Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Country Crossin' Part IV: California!!

Monday 29 September 2014
We woke up in Reno and didn't linger. After a quick drive through the town, we hit the highway again. I kept giggling out loud in Reno thinking of scenes from Reno 911. I love that show.

Anyway, quickly we were up amongst the evergreens in the California mountains. California is truly a spectacular state. Our destination today is San Jose for dinner and onto Monterey Bay.  

Another reason I had to return to California was to register my car before Oct. 1. We are cutting it pretty close. I couldn't change both my address and my registration online or through the mail. Ah, the DMV...always so pleasant.

Since I'm such a huge rule follower...we stopped ASAP in California to get my registration. Luckily, I remembered that such things can be done at Triple A, so we made our way to the one in Sacramento. 

It was a bit of an adventure, because they wouldn't release my registration until I had my car smogged. That's California speak for an emissions test. AAA recommended a shop for me, but when we arrived there...the man was booked full. Wahhh. We found ANOTHER place that was wonderful and helpful. I played with the dog in the office while they smogged my car. 

Before we knew it, we were on the way west again with up to date registration. Woohoo!!

We headed into San Jose to meet up with one of my dearest friends-Gianna. Gianna was my neighbor back when I first moved to Long Beach and is one of the best people that I know. Gianna was one of my bridesmaids and I can't imagine a life without her...she is joy and kindness and love. 

My mom and I met Gianna at her parent's house since her mom was going to join us for dinner too. We had a nice time sipping some champagne that Gianna bought for our arrival and catching up. 

Gianna and her mom kindly treated us to a yummy dinner of crepes. It was so nice to see them both and we were sad we couldn't stay longer.

Incredibly, once again...I took NO pictures. 

This is a picture of us just so you know what we look like ;)
We headed off towards the foggy coast to our hotel in Monterey Bay for the night. 

Since dinner had run somewhat late, we didn't arrive in Monterey Bay until nearly 10. Surprisingly, the hotel called us to make sure we were ok and that we didn't need help locating them. Impressive customer service. What was even more impressive was the cookies they had in the lobby. Yum :D

Tuesday 30 September 2014
After waking, we had breakfast at the hotel. There were lots of options and it was really good, but my mom was upset because a woman tasted the peanut butter and then put the spoon back in the jar. haha. ew. 

We didn't stay long in Monterey Bay, so we didn't really see much of it. We had a long day of driving and wanted to hit the coast road. 

Heading out towards the ocean, we decided on a whim to do '17 Mile Drive'. This is an acclaimed scenic drive along that coast of the Monterey Peninsula. The drive goes through the famous Pebble Beach and ends in Carmel.

It was an extraordinary drive. There is a $10 fee to do it, but it's well worth the cost. We stopped over and over at the beautiful view points. Unfortunately the first one REEKED of fish :P, but it wasn't enough to drive us away from the scenery. 


We ate our leftover crepes along the beach in Carmel and then joined back up with California's famous Route 1.  

If you've never driven Route 1...makes plans do it at SOME point in your life. It's one of the best drives in the world (I feel I can say that with some confidence now that I've DONE quite a bit of driving around the world). This is my third time doing the drive...and it's every bit as awesome as it was the first time.

The road hugs the coast and sit high above the Pacific Ocean for much of the drive. The road is very winding and you really have to pay attention-which can be hard because the views are MAGNIFICENT. 

My favorite part of the drive is Big Sur. With sweeping views of the ocean and a curving drive through forests of old trees-it's just perfect.

At the suggestion of Gianna's mom, we stopped at the restaurant Nepenthe, which sits overlooking the ocean with spectacular views.

We opted to get some chai tea and take in the view. It was glorious. We have been blessed again with another lovely day.

Back on the road, we continued down the coast and found ourselves behind one of the worst drivers EVER. Oh my Gosh. It was SO frustrating. The road is very curvy and this person would sometimes come to a full stop going around the turn. I had to maintain SUCH a distance in an effort not to run into them. 

At the only straight away where I could have passed...this person went like 75mph and made it impossible!! This looonnnggg line of cars piled up behind me. It was awful. I was gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles, terrified to look at the beautiful views for even a moment-in case they slammed on their brakes again! The guy behind me started laying on his horn, which was super obnoxious.

The worst part was that after my HUGE chai tea...I REALLY had to pee. There was no way to stop and the drive was taking twice as long, since we were going about 20mph.  It was horrible!!

We FINALLY saw a place up ahead with restrooms!! And just as I was about to indicate the turn...the person in front of me turned in...and I just, I couldn't. I couldn't do it. I couldn't even follow them for one more second...even if it was just into a parking lot. I took the opportunity to speed by them...FREE AT LAST!! Of the 20+ cars behind me, more than a few HONKED loudly at the turning car as they drove by...a few people even stuck middle fingers out their windows. haha. WOW.

The eurphoria at being free lasted only a VERY short time before I remembered how VERY badly I needed to use the restroom. My mom, who had ALSO had a giant chai, was like, "whaaa??". hehe. She understood, but her need to use the bathroom outranked her need for speed!! 

We spent a miserable 30 mins finding NO other bathroom. We stopped quickly at a popular look-out that is populated by dozens of elephant seals, but we took a brief look and painfully walked back to the car with full bladders. 

Smiling through the pain

A few miles down the road, we found a shopping center with NO bathroom. It was becoming critical...we crossed the road and finally finally found a bathroom. SWEET RELIEF!!

The road headed back inland towards San Luis Obispo. Originally, I'd planned to be back in LA today, but the apartment Preston found wasn't ready until Oct 1, so my mom and I headed to Pismo Beach for the night.

I got a great deal on an ocean side hotel. We did some laundry and took in the sunset before walking up the beach to check out the pier and the little town. I really liked Pismo Beach. It's a perfect California beach town. I can't believe how long it's been since I've seen a California sunset...about 8 months!

Gianna went to school in San Luis Obispo, so she recommended a yummy clam chowder place in Pismo for us to try. It didn't disappoint. The clam was fresh and delicious and came in a huge bread bowl. 

With full bellies, we walked back the beach and returned to the hotel for the evening.

Wednesday 1 October 2014
We will be in LA today!! Crazy!! 

This morning we took a walk on the beach. Seriously, I could live in Pismo. It's the perfect little beach community.

There is some creepy stuff in the Pacific Ocean

This bird was eating another bird O_O I feel like there's a Far Side comic here:
'The rest of the flock avoided Frank after lunch that day" or something ;) I'm no Gary Larson

On our way out of Pismo Beach, we stopped briefly at a Monarch butterfly garden. In a few weeks, thousands of monarchs will be here on their migration, but we were a bit too early and didn't see much.

We continued south and stopped at the cute town of Solvang for lunch. Solvang is a little Danish village in Santa Barbara County. It's adorable. We got huge salads for lunch and continued on our way into LA.

Much of the drive into Los Angeles on Route 1 continues to follow the coast and offers stunning views.

As we descended from Malibu towards my new home in Santa Monica, I was happy to see Los Angeles and excited to be reunited with Preston.

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