Baggage: Only Good For Vacation, Part 2 of 3

Baggage: Only Good For Vacation, Part 2 of 3

If I were any good at writing poetry, I'd write a poem about California.

It wouldn't encapsulate this majestic place with sentiment. It'd just explain, with reverence but using something more accurate and less definitive than words, just how ethereal and sweeping the coast is. 

Since I fail to explain it in a way that satisfies me, perhaps these photos will tell the story about the Summer of 2015 when I drove up Pacific Coast Highway 1.


8 days │ l.a. to San Fran │ just me │ bring it


DAY 1 - saturday

Los angeles

My 10:30 a.m. flight from Houston was delayed by two hours. Nothing a breakfast burrito and a nap can't solve.

Finally hop on the plane. As soon as the cabin doors opened to warm California air, I was off on my adventure. 

I spent the first day exploring--searching for a trail in Griffith Park that I wanted to hike. As a Park Ranger (whose son lives in Texas) explained, it was 3 miles away, dusk was settling and the trails "look a lot different at night." Then there was something about snakes and wildlife, so that settled it--I'd go hiking the next day and opted for dinner at a Farmer's Market instead.

So engrossed in what I was doing, I forgot to take photos on Day 1. I did; however, manage to take a snap of my hotel's decor.

There are two things I don't like to do following a vacation: 1) be tired and 2) be broke. Strict budgets can take you to sketchy places, but the hotel was neat, clean, safe, and I was gone for most of the day anyways. 

Landing at LAX

Landing at LAX

My hotel in Koreatown. Rollerskating rink carpet contrasting the Asian-inspired hutch and venetian paneling. Can't accuse them of being afraid to use bold patterns

My hotel in Koreatown. Rollerskating rink carpet contrasting the Asian-inspired hutch and venetian paneling. Can't accuse them of being afraid to use bold patterns

 

DAY 2 - sunday

LOS ANGELES

From morning to night, I moved non-stop. 

Namaste! Started the day off with Beach Yoga with Brad in Santa Monica

Namaste! Started the day off with Beach Yoga with Brad in Santa Monica

A HOT hike behind the Hollywood sign where I got sunburned. Worth it

A HOT hike behind the Hollywood sign where I got sunburned. Worth it

Peaked into a couple million-dollar open houses in the Hollywood Hills. Retro bathrooms, small living spaces (compared to Texas), and simple kitchens

Peaked into a couple million-dollar open houses in the Hollywood Hills. Retro bathrooms, small living spaces (compared to Texas), and simple kitchens

Bought my 2016 journal at The Last Bookstore in Downtown L.A. 

Bought my 2016 journal at The Last Bookstore in Downtown L.A. 

Overlooking L.A. from Bronson Trail at Griffith Park in the Hills

Overlooking L.A. from Bronson Trail at Griffith Park in the Hills

Saw The Perfect Guy on opening weekend. **Spoiler Alert** He wasn't perfect.

Saw The Perfect Guy on opening weekend. **Spoiler Alert** He wasn't perfect.

The Grove, where I spotted Tina Knowles (looking supremely gorgeous) and her hubby

The Grove, where I spotted Tina Knowles (looking supremely gorgeous) and her hubby

 

DAY 3 - monday

LOS ANGELES to solvang

Eat. Relax. Workout. Drive. 

I'd planned to eat well, have a spa day, workout with Natalie Yco, then leave L.A.

Funny how things tie together. I discovered Natalie in January 2015 on YouTube channel GymRa when I started working out regularly again. GymRa is filmed mostly (if not entirely) in California, with instructors performing their workouts outside--in front of the Pacific Ocean or somewhere in the hills. It's gorgeous!

Seeing the Pacific as the backdrop in a number of videos renewed my interest in the coast and I decided on California for my next vacation.

Since I knew Natalie was based in Cali and instructed a few classes at Equinox, I wanted in! Along with 30 - 40 other regulars, I did 3 classes with her: Booty, Kick Boxing, and Abs. She KILLED me. But seriously, this is in my top 3 of best workouts ever.

