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Wesley's First Road Trip

March 2019 - January 2020
Currently traveling
  • Day7

    Ostriches and LA

    April 6, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Living out of a suitcase has always come easy to us, so returning to a normalized schedule is always a bit tough. That being said, we deeply appreciate that our everyday lives have afforded us opportunities like this one.

    Anyway, with a somber note, we started off the day with the necessary coffee from a local shop. Today's cup was from Scorpion Bay Coffee just a block down the road from our hotel.

    Our first stop for the day was a slam-on-the-brakes, pull-to-the-side one at Ostrichland USA. We couldn't pass up the chance to hang out with some weird birds in the middle of wine country. They made short work of the bowl of snacks that Danielle fed them, then we watched the emus and their little watermelon-striped babies before getting Wesley out of the sun.

    Just down the road, we stopped for a short walk around Solvang, a little Danish heritage town. Being a bit short on enthusiasm, we had some Danish pastries, æbleskiver, and polkagris from a Swedish candy shop, then strapped in our sleeping baby for the more unfortunate portion of our drive...

    We don't like LA, Welsey didn't like LA, and LA apparently doesn't like us. On a positive note, driving through the rectum of the West Coast always reminds us to be more appreciative of where we live. A few hours through hot, standstill traffic and we were on the 15 for what we thought was the home stretch... Lake Elsinore had other plans for us. Stopped at an unusual spot for traffic, Danielle looked up what was happening ahead of us. Sure enough there was an accident. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it was a horrific accident. We put the car in park and watched as dozens of CHP cars flew by, news helicopters circled like vultures, ambulances, fire engines, and Caltrans trucks all close behind. Our 8 hour day quickly became a 10 hour one. We guess that today is what it took to make us happy to be done with our vacation.

    After the close of our impromptu vacation, we have to mention how impressed we are with little Wesley. Something to the tune of 3,000 miles and 50 hours in the car and he handled it like a champ! There were some rough times, but to expect anything more from a teething 4 month old would be crazy. We are so thankful for having such a great little kid and, although he won't remember any of this, we're happy that these experiences helped us get to know him a little better. With real life starting back up on Monday, we'll both miss spending our whole days with the chunky little bear!

    Also, we again want to thank our trusty steed for keeping us all safe and feeling secure throughout the trip. We picked her out for a reason and she really showed us what she's made of on this trip. Now off to the carwash for a deep cleaning...

    Finally, we thought it would be fun to point out some things we noticed along the way... men's restrooms RARELY have a changing table; we are all more comfortable with a cooler climate; the further south we traveled, the ruder the drivers; we need more trains and less trucks on the roads.

    Until the next adventure...
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  • Day6

    Wesley Stormborn and Big Sur

    April 5, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    As expected, Monterey was Danielle's favorite town so far, so we took our time and enjoyed a cup from Tidal Coffee while overlooking the bay.

    Half an hour down the rainy, iconic Central Coast craggy rocks and turquoise water, we popped out to take pictures of the Bixby Creek Bridge on our way into Big Sur. This is about the time when we realized that we had made it to the extremely popular section of the PCH drive. View points were packed, but for a good reason. Even the awkward, unofficial pullouts had incredible views!

    As we reached Big Sur, thick clouds surrounded us. It was absolutely pouring by the time that we made the side trek down to Pfeiffer Beach. Sue was a champion, yet again, getting us through the two foot flooded road into the park with ease. It was terrifying seeing a Kia Optima attempt a very steamy crossing and even more horrifying seeing a lowered Mustang parked in the lot... people are crazy. Setting ourselves up for the walk out, we once again noticed that our little stormborn baby is at his happiest when it is chilly and raining. With the happy little bear strapped to his dad, we headed out to the beach. Dramatic is an understatement. Giant rock structures with waves crashing through portholes... it was an absolutely stunning place to be. Soaked to the core, we just watched and felt the waves continue to pound. After a good half an hour, we started back to the car through the small grove of cypresses that covered our path. Smiles on all three of our faces, we turned the seat warmers on and headed back across the flooded road back to the 1.

    With our views topping out at about 30 feet, we continued through Big Sur until the soupiness cleared at Ragged Point. Wesley fast asleep after our last adventure, we took turns walking out to the viewpoints. There was a pod of dolphins making their way south, just under the horizon. High above the waves with rain still dripping from the pine needles, it was a truly serene place.

    Lunch was at a goofy little cafe that used some play on words about seals. After what was definitely Progresso in a bread bowl, we were back on the road to see the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas. Hundreds of juveniles and old ladies were piled on top of each other along the beach, while the young ones practiced swimming in the surf. A stiff smell and a sound reminiscent of cartoon belches filled the air. The seals on the beach were molting their old skin and fur for a sleek, new grey suit for the year. There are no older males ashore this time of year, so no fighting or giant noses, but it was pretty crazy to see, anyway!

