After leaving the desert, Steve and I were excited to embark on our next leg of this adventure: California! We made our way toward San Diego and first headed to a town called Ocean Beach, where Steve lived for a year back in his twenties. He was so excited to show me all of his old favorite spots and reminisce about his epic year when he lived 30 steps away from the beach! We spent a few days in this area eating delicious fish tacos, watching incredible sunsets, walking the Ocean Beach pier, and tasting some awesome beers. It certainly wasn’t a very budget-friendly portion of the trip but we had just come from weeks of free camping and cooking to make this work.
We did so many things in this area so I will just mention a few highlights.
- La Jolla Cove was a really awesome spot. The beach and surrounding rocks were covered with harbor seals. They were all laying around and at first I thought they were dead! But if you keep watching, one would wiggle its flippers, flop around on the beach, or do some adorable snorting. I had so much fun watching the seals and could have spent hours there!
- Torrey Pines was a fantastic spot for sunset! I loved being up on the cliffs and being able to see the ocean from high above (something that is not easy to find on the East Coast!) We were lucky to have a handful of incredible sunsets during our first few days on the coast.
- We had a great time exploring Balboa Park in San Diego. We strolled through the beautiful Spreckels Organ Pavilion, looked at lovely flowers in the Botanical Building, and enjoyed the many beautiful walking paths throughout the park.
- We checked out Cabrillo National Monument, a beautiful park with incredible ocean views, an historic lighthouse, and tide pools that we unfortunately arrived too late to check out (they closed at 4:30).
- Sunset Cliffs was a beautiful area! We walked along the shore and enjoyed the lovely views of the brilliant blue water and were mesmerized by the waves crashing on the shore. When we were there, the tide was too high to check out the sea cave, so we will have to return some day!
- There are so many wonderful breweries in this area! We definitely broke our one-brewery-per-state rule. Oops. (A friend recommended that we should adopt an electoral college type system for number of breweries per state, I should look into that…) Some delicious breweries that we tried were Pizza Port, Karl Strauss, OB Brewery, Belching Beaver, and Kilowatt. I tasted some awesome West coast IPAs, refreshing sours, and rich dark porters.
- After leaving Ocean Beach (“OB”) we stopped in Pacific Beach (“PB”) for a day. This town had a similar feel to Ocean Beach but with a bit more of a party vibe. We tried Poke for the first time, which was delicious, and Steve caught up with an old friend from his high school days.
After about a week in the San Diego vicinity, we headed inland to spend a few days with friends in Temecula. We really enjoyed having time to recharge in their lovely home and get our fill of delicious home cooked food, a comfortable bed, and many hot showers. They were incredibly kind and generous hosts and were happy to put up with us for a almost a week! The downtown section of Temecula has a fun old western vibe and a surprisingly delicious Cuban restaurant! We also visited a lovely winery and tasted delicious wines with an awesome view of the California countryside.
Steve and I made a day trip to Laguna Beach to check out some spots along the ocean that we had seen during our research. We first stopped at Victoria Beach to check out the famous castle turret and tide pools and to fly the drone. The tide wasn’t high enough for the tide pool to fill with water, but it was still a really neat place. Next we made our way over to Thousand Steps Beach. I’m not sure exactly how many steps it took to get to the beach, but it certainly felt like a thousand! We wanted to explore the sea cave and the tide pools but sadly the tide was too high at that point so we couldn’t go. I was pretty bummed as we were walking back toward the “thousand steps” back up to the street, when Steve suddenly noticed a whale out in the ocean! Apparently this area sees a good number of whales as they migrate through, and it was so wonderful to see a whale in the wild (and not on a whale watch boat ride)!
Our next stop was Dana Point where we spent a long weekend with our Temecula friends. This is a very lovely, quiet, and low-key town compared to the busier nearby towns like Laguna Beach. The condo had an incredible view of the ocean in the distance and we had a blast exploring the area! Our friends took us to their favorite beaches, nature trails, and lookout points.
We also made a side trip to Balboa Island to try the frozen bananas made famous in the TV show Arrested Development. “There’s always money in the banana stand!”
After a really lovely week with amazing friends, it was time to hit the road again. I scheduled a quick trip back to my hometown for Mother’s Day weekend from the Las Vegas airport so we took the few days before my flight to check out some spots we had missed in the desert. We made a very quick afternoon trip into LA to grab lunch with my cousin and his girlfriend who work as a screenwriters and movie producers in Hollywood, and then we made our way back to the desert. My next blog post will go through our adventures near the Salton Sea, so stay tuned!