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San Diego

32°42' 57" N 117°9' 40" W San Diego

Nov 12, 2014  –  by Maeva

Back to me for the blog posts! After quite some time spent on my personal illustration project, I’m writing again for our little blog.

We arrived in San Diego, the last big city before the Mexican border, the last big city on the West Coast, the last big city in California. It wasn’t the same as other important cities we stopped by earlier on our road trip because this time we didn’t know anyone and had never been there. In all honesty, we were not taken aback by the city in itself. When we looked up things to do, it focused mainly on zoos, safaris, aquarium, sea world and things like this. We’re not into watching animals in cages so we stuck to what we knew: food, surf, longboard and movies. You’ll agree it doesn’t get better than this!

We did make a stop at Coronado Island, taking the high bridge for a nice view of the downtown on the other side. The island mainly consists in residential homes, airforce bases and a beach. After spending some time in the sun, we were craving frozen yogurt – no surprise here! We decided to mix things up and give Pinkberry a shot. It wasn’t as satisfying as Yogurtland we have to admit, especially because you don’t get to make your own… I mean, come on.

Steph and Maeva in front of San Diego skyline
Steph and Maeva in front of San Diego skyline
San Diego skyline
San Diego skyline
Pinkberry bowl in San Diego
Pinkberry bowl in San Diego
Maeva wearing Herschel in Herschel street
Maeva wearing Herschel in Herschel street

A very famous spot around San Diego is La Jolla, a great area perched on the cliffs along the ocean. It made the perfect place to go longboarding and watch some seals and paddle boarders struggling to take waves in the bright turquoise ocean. We were totally feelin’ it with our longboards, shorts and California hairstyles (=messy blonde salty sandy hair)!

La Jolla cliffs
La Jolla cliffs
Beautiful beach at La Jolla
Beautiful beach at La Jolla
Seagull at La Jolla
Seagull at La Jolla
La Jolla ocean view
La Jolla ocean view

We knew this would be one of our final stops on the West Coast so we jumped at the occasion of watching another double-feature at the drive-in. This one had 3 screens (fancy!) so you got to choose your theme: horror (HELL NO), cartoons or action. Obviously, we took action! We watched John Wick, which is basically the worst movie ever in terms of story – it’s just Keanu Reeves, fight, after fight, after fight, after fight. B-o-r-i-n-g. The Matrix days really are over… Right after followed Dracula Untold. Well, the story isn’t much better but it can always be fun to watch vampires fighting and biting each other right? Okay fine, I’ll admit it, Steph was asleep at the back. At least we had popcorn!

But what is San Diego most famous for? Take a wild guess. Surf of course! Steph knew he had to make the most of his time there as we were soon going to head inside the U.S. far from the ocean and his beloved waves. The good surf spots were Sunset Cliffs and Black Beach. The sunset perched on those cliffs was truly mesmerizing as crowds gathered to watch the fearless surfers paddling under the dark orange colours of nightfall.

Sunset Cliffs in San Diego
Sunset Cliffs in San Diego
Sunset in Sunset Cliffs in San Diego
Sunset in Sunset Cliffs in San Diego

We were just about to drive back up the coast to start part 2 of the trip: National Parks and driving to the East Coast. So we agreed a new fast food was in order and found the closes Five Guys. Now, if you don’t know Five Guys, you will be eternally grateful for this post. If you do, you know why we’re saying that. The concept? Just burgers and fries. A simple menu and fresh products. Everything made right as you order it. As soon as we took our first bite, we knew this restaurant had jumped right on top of our fast food ranking. The simple things are the best things. Their red and white decoration with vintage articles related to their business and burgers in general is nice plus! Right after, we treated ourselves to our second real movie theatre to watch the very unique Birdman. Now once again guys, GO SEE IT. It unites some of the most iconic actors of different generations: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, etc. to create a black comedy exploring the world of actors, self-image and creation. We won’t say more, just go see it. Like now.

Santa Barbara

34°25' 15" N 119°41' 53" W Santa Barbara

Oct 26, 2014  –  by Maeva

We finally made our way to sunny Santa Barbara. Sunny may be an understatement, it honestly felt as if we had stepped right back into the heat of August days. We stayed in this small beach town for a couple of days, just enough to combine some surf sessions close to Isla Vista Point, chilling and longboarding along the beach. Steph has been working hard at perfecting those barrels as you can see!