    With the end of our unplanned vacation nearing, we made sure to have seafood for dinner at a small place in Pismo Beach, where we're staying for the night. Sand dabs, softshell crab, and a sunset over the pier topped off our day. Tomorrow will be the last day of our journey. A bittersweet farewell to the coastal roads, but a very sweet reunion with our firstborn, four-legged daughter!
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  • Day5

    Golden Gate Bridge and Monterey Bay

    April 4, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    This morning we made our way back to civilization from our jaunt along the redwood coast. After passing through miles of dairy farms with what looked to be VERY happy cattle and sheep, we met back up with the 101. Wanting to keep with theme of supporting small businesses, we made our way to San Rafael before picking up some delicious coffee and croissants at Red Whale Coffee. We're pretty sure that Jason offended the owner by saying that their menu board was the most confusing thing he had every seen, but oh well, the coffee was incredible either way.

    Before we knew it, the Golden Gate Bridge was looming in front of us in all of its glory. Neither of us had (in our best recollection) driven across the bridge before, so we had looks of child-like wonder on our faces the entire time. A bit of a change from our norm, we went full tourist-mode and took photos of the bridge from 3 different vantage points, grumpy baby in tow. It really is a sight to behold.

    Wanting to make it to our destination early enough to walk around, we skipped touring The City and continued on until we reached Santa Cruz. Fried seafood and french fries on the wharf, with window seats overlooking Monterey Bay... just what we needed. After lunch, we walked around the wharf to check out the California Sea Lions lazily laying around on the decks under the pier. We honestly could have watched their interactions for hours, but Wesley could not. Somehow outvoted, we headed back on the road.

    With the most vague of descriptions, Danielle was miraculously able to find the location of a food truck at a farm stand that Jason used to go to with his family growing up. A short jump off the highway and we were in fried artichoke heart heaven. The Choke Coach was just as just as amazing, but MUCH more well known than it had been in the past.

    Half an hour later, we made it to Monterey. Danielle's eyes lit up at first sight of Cannery Row. We walked up to the aquarium where we saw a few otters, far out in the water, doing otter things. This was Danielle's first time seeing them in the wild, so despite the distance, it was a real treat!

    Ready for dinner, we wandered down to the Old Fisherman's Wharf with fresh seafood on our minds. We passed the first few ice cream, sweets, and gift shops, then saw a restaurant with some baffling signs (yes, multiple) outside reading:
    "NO strollers
    NO high chairs
    NO booster chairs
    Children crying or making loud noises are a distraction to other diners, and as such are not allowed in the dining room"
    Now we understand that as new parents, we were sure to notice this, but still, not exactly the most welcoming... Either way, we already had a different restaurant in mind and headed past. That is when we saw the most gloriously sarcastic sign in another window reading:
    "YES strollers
    YES high chairs
    YES booster chairs
    Adults cursing or making loud noises are a distraction to other diners, and as such are not allowed in the dining room"
    It wasn't the restaurant we were headed to, but guess who got our business... Sing it from the rooftops: Abalonetti Bar and Grill! Thank you for your aggressively inclusive sarcasm!

    Now that we settled on the restaurant, we got exactly what we were looking for: A whole, steamed dungeness crab and buttery, garlicky seafood scampi. Sea lions dancing in the water, sunset over the trees, an islander outrigger rowing club making their rounds, and possibly the nicest server of all time... it was perfect.

    On our way back to the hotel, we saw our sea lion friends posted up on rocks, a massive harbor seal doing the same, and a dozen or so otters, again, doing otter things. We couldn't have ended our day in a better town.
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  • Day4

    The Winding Road

    April 3, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

    This morning we took a short stop on Woodley Island to see the Fishermans Memorial Statue before continuing our journey south. What should have been a fairly mundane task, took a turn when we happened to see the living reincarnation of the statue walking around with a tiny dog and a giant bag of chew tobacco in the parking lot... This obviously led to 15 minutes of trying to figure out if last night was a full moon or new moon or something else that could have caused this phenomenon.

    After finally deciding that he might have just been homeless, we were full of Starbucks and on our way to the Avenue of the Giants. Mouths gaping, we drove slowly down the Avenue with the windows down. At one point, we pulled off at a trailhead just to hear the silence and smell the fresh forest air. During one of our crossings of the Eel River, Danielle saw a beaver making its way upstream! Nature at its finest.

    We made the decision to split off from the 101 to the 1, which was honestly a mixed bag. The highway was nearly empty and the sights were stunning, from the dense, fog-laden forests to the plunging cliffs. We saw scores of turkey vultures and a few ospreys along the way, too. As much as we were happy to take Robert Frost's advice on our road choice, we are DELIGHTED to have it checked from our bucket list. Switchbacks, steep inclines, seemingly vertical declines, speeding up, slowing down, road and shoulder repairs... it was a lot.

