One of the many reasons why I love what I do is that I'm able to go on adventures in the name of finding jewelry components. My most recent road trip turned out to be the most epic of them all. Below, I share our journey day by day, and honestly, I don't think we could have planned a more fun and easy trip. I wanted to share our adventures in hopes that they will inspire many more!
We woke up at an ungodly hour in NYC to catch our flight to LAX. When we landed at noon, we were definitely in the mood for a big lunch, so we stopped by Bossa Nova. The vegetarian plantain sandwich made me really happy.
Next we picked up our rental car at Enterprise on Sunset Blvd. Our fuel efficient car was only 149$ for the full week! A welcome change for someone who is used to insane NYC car rental costs.
From there, we booked it up the coast to Santa Barbara, barely making it in time to do some thrifting at United Thrift and Alpha Thrift Store. Unfortunately we didn't find much there, but the rest of the trip would definitely make up for that. We walked around the cute downtown and then found a beach to watch the last bits of the sunset.
We checked in at the Days Inn Buellton, CA. If you've seen the movie, Sideways you'll recognize the motel with the big windmill. The place wasn't amazing, but we had a cute back patio and the room was something ridiculous like $49 a night.
We had worked up a bit of an appetite, and my man had a surprise dinner planned for us at the Palace Grill. Since I grew up in New Orleans, I appreciate good Cajun food, and the Palace Grill definitely delivers. Many presidents have dined there as well, and they agree!
We were still way too stuffed from dinner the night before to even think about food, but a great breakfast suggestion in Buellton is Ellen's Danish Pancake house, which we were looking forward to.
The treasure hunt continued at Buellton Senior Thrift Shop and with antique shopping in San Lois Obispo. I found some major scores out there!
When we were thrifted-out, we came across an amazing trail along the creek in the middle of downtown SLO. We sat on some rocks in the middle of the stream and watched ducks chase each other. When we got up from the rocks, a hippie called down to us from above and said she really enjoyed watching us hang out on the rocks, and she threw us a papery seed ball in appreciation and to thank us for being us. Welcome to California! (It was a cool seed though, to be fair.)
We stumbled across this completely gross bubble gum covered alley. Apparently people started sticking their gum there in the 1950's and they haven't stopped ever since. Ew.
That night we drove up the coast and checked in at San Simeon Lodge. This cute motel is located directly across the street from the beach, we had a terrace overlooking the pool, and it was only $40 a night too!
Of course we walked across the street, strolled on the beach and watched the sun set.
There weren't many options for food in San Simeon, so we back-tracked a bit for dinner at Sow's Ear Inn. We just happened to drive past the restaurant and were drawn in because they decorated the place with hundreds of pigs. It had a fireplace to boot, and it was only one of two places open. We were incredibly surprised with the quality of the food. They serve homemade bread in a flowerpot and the lobster pot pie was out of this world!
We drove up the coast to have lunch at Sebastian's Store. The restaurant is near to the Hearst Castle, but we didn't make it through the castle tour. There are horses that you can pet right near Sebastian's, and sea otters floating in the azure water around a nearby pier.
After lunch, we continued up the coast and stopped by a sea lion refuge. There were hundreds of young pups lazing about, and a few giant males (some of which were acting frisky - get a room!)
Next, we continued up highway 1 and soaked up the scenery along the way to Big Sur.
After about an hour of driving we arrived at the Ripplewood Resort Cabin where I had booked a night. I shot some detail photos of my jewelry in the succulent garden while my man researched the area.
Pfeiffer Beach was just a bit down the road from Ripplewood, and it was one of the beaches we were most excited about seeing. We took a nice long walk on the beach, checking out the purple sands and awesome rock formations. There were tide pools with sea anemones, and plenty of places to climb around on the rocks. The waves crash through narrow rock openings, and watching the sun set in that context was mesmerizing.
For dinner we stopped by Deetjen's Big Sur Inn, which has been around since the 1930's. The grounds are intensely charming, and the food was amazing.
We headed back to Ripplewood for a nap to rest up for our Esalen appointment. That morning, I had called twelve times to book a spot at the Esalen Institute hot springs. Every night from 1-3 am, the hot springs are open to the public, but you have to reserve one of twenty spots and pay in advance. This was one of my highlights of the trip! In the moonlight we sat for hours and watched the waves crashing right under our natural hot spring tub. The spa is clothing optional, but all of the other bathers were young so there were no creepy vibes. Highly recommended!
Driving the 30 minutes back to our cabin after being completely relaxed was a bit of a challenge. The road is so windy and it is very dark out there. Be careful!
We checked out of Ripplewood in the morning and drove up coast towards Carmel. We stopped a couple of times for some quick hikes along the ocean cliffs. Watching the blue water crashing over the rocks is an amazing and hypnotizing experience. The wild succulents are pretty charming too.
More hiking was in store when we arrived in Carmel. Point Lobos State Park has very well maintained trails, sea otters, tide pools and, of course, a crazy landscape. At this point we were almost in gorgeous view overload, so we did the shorter 1 hour loop. There was some intense wave action going on there! The birdwatching scene here seemed pretty strong, wish I knew more on that topic!
Next, we did some more thrifting around Carmel. I found a crazy mustard yellow jumpsuit at the St Vincent Du Paul in Monterey, and a crazy Egyptian inspired top at the antique mall.
We headed back down the 101 to San Louis Obispo to spend the night in order to shorten our drive the next day. We even attempted the bar scene downtown which ended up being pretty young and rowdy. Needless to say, our night out didn't last long!
For breakfast, we had our second Cajun meal of the trip at Bon Temps Creole Cafe. The food was great, and they even had vegan jambalaya, which I have been missing since going vegetarian years ago.
We did another quick hike at the SLO botanical gardens. The plots were small, but it looks like they have a big renovation and expansion going on in the coming years. The native plants in the gardens were so cute, and there were humming birds buzzing around.
On the drive back to LA, there were so many farm stands. We stopped for the most perfect avocados and strawberries I've seen in awhile.
After a few hours, we arrived in LA just in time to watch the sun set at our friend's pool party. Later in the evening we were off to a late night warehouse dance party downtown. Fun!
Thanks for an amazing and memorable epic road trip, California! We will definitely be back!