The obvious thing to do immediately after you take your last college final EVER (?!?!?!) is to jump in the car and take off on an extended adventure. For three weeks I cruised the Pacific coast from Santa Monica to Washington with my partner in crime, our makeshift camper and no plans at all.
We camped on the beach and woke up to the surf, made impromptu stops at amusing tourist traps, managed to go to three zoos, hiked more waterfalls than I can remember, and made some of the most wonderful meals hovering over a propane stove guided by two silly headlamps.
To anyone embarking on a road trip this summer: take your time, if you see something awesome- stop and go look at it!! Drink lots of water, bring a rain jacket (apparently it rains outside of AZ, lol!), and don't commit to a strict schedule. Stuff happens! Sometimes a road is closed, your car needs a tune up, or you just have one too many Moscow Mules at some really neat neighborhood bar- whoopsie! Just enjoy being in new territory and go with the flow. And maybe indulge in a very large, delicious breakfast :)
I want to share with you some of my favorite little treasures from my trip!
My Bunky Essentials:
- AZ Love V Neck Tee- represent!
- My Oka b sandals! I literally lived in these for three weeks. City walks, on the beach, we even conquered camp showers together. Just rinse them off and they are good to go!
- My Liza Skinny jeans. These are crazy comfy, so much that I wore them for long stretches in the car. They made for much better photos along our stops than sweats!
- ...And when I just needed some stretchy pants my Sorbteks never failed me. They come in awesome colors and feel like butter. BUTTER.
Santa Monica- Santa Barbara, CA
- A day on Santa Monica Beach is a must for anyone who has never been. Grade-A people watching, a beautiful sandy beach and of course the Santa Monica Pier and amusement park.
- Dogtown Coffee - coffee, smoothies, breakfast burritos and more. This laid back cafe is housed in the original Zephyr surfboard shop and the staff is always super nice. They usually have a fresh baked gluten free treat or two, too ;)
- Santa Barbara Zoo- Right off of Highway 1 is the small but charming Santa Barbara Zoo. Home to snow leopards, Asian elephants, foxes and more, this zoo gets you up close to the wildlife without requiring a full day hike (looking at you, San Diego Zoo!).
- Backyard Bowls - I am totally on board with the acai craze and this place makes wonderful, giant bowls of it! I got the "Rachel Bowl" (obviously) topped with chopped almonds. YUM
Big Sur, CA
WOW. Words simply cannot explain the beauty that is Big Sur. Comprised of a windy coastal drive and lush forest, this remote gem is a must visit. It is home to the iconic Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park and Bixby Bridge. I highly recommend camping here, though there are numerous cabins and inns along Highway 1.
- Pfieffer Beach State Park offered a welcome "cheaters" camping with spacious and clean campsites, bathrooms, showers, a lodge with a nice patio restaurant, market and surrounding hikes! There are plenty of fire roads to turn off onto for more into-the-wild camping, if you're into that.
Santa Cruz- Humboldt State Park
We happily arrived to the Mission Inn in Santa Cruz after four days of camping (showers and clean clothes became verrry exciting on this trip). Santa Cruz is pretty much the last "California beach town" as you head north.
- Trailside Cafe & Coffee House (Monterey Bay)- I was sooo happy to find this super cute spot after checking out the Monterey Bay Aquarium and having nothing but touristy restaurants to choose from (I loaaathe). Cash only!
- Walnut Avenue Cafe- breakfast in Santa Cruz! It's downtown with all the shops and not too far from the boardwalk and pier. Super yummy, get a side of the breakfast potatoes (duh).
Advice: Do not try and do San Francisco in two hours. You will be sad, overwhelmed and have sore calves. Rookie mistake…
- Surf Market in Gualala (wah-la-la)- Coastal Northern California is super gorgeous, but you will go long stretches without hitting real stores and such. Wahlala was a super cute vacation town and home to the holy grail that is Surf Market- hellllo gluten free s'mores supplies. I could have wandered in there for days. Stock up!
