We ended up stopping in Salt Creek, thanks to the same surf shop I was talking about in one of my previous post. One guy told us it was his favourite spot in the area because of the clear water making you think that you are in a tropical location. And he wasn’t lying: clear blue water with a really green park on the hill spread above the beach. Yes, it’s not common since we entered California to see wide and not-burned areas of green and freshly cut grass. Only where we tend to sleep, in luxury residential areas (it feels safer), or in very expensive state parks.
We first enjoyed the view with a nice lunch on one of the tables. An improved and healthy meal for people living in a car: organic baby spinach and avocado topped with 2 fried eggs. And a juicy Californian Apple for dessert. Yes, it’s almost gastronomic food for American people. But honestly, stop stereotyping for a minute: people from the whole west coast are far from the fat couch potatoes reported by Super Size me! The number of vegan and gluten free people seems to be a lot more important than the burger-or-other-fast-food fans. As long as you stay away from the malls of course!
I then dropped Maeva off at the closest Starbucks to continue working on her personal project. Already 3 days in a row that she was focused. Quite a lot for a person who is convinced to have ADD! Well on my side, I was still 100% on surf mode! So I went back to Salt Creek, for a surf session this time!
The waves were small and nicely shaped at the south peak of the beach, so I got to practice my lefts! I’m still a beginner on this side because I always go the easy way when I have a choice. Well this time I didn’t, and good for me because I ended up at sunset with some good rides! And It was time to pick up Maeva.
We then both agreed we deserved a movie, based on our respective personal achievements. We still hadn’t gone to a real movie theatre since we crossed the border, and for movie addicts like us it’s a veeery long time. And unlike our first drive-in experience, we got to pick the movie, so we chose Gone Girl. Twelve dollars per person is quite cheap when you realize that the show is only for you and 1 other couple in a huge cineplex showroom. We wondered if it was because the movie was too scary for a 10pm showtime. But we figured it was probably just because it was a long movie. And indeed, we got out around 1am and were honestly creeped out to just park randomly somewhere and sleep in your car, right after seeing some insanely freaky characters! But you should see the movie, it’s really good. And not just because “it stars Ben Affleck”, ladies please.
With Maeva now working full time on her personal illustration project, I guess I’m now the new editor in chief! Just so you know folks, you are gonna have a lot more surf stories than anything else. Part of the deal with Maeva, who is definitely less interested in surfing than me, is to spend some time on her side improving her drawing skills in order to become a famous illustrator. Who knows?! As for me, I get the two last two weeks on the american west coast to surf between L.A and San Diego. Not too bad, and the water is warm enough to not wear a wetsuit anymore, finally!
So guys, don’t be hard on me, it’s only my second post on the blog. I know Maeva has better writing skills, especially in English, which is why she was doing the blabla so far. In addition, it was really pleasant for me to read my own story in which I’m playing the main role! So you might hear my little french accent throughout the next few posts but I didn’t cheat, I didn’t “learn when I was little” as she always says when people are impressed by her native american accent!
Back to our road trip, Huntington Beach (HB) was one of the must do’s on the way south! Indeed, I came here nine years ago, in July 2005, with my good buddy Etienne. We actually spent almost a month in LA, learning English in the morning and checking out skate street spots during our free afternoons. We had mapped out a bunch of locations around LA from our favorite DVDs and first online videos to do our own grinds and jumps on those iconic spots! But more particularly, HB is where I tried surfing on actual waves for the very first time! Yes, because I did try when I was maybe 5 years old, on a polyester board in the staircase of a rental house somewhere in Brittany. Didn’t work out too well though, I broke the surfboard in two pieces! So this time with Etienne, we went in the water and it turns out it was much better! Okay we were on 9” long soft top longboards, but the summer waves were small and it was our first time. Gotta start somewhere! So here we were with Maeva, looking at the same beach and surfers from the HB pier, good times!
We spent the day in this little surf town, cruising along the ocean as well as the two main touristy streets. I even bought a swim shirt to switch from the wetsuit, a Quicksilver one of course to feel like Kelly Slater. In white though. I didn’t find a pink one, and I didn’t necessarily want to catch everyone’s attention in the water… I still fall for no reason too often. We also looked at the Duke Kahanamoku statue. The man who basically exported surf out of Hawaii when they were still surfing on self made pieces of pine back in 1912. I felt even more impressed when reading some stories about him, what a life!
