I sure have been putting on a lot of miles lately. Before starting up the coast, I reached the 5,000 mark in my two months of adventure.
But before staring that journey, I had a couple experiences left for my final days in Southern California. I made one last trip to L.A. for a chance to catch Venice Beach. Stinky, crowded, bad parking—overall, not a fan. I did enjoy my stop in Rancho Palos Verdes on my way back to Oceanside. Beautiful drive and sunset. I also accidentally (in a good way) drove through the San Pedro shipyard. It took me right back to the epic battle scene of Iron Man 3. 😛
Easter Sunday was here and what a day to celebrate! I kicked off the morning with a Sunrise on The Shore Easter service just down the street with thousands of others. I then enjoyed a service at Immanuel Lutheran where I’d been attending while in Oceanside. Next, off to San Diego to Balboa Park for a free concert at Spreckels Organ Pavilion—one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs. Lastly, a good family friend from South Dakota was visiting his son and daughter-in-law in San Diego for a few days. I was pretty lucky they welcomed me into their plans for an Easter Sunday dinner cruise on the San Diego Bay. Prime rib and sunset views of the city—that’s hard to beat!
The next day, I finally committed to giving surfing a try. WOW was it harder than I expected. THANKFULLY there are no photos to prove how terrible I was at it (in my defense, this was my first time on the ocean short of a deep sea fishing trip and scuba diving adventure in Florida a few years back AND it was a bit stormy so the waves were pretty rough)! BUT, next time I’ll have a better idea what to expect and might get closer to standing before tumbling into the waves. To make up for the experience, I enjoyed a stroll on the Oceanside Pier where I spotted some whales before dining at Ruby’s Diner with my South Dakota friend.
While I was happy to escape the streets of Southern California, I am grateful for the experience. My patience on the road has skyrocketed! I also gained great practice driving in lanes barely a foot larger than my vehicle in heavy traffic. I enjoyed putting my stellar parallel parking skills to work. And I always laughed a little to myself when sitting next to a shiny Lamborghini and a 1995 Honda CR-V all at the same stoplight. I also think these are the first unobstructed sunsets I’ve ever watched, which is an experience that never got old!
Once my stay in Southern California was up, it was time to journey north on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). I jumped on Highway 1 around Malibu (also the site where Iron Man’s iconic Malibu mansion was digitally added to the cliffside 😉 ) and headed north (here’s my route in case you were curious). PCH was just like all the magnificent pictures you’ve ever seen—the further north you go, the more scenic it gets. The first night, I made a stop in San Simeon. The second night I ended up at Santa Cruz, staying right off the boardwalk in one of the most colorfully painted hotels I’ve ever seen.
I took my time, making it to San Francisco in about two days. Weirdly, I think I was more nervous about driving in San Fran than I ever had been in Los Angeles. I quickly realized it was no big deal though. Most people use public transportation, which alleviates some of the congestion on the narrow city streets. It’s parking that’s nearly impossible (unless you’re interested in spending more than an hours worth of wages to let your car sit somewhere for an hour—no thanks!). That’s what convinced me a ‘driving tour’ was my best option. San Fran is compacted into such a small area, it was pretty simple to hit the high points in a fairly short amount of time. This means I don’t have much for pictures, but I can at least say I’ve seen the famed Painted Ladies (famous from postcard shots and Full House’s opening credits), Lombard Street (San Fran’s crookedest street. It was like driving through a photo shoot. Pretty sure I will now grace a great deal of vacation albums!), Fisherman’s Wharf, the Bay Bridge, the piers (where they dock some GIANT cruise ships), and the Golden Gate Bridge. I did take time to stop for a picnic lunch overlooking the Golden Gate before continuing my journey.
I had one more night before my next VRBO, so I found myself staying in my first AirBnb rental under a giant Redwood in Petaluma. Finally, while waiting for check-in time at my next place, I took a tour of Napa Valley, then wrapped around to the coast and Point Reyes National Seashore, before landing in Rio Nido, my destination for the time being.
Rio Nido is so relaxing and is such a beautiful area. The Redwoods are dense and towering. It feels a lot like being in the Black Hills! A slowdown with time to catch up on work has been much needed. Looks like I’ll be celebrating my 25th in the forest!
I’ve had some requests to see where I stay in each of these places, so I will make an effort to add links to the listings I’m inhabiting. I have included links above as applicable, but here are my stops in St. George, UT, and Oceanside, CA. (FYI the rates shift A LOT between seasons and length of stays, so it’s likely I did not pay the nightly estimate you see.)