Monday, July 23, 2012

Dear My Readers: Where should we stop on our west coast-ish road trip?


I've got two weeks left at this casting gig* and then H and are gonna get the hell out of LA. We plan to throw our shit in the car and meander up BC to visit my dad.

Which route should we take? Where should we stop along the way? Of particular interest are: Flea markets, rodeos, dive bars, lakes, hot springs, swimming holes. Beaches are pretty cool too, I guess.

And. Do you have recommendations for….. camping? We did the trip once before (on our honeymoon!) but we didn't camp. This time we're feeling braver, and thriftier.

Photo by Christina Richards
______________________________

*Anyone in LA want a free tattoo?

68 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. you got me all stoked to start planning!

      Delete
    2. i'll take pictures.


      instant ones.




      that will not develop.

      Delete
    3. or just crop me out in instagram. either way.

      Delete
  2. I have never stayed here nor do I know what they cost, but the El Capitan Canyon safari tents in Santa Barbara look amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've stayed in these - they are amazing.

      Delete
  3. Sedona... it's gorgeous whether it's sunny, cloudy, raining or snowing. There are hiking trails for every level of hiker. From 'I want to get out of the car and be there,' to 'Ready to hike all day and night.' There are a few wineries/breweries there, too. So there's that.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Skip I5 for and do the 101 up at least some of the coasts of Cali and Oregon. Also, for camping without "CAMPING" you can rent a little teardrop trailer that can be hauled by most any vehicle. Wine country near Dundee, Oregon is lovely, lots of awesome antiques around there too. Ashland, OR is beautiful (bonus if you want to see some plays). Hiking along the Columbia Gorge east of Portland is lovely (Angel's Rest, Horsetail Falls/Triple Falls, Dog Mountain are some goodies) Lots, lots more.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Do a day trip out to the San Juan Islands once you hit the northern WA coast -- lots of ferries from Anacortes to Friday Harbor and you can go whale watching, rent mopeds, or just stroll around an adorable island town.

    I live in beautiful Bellingham, WA, just an hour south of Vancouver and we've got a ton of interesting things to see/do/eat around here. Favorites are exploring the tidepools at Larrabee State Park, eating at Fiamma Pizza or the Green Frog [get the bacon, apple, gorgonzola grilled cheese], and strolling the Saturday Farmers' Market to catch some ethnic cuisine and funky street performers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i was also going to suggest camping in the San Juans en route to BC!

      Delete
    2. if you want Seattle recs, I got 'em!

      Delete
  6. Sycamore Mineral Springs in San Luis Obispo is pretty cool. The hot tubs are outdoors under the trees (but still private) on the hillside on the way to Avila Beach. A local fave. http://www.sycamoresprings.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also, Hwy 1 from SLO to Santa Cruz is really beautiful, but a long and slow trip. If you have the day, I say take that road and check out the scenery. Lots of camping in Big Sur http://www.bigsurcalifornia.org/camping.html

      Delete
  7. Ditto to Big Sur, especially Pfeiffer Beach (where you can camp- bonus!). I don't know of any other beach on the west coast with a waterfall that falls DIRECTLY ONTO THE BEACH. Gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Correction- no camping directly at Pfeiffer, but campgrounds available nearby.

      Delete
    2. The JPB campsite is one of the wonders of the world. 1/4 mile walk to your own private beautiful space ON THE BEACH.

      On Highway 1 south of San Francisco, I also recommend Big Basin, which is a state park near Santa Cruz and a great place to camp and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. On and off the 101 north of SF: Anderson Valley (if you have money, stay at the Boonville Hotel or the Apple Farm; if you're on a budget camp at Hendy Woods); the Mendocino coast including Mendocino Cafe, Jughandle Farm (with reasonably priced tiny cabins), and the foggy foggy beaches; the Covelo Blackberry Festival (at which you will be the only tourist, unless I go this year) and the Mendocino County Fair. I've never been to Vichy Springs but it's expensive and supposedly worth it (Jack London's favorite!). I know some killer swimming holes on the Eel if you end up going that way.

