We’ve just spent the last 2 weeks road tripping along the coast of California. From San Diego to San Francisco with everything (well nearly everything) in between.
I’ll be blatantly honest, when I look back over the two weeks…we didn’t really do too much. For the abbreviated version we hit the beach, ate fish tacos, camped, tailgated and drove plenty of miles. If you want the extended version read on. We would make a few stops along the way but first and foremost it was time to check out San Diego. Piper and Evie have popped back to let you know their thoughts below as well.
It was 35 degrees when we arrived in San Diego so we hit the beach at La Jolla and Mission. There were waves, the water was good, the kids made friends from Denver and there were a few seals casually swimming by. I think the locals are used to that but Ez and I were clearly the tourists getting pretty bloody excited to be in the company of seals, running up and down the beach each time they appeared.
Piper and Evie – So good to have friends again! These ones speak English and we can actually understand what they saying. Only problem is I don’t think they can understand us.
Fish Tacos – Being the closest city to Mexico we had heard the tacos were good. We chowed down at some of the best street side tacos stands serving up fish tacos. The kids loved them and best of all they started at about $1.90 a pop. I did make the mistake once of piling on an unknown green sauce. I was sweating more than Donald Trump at the Mexican border. Let’s just say Johnny Cash once sung a song about me the next morning.
Piper and Evie – So funny. Mr “look at me, I love chilli” got schooled. His head looked like a tomato (yes the world’s biggest one).
Other highlights of our San Diego time were visiting the kid’s science museum, checking out the historical Gaslamp district downtown and stand up paddle boarding in Mission Bay.
I can’t say I was a massive fan of driving in San Diego. There are more highways than a Tom Cochrane song. I think I‘ve worked out the problem, there are more entrances and exits than a brothel resulting in utter chaos as people try to get on and off. It’s a necessity to drive though as we’ve quickly found they don’t really do public transport over here.
Next stop had Ez as excited as a new mum on Facebook. That was because we would be staying near Laguna Beach, the home of a trash reality TV series she once binge watched back in 2010 (insert cringe worthy groan here). The beach was great and reminded us of home with some good waves crashing, the familiar ocean smell and a nice vibe (Mabo). Our fail here was going to Whole Foods Market to buy things for a cheap picnic lunch and spending $55!
Piper and Evie – So funny once again. Mr and Mrs Tight Arse decide to take us for lunch at a supermarket. Talk about living on the poverty line. The only problem is we made them spend more than a restaurant. Next time don’t be stingy.
We cut short our stay here by a night as we received an invitation from some old friends to go tailgating at a college football game. We had planned to skip LA on the way up (we fly home from here in December) but detoured for a night. If you’re not familiar tailgating is the fine art of eating and drinking in a car park prior to a football game. College students do it pretty well! Combine college football with hours of drinking and eating in a car park and you have found my heaven. We loved our real USA experience even if my designated driver status (for the year) kept me in check. It was good people watching though, seeing the students with their drinking games, keg stands and general debauchery… oh to be 21 again. Our kids took a little while to understand the concept (i.e. a party in a car park). Piper asked if it was in a underground car park? The pre game was definitely better than the game itself. Go Bruins!
Piper and Evie – It wasn’t such a stupid question, don’t know what he’s talking about. It was a great party and we made more friends. Dad spent a lot of time looking at these girls…I think they were from college? They were young and pretty, he is old and fat…not sure why he kept staring.
We spent a couple of late nights shouting at TV screens in our hotel rooms for the AFL and NRL grand finals. Not quite the same atmosphere as a grand final BBQ although I may have woken up nearby rooms singing Up Up Cronulla at 4am.
Our next stop was Carpinteria (just outside of Santa Barbara). We loved staying only 2 blocks from the beach. The house was your typical beach holiday house with beach chairs, umbrellas and body boards which was loads of fun with the girls and we visited Santa Barbara farmers market, one of the best we’ve been to.
I also had a moment I’d rather forget. I was parking the car in the apartment car park. When driving in I noticed everyone was parked nose first. Thinking I was smarter than average I decided to reverse in for a quick getaway (to beat the traffic on the way to work?). Looking into my reversing camera I happened to miss the large overhanging cupboard. Result = shattered back windscreen. Unbeknown to me , I’d taken out full coverage so the next day I swapped the car without a dollar spent. The only damage was to my pride.
Piper and Evie – Numbnuts. That’s all we can say.
We then headed up to BIG SUR. Big Sur is a stretch of California between the ocean and the mountains with some pretty spectacular scenery along the drive. I had been a little disappointed with the rest of the drive (just major highways) as had envisaged it was all going to be more like this (perhaps more research could have told me otherwise). We would camp, tent and all under the redwood trees in the middle of Big Sur. We cooked dinner on the fire and even rocked out the American campers treat s’mores (a combination of toasted marshmallow, biscuits and chocolate). It probably should come with free membership to Diabetes Anonymous. We explored the world’s tallest trees, a purple sand beach and hunted raccoons (we found none).
I got my pants pulled down (not literally) in Big Sur – I bought petrol. I’d been paying about $2.20 a gallon up the coast. The only petrol station in Big Sur kindly sells it for $4.20 a gallon. Out of pride I nearly decided to let the tank run dry and get towed out but I relented and paid the thieves.
Piper and Evie – Things got testy in the car when the big guy had to fork over the cash. It was like watching a Samoan part with their last piece of KFC.
After Big Sur we stopped at the coastal town of Monterey to visit the aquarium. I used to think we had a pretty decent aquarium in Sydney (maybe just my hometown bias!). Sorry Sydney, but not anymore. The Monterey Aquarium is amazing! Not sure who loved it more, the kids or us. Sea otters, sharks, penguins, turtles, schools of mackerel etc, etc. They even made jellyfish look cool. A must see if you’re ever in this part of the world.
The next stop was the NorCal surfer town of Santa Cruz. Some good food, funky shops and plenty of old school hippies. We kicked back in a caravan park, had an open fire while the kids ran amok on the jumping pillow and playgrounds.
Our last stop on the coast was San Fran. We didn’t have much time here (we thought we’d come back to do it properly on another trip) but still enough to get down to a food truck extravaganza on the bay and check out Fishermans Wharf. It was Columbus Day weekend (whatever that means) and there were more people there than the gym on the Monday after NYE.
So, what have the kids been up to? The latest flavour of the month is the movie Annie. We watched the original a few weeks back and now listen to the soundtrack every day in the car. This has resulted in 1000 questions from Evie:
What’s an orphanage?
What’s a hard knocked life?
What’s a smidge?
What’s bet your bottom dollar?
Imagine those 4 questions on repeat for 2 hours and welcome to the wonderful world of Evie.
Also, Piper commented when time for a swim – ‘Right, you’re up big guy. You’re taking us swimming.’ I think we know who the boss is around here!
Next stop is Tennessee, the start of our pilgrimage to the South, but more about that next time.
Also, check out more photos from California on Erica’s gallery