LOVED this shrimp cobb salad with fresh beets at The Blue Plate Oysterette.

LOVED this shrimp cobb salad with fresh beets at The Blue Plate Oysterette.

Let the rubdown begin

Let the rubdown begin

No lie, I hit the jackpot of masseuse. He was cute AND skillful

No lie, I hit the jackpot of masseuse. He was cute AND skillful

Kickboxing class. See that smile? Forced

Kickboxing class. See that smile? Forced

Coconut sorbet? Yes, please!

Coconut sorbet? Yes, please!

View of West Hollywood from Equinox

View of West Hollywood from Equinox

Arrived in Solvang at 10:30 p.m. to the cutest room at Atterdag Inn.

Arrived in Solvang at 10:30 p.m. to the cutest room at Atterdag Inn.

 

DAY 4 - tuesday

SOLVANG to carmel-by-the-sea

Solvang is where people in L.A. go to get away, is what I'm told. Now that I've been, I understand why. 

I arrived at the outskirts of Solvang late. There aren't a lot of street lights and it was misting rain, so I couldn't see the town ahead. 

All dark a minute before, the road opened up to quaint buildings adorned with white twinkling lights and empty streets softly illuminated by lanterns. It's the kind of thing you see in movies about magical villages. After a stressful night-drive around mountains, I couldn't imagine a better place for me to tuck in for the night.

Morning light

Morning light

Only 8 rooms at the boutique inn

Only 8 rooms at the boutique inn

A little extra security for the solo traveler

A little extra security for the solo traveler

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Didn't feel like a U.S. city

Didn't feel like a U.S. city

Pastries for days

Pastries for days

Had a free cherry and cream cheese pastry with coffee here, compliments of Atterdag Inn

Had a free cherry and cream cheese pastry with coffee here, compliments of Atterdag Inn

I savored breakfast, circled the village by foot in 30 minutes, then hit the road for 2 hours of driving to visit William Hearst's castle in San Simeon. It's astonishing what gazillions of dollars can do.

William Hearst's Castle high up on a hill

William Hearst's Castle high up on a hill

Private library where many publications were edited. Here's a question: How many chairs in a room does one person need?

Private library where many publications were edited. Here's a question: How many chairs in a room does one person need?

Hearst's bedroom

Hearst's bedroom

Legend has it that film star (and Hearst's lover) Marion Davies, did cartwheels in this room

Legend has it that film star (and Hearst's lover) Marion Davies, did cartwheels in this room

I do love a beautiful garden

I do love a beautiful garden

The outdoor pool

The outdoor pool

Following the castle visit, I was on the road again for another 2 hours. The land was so beautiful that I didn't want music to distract my attention, so for most of the journey, the radio was off.

After "California Love" playing incessantly in my head for days straight, I'm not embarrassed to admit that when I did listen to the radio, I listened to retro roadtrip music for a change of pace. Steely Dan, anyone? 

I certainly hope the Rock Slide is the name of a new dance the kids are doing

I certainly hope the Rock Slide is the name of a new dance the kids are doing

Taking time to enjoy the view

Taking time to enjoy the view

Bixby Bridge at sunset

Bixby Bridge at sunset

The view

The view

Settled into my cozy AirBnb room

Settled into my cozy AirBnb room

By the time I arrived to Carmel, I was tired (mostly from fear of driving off a cliff) and hungry. I settled into my room before venturing out into the chilly night air to get something to eat. I wound up at a neighborhood spot where I had soup and salad, a pairing I've been hopelessly addicted to my whole adult life. The name of the restaurant evades my memory, but their homemade ranch dressing was the bomb!

Since my only plan in Carmel was to relax, I went back to my AirBnB home, took a hot shower, opened the window for cold air, and curled up with a book, "Everyday Grace" by Marianne Williamson.

The next day was as un-hectic as can be imagined. My goals: find a beach and a good place to eat.

***

This Thursday, Baggage: Only Good For Vacation Finale.

Photo credit: The Tended Garden