      Do you need camping advice? I'm good at that. It can be surprisingly comfortable.

      Delete
    3. JPB = Julia Pfeiffer Burns.

      Delete
    4. oh but there is! Alamere Falls is gorgeous... but involves a 7.5mi roundtrip hike. there are some hike-in campsites nearby... though it doesn't seem like you guys are up for quite that much thrift. Still, I needed to point out that there is at least one other amazing waterfall-onto-beach that is totally worth checking out.

      Delete
    5. Alamere Falls is definitely worth a visit! The hike is also lovely, not steep, and on good trails. If you're hiking from the Palomarin trailhead, you will pass by Bass Lake, which is great for a skinny dip (or just a swim, the naked people aren't judgmental that way).
      There are the Steep Ravine cabins and also West Point Inn on Mt. Tamapais not so far away, for something in between camping and staying in a hotel.

      Delete
  8. If the timing works out, there is a truly spectacular flea market in Alameda on the first Sunday of every month.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Replies
    1. we were just behind the rodeos the whole way home on our honeymoon and i have this DEEP URGE to go to one.

      Delete
  10. Moab, Utah. See the mushroom/phalic geographic thingies that they filmed for Star Wars. Awesome. Good camping too.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Moab is WAAAAAY out of the way, but if southern Utah interests you there is some amazing stuff there.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Esalen Institute in big sur has hot springs that are perched on a cliff right above the ocean. They are open to the public between 1am and 3am every night/early morning and there's public camping nearby.

    ReplyDelete
  13. you could go see my mom in sacramento, but i'll warn you: she parties pretty hard.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Dinner at Sierra del Mar at Post Ranch Inn. However, antithesis of thrifty. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve at low tide. Critters. 101 in Silicon Valley, the billboards are such a tech zeitgeist. OK, I know that's pretentious sounding but it's true. Chinese food in Daly City.

    Do you want to go through wine country? I recommend it.

    And, of course, my house in the suburbs if you need a cheap shower. I'll leave the key somewhere for you and get out of your way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are the sweetest.


      Neither of us drink wine, so.........

      Delete
    2. BTW, I heard that Intel has a museum now. You can see a pretend semiconductor fab. I mean, come on, that or a rodeo, hard choice!

      Delete
  15. San Luis Obispo! Sweet camping spot in Montana de Oro and another in San Simeon. Great downtown, farmers market every thursday night, drive-in theatre, crazy/creepy/cool Madonna Inn.

    Also, if you take PCH from SLO to Big Sur you should eat at Nepenthe, soooooo good, get the burger.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I second Nepenthe, the view is ridic

      Delete
  16. i just did part of this trip in the other direction for my honeymoon -- from portland to the bay area. we'd both done the coast thing before, so we did the cascades and sierras instead. hot springs you should FOR SURE hit up if you go that way: travertine hot springs, just outside of bridgeport, ca (near mono lake & yosemite), and my all-time favorite, cougar hot springs (a.k.a. terwilliger hot springs), a little east of eugene, or. travertine is free and cougar is $5 or something for a day-use pass (camping is available not too far away). bring lots of water.

    the sierras were beautiful and even in july we had no trouble finding lovely places to camp -- might be easier on that front than the coast?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wait. esb might LOVE the Madonna Inn. Also, there are rodeos and shit along 101 in the summer, combined with country music festivals.

    ReplyDelete
  18. OBVIOUSLY take the coast until you get to SF.

    trust emily and soak at sycamore mineral hot springs (a little pricey, but worth the extra pennies)

    tour nitt witt ridge

    drink at mozzi's saloon ...the only bar in cambria

    sandwiches for the road at sebastian's general store in san simeon

    camp at plaskett creek (or, if you're feeling lazy, camp in san simeon, where you'll only be a few miles away from "civilization," if cambria--bless her heart--can be called that.)

    brunch at deetjen's




    **FYI gas is WAY cheaper in San Luis Obispo or Morro Bay than anywhere north until Santa Cruz.

    ReplyDelete
  19. You didn't mention "steam train rides" but there is a fun train-through-the-redwoods at Roaring Camp in Felton (6 miles out of Santa Cruz on Highway 9).

