A few months ago I got an idea…which is really dangerous. Usually my ideas start off incredibly elaborate and irrational. I’m an “I’m down” sort of person when someone proposes ANYTHING…and when these proposals pop into my own head, I get the “I can do anything I want” attitude. Well, originally this trip to California was going to be much more of a “thing” than it ended up being…which is definitely for the better.
I hadn’t been anywhere in a while because I was broke, so I wanted this trip to be over-the-top. I planned it for months. I had all my maps laid out on my floor and my travel books next to my bed. I picked exactly where I wanted to go and how I wanted to get there, but the trick with traveling is that no matter how prepared you are, something will always surprise you. So here it is, the candid recount of our trip….Or the behind-the-scenes of my Instagram if you will.
In early September, my friend from high school, Kierra, and I headed off to LAX from Newark Liberty International Airport.
Actually, let’s backtrack a bit…This blog post wouldn’t be complete without me mentioning what happened on the way to the airport. For those of you who don’t know me (which probably isn’t many of you because I don’t think many people read these), I live in what some people would call Bumble&*!$%, New Jersey. Or as my mother says when she can’t remember “Bumble&*!$%”, “Butt&*!$%.” Yes, much more offensive. Regardless, we live in the middle of nowhere and getting to the airport can be a real trick. I decided to drive to my grandma’s house and take an Uber to Newark. While I was waiting for my Uber, I was watching the little car on my phone screen move and thought to myself, “Jeez, this guy is going really slow.” I decided this was just something with my signal and the app. I was wrong. I don’t think he ever went above 45 MPH. We were driving on the Garden State Parkway and he was going 45 and looking at his phone for the GPS. I texted Kierra my goodbyes because I really didn’t think I was going to make it. I had to keep mentioning that we were in two lanes, or that we were about to collide with another car. I have no idea what was going on, but I was not having it. Sorry dude, but I got my 50 bucks back.
Minor bump in the road, but when I finally made it to the airport, it was smooth sailing (until we touched down).
Los Angeles…the city of angels…or the city of broken dreams according to our slightly manic Uber driver.
I’ve always loved Los Angeles. It’s something about the fact that it has similar vibes to where I grew up, while also being situated alongside a beach. We had used my AAA card to rent a car (since neither of us are 25+) and this was going to be the first challenge. Somehow we figured out how to get to the rental car lot without many issues and let me tell you…you’re all in the presence of a Hertz Gold member right now…Yep, that’s right. I’m a GOLD member. I have no idea how/why that happened, but my name was up on this board when we got off of the bus and I was allowed to pick whatever car I wanted from the lot (aside from the bright yellow sports car I tried to get my hands on). We ended up with a Chevy Malibu which rode very nicely. I have to be honest, I had no idea what I was doing and to make it worse, the nice gentleman giving us our instructions on the way out didn’t speak a word of english. He really was great though. He kept laughing and smiling and offering us water bottles. I laughed along because obviously whatever he was saying was funny, but finally Kierra went, “do you know what he’s saying?” I kept laughing and replied, “not a clue.”
We zipped right out of the Hertz lot and all the way across the street to In N Out Burger which is where I had to parallel park the car for the first time. We were literally still in sight of the rental company so I kept praying no one was watching me do this in case we needed to report some damage…
We used the heck out of that car. Aside from the few times we wanted to drink (because we are 21+), we drove that thing everywhere. We hiked out of the Griffith Observatory and went to see the Hollywood sign, we travelled to Burbank and met some of Kierra’s friends from college, we went to a quiet little cove in Malibu where we ended up stripping in the parking lot, and drove through the Santa Monica mountains into Thousand Oaks and Calabasas. We also ended up driving into downtown Los Angeles to go to the OUE Skyspace, and went to Warner Bros. Studios to do some real strong “touristy” things.
I almost forgot to mention that one of my very best friends, Cayl, happened to be in Los Angeles working at Disneyland. For anyone who has ever actually followed my blogs (hi, mom), you’re probably already pretty familiar with Cayl. I met Cayl in Ireland and she was also one of the friends I drove across the United States with last summer. While I was in LA, we were able to meet Cayl for dinner in Anaheim and she accompanied us on the Warner Bros. tour. I LOVED SEEING YOU, CAYL.
Looking to travel to Los Angeles? Try Airbnb…we had the cutest little bungalow in Venice that was perfect for the two of us (and Cayl). Our hosts were incredible, too. They were so respectful of our space, but gave some great recommendations for our trip to Malibu (we ended up at 40,000 PCH instead of Zuma Beach…much less touristy).
I was really sad to leave LA, but it was time to move up the state and head to our campsite. We stopped at In N Out one last time (our fourth time there) and were on our way.
