After spending an amazing 10 days exploring, eating, making new friends and hanging out with some of our extended family in Seattle, Washington, we took a road trip down the west coast of the US. We stuck to Highway 1 as much as we could so that we could hug the ocean most of the way. The trip took a bunch of planning. Taking the Amtrak or Greyhound was too expensive, and went on routes that meant only a small portion would be against the ocean. We originally considered cycling the whole way, but after some research we realised that it would take 2 – 3 weeks, and that it would be too expensive to get bikes and panniers off of Craigslist. We considered hitchhiking, but haven’t got brave enough yet. So, I put together a plan that was the most affordable, while allowing us to see as much of the coastline as we could. It turned out that using Budget Car Rentals was actually super affordable, as long as you don’t cross state lines.
Please forgive the bad quality photos; our digital camera refused to work.
So the route was something like this:
Day 1 – Monday 14 September:
Got the BoltBus at 6:45am to Portland from Seattle. Got coffee and something to eat at Veggie Grill in Portland. Picked up our car from Budget. The drive from Portland to the coast was average, but as soon as we got onto Highway 1, the coastline was beautiful. We couldn’t help but stop off at more look out points than we probably should have. We originally planned to stay overnight at a campsite in Cape Blanco State Park, but when we got there the campsite was full, so we carried on driving and ended up camping at Humbug Mountain State Park. We can’t really say that much about it because it got dark as we arrived, and we left in the dark the next morning, but it seemed like a really nice place.
Day 2 – Tuesday 15 September:
Left Humbug Mountain State Park at 6am in the dark because it was a long drive and we needed to return our car to Medford by 11am. Unfortunately, because it only started getting light around 7am, we missed a section of the coastline. We did catch the sunrise over the Rogue River in the Siskiyou National Forest though, which was nothing short of majestic. Arrived in Medford. Not to knock the city, but I was kind of glad we were just passing through. We caught the Greyhound bus at 2pm to Redding. Let me just say that Greyhound in America is different to Greyhound at home. In South Africa, taking a Greyhound is really nice. Not so here. After a 3 hour urine smelling trip we arrived in Redding, CA, and caught the RABA (Redding Area Bus Authority) to our good friends, Rich and Libby (two of the kindest, most generous people ever), where we stayed for the night. Thanks to Cindy and Dean for helping us out too!
Day 3 – Wednesday 16 September:
Rich dropped us off at the Budget in Redding, and we picked up our car for the last leg of the trip. We skipped over much of the Northern California coast, as we had already seen much of this section while WWOOFing there. We literally drove from Redding to El Cantaro Vegan Mexican Restaurant in Monterey. We were tired, but the tasty authentic Mexican food soothed our woes. The drive from that point on was magnificent to say the least.
That night we planned to camp at Andrew Molera State Park. There wasn’t a “campsite full” sign on the off ramp, so that was encouraging. We arrived and realised that you had to hike along a trail for a while to get to the campgrounds, so started walking to find out if there were any spaces available. On the way we saw a guy walking the opposite direction and asked him how far the campgrounds were. He told us that we were almost there but that it was all full from what he could see. Then he offered to let us camp at his site, which made our day. We got our packs from the car and hiked to the number he told us he was camping at. His name was Oscar Celaya Jr., and he was camping with two other guys named Daniel Ackerman and Noah McDonald. They represented an organisation called the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and they had all been personally affected by it. They were raising awareness (and funds I think) while traveling along Highway 1 from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo, Oscar by bicycle, Daniel and Noah by longboard. If you have ever driven along Highway 1 you will know how insane that sounds. They were so open and warm with us, and shared some of their stories, once again confirming that you are bound to meet inspiring people when traveling. We were humbled and felt like lame tourists.
Day 4 – Thursday 17 September:
Oscar made us coffee and we started the morning out with great company and conversation. I have never seen an explosion of life like we did today. Everywhere you looked there were birds swooping, seals, dolphins and whales swimming… It was simply break taking. We made sure to stop at McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. So worth it. The 80 foot waterfall falls directly onto the beach, and is situated in a beautiful bay with some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen. It is super touristy, but I can understand why. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed down onto the beach, but the views didn’t leave us asking for anything more anyway. The rest of the drive to Ojai was beautiful too, and we stayed that night with some more of Cara’s extended family. Ojai is awesome. That night they made us some incredible vegan Mexican food, and we passed out.
The next day we returned the car and decided to stay another night in Ojai. We are currently staying close to LA with some more family, figuring out our plans from here.