    ReplyDelete
  20. Checkout Big Sur...shocker. Definitely stay at treebones resort http://www.treebonesresort.com. It's yurt camping at its finest and reasonably priced.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You and I do not have the same definition of "reasonably priced."

      Delete
    2. also add: different definition of what is considered "camping."

      Delete
  21. If you come to Oakland, you can get lots of Celia hugs. I hand them out for free to ladies named ESB.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Celia, I think we live in the same neighborhood. I've been thinking about going to that food truck thing for months.

      Delete
    2. I need a Celia hug. also: a hipster tour of Oakland, if you're up for it

      ♥ ♥ ♥

      Delete
  22. If you want fancy camping, there is El Capitan as Jess suggested (I was the anonymous who responded to her) and also this place: http://www.costanoa.com/
    which is somewhere between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. I have stayed at both - both times in the canvas tents with heated beds. I think I like Costa Noa better, and if I remember correctly, there are other options, like a wooden platform for your own tent, or a cabin or hotel room. We rented mountain bikes and went up a nearby trail which was great. I don't think either of these places are cheaper than a hotel room in general, but they are nice and have a completely different feel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Costanoa is awesome if you're into fancy camping. I particularly liked that while I slept on the floor the bathroom was still clean and didn't smell like dirt and piss (like other campgrounds). The trails there are amazing. I was proposed to on a secluded beach nearby!

      Other places to check out nearby:

      Ano Nuevo

      The best cup of chai EVER

      A hay maze?

      Delete
  23. That’s one of my all-time favorite road trip routes!!

    Right outside of LA is this super cute film set called Club Ed

    Bodega Bay in northern California is beautiful. …It also happens to have been the setting of Hitchcock’s The Birds!

    Visit Big Sur, where San Francisco poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti had a cabin

    Go for a chocolate tour at Theo’s Chocolate Theo’s Chocolate in Seattle

    In Vancouver, check out the Capilano Suspension Bridge in the rain forest.

    I’m writing a book right now about Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, so I’m super excited about all things road-trip related:

    Burning Furiously Beautiful

    ReplyDelete
  24. Gold Bluffs Camp ground is right on the beach and supposed to be amazing! http://www.parkcamper.com/Redwood-National-Park/Gold-Bluffs-Campground-Redwood.htm

    ReplyDelete
  25. I really enjoyed Nana's in Newport, OR.

    ReplyDelete
  26. The Olympic peninsula at the northeastern tip of WA is amazing -- incredibly beautiful coast, and temperate rainforest. You can put your car on a ferry to Victoria from Port Angeles there. You can also ditch your car in Seattle and take the high speed passenger-only ferry to Victoria -- maybe your dad would meet you on Vancouver Island?

    ReplyDelete
  27. How much time do you have? Here goes:

    I know it's a pretty time-consuming trip to go up Highway 1 all the way through both CA and Oregon, buuuuut if you have the time, camping along the Oregon coast is sublime. Oregon has much of the beauty of the California coast with a much cheaper price tag and plenty of odd little towns with quaint diners and lots of seedy fishermen's bars.

    Some popular campgrounds in Oregon may require advance reservations this time of year, however.

    IF you do decide to go this route, I'd include (in order from south to north):

    -swimming in the warm lakes nestled in the sand dunes around Jesse Honeyman State Park in Florence (camping there will be a zoo, don't even try).

    -any of the lighthouses (Heceta Head and Yaquina Head are particularly nice).

    -agate hunting is prime up and down the Oregon coast, and there are lots of little "rock shops" here and there that are pretty fun to pop into.

    -coffee + pastries from The Green Salmon in Yachats.

    -sushi at Yuzen in Seal Rock, OR (good sushi in a bizarrely Bavarian-style building with church pews inside - across from a gorgeous beach).

    -checking out the Rogue Brewery in Newport, OR
    (my hubby worked there for a spell and you can score hard-to-find/random brews for decent prices - take to enjoy around the campfire afterward).