Steph taking a wave in Santa Barbara
Steph taking a wave in Santa Barbara
Steph surfing in a small barrel
Steph surfing in a small barrel
Steph fixing board on the beach
Steph fixing board on the beach

Also, Steph has been teaching me some longboard moves in order for me to stay more or less stable, and there has been some improvement! You will see the proof below. It does help that the board I got is totally beautiful with its wooden material and totally badass with a shark at the back! As the guys from the skate shop said, “If that’s the one you like, then that’s the one you should get.”

Maeva posing with her longboard
Maeva posing with her longboard
Maeva imitating the shark on her longboard
Maeva imitating the shark on her longboard
Maeva longboarding
Maeva longboarding
Steph selfie longboarding
Steph selfie longboarding

Although we missed Livia in town, she gave us tons of tips for places to sleep and cool hikes to go for. We followed her advice and slept in our van at the Rose Gardens at the Mission every night – perfect spot! We also went for a hike to Saddle Rock, but probably didn’t pick the right time. It was the middle of the afternoon and burning hot. The view was absolutely worth it though! We almost ran down the trail to jump into the car and rush to the ocean. It was our first swim without our wetsuits and it never felt more like summer! And of course, when we reached the sea, two dolphins were casually passing by a few meters away from the shore.

Steph on top of Saddle Rock
Steph on top of Saddle Rock

Now, if you like dolphins, I would suggest moving to SB. I mean yes, we saw some in Santa Cruz, but the Santa Barbara dolphins are way more fun. Why you ask? Well because they’re freestylers! They’ll come and tease the surfers by jumping around and offering an amazing little show. Steph will be practising his left turn and two dolphins will throw a backflip in the background, no big deal. Oh you want proof? Look below my friends. I’m SO thrilled that early one morning I got to capture Steph on his board and a dolphin jumping a few meters away. It was hard to coordinate both models.

Steph and the dolphins in the ocean
Steph and the dolphins in the ocean
Dolphins jumping in Santa Barbara
Dolphins jumping in Santa Barbara

Other than that, we visited the cute little downtown with its beautifully designed courthouse and the main street, State Street. Following Peter’s advice, we also treated ourselves to some tacos and guacamole at La Super Rica Taqueria, a cute turquoise Mexican restaurant – definitely worth stopping by!

Santa Barbara Courthouse
Santa Barbara Courthouse
Round house in Santa Barbara
Round house in Santa Barbara
Cool vintage car in Santa Barbara
Cool vintage car in Santa Barbara
La Super Rica Taqueria
La Super Rica Taqueria

Thanks again for the great SB tips Livia!!

PS: I should also point out that Steph developed a new addiction during the couple of days spent in SB: the Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino. It was just so warm that we had to share a Venti one every afternoon you know! First it was the Oreo Blizzard at DQ, now it’s the Mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks.. what will be next?

Morro Bay

35°22' 21" N 120°52' 2" W Morro Bay

Oct 22, 2014  –  by Maeva

Back on our favourite road, we continued to head south in the direction of Santa Barbara. But on our way, we found a giant colony of sleeping seals on a beach. A quick explanation informed us that september-november is “resting” season and as you can see they sure seemed tired! Steph was disappointed that it wasn’t fighting season (yes there is such a thing) but Fight Club seals version may not be the best show to watch.

Seals colony California
Seals colony California

We then found our way to Morro Bay, a.. surf spot! What else? The size of the waves were a little intimidating but not for certain people. Ahem. So with our amazing setup we cooked juicy burgers and then Steph went to fight against the water elements, once again.

Steph cooking burgers at Morro Bay
Steph cooking burgers at Morro Bay
Steph surfing in Morro Bay
Steph surfing in Morro Bay
Steph on wave in Morro Bay
Steph on wave in Morro Bay

The colours of Big Sur

36°10' 37" N 121°41' 52" W Big Sur

Oct 21, 2014  –  by Maeva

We continued our drive down Highway 1, one of the most beautiful and scenic road we’ve ever taken. We discovered the two colours of Big Sur on the way: orange and turquoise. And just like every night for the past two weeks, we caught another incredible sunset on the Pacific cliffs. We may get used to this.

Steph and Maeva on the scenic highway in Big Sur
Steph and Maeva on the scenic highway in Big Sur
Cliffs in Big Sur
Cliffs in Big Sur
Steph and Maeva in front of sunset in Big Sur
Steph and Maeva in front of sunset in Big Sur

As night time was approaching, we started looking for a campground and the only two in the area were completely full, so we followed other travellers’s advice and went up a dirt road to find several cars and tents doing the same thing. Improvised camping is the best kind of camping! Definitely another amazing spot to stay at, as we caught the last colours before dusk over the ocean and were offered a spectacular starlit sky letting us perceive the milky way.

