Friday, October 2, 2015

Jilly Does Cali, Part 2: Los Angeles and BIG SUR!

Welcome back to Part 2 of my CA travel diary!  Where did we leave off?

Oh yes, it's Day 4.  I've hopped in my little Chevy rental and am headed north to LA from San Diego. 

As you know, one of the main goals for this trip was to drive Highway 1 all the way up the coast.  I had already done some of that while staying in San Diego when I drove through La Jolla, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach so I elected to hop on the 5 for awhile until the 1 splits off further north near Capistrano.  (I actually don't think the 1 runs continuously through that area anyway?) 

The first major stop I made on this route was in Laguna Beach.  As a nostalgic fan for the MTV show of the same name and its spinoff The Hills, it was pretty cool to SEE Laguna in person for the first time!  I pulled over on the main road and walked a few blocks down to the beach to take a look:

I obviously was hoping Heidi, Spencer, LC and Lo would make an appearance but I had no such luck.  Also, its not still 2005.  Ha

I walked back to my car and continued driving the PCH north, passing through beautiful coastal beach towns like Newport, Huntington and Long Beach.  I should note the term Pacific Coast 'Highway' should be used very loosely through this area.  This was not a highway but a 4 lane traffic-light filled road.  It was slow going but great for sightseeing, until after I passed Long Beach.  Then the area became more inner city and lined with buses and discount stores.  By this time, I was over the traffic and just wanted to get to the beach!  I passed LAX at some point and snapped this shot while singing the old school Miley Cyrus lyrics in my head.  Ok actually out loud.  Hopped off the plane at LAX, with a dream and my cardigan.... :

And then, after 3.5 hours in the car, I finally made it to the infamous Santa Monica Pier!  I changed into my swimsuit in the super grody public bathroom and onto the beach I went!

Roaming salesmen were walking the beach selling fresh sliced mango for $6.  I was hungry, thirsty and these looked amazing.  THEY WERE!

After an hour or so of people watching and laying out on the beach, I put on some clothes and decided to check out the pier, and at the suggestion of my cousin, walk down the strand to Venice Beach.

It was close to a 2 mile walk to Venice Beach and I was meeting my cousin for dinner back in SM, so I just took a quick stroll down the walkway.  Which was lined with 'trinket booths' (ie. places to buy weed!) and so many bars.  It was loud.  And a bit much.  I headed back and stopped to watch people doing acrobatics on that adult playground up there.  It was pretty cool.  There were guys climbing ropes and then balancing at the top of giant poles.  I wish they had one of these in Baltimore because I'd be ON that!

I managed to see the sun set over Santa Monica Pier on the walk back and got to the pier just as my cousin and his gf arrived. 

That night we had dinner at a really great restaurant which of course I can't remember the name of! I had a grass-fed/organic beef slider and we shared some roasted Brussels sprouts and bruschetta.  I spent the night at his house in LA and the next morning we did all the touristy things!


LA Day 5: We had brunch at a lovely restaurant in Beverly Hills called The Farm and then walked around Rodeo Drive.  NBD.  Then we drove into Hollywood so I could see the famous sign and take an obligatory pic.  It was neat to stroll around the Walk of Fame and look for stars of people I loved like Martin Scorsese and Robin Williams.  I also really loved looking through the famous handprints at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.  I love history and it was a cool feeling to walk through and touch pieces of cement that people like Frank Sinatra had once touched!  Before I knew it, it was mid afternoon and I had to get on the road.  It was so good to see my cousin, even if just for the night. 

When I pulled out of his driveway, this was the outside temp in LA:

I knew that as I continued to head north the temps would just continue to drop which kind of made me sad :(

As I headed north, I decided to stop in Santa Barbara because I had heard it was a beautiful town.  Oh I'm so glad I did!  This was probably my favorite town of the trip.  It was incredibly gorgeous and picturesque and these photos really do not do it justice. 

Why I didn't go to college at UCSB I'll never know.  Those kids have it MADE!  I would love to live in this little town for awhile someday.

After stopping in a Starbucks there out of sheer bladder necessity, I hopped back in my car and continued north.  I made one more stop at Pismo Beach, which I also heard was nice but I wasn't really impressed.

I finally reached my destination for the evening, Morro Bay, about 4 hours later (I think).  My cousin had given me a bag of grapes for the road which I nearly finished on the drive up.  They were a true blessing.