    -stop for lunch/beer at the Pelican Brewery in Pacific City - kind of a bougie place but the location is terrific and it's nice to wander out onto the beach with your beer.

    -camping at Oswald West S.P. south of Cannon Beach - you have to park up on the road and walk your gear down in a wheelbarrow to the forested, beachside campground. It is a seriously magical place.

    Then you could cut up through Portland and head north. If'n you do stop in Bellingham, go low-class at the Horseshoe (oldest bar on the West Coast, though not necessarily the coolest) or the Cabin Tavern (the best of the dive bars) or go see the sweet ladies at The Temple Bar and have a Basil Gimlet for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. whoa, sorry for the novel. I love the Northwest.

      Delete
    2. Sadly, Oswald West does not allow camping after a tree fell and killed a camper a few years ago-still worth it for the park, though.
      One of my favorite parts of Oregon is Astoria, at the very tip top. Charmingly seedy, it feels like it's always dusk there. Great food, funny little bars, and the bridge over to the Washington side is pretty great (if not vomit-inducing to certain someones).
      Obviously anything and everything in that great guide to Portland, OR post a few months ago. If you happen to make it to town, my shop Half Pint has lots of vintage granny sandals!)
      If you don't want to rough it that much, check out some Oregon State Parks, a lot of them offer cute cabins and yurts to sleep in for about $40, all parks have flush toilets and hot showers, all you need to do is bring bedding.

      Delete
    3. HOLY SHIT, I hadn't heard about that. I have been camping there since I was a tot. Sad.

      Delete
  28. Big Sur - just got back. Stayed at a small vacation rental which was affordable and we found on VRBO. Made reservations at Esalen Hot Springs Baths - you go at 1am and its surreal and totally awesome. Plus Big Sur Bakery is a great dinner.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Benton Hot Springs for camping and ... hot springs. its unreal. near bishop in the eastern sierras. there is a campground where each camp site has ITS OWN HOT SPRING. private. it is the most awesome place i have ever been. also, the sign there says "population 13.5"

    ReplyDelete
  30. I second the Astoria, Oregon rec. Check out the Commodore Hotel, Ft. George Brewery, and Columbian Cafe (for breakfast).

    If you don't camp, this is one of my favorite places to stay on the Oregon Coast: http://www.oceanhaven.com/index.htm (reserve the Shag's Nest cabin -- despite the name)

    To be honest much of the food on the Oregon Coast is middling and touristy -- Local Ocean in Newport is an exception.

    As far as camping, you can't go wrong at any of the campgrounds around Cape Perpetua because it's just such a beautiful spot. Walk down on the cliff (paved trail) at Sunset for some pretty mind-altering scenery.

    I am heading to a Rodeo in Fossil, Oregon, August 11, but that is far from the coast! Next trip?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Local Ocean IS so delicious!

      Delete
  31. First of all, thank god you're fleeing Hell-A...that can't happen soon enough. Well you should take Highway 1 - obviously. And you should definitely hit up both Santa Barbara and Big Sur along the way.

    Do some antiquing outside of SB in Summerland - a super cute quaint town. If you like Bloody Marys...then I have to highly recommend the Nugget's Bloody Caesar (animal heads on the wall don't bother you do they?).

