 3 of us went to dinner at La Bicycette (recommended). Really enjoyed it.

 Day 6: Carmel to San Francisco
- We were now supposed to Head to San Francisco for 2 nights in the city...we had our Alcatraz tickets and hotel reservations. Bren had to fly out on a trip on it would mean we needed to leave a day early, split up and he travel out with a suitcase full of salty, sandy clothes and flying out from Atlanta. We all discussed it and decided we were exhausted and wanted to head home. We cancelled the hotel, forfeited the Alcatraz tickets and headed to the airport. We will do San Francisco on a 3 day weekend sometime soon. It was a good decision :)
- Drove to the airport along Hwy 1 and saw some amazing views of the ocean and cows enjoying the grasslands over the cliffs.
- Pulled over and stopped at Bonne Doon Beach... WOW
Trip at the top of the Hwy...before walking down to Bonne Doon Beach

Bren and Trip descending 

the view from above

their footprints on the beach....what a great end to a fantastic trip.

Things we missed due to cancellations/mother nature that I would add:

Channel Island Kayak Tours from Ventura Harbor:
Deetjen's Inn: Big Sur 
Nepenthe: Big Sur, sit outside for great views drinks/lunch
Big Sur Bakery: closed mon/tues breakfast/lunch/great pizza
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park/McWay Falls:
Limekiln Falls: Hike thru giant redwoods and bubbling streams to 100-ft cascading waterfall
Sand Dollar Beach: longest strand of sandy beach on big sur coast
San Simeon/Hearst Castle: buy tickets online ahead of time:
Tanbark Trail: 6-mile trail thru Redwood canyons with coastal views:
Ewoldsen Trail: 5-mile lollipop loop shows off gorgeous redwood forests
Garrapata beach: White Sand Beach 
Andrew Molera State Park: Horse back riding