Travel blog

California road trip – our travel diary: week 2

To pick up where we left off in our last blog, we’ve just watched a lovely sunset over Malibu beach and it’s now time to embark on our journey North up the coast.

Our first stop along the west coast is Ventura – about an hour north of Los Angeles. We chose to stop here as we didn’t want a huge drive and we’d heard good things about this small coastal town. We arrived as it was getting dark so didn’t have much time to see what Ventura had to offer in daylight, however we had the whole of the following day to explore. After a great an okay night sleep we headed out to explore Ventura. The weather wasn’t brilliant but at least it was dry! We explored a small part of the town and a quick brunch stop at Denny’s Diner (a very overrated American food chain) before heading to the beach. In hope of having a chance to do some reading on the beach, we set up camp but shortly realised it was way too cold for us to be sitting by the shore (even for us brits!) With the weather clearly against us, we headed up the coast to our next stop – Santa Barbara.

As we are trying to keep our accommodation spendings to a minimum, we decided to stay slightly out of the main town in a pretty little place called Goleta, near the University of Santa Barbara. It was now afternoon, and we thought we’d be better to spend what was left of the day exploring Goleta and head into Santa Barbara itself first thing instead. Goleta looked lovely, but just our luck, it started raining as soon as we reached the pier!. We still took a short walk along it before finding a beachside cafe to stop and have a hot chocolate. By this point the heavens had opened and it didn’t look like there was much hope of the rain stopping anytime soon.

Fast forward 24 hours and the rain was still coming down as heavy as ever! We’d made a few short trips away from our Airbnb – a supermarket shop accompanied by coffee and cake at a cafe afterwards, a visit to the pier and a drive around the hills of SB (the houses were MASSIVE). Unfortunately, being in seaside towns isn’t the most fun when it’s raining but we tried to still make a day of it! As the rain wasn’t due to stop until the following morning, we headed back to our room for a stirfry and chose to book the final accommodation spots on our trip!

Our second full day in SB and the sun was shining – hallelujah! We headed out bright and early, it wasn’t too warm but the sun was so nice! We explored the old mission and the town of Santa Barbara, everything looked so lovely in the sun! We also spent a portion of the morning looking around the pier and the beach (finally getting to appreciate it in all its sunny glory!) Our final stop in Santa Barbara was to the Morton Bay fig tree – it was HUGE and so beautiful – before we got back in our car and headed up to Pismo, the next stop along the coast. We had a short stop off, slightly inland, at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch – whilst you can’t actually go inside there are still many flowers and notes left at the gates in honour of MJ! It was lovely, but the weather made it feel slightly spooky as it was quite far off the beaten path!

We arrived in Pismo early evening, just in time for sunset. It was beautiful – maybe the best we’ve seen so far! The clouds turned such amazing shades of pink, orange and red. It was incredible. Once the sun had gone down, the temperature dropped dramatically, so we headed up to the room to have some dinner and to plan what we wanted to do the following day.

We woke up to the sound of the ocean and the sun shining. What a lovely view from our room! After breakfast we did a workout on the beach, where a local offered us the chance to use his improvised jungle gym which was great fun! Following our workout we went for a short dip in the jacuzzi, which quickly turned into a whole morning!! In the afternoon, we went for a walk along the beach towards Pismo itself and had dinner at a small beach shack style restaurant – the chowder fries were incredible! We walked back along the beach shortly after dinner, which was lovely despite the strong winds and the full tummy’s! That evening we watched sunset from our balcony with a couple of beers🍺.

Day 2 in Pismo and the weather had turned. It was raining… again! With the weather against us, we had a slow morning before check out. From the hotel, we drove to Pismo town to the old cinnamon roll shop that had been there for over 50 years (and boy had they perfected the taste). We shared a cinnamon twist and a mud pie – both were delicious – before heading onto our next adventure. We arrived at the edge of Pismo Beach and decided to drive our SUV along the sand!!!! What an exciting albeit slightly scary experience. We successfully made it around 3km along the beach before turning back. However, during our return we ran into slightly thicker, softer sand… we were stuck!!! Luckily we had a helpful local close behind who stopped to help – he dug away at the sand and drove the car out of the ruts for us, refusing to accept any money for his time! What a decent guy! After listening to his advice, we headed slowly but surely back to the comfort of the concrete road. Phew – we made it back on to dry, stable land and were able to get on our way up the coast. Next stop Monterey!

Enroute to Monterey we made a short stop at Morro Bay – the weather was awful but it was still a nice little stop off. There were loads of sea lions and we even saw an otter really close to the harbour diving for food – it was amazing!

We arrived in Monterey late afternoon and headed straight out for a walk along the coastline to Lover’s point, where we watched sunset.

The following day we drove along the 17 mile drive (south of Monterey), the rain held off for the most part and the view points were beautiful. That afternoon we went for a quick walk around Lobos Point before heading back to Monterey to begin our St Paddy’s Day celebrations – wine tasting, a few pubs and dinner!!

Week two of our road trip now over – it’s going too fast!!! We’re off to San Francisco next, stopping off via the Big Basin Redwood National Park, which should be exciting! We will post an update on week three once we have made it to the inland national parks (Yosemite and Sequoia)!

Updates to follow… 🏔🌁

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