    If you love sushi, then Sakana in Santa Barbara (some say it's in Montecito) is a MUST. The Brewhouse in SB is a great place to get a beer (the brewer was a rocket scientist - seriously). If you want a lively bar I would hit up the James Joyce and ask to see Emmett's tattoo that Shaq paid him to get. If you truly want a dive bar then hit up the Sportsman which holds a special place in my heart. I love me a dive bar. Some favored beaches in SB are Butterfly and Hendry's (aka Arroyo Burro) where you can grab some good Happy Hour at the Boathouse and watch the sunset. On Friday nights during the summertime there are sci-fi movies playing at the Sunken Gardens of the Courthouse (the Sunken Gardens are a beautiful place to relax a bit). Grab a blanket and a bottle of wine and park your tush on the lawn. The first weekend of August is Fiesta...which can be somewhat of a sh*tshow. I would not recommend going to any bars that weekend - expensive covers, overly rowdy people hopped up on tequila (that's almost always bad), too many people downtown, too many out-of-towners wreaking havoc... But if you're there earlier in the week - Wednesday, August 1st - then you should not miss Spencer the Gardener at Casa de la Guerra. Spend an afternoon in the Funk Zone drinking some wine. I would stay north of Santa Barbara at El Capitan State Beach. This is different than El Capitan Canyon Resort. The resort is expensive fluffy camping...but it is pretty back there, and comfortable. The State Beach is real camping with some spots right on the beach (yeah! - where I got married in a downpour and it was aHmazing!!!!). Circle Bar B north of SB is a ranch with rooms to rent, a gorgeous bar (with bambi-covered seats and a photo of a scary hatchet carrying lady during Prohibition staring at you from the bar). They have a dinner theatre which is a lot of fun, but you should check out their schedule online beforehand to make sure your visit would coincide with one of the plays.

    You could take the 154 from SB, which loops from and back to the 101, but will get you around some crummy road construction and give you a view of the mountains behind SB. If it's Sunday, stop in at the Cold Spring Tavern (a biker favorite) for some music, for a tri-tip sandwich from an unnerving unsmiling big man (but boy does he cook a tritip) and a bloody mary. You could hit up some of the wineries in the Santa Ynez valley. Stop in at Flatbread Pizza, where the pizza is cooked in a wood fired oven, for dinner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only good suggestions in this are Cold Springs and Full of Life Flatbread, which ESB can't even enjoy bc they don't have GF dough.

      Delete
  32. More...sorry...
    On your drive up to Big Sur keep an eye out for the wild zebras roaming around the Hearst Castle.

    In Big Sur definitely go to Pfeiffer Beach. It's a beautiful wild place and you'll love it. The road in is easy to miss because there is no signage. There's a big turnout on the opposite side of the 1, where you might see locals temporarily parked to make phone calls (a place where cell reception exists). Go to the Henry Miller Library for the best selection of books. Eat eggs benedict at Deetjen's. Grab a drink in daylight hours, so you can appreciate the view down the coast, at Nepenthe. "Quaff oh quaff this kind Nepenthe, and forget the lost Lenore." Grab a bloody mary (okay...I obviously like a good bloody mary) at the Riverside Inn and sit in the chairs right in the Big Sur River. Late night go to Fernwood for some music and drinks. It's easy to drive through Big Sur, and think "wow, that seemed like a groovy pretty place," and not stop. Do not make this mistake. Enjoy the eclectic rugged aesthetic of Big Sur - you will find it nowhere else in the world. It may be hard to find a place to camp or rent in the summertime in Big Sur. And as much as the locals depend on tourism, they don't so much like the tourists. ;)

    There are some places I didn't (couldn't) mention because a best-kept-secret is, well, best kept. But I've mentioned more than enough groovy time places - probably overwhelmed you with ideas!!!

    Good luck. The journey is the best part.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I second all of the Big Sur recommendations; my husband and I are from there and we miss it constantly! Another great campsite that is actually on the water is Steep Ravine. It's about a mile south of Stinson Beach and about 30 miles north of SF. Book now! They also have little cabins for rent .

    ReplyDelete
  34. We stayed in a yurt at an Oregon State Park just south of my fav town, Manzanita, last October. It was excellent, and thrifty, but I don't know what kind of luck you'll have booking a yurt rather last minute at this time of year?

    If you do go to Manzanita - you MUST try the cinnamon buns at Bread and Ocean, and go for lunch there too. Best cinnamon buns in the world, in my opinion.

    If you are in Cannon Beach, eat dinner at the Irish Table - I dream dreams of their curried mussels. Happy driving - we can high five if you pass through Victoria!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes!! i second this! We got married on the beach at Manzanita. Hug Point, just north of there is pretty amazing too. Be sure to go at low tide, just around the cliffs is a pretty awesome waterfall and cave, but you can only access it at low tide...unless you're an epic swimmer.

      Delete