San Luis Obispo is the more common stop-over for people driving from LA to SF, but I had Googled suggestions and a few people mentioned Morro Bay as a unique and less-crowded alternative.  Something about the giant rock for which the town was named struck me and I decided that would be my place.

I checked into a little retro motor inn (seriously, it had about 15 rooms, which you park right outside the door, and looked like something from the 1950's!) and then headed 2 blocks down to the waterfront to see the Rock and grab some dinner.

All joking aside The Sundown Inn was probably one of my favorite hotels ever!  It got great reviews online and was super cheap, which was why I chose it, but it was SO clean and charming.  I loved my room there and plan to tell anyone who cares that if they're ever in Morro Bay, CA they should def stay at this little establishment.  Also, I got my first ever magic fingers massage from that bed for 25 cents.  I thought these things only existed in old movies.  Oh, I'm so glad I was wrong.

My first view of Morro Rock was striking. 

I have no idea why this giant rock sticks out of the water, but I loved it.  I should prob Google that.  I had an incredible fish sandwich and then went back to my room for a bed massage and some sleep!  Tomorrow was going to be a big day.

Day 6:  I woke up and walked a couple blocks to a coffee shop to grab an egg sandwich for breakfast and then said goodbye to the Rock.

I was a bundle of excitement knowing this was the day I'd drive through Big Sur, arguably the most picturesque and iconic strip of the Pacific Coast Highway.  I knew it was going to be great, but I had NO IDEA what I was in for as I filled my gas tank and snagged some water for the road.

I drove for an hour and a half or so until I came to the forests and state parks of Big Sur.  After passing through those, Hwy 1 became windy and treacherous as we began to scale coastal cliffs and that is when the most mind blowing views I've ever seen in my life started to appear.  I can see why people say you MUST drive Hwy 1 up the coast before you die.  For this.  The bluest waters of the Pacific Ocean crashing against the most marvelous coastal cliffs are a sight so captivating it almost doesn't feel real.  Yet somehow it is.  And I was there.  MY GOD.

There are stop off points every few hundred feet where you can pull over and see views like this, so obviously I have TONS more pictures, but I'll spare you.  Hwy 1 is super windy here and although I wasn't scared, I def would not want to be driving it at night! 

I stopped and took photos at the infamous Bixby Bridge, which you can RUN over in the Big Sur Marathon.  I'll tell you, if I ever decide to run a full marathon, this will be the one!

I was so lucky with the weather that day, and all of my pictures came out crystal clear.  The universe had my back the entire trip, I tell ya.  I'm thinking of blowing up a few of these on canvas and hanging them around my apartment so that I feel like I'm in Big Sur everyday.  Especially in the middle of winter!

I continued on to Monterey but I think I'll save that and San Fran for another post!  I'm sorry these posts have been long and rambling and I probably lost most of you.  But for those just looking through the pictures, I hope you enjoyed seeing them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

And if you've never driven Hwy 1 through Big Sur this is me telling you to DO IT.  Make it happen somehow.  There is no way you will regret it!

Part 3: Monterey and San Francisco....TO BE CONTINUED...

Ever done the Hollywood touristy things?!

After seeing these pictures, do you want to run the Big Sur Marathon?!


  1. LA is a weird place. Not my cup of tea. Laguna and the rest look amazing though. I likely would have pelted Spenser and Heidi with sand or something. Not that they would feel it, with all the Botox.
    The massaging bed just makes me think of the Heart bed in The Sims video game.

    1. The massage bed was incredible! I need to get one of those installed in my apt! Haha

  2. Love Laguna Beach. Can't wait to see your San Francisco post. You need to keep heading North to the wine country and the Sonoma/Napa area. Safe travels

    1. Thanks Lynda! I did travel through Sonoma and attended a wedding way up north there in Sea Ranch. It was lovely!

  3. I've been to LA once (well, beverly hills). I'm glad I visited but I don't think it's a place I'm burning to go back. My old roommate is from Laguna though and she's obsessed! One day I'll get out there to visit her...

    1. I was only in LA overnight so I didn't see much but the very touristy areas! Laguna was gorgeous. It looked just like it did on The Hills!

  4. These posts are great, what an amazing trip, wishing i could do something like that!!! I will when i visit you next summer!!!

    1. One day we will road trip together my Lesle!

  5. What an amazing trip. I am reading your posts backwards and getting greener and greener with envy!

    1. It was one of the best trips of my life (thus far!). I can't wait to plan more solo adventures!