There’s the road trip you take down a well-worn path—to see family or friends, or perhaps to visit a place that has become familiar to you over time. Then…there’s the road trip you’ve never taken before.

I’m glad to know both. As July turned to August, I traveled on a new path. As I said in the previous chapter, I woke up in San Francisco on July 31. By the end of August 1, I was somewhere else entirely.

The last day of July, the fifth day of our California vacation, was the start of a brand new journey. Jack and I set out for the Pacific Coast Highway. Mind you, this trip was planned in one mere, impressive month. My dad was the first to encourage us to factor in some time to take the scenic drive down Highway 1. He was right.

Some travelers spend many days on the PCH to go from Northern to Southern California (or vice versa). Others start the journey in Oregon. If you’re the passenger, I’d recommend only going south on this drive. That will keep you closest to the ocean views while your driver is stuck focusing on the road.

Moonstone 2
Moonstone Beach in Cambria, CA

We decided to pack as much into a two-day PCH drive as we could.

A friend graciously loaned us his family’s condo in the Monterey Bay area, so we spent one night recuperating there (our legs and feet were still sore from the hills of San Francisco). After getting acquainted with the area, we went to nearby Carmel for dinner. Guess what? We missed the Biebers by one day. I learned that we were in a sacred celebrity getaway spot.

Our meal at Stationæry was kind of prophetic, and not just because that’s a cool name for a restaurant. After I downed my lobster roll, I had the buttermilk panna cotta: “Big Sur honey, streusel, spring fruit,” the description read. We were going to stop at Big Sur the next day — at the very store where our restaurant had purchased the honey!

We were more than satisfied with our first leg of the PCH trip and knew that day two would be much longer, but we were excited. After waking from the most comfortable sleep and gathering up our belongings, we hit the road.

I’m going to warn you right now that there are a few stops on this day of the trip. So if you’re waiting for Mickey Mouse and the Hollywood sign, sit tight until the next installment, please and thank you. If you want to read more about honey and the ocean, proceed.

Nepenthe is a roadside store and restaurant boasting a mountain view to one side and the ocean to the other. It’s literally IN Big Sur. We ate lunch outside, high up, staring at the bold contrast of nature. Yes, we bought one jar of the honey.

Nepenthe
View from lunch at Nepenthe in Big Sur

We didn’t stop again for a few hours, so I used my blue beach towel as a blanket, got cozy, and gazed out the open window. I’m not normally a windows-down person, but this was the ride of all rides for open windows.

I had predetermined that we would stop in Cambria because I wanted olallieberries, and I knew I could get them in this town. An olallieberry is a blackberry-raspberry hybrid (I’m oversimplifying that, so Google it if you’d like). At Linn’s Restaurant, we found a gluten-free olallieberry pie so that Jack, the one with Celiac disease, could partake. The girl with the honey soon added jelly to her collection…

Before the berry bounty, I had Jack stop at Moonstone Beach. I wanted some moonstones, obviously, so I walked along the shore in search of them. This beach stop marked my first brush with Pacific Ocean water since I was eight years old. After staring at beaches for a couple of days, it was electrifying to get out and feel sand and foamy waves right at my feet. Visually, there’s nothing like that streak of sunlight sparkling as it reflects off the water.

moonstones
Moonstone Beach in Cambria, CA

Content with my souvenirs of the day, we attempted one more stop: Solvang. I had previously watched several videos about this Danish town. We were too late to feed the emus, but we walked around for a few minutes before deciding that it was too crowded. It was bittersweet to know that we were right at the halfway point of our vacation. The drive overall was a nice palate cleanser and was rather peaceful.

Somewhere between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, we grabbed burgers at In-N-Out. Pretty good, I must say. Enough to get us through a bit of traffic before we finally made it to our hotel across the street from…DISNEYLAND.

~to be continued~

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