California

RETURNING TO THE USA VIA LOS ANGELES

After 8 months away, I returned to the States with a layover in Los Angeles. It was apparent how thrilled I was to be back in the USA (despite the fact that the American state of affairs appears to be an absolute shit storm from afar) when I audibly squealed spotting Obama's portrait hanging above the escalators at LAX.

American accents were music to my ears as we power walked through the airports to grab our luggage, rent a car and make the most of our 9 hours in sunny LA. 

LA-beach
LA-beach
LA palm trees
LA volleyball courts
Filtered coffee/pure joy/airplane hair. I think I look a bit like  The Weeknd  here.

Filtered coffee/pure joy/airplane hair. I think I look a bit like The Weeknd here.

LA Hills
hike-LA
scott-canyon
LA-skyline
LA hike
LA skyline

We got breakfast at the must-always-visit Sloopy's, walked off 14 hours of flying on the boardwalk, got caught in signature LA traffic and hiked up a canyon for a view of the LA skyline. 

It was warm welcome (almost) home. 

SAN FRANCISCO

Making our way through Monterey (where our bright green and purple camper van got caught right in the middle of a very large classic car parade, but we just smiled and waved through it) and Santa Cruz, we arrived in my favorite American city... San Francisco. 

Monterey

Monterey

"oh hey girl what up"

"oh hey girl what up"

Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz.

Making eggs in Golden Gate Park.

Making eggs in Golden Gate Park.

In front of a blurry Alcatraz.

In front of a blurry Alcatraz.

Walking all round, the hills and colors of San Francisco were delightful as ever and we met up with my homegirl (current SF resident) Lisa, for a bbq dinner.  We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge as Scott butchered the Full House theme song and I had my best surf yet in Ocean Beach.

After turning in our camper van at the JUCY office, we had a full day of exploring left so we got a rental car for the day to store our things and make our way around. I was absolutely thrilled about our successful road trip... until we walked back to the car after grabbing a quick coffee at the Ferry Building. Our rental car window had been smashed and half our things stolen. 

Right about when I was taking this photo, our car was getting broken into. 11 AM on a Friday morning!

Right about when I was taking this photo, our car was getting broken into. 11 AM on a Friday morning!

THAT SUCKED.  I've mentioned this before, but the universe really does have a pesky way of keeping you in check when everything is going a little too well.

Long story short (ish): I was a mix of relieved and insulted to find that the thieves dumped most of my things since they didn't find them to be of any value. Scott however, wasn't as fortunate.  Like any good former Cramer producer, I had all my contact information listed on my external hard drive... and like any lazy person, I didn't have a password on my laptop... so the good citizen who found my backpack called my cell and opened my laptop to post on my Facebook wall. This led to an influx of friends calling and messaging because the post sounded suspiciously like I had been kidnapped. This was really a fine example of humans looking out for each other and was a nice bright spot in an otherwise giant hassle of day. The rest of the day was spent sorting out paperwork at the police station and rental car agency, driving hours to retrieve my backpack and then it was a mad rush to the airport where Scott sweet talked security in order to board the flight without his (now stolen) passport. Lessons to take away from this: the $11 extra car insurance is worth it and travel insurance is always a good idea. 

But, all in all, no real harm done. Everyone was still alive, with just less baggage to check. So, I still love you, San Francisco. You beautiful, apparently crime riddled city. AND since we did get my external hard drive back I was able to edit the video that this whole road trip for! We shot it all with a GoPro and here it is, if you'd like to see:

It was a great California Road Trip, even if the end was a bit more of an adventure than we had planned.

BIG SUR

I was super excited to show Scott the wonder that is Big Sur, but then I was a little concerned that he might actually be completely unphased by it since New Zealand (his homeland) is all dramatic coast lines, plunging cliffs, winding green wilderness over bright blue oceans, etc. Luckily (and appropriately), he was enamored with it as I am.

Big Sur
No photos before coffee. 

No photos before coffee. 

We pulled over for the stunning views and a back-of-the-van peanut butter muesli and banana breakfast. I also made sure we stopped at the tiny + charming Big Sur Bakery for a strawberry scone. 

Being from the east coast, I kind of forget that the USA has landscape like this and it's easy to see why it attracted creative folks like Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson. Big Sur is just so giant and incredible, it's good reminder that it's a big wide world out there -- even in your own country. 

ALONG THE PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY

We met a group of bros who had just graduated from Bible College and they led us down to a cove near Avila Beach. And baptized us. Just kidding. They were Bible College grads though. Real nice chaps.

We met a group of bros who had just graduated from Bible College and they led us down to a cove near Avila Beach. And baptized us. Just kidding. They were Bible College grads though. Real nice chaps.

AvilaRocks
Precise point this photo was taken. 

Precise point this photo was taken. 

Over the Pacific.

Over the Pacific.

Fruit stand stop.

Fruit stand stop.

Lake Casitas, the only Lake I've ever encountered where swimming is prohibited.

Lake Casitas, the only Lake I've ever encountered where swimming is prohibited.

Santa Barbara street art. 

Santa Barbara street art. 

Santa Barbara Steps
Santa Barbara Pier.

Santa Barbara Pier.

Avila Beach.

Avila Beach.

Seals created a Big Giant Bed at sunset. 