- Drive thru trees! You will see a few signs advertising hacked up trees you can pay to drive through. You should do it! Or don't. You can see them for free like, everywhere.
- Camp in the Redwoods. We stayed in Humboldt National Park on the Avenue of Giants. Make s'mores and drink whiskey and take in that nature. You're welcome.
Redwoods- Oregon + a Detour
Okay, so we cheated from our path. Once we got into Oregon we shot over to check out Crater Lake and Bend before continuing up the coast. Crater Lake is covered in snow until like, July…. we found that out at the top. It was wicked cold and too foggy to see the lake. BUT we did get some Stumptown cold brew up there (because that makes sense).
- Arcata, CA- They shame Flagstaff on the Birkenstock meter here. Funky town square with shops and cafes, and if you're lucky and get in on a Saturday there's a real eclectic farmers market going on. I left with an olive oil lamp and tie dye flares; it just felt right.
- Brookings, OR- Helllllo Oregon! We landed here and camped at Harris State Beach. They have a sweet beach access where we roamed, climbed some big rocks and saw a whale! Blowhole and erry'thang.
- Bend, OR- LOVED Bend. It's a big town that lacks the big city feel (in a good way). We hiked along the Deschutes River in the middle of town (they offer fishing, kayaking and paddle boarding), grabbed dinner and drinks at Deschutes Brewery- they had gluten free beer that DIDN'T taste like cough syrup, major- and I fell in love with Townshends! There are plenty of state parks nearby to explore, too! We checked out Clear Lake and Koosah falls on our way out of Bend. Magical!
- The Oregon coast- You can't go wrong at any stretch of this beautiful coast but seeing it is a must. Plenty of hotels/motels/inns along Highway 1 as well as coastal campgrounds.
Portland marked the northernmost stop on our trip. Depending on what you're in to, you can either stay Downtown or in the surrounding neighborhoods. Our favorite neighborhoods were Hawthorne and Alberta!
- Downtown- We had awesome experiences shopping in Will Leather Goods as well as Banner and left with some really great pieces. Dinner at Rouge Brewery was super fun and delicious! Not average bar food, I got a southwestern quinoa salad and a house-made whiskey. Of course in true tourist fashion we hit up Voodoo Donuts. Andrew wouldn't get the voodoo doll doughnut. Get the doll.
- Hawthorne- Jam on Hawthorne. oooomph. We went here twice! Mag-Big had a great collection of made-in-Portland goodies. Harlow is great if you're feelin' healthy (or like some almond butter balls, heeey).
- Alberta- Loved! So so so much to see here. Tin Shed had that great offers-gluten-free-food-but-also-food-for-the-normal-person balance. That makes life happy. Sweet outdoor gadgets and such at Cord. I highly advise indulging at Salt & Straw- major goodness and some really out there flavors. We got lucky and managed to not have to wait in line (apparently it's always out the door).
- Multnomah Falls- Just outside Portland to the West lies the Colombia River Gorge. We got a little taste at Multnomah Falls, the second tallest year-round waterfall in the US and the largest in Oregon. You can see the falls within a 3 minute walk from the parking lot, but we opted for the additional 5-mile hike up and around the falls. You will pass numerous smaller but beautiful waterfalls and a nice little lookout over the gorge. It's a win-win trip.
Okay okay so I could go on forever. We had plans to go to Seattle but unfortunately we kind of did not account for Memorial Day Weekend... aaand it so happened that NOTHING was available/in our price range on that Friday (shocker!). But, like I said, stuff happens and it ended up being totally cool. We did some back tracking and caught some parts of the coast we had breezed over on our way up. Bonus: our last extra days were spent in San Diego AKA one of my most favorites!!!
So now I am back to reality and back in Bunky!!! So please say hello next time you're in. Let's talk about some of your adventures!
We're trying on RC because "Yes I am Rachel but I'm not RACHEL" is just weird.