Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip: Day 5-8

yes, it's been a long time, but sooo much has happened.... but first, finishing the PCH Roadtrip....

Day 5: Big Sur, Bixby Bridge, Carmel-by-the-Sea, 17-mile Drive, and Monterey
We woke up and went for a hike to Phieffer Falls in the Big Sur State Park.  We continued to drive over Bixby Bridge, stopped for a photo op, and continued to the cute town of Carmel-by-the-Sea for lunch.
 After Charcuttere and Cheese at a cute little deli in Carmel, we paid the toll to travel along the gorgeous 17-mile drive along Pebble Beach.  We were typical tourists and took pictures at the popular sites, including the Lone Cypress, Crocker Grove, and Seal Island.

We continued to Monterey, were we stopped at the Cannery Row Brewing Co for local brews and appetizers.  We checked into the HI Monterey Hostel, took a nap, and woke up to walk around the Cannery district and enjoy Gharredeli ice cream.  

Day 6: Monterey Aquarium, Santa Cruz Boardwalk, San Franisco
We eat an amazing breakfast at First Awakenings- Coconut Mango Pancakes and Breakfast Crepe, in a quaint courtyard, then we headed to the world-famous Monterey Aquarium.  After spending a few hours looking at the fish, sea turtles, sharks, tide pools, otters, and jelly fish, we started driving up the PCH again. Towards Santa Cruz.  We stopped in a few stores, and strolled along the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  It was not busy, so we were first (and only) in line for the roller coasters.

Then, we arrived in San Fransisco!  We checked into our HI: San Fran Downtown Hostel and set out to explore the city!
San Fran Day 1 highlights: Lombard St, Ghirradeli Square, Pier 39 and 41, the Seals, Alcatraz from a distance, Coit Tower, China Town, and had dinner at a hole-in-the wall restaurant.  We had the bacon-wrapped dates and goat cheese, per recommendation of a bar tender at another bar. Incredible.

Day 7: Sn Fran, Day 2

San Fransisco Bike Tour around the city and into Sausalito, including an unsuccessful attempt to see the Golden Gate Bridge.  We took the taxi ride to happy hour at Toronados(!) and back up to the City Lights Bay Cruise, where we dropped anchor outside the SF Giants baseball game and made new friends at a locals' bar.


Day 8: San Fran, Day 3 and Napa Valley
We drove over the Golden Gate bridge for another attempt at the view, but was unsuccessful yet again.  The rode to Napa Valley was much less foggy and more sunny.  Napa was gorgeous.  We shot high, and went to three wineries- a one glass $30 tasting at Opus One, a tour through Cakebread Cellars, and a few glasses at Rubicon Estates.  Opus One was the best, most expensive wine.  Cakebread was the most informative and friendly.  Rubicon Estates was the most beautiful, most charming castle-like atmosphere.  At this point in the trip, we were exhausted and had a nap and dinner, and we were out for the count.
Day 9: Rt 5 back to San Diego
It took about 9-10 hours to drive back to San Diego, but we made it time for Tio Ruli's Labor Day party.  And thus ends our first San Diego adventure!  More to come...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip: Day 1-4

The Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip was so much fun!!!

Day 1:
After hanging out at the US Olympic Training Center in the morning, our roadtrip started with surfing at San Clemente. Amazing waves. A longer and slower ride than Tormaline, which is right up my beginner-alley.
We drove past downtown LA and arrived at Garcia's Tia Gigi and Tio Brian's house just in time for dinner.  We grilled out on their expansive deck with an impressive view of the LA skyline and the lake, and talked by candlelight.

Day 2:
The next day, we had a brief tour of LA: Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive.  Stopped in Venice Beach for some great people watching, a sweet hat purchase (winning!), and some gelatto.  Eeee...! Drove past Santa Monica Pier on the way to Malibu along Highway 1!!!  In Malibu, we had planned on surfing at Surfrider, but unfortunately, there was a surfing competition going on.  We purchased a coconut instead and continued on our (soon to be unsuccessful) quest for some waves.  We found nothing before Santa Barbara and got to Santa Barbara by sunset.  We gave up the search for another day, and checked into the Santa Barbara hostel.
We went out for appetizers (warm homemade potato chips with melted Gorgonzola cheese) and local brews at The Brewhouse in Santa Barbara- Great local brews with a view of the large copper vessels where they make the beer!  We walked along the streets of Santa Barbara (SB may just be my favorite city of the whole trip- red tile roofs everywhere, cute, clean.  We are definitely going back.)  We had dinner on the heated patio at the Paradise Cafe, and met up with Chad & Amy at Pinkberry... ( You HAVE to try the pb&j sundae!)