Stars and milky way in Big Sur
Stars and milky way in Big Sur

In the morning, we went to check out the waves on potential surf spots, and although the swell was big, no one was in the water so we kept driving!

Waves in Big Sur
Waves in Big Sur

Cruise in Santa Cruz

36°58' 27" N 122°1' 51" W Santa Cruz

Oct 21, 2014  –  by Maeva

If you feel like escaping the craziness and the business of the city, a good way to do it is to drive from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. Not so far yet so different. Santa Cruz brought us back to the life of chill and sun that is so unique to California. Our stop in SF did bring some upgrades though: I got blonder, Steph got a brand new backpack (first in like 7 years, so yes it’s a pretty big step.)

Maeva waking up in Santa Cruz
Maeva waking up in Santa Cruz
Steph shows off new backpack
Steph shows off new backpack

We spent the first few days chilling around town, discovering the surfer vibe that makes this spot so famous. A drive along the water through a few residential areas gives a pretty good idea of the Santa Cruz lifestyle: long hair, blonde hair, boards, all kinds of boards, bikes, longboards, pick up vans, wetsuits, nose rings… You get the picture. As Steph was still recovering from his little foot injury, we spent the first two days longboarding and watching the locals catch some waves on two famous spots: Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point. We strolled through the streets and treated ourselves – of course – to some delicious home made ice cream from Penny Icecreamery. Having caught the longboard bug, I completely fell in love with a wooden longboard in a Santa Cruz skate shop and just couldn’t resist. So we spent a couple hours in longboard sessions with Steph teaching me some moves. We’ll be showing you when it’s not too embarrassing.

Surfers and pelicans in Pleasure Point
Surfers and pelicans in Pleasure Point
Maeva and ice cream in Santa cruz
Maeva and ice cream in Santa cruz
Steamer Lane surf spot
Steamer Lane surf spot
Awesome RV Van in Santa Cruz
Awesome RV Van in Santa Cruz

One of the most amazing things about Santa Cruz is that it felt like an open air aquarium. Just stand and watch the surfers for a little bit and you will spot a whale jumping in the background, dolphins chasing each other, sea otters getting cozy with the paddle boarders, seals taking a swim, pelicans flying in a perfect line above the water… The first day we thought we were lucky to see all these animals. The second day we thought we were realllllllly lucky. The third we realized that this was life here: wilderness, hippiness and salt water. Luckily, we never spotted any dangerous looking fin. Although Steph did get startled more than once when shapes and fins emerged out of the water a few meters away from him as he was paddling on his surfboard.

Whale in Santa Cruz
Whale in Santa Cruz
Surfers in Santa cruz
Surfers in Santa cruz
Steph surfing in Santa Cruz
Steph surfing in Santa Cruz
Dolphin in Santa Cruz
Dolphin in Santa Cruz
Surfers and dolphin in Pleasure Point
Surfers and dolphin in Pleasure Point

As we stayed in Santa Cruz for a little while, we picked a cheap and old campground called Bobs Pine Grove Campground – which was great! It was quite empty due to the season, but that didn’t prevent us from meeting fellow travellers. Our campsite neighbour Daniel invited us to share some bacon and tortillas around a few beers with another traveler, a guy from New York just hitchhiking around California. We also met a really interesting man in his 60’s touring the U.S. with his two dogs in quite the setup: an electrical bike, a little shack for the dogs, a tent… And ‘touring the U.S.’ is a bit of an understatement. Because he’s been travelling for 2.5 years and has been in 32 states (!!!) How’s that for a road trip?!

Maeva brushing teeth at Santa Cruz Campground
Maeva brushing teeth at Santa Cruz Campground

A fun activity was also the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, one of California’s oldest amusement parks (founded in 1907!) We picked the thriller rides and did them all in row. The highlight? Definitely the signature ride of the park: the Giant Dipper, a historic wooden roller coaster that has become a landmark for the city. And if you’re used to the super high tech recent roller coasters, the sensations on this very old school structure as well as the noises it makes in the twists and turns are quite something!

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

But let’s talk about surf again. Surf is such a fascinating sport and for so many different reasons. The challenge, the force of nature, the visual appeal, to thrill of catching a wave… We headed for the surf museum to get a glimpse of the surf origins in this iconic spot. It’s a tiny house that walks us through old newspaper articles and photographs of surfers and their evolution over the past years. One of them was a gentleman called Jack O’Neill, founder of the world famous O’Neill brand and inventor of the wetsuit.