After cruising around – Maeva is getting better on her longboard – it was time for a frozen yogurt! But we were disappointed to learn there is no such shop in town. However, a guy told us about a “different” place that was worth checking out: Bonzai bowl. He wasn’t really able to explain the concept of the store but looked very excited about it, so we gave it a try, and that was something! Try to picture a family size yogurt bowl filled with a fresh-fruits-frozen-smoothie topped with granola and freshly sliced fruits. Healthy, beautiful, tasty, in one word: amazing.
After this, I was ready for a surf session! Normal as Maeva would say, but we had already planned our next stop: Umami Burger for dinner (which was just 30min away driving) so we basically had 3 hours to kill.
I surfed until sunset with lots of very young-and-annoying locals who were not ready to let others catch waves, the competition was hard! Meanwhile, Maeva was tanning on the beach reading “The Power of Habits” to tell me the best parts later that night. I caught a few waves, nothing crazy but I was surfing in my memories at the same time.
After we gazing at another really nice sunset, we headed towards Laguna Beach to Umami Burger. Lots of people had told us about it, so it was time to cross it out of our bucket list. Umami Burger is a chain of gourmet burgers mainly located in California, that’s all we knew about it. So as usual we were expecting another fast food chain with a big flashy logo on the side of the road, nope, not at all. Of course we had Google Maps to guide us to the cute little restaurant with a mediterranean-surfer decoration, with waiters and even someone to seat you and walk you through the flavour of each burger. Wooh, it’s fancy! Maeva was almost feeling bad to be wearing her beach outfit with her pyjamas sweater on top because of the AC in the restaurant. Come on, it’s only burgers, you still have to eat with your fingers! Anyway, their tagline “we don’t do any substitutions” is clear enough. Every single burger has a gourmet sweet and savoury taste and they are all very unique. If you live nearby a Umami and are open to trying something not even comparable to a cheeseburger, it’s worth the drive! Be aware though, the bill isn’t nearly as low as a fast food chain, expect to spend at least twice as much.
Now that we were full, we only had one goal in mind: to have a good sleep! And to enjoy a long night, lazy morning in bed, and even a shower. So we opted for the easy solution: campground. We went to the Crystal Cove State Park campground that was close by, and as always we were shocked to discover it was $50 a night (weekday and off season), and you even have to add a loony for a shower… Welcome to California, where are the hippie times? But our decision was taken and we sure did have a good sleep!
As you can read, whether it comes from Maeva or myself, you will always have stories related to food, enjoy!
Ever heard of Baywatch? Alerte à Malibu for the Frenchies? Thought so.
When we reached Malibu, we spotted the famous Zuma beach and the lifeguard houses, ready to jump right into atmosphere from the show. We looked for Pamela Anderson but she was nowhere to be seen, much to our disappointment. Steph was not pleased. “Where are all the girls in the red swimsuits?!”
We went for a long walk towards Paradise Cove, which was our only option to avoid a $40 parking at the beach. ($40 parking and $20 walk-in, wtf?!) As we were walking on the shore, we gazed at the giant beach houses that populate the coast wondering who they could belong to and what kind of interiors they had. Most of them were empty, probably just another vacation home… We did like the ones on stilts though!
After watching an adventurous dog jump in the waves, we went to visit the Getty Villa, a museum with an architecture inspired from an Antique Greek Villa at Herculaneum with gardens, spacious rooms and lots of indoor patios. We revisited the famous sculptures of Greek gods and other pieces of art from that era. Only shame was that due to the drought, all the water features of the villa had been turned off. Fountains and pools don’t look quite the same when they’re empty!
Of course, one cannot be in Malibu without testing the water and its gentle waves! They were small but allowed for very long rides. There was good longboard surfing on the right side of the pier of Surfrider beach at sunset and sunrise. A good way to get the day started is to chill on a board in the sun right? Being on our boards in the water allowed us to people watch and notice the “body culture” of the city. Lots of muscles all around us, made me feel like I should work out more. And yes it totally reminded us of Britney’s “you want a hot body? you better work bitch!”
Malibu was also the place for a lot of firsts!
– First Uno fights: we bought a set of Uno cards back in Santa Barbara and have returned to our childhood selves. Whenever we have some time, for example when lunch is heating by the side of the road, we’ll go for a little Uno game. It usually ends with the person who lost throwing his/her cards at the person who won. #nevergrowup
– First camping refusal: we had decided to be fancy and go to a campground. Unfortunately when we got to the Malibu Beach RV park, we were refused entry because:
a) we don’t have a commercial RV so we can’t have an RV site
b) we don’t have a tent so we can’t get a tent site
Well that sucks.
