Part II – PCH Cruisin’…
Click here if you missed part I
January 2nd 2014.
I woke to the evocative fragrance of brine and seaweed. I took in a deep meaningful gulp of that fresh crisp ocean air as it penetrated my pores and coated the back of my throat. I opened one eye squinting the other closed until I was sure. It was indeed exactly as I thought, I wasn’t dreaming. We were in Hermosa Beach, it was 2014 and we were about to embark along the path I have been dreaming of for years. It was the morning that we were to began our drive up the PCH Highway 1.
I had such an emotional New Years Day. My grip on life had begun to release. To make that effort even more real, I had accidentally dropped my cell phone in the toilet on NYE. Even if someone wanted to contact me the universe intervened and wasn’t allowing it. With my waterlogged phone we packed up our things to quickly get a start on the 370 miles ahead of the most incredible scenery on earth. I was going to be a captive audience to this no matter who was going to try and interrupt.
While everyone else was commuting on the twisted and clogged spaghetti bowls of the Los Angeles highways going back to work after the new year, we went the opposite way- against the grain for the first time in 15 years. We had the PCH all to ourselves. I felt like I was playing the most epic game of hooky, even Ferris Bueller would approve.
The GPS told us it was a 5.5 hour drive to our destination of Moss Landing in Monterey. We knew after covering our first 400 miles that we would need at least 8 hours to make the stops we wanted to and give the word cruisin’ the respect it deserved. Here’s the thing… we had as much time as we wanted. The moment I realized this- I felt something- a tease- a little tickle of my senses. It was freedom that was taunting me.
I kicked my checkered Vans up on the dashboard and we began our Highway 1 visual feast. I thought of all the artistic influence that was created along these sandy shorelines. I friend said something that resonated with me recently. “Anyone who isn’t working should be embracing their creativity.” An absolutely true statement- it’s a way of producing something society desperately needs – they depend on those who have an ability to share what they cannot do and we appeal to this by doing what we can to awaken the senses without actually being there. We call it living vicariously.
We started in the bluffs of Santa Monica up through the fringe of the Malibu Chaparral where every stitch of beachfront property is quilted into an affluent community 27 miles long of beach houses only a few hundred yards from the surf. The Chumash Indians were the first to settle the area and named it Humaliwo to signify the loud crashing waves along this section of the California coastline. With the windows rolled down listened to the Hu and cruised…
We drove slowly and in silence savoring miles and miles of this sun kissed sparkling shoreline. I took hundreds of cleansing breaths deeply all the way down to my belly. I would inhale taking in fresh thoughts of positivity, health and brilliance, exhaling any and every feeling of negativity dullness or pain.
Once we hit Point Mugu the highway headed inland through Oxnard and Ventura. I was almost relieved- the beauty was so breathtaking I felt I was overindulging. How we were so fortunate to witness what we were- I was so consumed in the experience.
Once we were away from the majesty of the PCH we could take inventory of what we just saw and were able to take a moment to catch our breath. The few forced inland breaks are perfectly positioned so you can truly appreciate what is gone. We couldn’t wait to get our eyes on more.
We cruised on with the windows down, the thick briny air flowing through our cabin, inhaling the aromachemicals of algol, ambrate, and aquanol. My mouth watered from the marine aromatherapy all the way to Santa Barbara. There is one other place on earth that reminded me of Santa Barbara, a place that holds all the things we would want in a paradise and that is Kauai, Hawaii.
Our ultimate dream is to be floating on a surfboard in the sparkling sea and while waiting for the next set of waves discussing what mountain we want to climb the next day. This was Santa Barbara- AKA the American Rivera.
Once again with my mind about to explode from the imagery and dreamy visions of the foamy sea washing over my surfboard we began inland. This segment took us through the SLO city, San Luis Obispo.
I recognized how antsy we were getting- along the coastline there was no feeling of this however hunger, boredom, road stiffness all began to set in. Just when our minds started to fray we popped back out to Highway 1 and immediately saw something we had been highly anticipating for this trip – an off leash dog beach! It was the perfect time to stop. Morro public beach for DOGS!
Our pooch Napoleon got to enjoy the rite of passage all those who possess a soul should be given the opportunity to do – frolic and play in the ocean! I am not sure who was the most excited about this but the timing couldn’t have been better. We took an hour to walk him all along this beach. I took about 30 photos of this event, this one being the most spectacular. The sun kissed spotlight shining down on them captured this enlightening moment in a way I could have never imagined.
We made lunch in the RV parked right above the beach savoring the delicious healthy fuel we had in our traveling home and appreciating the bout of luck we just had. We were fueled up for the next mind blowing segment of the PCH… Big Sur.