Now, this is where it gets real interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever spent much time thinking about the middle of California. At all. And here I was, suddenly in the middle of California, surrounded by people from the middle of California, and no idea what I was doing venturing into the middle of California. The worst of the worst was running through my head. Wildlife…No cell service…Stranded…Never getting out. It was a very closed-off feeling and I wasn’t digging it.
When we pulled up to our campsite, no one was happy. It was another Airbnb choice and it honestly ended up being fantastic, but it was seriously remote and uncomfortable at first. Something about watching one of the cats capture and behead a squirrel right in front of me really turned me off, but after talking to the hosts and exploring the land, I felt better. Side note, roosters don’t just “cockadoodledoo” in the morning, they “cockadoodledoo” at all times of the day. ALL TIMES.
We ended up sleeping really well. I was able to get one of my friends from home on the phone and spoke to my sister, and I was finally 100% comfortable and ready to keep going. We were staying in Squaw Valley, California, about 20 minutes from the border of Sequoia National Park. My sister had bought me maps of the park for Christmas and I had been studying them for months, but suddenly I lost all of my directional skills. There was no cell service, but we had some addresses of visitor centers from Cayl (s/o to you, again) and were able to find the exact hike I wanted to do. We walked in the woods, among the rocks and trees, ending up in the middle of the Giant Forest with the gigantic Sequoias. This was incredible. I can’t even put into words how amazing these trees are. I’m also a big fan of the picture below…
After our hike, we spent one more night at the campsite and started towards San Francisco. We stopped at Point Lobos National Park along the way which is pretty close to Big Sur. It was GORGEOUS! I loved this so much. Unfortunately, we had one mishap where Kierra was taking a picture in the water and lost her shoe, but other than that everything was great and Kierra had other shoes in the car, so we were set.
We were staying with our family friends, Karen and Jay, when we got to San Francisco, so after enjoying lunch in Carmel, we decided to keep on our way since we were excited to see them!
Kierra and I got drunk at a restaurant at 11 AM. This is how San Francisco started.
We did everything you’re supposed to in San Francisco. We went to Fisherman’s Wharf, saw the sea lions, walked to the Golden Gate Bridge (and halfway across it). We saw the Painted Ladies and Alamo Square Park. We even walked 20 minutes to see the Full House house, which wasn’t that exciting, but cool.
We also got to see one of our very dear friends, Maddie! Maddie is living in Oakland now and her and her brother were in San Francisco that day, as well.
On my second day in San Francisco I was alone. I went on the Alcatraz tour and made some friends with guys from the South…I’m assuming anyway. Alcatraz was incredible…I even met an ex-inmate. I wasn’t really sure how to spark conversation with him. “So, what were you in for?” Nah, I just smiled and nodded. Usually communication is a great skill of mine, but I was completely frozen with fear of saying the wrong thing. I also walked to Lombard Street which was crazy. Tourists everywhere. Yes, I understand I was technically a tourist, too.
On my very last day in California, Karen took me to Napa. I was suddenly not feeling so well on the day we ventured to Napa. I was expecting this cold to hit me any day, and suddenly it came in guns a blazin’ when we were on our way there. I couldn’t go thirty seconds without blowing my nose and my body hurt like crazy, but I was desperately trying to hold off on taking cold medicine because I wanted to drink wine…priorities.
Regardless, Napa was like the movies. The wine was spectacular and the food was really yummy (and gluten free). I loved walking through the vineyards and watching people stomp on the grapes. I was also very thankful to learn that’s not actually how they break up the grapes into wine. No feet involved, thank goodness.
Flying home was a form of human torture. Yes, I’m being dramatic, but by the time I got to the train to go to the airport, I was SICK. I finally took medicine. Fun fact, I can’t take normal adult medicine because of my thyroid so I was pumping back some Children’s Dimetapp and plugging my nose up with tissues. My eyes were also incredibly swollen so some (very kind) woman came and sat next to me on the train and sparked conversation…she totally thought I was crying. Anyway, by the time I got to my gate, I would’ve been crying if I wouldn’t have lost all control the crap pouring out of my sinuses. Instead of blubbering in a corner, I made a friend. He was actually very cute and wearing all camo. He came and shared an outlet with me which was as far as our conversation went….he asked to share my outlet…we joked about the outlet…I accidentally knocked his charger out of the outlet…then he disappeared..and it had nothing to do with the camo. I decided to get up to get a snack and when I came back…camo boy had re-appeared and was definitely looking for me. I decided I didn’t want to joke about outlets anymore and went and sat at a different gate until mine started boarding. This is why I’m single.
This seems like a great place to suddenly end this blog…I flew home and fell asleep. The end.