california lovin’

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10.11.2013 by Andrea

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view from Julia Pfeiffer Burns state park

Y’all have heard how much I don’t like road trips. To say that I generally abhor them is an understatement but last month I might have had a life changing car ride that changed my mind. Coupled with the fact that I have rekindled a longtime love affair with VW vanagons, I just might be a altered woman.

On Labor Day weekend I was presented with an opportunity to visit Big Sur. I’ve alluded to how puffy my feet were after tailgating and a wedding, so jetting off a few hours after a major game day and wedding celebration normally might have required some contemplation. But, as it were travel coordination fell together just so and before I knew it, I was deplaning at the quaint Monterey airport and being whisked away along the 1. With a previous job, I had done a bit of traveling along the coastline of California and knew I loved Santa Cruz, and some smaller townships but the drive from Monterey to Big Sur quite honestly took my breath away. It was the perfect time of year to drive with the music blaring, bass booming, and hair blowing in the wind. Top that off with staying in a cozy cabin and getting to do a bit of exploring and all of a sudden a crush was blossoming. I’m not usually obsessed with taking nature pictures, but the topography was so breathtaking that I couldn’t stop snapping shots with my dinky camera.

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bixby creek bridge

I only spent a night in Big Sur and it was brief taster, leaving me longing for more. We scrambled around on the Julia Pfeiffer Burns trailhead, sniffed one of my favorite smells, eucalyptus, and then watched whales travel together in their pods. I’ve watched Free Willy, and seen some whale action in the San Juans and yet again my mind was blown. Maybe it was how raw and organic [could I sound a bit more granola?], the whale seeking experience was. It was gorgeous to see them at sunset from the Post Ranch Inn terrace, but most fun was when I felt like we were on an episode of Whale Chasers, [there must me a reality TV named that]. All along this winding stretch of road folks were pulling over, opening their binoculars and/or cupping their hands over their eyes and taking time to watch these moments in nature. Such a rarity for that to happen in ‘merica, but when you’re traveling this beautiful stretch of highway it’s the norm, not the oddity.

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cocktails and whale watching from Post Ranch Inn

A night in Big Sur was not enough, but California continued to charm the next day when pizza was consumed twice. You know that I am not about to complain about that, especially after a run along Andrew Molera trail went sideways. Literally. Yes, I fell into a patch of poison oak, and had to take a dip in the freezing ocean. Black hair got wet. Enough said. I think I completed my own version of a Tough Mudder/Spartan race.

We packed up and left Big Sur and it was off to Carmel-by-the-Sea, which was was lovely. We lunched at this rustic French bistro, La Bicyclette, where pizzas and artful salads satiated my appetite. Another quick splash in the ocean and we were back on the road again.

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summer days

Perhaps it’s because I grew up with a bit of agronomy in my background but I must say driving past harvesting occurring and fruit stands with avocados 10 for $1 made me smack my lips, crave a cold fresh lemonade, and want to sit roadside and watch passerby. We cruised through Los Gatos [my tour guides hometown], and then our caravan reconvened at Santana Row. You know when you’re a kid you think you could eat pizza 24/7 and then when you’re an adult you have no problem eating pizza for dinner and then consuming it the next morning. It’s quite a challenge when you are faced with eating pizza twice in a day without a nap in between. But, a girl has to belly up and so Pizza Antica it was. I guess one hand was busy shoveling ‘za in my mouth because I failed to take any pictures of the pies that day and only focused on the salads. I will tell you that one of the slices I had that night with bacon and corn sprinkled with arugula was to die for. And naturally, any chopped salad with bacon as a ingredient can’t be a bad thing, right?

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To say this trip was a whirlwind would be putting it mildly but from touch down in Monterey to when my head hit the pillow Monday evening it was storybook-esque. The food amazing, the air refreshing, the sightseeing unparalleled, and the company top notch. Watch out, a road-tripper might have just been born. Or … let’s be honest, it was my perfect trip. Fly in, drive a small amount, really only do a “longer drive,” [read 2 -3 hours total in car time] one day, which was broken up with food stops multiple times. However it works out, at the very least I encourage you to hop in a car, and enjoy the coastline via the 1. Suddenly a trip to wine country doesn’t sound as daunting. Hmmm.

Until the next bite, which is tomorrow when UW takes on Oregon, happy Friday. cheers.

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