Surf museum of Santa Cruz
Surf museum of Santa Cruz

We finished off our stay with a huge ten foot swell on a Sunday. Such an impressive sequence of waves took the stage at Steamer Lane and hundreds of surfers jumped in the water to test them out. Steph was one of them, while I stayed on the safer side, camera in hand. It was quite the show to witness, with lots of experienced and fearless surfers. Though the locals tended to be a little on edge (“Get out of my way! Mine! Mine! Mine! F*** off, it’s my wave!), we were reminded again why surf is so compelling.

Huge waves for surfing in Steamer Lane
Huge waves for surfing in Steamer Lane
Surfer jumping in the water in Steamer Lane
Surfer jumping in the water in Steamer Lane
Surfers riding big waves in Steamer Lane
Surfers riding big waves in Steamer Lane
Lots of surfers on a wave and a drone over them
Lots of surfers on a wave and a drone over them
Epic surfing in Steamer Lane
Epic surfing in Steamer Lane

The injury

41°1' 53" N 124°6' 60" W Moonstone Beach

Oct 15, 2014  –  by Maeva

Little injuries are inescapable for world class athletes. Steph has been jumping on a surfboard almost everyday of our road trip and himself couldn’t escape the danger of surfboard fins. Back in Moonstone Beach, he ripped off a big chunk of skin (yum) with his fin. Let’s just say the first aid kit proved quite handy! Here’s a little picture of the injury, you’re in luck, we took it at day 5. Almost all healed now after a small break from surfing, the purchase of booties, many band aids and lots of “Maevaaa, can you please do the dishes? I can’t, I’m hurt!”

Steph's surf injury
Steph’s surf injury

 

Happiness comes in salty water

38°21' 29" N 123°4' 7" W Salmon Creek

Oct 15, 2014  –  by Maeva

Keeping a close eye on his surfing book, Steph spotted Salmon Creek from far away: surfers! surfers! 5-8 feet waves aka irresistible for the surfer boy. I decided I’d be his groupie photographer for the session, and it sure paid off!
Drumroll ladies and gentlemen, for Steph’s first mini-tube-touching-the-wave-super-awesome-acceleration (don’t know if that’s the exact term for it but it’ll do.)

All smiles for the afternoon and a well deserved ice cream treat for both the surfer and the photographer!

Steph surf tube in Salmon Creek
Steph surf tube in Salmon Creek
Steph confronting the waves in Salmon Creek
Steph confronting the waves in Salmon Creek
Surf in Salmon Creek
Surf in Salmon Creek
Ice cream after Salmon Creek
Ice cream after Salmon Creek

Sleep under the stars

38°57' 34" N 123°42' 53" W Point Arena

Oct 9, 2014  –  by Maeva

Living in a car means finding a new spot to sleep almost everyday. Often it will be a campground, other times random overnight parking spots, other times amazing hidden gems. This was one of those. We were on our way down the coast at dusk when we decided it was time to find a place to spend the night. We reached Point Arena and discarded two over-expensive campgrounds to find ourselves on a tiny road leading towards the ocean. We arrived at a dead end where a trail towards Point Arena’s beach began. Another couple with a van and bikes had settled there, so we asked them if they were going to stay overnight. “Hey, if we can’t see a sign that says no overnight camping, it’s fine!” That was good enough! Other campers eventually made their way to this perfect spot as well. We had our little picnic dinner (noodles please!) under an incredible sky sprinkled with stars. And honestly, this still remains the best spot we found for the night so far. See for yourself.

Road to Point Arena, California
Road to Point Arena, California
Point Arena under the stars
Point Arena under the stars

After all this talk about our car being our home, we figured you might be curious about the inside of our night shack, so voila! Doesn’t look so bad hey?

Steph and Maeva in bed in the car
Steph and Maeva in bed in the car

Moonstone Beach

41°1' 50" N 124°6' 49" W Moonstone Beach

Oct 7, 2014  –  by Maeva

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.

Steph watching the horizon on Moonstone Beach
Steph watching the horizon on Moonstone Beach
Steph jumping in Moonstone Beach
Steph jumping in Moonstone Beach
Steph coming out of the ocean with surfboard
Steph coming out of the ocean with surfboard
Surfer jump in Moonstone Beach
Surfer jump in Moonstone Beach
Birds flying above Moonstone Beach
Birds flying above Moonstone Beach

College Cove

41°4' 5" N 124°9' 11" W College Cove

Oct 7, 2014  –  by Maeva

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!

College Cove California
College Cove California