For years I've been dreaming of driving the coast of California. So much beauty there! It's been beckoning me to come explore. I've always thought it would be such a great way to spend an anniversary or drive with my sisters or girlfriends "some day."
Well, this year I realized two things:
1) Dave would just assume stick toothpicks in his eyeballs than drive the coast of California (ok that was a little dramatic, but he's all about the "getting there" on a road trip, too many stops along the way drive him nutty).
2) My girls are becoming some of my best friends. They enjoy all that beauty almost as much as I do.
So traditionally when we have gone to Coronado for the 4th of July we drive straight to Bear Lake from there.
We cut through Las Vegas where Dave catches a flight home for work and we head the rest of the way up.
But this year I thought to myself, why not drive the coast rather than cutting through?
So we did.
My three little girls and I took an extended mother/daughter date and drove that gorgeous coast that frames the land from the sea.
As we drove along talking and reading and basking in the glory of all that beauty I couldn't help but glance in the rear-view mirror over and over again and let my heart spill over with love for those girls of mine I get to spend forever with. So grateful for them and that they are at such a great age to be such great companions.
First we had to bid goodbye to Coronado and all the people we love there.
We dropped off Elle to head back to her life in Provo:
...a couple hours later sent Dave off on a flight home,
...and headed out on our adventure. I had asked around about all the best stops we should take along the way, and got lots of good advice from friends who have lived in California for quite a while. We had a cooler of snacks and blankets and books and maps and pages of scrap notes of things I wanted to be sure we saw and we were all set.
Our first stop was LA JOLLA.
We had been told to go watch the sea lions and that we could actually swim with them if we wanted.
We ate a little lunch while Lucy worked on her autobiography.
Next stop was SAN CLEMENTE where our good friends stay each summer.
We also stopped by to visit our friends who took care of us in China who now live in San Clemente.
She and her daughter Reese also took care of Lucy while we went to Guilin (back HERE) during the tail-end of our stay in China. Lucy will always remember that fun over-nighter where she got to meet Santa Claus in China at a cinnamon roll bakery (ha!) and have the time of her life with this great family.
As luck would have it, we also ran into our neighbor who used to live right behind us here in our neighborhood. So fun to catch up with her a little bit!
We slept overnight between there and NEWPORT Beach where we headed the next morning.
...and happened to randomly run into two of Grace's best friends at our breakfast acai bowl stop:
Not only that, but we ran into our COUSINS right there too!
We ran into them randomly in Jackson Hole last summer too. How is that possible??
...and some other good friends from back home.
We rented tandem bikes and explored the boardwalk there.
Next stop: LOS ANGELES...where we ate at Tito's Tacos:
(so delicious, thanks for the recommendation Katie & Tanner!)
...and stopped by the Los Angeles Temple:
Stopped by the visitor's center:
We went to Diddy Riese before heading out of town because we heard it was fantastic, and we heard right.
Next time we are going to hike to the Hollywood sign. We ran out of time and I think maybe Lucy would have struggled a bit, but that's on my "some day" list.
We headed to MALIBU next.
We ate dinner in SANTA BARBARA at an Asian fusion place I sweet-talked the girls into:
And did one of our most memorable things of the whole trip that night:
Went GLAMPING at EL CAPITAN
"Glamping" is that newfangled trend where you sleep in beds in a tent, kind of glorified camping, and we all had stars in our eyes about it. So when they offered us a complimentary upgrade to a cabin we weren't quite sure if we should take it or not....until they told us how far away the restrooms were from the tents. That wouldn't have been a good walk in the dark for Lucy so we went ahead and took them up on their offer.
But even though this was kind of "cheater" camping, we still saw the Big Dipper in all it's glory, three skunks, one deer and got our pants scared off by some big noises in the trees so we're still counting it :)
And hit SAN LUIS OBISPO for tri-tip steak sandwiches (we heard that's a "thing" there and they didn't disappoint).
Wish I had more pictures of that cute little town, but check out the street sign above. Even that is picturesque.
I miscalculated how far away HEARST CASTLE was from Morro Bay, but we were still on track to arrive with a good amount of time to visit. When we finally knew an approximate time we'd be arriving (there are timed tickets there), I called to reserve tickets over the phone. To my complete dismay the tickets were completely sold out! I was dying because we were pretty excited to see that place. I asked if there were tickets I could get in person at the castle and they told me kindly that no, they wouldn't be available and I was out of luck.
Our hearts sunk.
I had called earlier and they had plenty of tickets, so we were trying to get a grip on missing that great place. It's a bus shuttle ride to get there so you can't even see the outside without tickets.
I decided since we were so close anyway we should still pull in and give it a try.
So we did and I must have happened to talk to the right lady because although at first she shook her head and told me she was so sorry, when she saw how distraught I was she told me she'd check to see if any shuttle spaces had opened up.
She found two.
When I told her we had four, she asked around a little more and saved the day by finding some.
The only problem was that we had the catch the last shuttle which left five minutes from then.
From there it was like the scene in Home Alone where everyone is scrambling because I had to park the car, rally the girls to RUN to the station, find where the shuttle was leaving from, and get on before it pulled out all within minutes of lucking out with those tickets but WE MADE IT!!
These girls look all calm as they got their bearings straight with their maps as the bus climbed the mountain but believe me, five minutes before they were in a panic right along with their mother.
That place is quite amazing I must say!!
Read more about the history of this place HERE, and HERE. But beware, it will make you want to go!
He also had animals imported from all over the world to roam around on his land. They say there are still descendants of those animals living nearby and every now and again you'll see a random zebra hanging around.
This pool is usually filled with gleaming water, but it has been drained because of some leaking problems and also because of the drought, but it gives an idea into Mr. Hearst's vision.
The tour ended at this huge decadent indoor pool:
Amazing stuff right there.
We had a kind of funny experience racing to Big Sur after Hearst but I'll have to wait for tomorrow for that now that the day is nearly gone and the kids are almost home from school.
For now, I'm headed to cajole Lucy into joining me on the burning hot sidelines to cheer Claire's soccer team on. They lost to this team 6-1 last time (their big rival), hopefully they have better luck today!