Seals created a Big Giant Bed at sunset. 

Along Highway 1 we stopped at a fruit stand in Guadalupe where I unnecessarily whipped out my limited Spanish ("que es?" "that's a nectarine." "ahhh si, muchas gracias"). Scott also experienced Urban Outfitters for the first time and could not, for the life of him, imagine why anyone would want to live in lovely, gorgeous Santa Barbara ("There's no waves!").  

It was a big stretch of highway up to Big Sur which called for good driving music, so from me to you: here's a mix. Enjoy it on your next road trip, even if it's your morning commute. 

OJAI

Driving North we pulled off at the exit for Ojai because I vaguely remembered hearing good things about the little town. We ended up doing a sweaty trail run/hike in the steep dry mountains, encountering a massive snake and stealing oranges from a local grove for breakfast. All around, a good detour. 

IMG_0998.jpg

LOS ANGELES

VeniceBeachSkater
Handball courts
Boardwalk
Hollywood

U-turning in San Diego, we headed back north to Los Angeles for what was the best part of the trip.

We wandered around Venice Beach admiring: the skateboarders who seem to have the laws of physics working differently for them, giant hulks of humans at Muscle Beach and a flamboyant 3 PM roller skating dance party that make you wonder why that isn't more common of a thing. In an effort to not look like someone living out of a van while living out of a van, I shampooed and conditioned at the beach showers meant to only wash off sand and applied mascara in the rear view mirror. One day, we rented bikes and rode from Venice Beach to Manhattan Beach, making our 3rd trip to Sloopy's (what a website!) and one night, we walked the Santa Monica Pier. Scott schemed ways to climb up to the Hollywood sign but had to settle for the view from the Griffith Observatory. But we learned a bit about space while up there which led us to creatively curse at each other "yeah, well, I hope you get hit by a moon rock" whenever we fought. We ate a retro diner in Los Feliz, gawked at the mansions in Beverly Hills, cruised Rodeo Drive and drank bad flat whites and good cappuccinos in Silver Lake. 

People hate LA but I can't say I mind it at all. 

SAN DIEGO

LA has a real hustle to it between the traffic jams and San Francisco exudes wifi and an entrepreneurial spirit, but San Diego is just straight up breezy and laaaaid back. 

We mostly split our time between Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach, running on the cliffs and enjoying the water. Everyone seemed to be either eating ice cream on the boardwalk or going for a mid-afternoon run. I know it must happen, but I just can't imagine anyone heading to the office in San Diego. 

Giant organ practice in Balboa Park. 

Giant organ practice in Balboa Park. 

Once we ventured downtown, I was mighty impressed by the pristine city streets and the charming Gas Lamp District. We toured the USS Midway, wandered around Balboa Park and had Taco Tuesday in fancy La Jolla even though it was really Taco Everyday. 

gorillas

We also had a big day out at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park which was as hot as the Serengeti. We were shameless tourists with my DSLR telephoto lens and Scott's GoPro steadicam, shooting everything, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the gorillas and eating slushies. 

San Diego's a real good time. 

SAN CLEMENTE + ENCINITAS

Heading further south down California's Highway 1, two of my favorite spots were San Clemente + Encinitas. 

San Clemente Pier

San Clemente Pier

Proving that  Brass  dresses are so versatile that you can look presentable in one even while living out of a van. 

Proving that Brass dresses are so versatile that you can look presentable in one even while living out of a van. 

San Clemente is a "Spanish Village by the Sea" founded by a land developer named Hanson who envisioned a Mediterranean style coastal resort town and wanted it to serve as a haven for Californians tired of the big city. I'd say he succeeded. We surfed Trestles, bought fruits and veggies at the farmers market, fell hard for Acai Bowls and were able to wake up, roll out of our van and land right on the beach. 

Door at Swami's

Door at Swami's

About 40 minutes south of San Clemente, is Encinitas. It's a little grittier but it has big cliffs, beautiful views, is home to the famous surf break "Swami's" AND it's accompanying cafe that has, in my opinion, iced mochas that should be equally as famous.

It was long days at the beach in both little communities, slathering on sunscreen as soon as we woke up and falling asleep in the back of the van as soon as the sun went down, still salty from the water. 

START OF THE CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP

In August, Scott and I met in LA to team up with JUCY Rentals.  We did 2 week road trip along California's Pacific Coast Highway to make  a little video to show off their camper van, The Champ

The Champ, loud and proud. 

The Champ, loud and proud. 

After picking The Champ, we headed south for a night in Huntington Beach which was (in Scott's words) "absolute carnage" due to the Vans US Open of Surf being on and taking over the main strip. 

HuntingtonBeach
HuntingtonBeachPier

California RV sites can get pretty pricey during the summer, so we took the frugal route and opted to park/sleep at any quiet side-of-the-road we could find. Luckily, despite having a very obviously bright green and purple camper van, we didn't encounter much trouble with this method. Only one Park Ranger came knocking at 3 AM in SF Golden Gate Park... but Scott charmed him with his accent and I stayed quiet to seem like an innocent foreigner. AND we were able to put that saved money towards more important things, like fish tacos. They became a staple food group on the road, starting at George's Grill in Huntington and continuing on for the next 14 days straight.