High above from the cliffs of the Santa Lucia Mountains was now our view of the Pacific Ocean. I could have stopped 1000 times for photo ops. I really engaged all of my senses throughout this region.
I related to the nomadic and hunter gatherer cultures that first inhabited this area and how much we need to remember those ways of our ancestors. They followed local food sources seasonally, living near the coast in winter to harvest rich stocks of mussels, abalone and other sea life, and moving inland at other times to harvest oak acorns. So many scenes along this journey have given me clues to how important it is that we migrate as a means of survival.
I thought about Jack Kerouac and the time he spent here. During his booze filled days in the area, Big Sur acquired a bohemian reputation with these newcomers. Henry Miller recounted that a traveler knocked on his door, looking for the “cult of sex and anarchy.”
I didn’t see this pristine coastline in that way and couldn’t imagine blurring it with booze filled goggles. I wanted to see it with every pigment of color the eye can reflect.
Every turn more magnificent, every cliff more wild and untamed. I hope it can stay unspoiled for many centuries to come. There is something so mysterious and remote, so rugged and unrestrained so few can find a life here. It is truly only for those who are descendants of this area. You must know how to live off the land. I loved every inch.
With only a few precious moments of sunlight left we made it to our RV site in Monterey at Moss Landing. We got to the beach to catch the glimmer of the sunset while seals poked their heads out of the water to enjoy along with us. The sun rested along the horizon after showing us unparallelled hospitality over the last 370 miles of the PCH. We too were ready to rest- no dreaming needed. We now had real visions in our archives to enjoy.
We spent part of the morning exploring the Moss Landing preservation area. I also wanted to get some fresh fish off the back of one of the boats from the marina adjacent to our RV site. We found a fisherman and as he began to explain the only live catch they had was Dungeness Crab I cut him off immediately and said WE WILL TAKE IT!!!
I was a little unaware of how he would deliver these said crab. A few moments later there they were, on the deck of the dock alive and feisty. “Here ya go” he says as he drops them clawing at our feet. Chad looked puzzled and then proceeded to ask for a bag or something to put them in. The grizzly fisherman then put them in a plastic trash bag as they started poking their way out of it immediately. We were told if we put them on ice they would settle down until we could cook them later that night. We wrestled them into our freezer in the RV and hit the road, turning the radio down from time to time to see if we could hear them!
Our next stop was the bay area of Oakland Hills, Alamo and San Francisco. We still had 50 miles of PCH to enjoy before our destination. We have many family and friends in the bay area to visit and planned to be there in time to have dinner with them, little did they know the fresh catch of the day was on its way too…
The Slowcoast starts north of Monterey up to San Fransisco. I imagine its the perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. It was adorable, quaint, breathtakingly beautiful and full of many perfect roadside attractions. We stopped along the way when and wherever seemed appropriate.
We kept up with our migration theme by visiting Natural Bridges State Park and the Butterfly Trail. The park’s Monarch Grove provides a temporary home for up to 100,000 Monarchs. From late fall into winter, the Monarchs form a “city in the trees.” The area’s mild seaside climate and eucalyptus grove provide a safe place for monarchs to roost until spring.
We took all day long making our way up the Slow Coast- it was a perfect slow ending to our PCH experience.
We made it to our bay area destination with our crabby passengers just in time to enjoy dinner.
This begins the ‘foodie’ lover segment of our trip. What better place to load up our RV with fresh seafood and farmers market fare than San Francisco!
Saturday was spent at quite possibly the most amazing farmers market I have ever been to, right along the bay in downtown San Francisco.
My olfactory glands finally got to ingest all those aromas I smelled along the way when we devoured several dozen freshly shucked oysters at Hog Island.
We sipped on Blue Bottle coffee while watching the masters brew up for the never ending line of patrons waiting patiently for their turn.
I made out incredibly well at the farmers market to stock up the RV for the next segment of our trip. We would be eating like kings in Yosemite!
We also had tickets to a 3 course PALEO dinner and book signing for Chris Kresser, one of my nutrition hero’s just released book in Berkeley. I was able to meet several of the people in person that are in my network along with many new people. Hearing their stories of how this lifestyle helped them overcome some big health issues was the dessert to this foodie’s dream trip.
The family and friends we visited throughout the bay area treated us like royalty. We spent time in Oakland Hills, Alamo and San Francisco. I filled my belly with so many amazing treats and my heart with the warmth of our loved ones.
We now had 900 miles behind us, our new life ahead becoming closer and closer with each mile we covered. I looked down at my hands, they were no longer in a constricted fist – they were holding my husbands instead.
Next up… Yosemite National Park. Click Here for Part III