Luckily we got the last spot at the Leo Carrillo State Park a few miles North..
– First Tacobell: and one more fast food name was crossed off the list! Steph had actually never tried Tacobell before so it was even more exciting. I had, and as Anna knows, it’s Crunchwrap for the win! Let’s just say this isn’t going to be the last Tacobell of the trip.
After our rather busy drive down in the previous days, we allowed ourselves to stay around McKinneyville for two days, heading to Moonstone Beach every day. We had been searching for surf spots since we reached Northern California following Steph’s book “Surfing California”. Unfortunately, most of the spots we found were completely devoid of surfers. And the golden rule is – thanks Peter – do not go surfing alone, no matter how good the waves look. Reasons? Sharks, current, sharks. So when we reached Moonstone Beach and observed the emptiness of the ocean, we decided to wait and walk around the beach. A girl we met at College Cove told us to ask the man in the trailer on Moonstone Beach about the waves. So following her advice, we found a Southern middle-aged man with a white pony tail and a goatee. All we can remember from conversing with him is: “Sharks? Oh yeah, there’s three there, three here and three over there. But you know, they’ll just take a bite and spit you out once they realize what they got.” Right.
Steph went for a few surfing sessions in the following days, but only when other surfers were there as well. Always early in the morning or after 6, and strolling along the beaches, little villages and picnicking in between. I went for one, but stayed as close to the beach as possible as I couldn’t stop picturing shark fins popping up at the surface. Oh well, what are you gonna do. At least, I picked up the camera and found a big rock to perch myself on and snap photos of Steph and other surfers.
Though we didn’t stay too long on this beach (you know: no waves, no surf, no Steph), it was definitely worth the detour. We landed there while driving on the scenic roads along the ocean around Eureka. A bit of a steep walk down to land on a stunning beach, just enough to make sure it doesn’t get crowded and offers quite the view!
Driving down the Californian Coast while searching for hidden surf spots can bring a few unique surprises. One of them was the appearance of a magnificent elk as we reached Stone Lagoon. In a magical and fairytale inspiring landscape, the animal and his herd made their way towards the lagoon, passing right in front of the car. We quietly watched them up close completely amazed as the elk observed us in return, protecting his own. We knew we absolutely loved the majestic appeal of the animal, especially at a time where elk and deer designs and patterns are so popular, but seeing one up close was a revelation! Some tattoo ideas reaching the surface? Only time will tell.
We continued down the Oregon coast towards Pacific City (very fitting name). After a quick stop in Tillamook for some free cheese samples at the visitor centre, we were in this tiny town. It basically consists in one street, the ocean, a sea stack and a sand dune. So we kicked off our shoes and climbed up the sand dune for a pretty good work out. At the very top we got to enjoy a perfect end of the day sunlight so we spent most of our time exploring it and shooting videos. But even better, we got to run down the dune and roll over. Totally worth it!
The following day, Steph went for surf session in the freezing water while I treated myself to a delicious Chai Latte to continue reading my book #GirlBoss (Thanks Stephanie!) A few hours later, we were on the road towards hipster land, I mean Portland.
Manzanita is another beach, just South of Cannon Beach. But this time we decided to change our perspective and see it from the top. We hiked the Neahkahnie Mountain through the humid forest to reach the very foggy summit. Luckily, when you’re on the coast, it only takes a bit of wind to clear the sky in a matter of seconds. And as soon as that happened, we got an amazing view far out in the ocean and Manzanita beach.
Cannon Beach is an immense stretch of sand, famous for its sea stack in the shape of a Haystack. We couldn’t replay a scene from Lord of the Rings (Steph’s hair wasn’t long enough to play Legolas and I couldn’t find a white horse) so we opted for some good old jumps. Do not make fun of mine, apparently gravity is stronger for me.
Welcome to Oregon! After a night in a ridiculously expensive campground in Seaside, we headed to Ecola Park, just North of Cannon Beach. This lovely place offers a great view of Cannon Beach and the giant sea stacks sticking out of the ocean. Those vertical rock formations are really what makes the Oregon Coast so unique. Dispersed through clouds, fog and agitated waves, they truly create a unique Lord of the Rings like atmosphere.
Then, Indian Beach is a small and wild beach within the park. A great place to watch waves and run after seagulls.