Day 3:
Sunday, we woke up early for hopes of surfing at Leadbetter Beach in Santa Barbara, but the waves weren't high enough. Fail, again.  Instead, we grabbed smoothies at Blenders in the Grass. (Garcia is a smoothie fanatic) The girl at the counter probably thought we were crazy from the way we were wrestling in her store.  We took a stroll down by Stern's Wharf and bought a piece of artwork at the Annual Santa Barbara Street Art Fair.  Our first piece we bought together for our new home!

Then, we were on our way to Pismo Beach for some of Splash Cafe's world famous clam chowder.  The line was out the door and around the building, but the chowder in a toasted bread bowl was well worth of wait!  Garcia, who is NOT a fan of seafood, even liked it!  We drove Garcia's Toyota Camry out onto the beach itself to get to Sun Buggy Rentals to rent a two-seater sand-buggy.  We drove out to "the dunes," and 26-acre sand dune park.  So. Much. Fun!  I got us stuck in the sand three times, but we got out and had a fantastic time!! With the sun looming on the horizon, we decided to head to Morro Rock for some hiking.
We drove into a think blanket of fog and couldn't see the huge rock in the ocean.  No worries... We headed to Morro State Park to set up camp and clean up for dinner.  We drove to the city of San Luis Obispo for dinner at the Big Sky Cafe (chilled sesame ginger noodles. yum).

Day 4:
Monday, we packed up camp and tried again for that view of Morro Rock.  Stubborn fog still hadn't let up, so we headed to Cambria for brunch.  Cambria is a cute town, with antique shops sprinkled along the main street off Highway 1.  I had heard great things about Indigo Moon, but we had time to kill, so we walked along the boardwalk at Moonstone Beach and had fun with a mini-photo-shoot.

Indigo Moon did not disappoint!!  Garcia had the "smoked turkey, prosciutto, goat cheese, pesto, and red bell pepper on ciabatta" and boasted that it was in the top 5 favorite sandwiches of all time.  I had the "grilled chicken, brie, and apple with onion jam on focaccia," and I'll make the same statement.  Overall, best restaurant of the entire trip.  We really need to start a food blog.
We made reservations at Hearst Castle for a tour, and went for a blufftop hiking trail over East-West Ranch.  Gorgeous, and we saw otters playing in the ocean!
We made it to Hearst Castle by 2, and did the tour of the main rooms and the outside gardens/pools.  Unreal.  It's amazing what the wealthy spend their $$ on...

After a stop at Piedras Blancas Beach to see the elephant seals, we drove to Julia Phieffer Burns State Park to see McWay Falls at sunset.  This was my FAVORITE view during the whole trip.  There is a waterfall there that falls right onto the sand and trickles down into the ocean. Breathtaking.  Garcia and I jumped the "no trespassing" fence and climbed down the cliffs for a closer view.  Quite the quest, but worth it!!
We stopped at Nepenthe restaurant for dinner.  It's a comfortable outdoor-indoor restaurant with a firepit and unmatched views of the Big Sur Coast!  We got there with just enough time to appreciate the view before we had "the Famous Ambriosaburger"- by far the least expensive item on the menu at $14.50.  We were not impressed by the food, but the view was enough reason to go back.  We arrived at our campsite at the Big Sur and set up our tent in the dark.  At midnight, we headed out to the Esalen Institute for the nude baths.  This was crazy, but so cool.  It's a clothing-optional outdoor natural hot spring pool that sits on the steep cliffs overlooking the waves crashing against the rocks below.  The sky was so clear that you could see the milky way!  We soaked in the tubs for 2 hours, enjoying the sound of the ocean, the stars, and the warm natural springs. A-maz-ing!