The Pacific Coast Highway: We finally made it to the Pacific! After driving west from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara, we suddenly ran out of road. Before us stretched the Pacific Ocean, a huge expanse of blue reaching as far as we could see. We quickly jumped out of the car and ran to the beach. All of the surfers in the area had head to toe wet suits on, but we had to jump in despite knowing how cold it was. It was a very liberating feeling after waiting four weeks to see the west coast! After our dip, we went out and explored Santa Barbara, which reminded us a little of a Hampton’s town. Everything was meant for summer, from the outdoor bars and restaurants to the surfer shacks along the main road.
As we got closer to sunset, we picked up some sushi for dinner (because what else do you eat in California?) and went a beach near our campsite for sunset. It was quite an idyllic way to end our first day on the west coast; sitting on the beach and looking out at the ocean we had driven so far to see!
The next day we headed up Route 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, to get to Big Sur. This is an incredible road traveled by many for its amazing views of the coast and the ocean. The speed limit is only 35 mph, so while it takes longer to get places, it allows you to look around and see the cliffs descend into the rocky coast along the pacific. The road alternates between hugging the coast and meandering through rolling hills of vineyards. The road hugs the coast so closely that at times we could look out of our car and only see ocean.
Later on we arrived at Treebones Resort, a unique lodge right on the coast of Big Sur. Instead of hotel rooms, the lodge offers fully furnished yurts for people to sleep in. While we are not at the point in our lives yet where we can stay in one of these awesome yurts, we did take them up on one of their five campsites. This campsite was the most amazing place we have stayed yet, and we had our own little part of the cliff that descended down to the ocean. From our spot we had an unobstructed view of the sunset. To make it even better, the lodge was equipped with its own sushi bar, pool and hot tub. People here call the experience “glamping”… it was definitely the most glamorous camping we’ve done yet!
We spent the next day hiking around the cliffs, hanging out at one of the local beaches and watching the surfers on what is known to be some of the best surfing on the west coast. We tried to join them but there was nowhere to rent surfboards and wetsuits…. Probably better for everyone’s sake. At the suggestion of some local travelers, we also did some “Jade hunting” while in Big Sur. There is a cove in the area called Jade Cove that has some of the only natural jade that you can find in the world. We spent about an hour walking the beaches with our heads down, picking up every single rock and stone that had the slightest shade of green. We collected a ton of what we like to think is jade… and a giant bag of green colored rocks is now sitting in the back of our car.
Santa Cruz, CA: After a self-determined successful jade hunt, we headed up to Santa Cruz to see Torrey’s cousin, Johnny. Johnny is a paramedic and sailor extraordinaire, and lives on his boat Breezy in the Santa Cruz harbor. Unfortunately he could not get off work for our visit; but we got to see him long enough to learn a little about the area, get the keys to his boat and see him save a woman who had fallen to her face and couldn’t really get up. “Just another day of saving people’s lives” said John before we left him.
The Santa Cruz harbor is a beautiful inlet with a few great restaurants and bars right on the ocean. It lies on the north side of Monterrey Bay, and is almost always sunny. As John explained to us, the south side of the bay in Monterrey constantly has cooler and cloudy weather during the summer, and as soon as you get to the north side by Santa Cruz, the sun suddenly appears! Sure enough, this is exactly what we experienced and we had a great night eating and drinking outside by the beach while listening to a Rolling Stones cover band. We’ve both decided that California is the place to be.