    The only real stop we made along the 1 was in Fort Bragg at Pomo Bluffs Park. A bit more accessible than most, this gave us a chance to get up close and personal with the craggy cliffs we have become accustomed to during this trip. We were able to stretch our legs and hear the familiar barks of California Sea Lions before continuing the long, Subaru commercial of a trek. Which leads us to the true star of this trip: our darling, flannel-loving, wool-collecting, AWD-having, safety-hound of a car... Sue (pictured).

    Ready for a steaming bread bowl of chowder and some Russian River Valley wine, we made our way into our third county of the day, Sonoma, where we're staying for the night in Bodega Bay. Worn from the drive, we whipped through the last couple of hours and ended our day in Adirondack chairs overlooking the bay. Tonight we'll get some serious rest.
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  • Day3

    Bridges, Beaches, and Big Ol' Trees

    April 2, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

    Knowing our first stint of driving today was a longer one, we loaded up on hearty bagels and coffee at a nice little locals place called Top Dog Coffee Company.

    The cool weather and rain through the forest put Wesley straight to sleep and had Danielle clicking pictures left and right. Placid lakes were around seemingly every turn, deer were in the meadows, and we crossed bridges with low-key architectural swagger before reaching the coast again. There's something about evergreens coming right up to the jagged cliffs that just never gets old.

    About an hour in to our pleasant drive, we stopped for a minute at a beautiful little collection of rocks in the water, but ended up scratching our heads at the information sign for Battle Rock... It starts pretty normal, saying that the park is dedicated to the Native people and pioneer settlers, got it. Then goes on to describe how Congress started giving away Native lands without, you know, telling the Natives. So a group of guys come in and of course are attacked by the Natives for trying to take their land, backing them onto Battle Rock. Then the settlers snuck off in the middle of the night, came back heavily armed with more men, and "established a settlement". We found it strange to celebrate something like that...

    Anyway, half an hour or so down the road, we crossed the beautiful Rogue River Bridge into Gold Beach. Jason's dad let us know that his grandparents had planned to retire there, so we made sure to stop in the little port town for some pictures, smoked salmon, and to feed Wesley. We saw the Mary D Hume gracefully disintegrating into the water after her tenure as the longest serving commercial vessel on the west coast. It was pretty cool being able to see a landmark that, thankfully along with the whaling industry as a whole, will disappear during our lifetimes.

    Just over the next hill, we spent our time enjoying Meyers Creek Beach and the beautiful rock formations scattered throughout the crashing waves. It was such a peaceful beach and our little guy was napping, so we had a chance to relax before continuing on.

    Before we knew it, the state line was upon us and neither of us have been less excited to see the poppy-donning welcome sign. It was a strange feeling not to be excited about returning to our home state, which took a bit of reflection... Regardless, our next stop was in Crescent City, where we didn't plan our visit on the tides again, so the path to the Battery Point Lighthouse was impassable. It was still a beautiful location and gave us a chance to get lunch at SeaQuake Brewing Company. Avocado tacos and cobb salad... so good!

    Back on the road, we headed into the iconic Redwood National and State Parks for our first real taste of Northern California! Breathtaking is an understatement. We could have driven for days through there and not noticed the time go by. Luckily, we did notice a few gangs of elk in the meadows (yes, a group of elk is a gang, look that business up). We popped into Patrick's Point State Park to see the redwoods meet the ocean at some phenomenal promontories.

    After a short stop at Trinidad Bay, we headed into Eureka for the night. Our Airbnb is a 120 year old Victorian house in the heart of town, which should be an experience in and of itself!
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  • Day2

    Rain, Seafood, and the Oregon Coast

    April 1, 2019 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

    A cup of coffee on a foggy morning is just about as perfect of a start as we could have asked for. After morning photos, checking out, and saying our goodbyes, we started our journey south with a few notes scribbled on a hotel notepad.

    Our first short stop was at Hug Point, which got its name from the exact reason why we didn't actually see much there. You see, before our dear Pacific Coast Highway, those traveling north could go along the beach or chop down every tree in their way... soooo when taking their wagons up the beach, the only way to get past this area was to wait for low tide then "hug" the cliffs to get past them. That being said, it was not low tide and the lovely waterfall and sea caves would have taken a very brisk and downright dangerous swim around the point. Either way, we were just excited for our PCH trip to begin so we were enthusiastic.

    Wesley was delightfully passed out, it was raining, fog was seeping through the trees, and driving was easy, so we only stopped at a few viewpoints along the way, choosing to enjoy most of our views from the road. A couple of hours in, we went for an early lunch in Neskowin. Delicious seared cod sandwich and rockfish tacos... yum. 3 full bellies and we were on the road again. Danielle pointed out a Pendleton shop, so we took a quick detour to get Wesley his first wool blanket and may have picked up souvenirs for ourselves too...

    Next up was the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, which is designated as an "Outstanding Natural Area", possibly the best designation ever. There were heaps of noisy common murres on the rocks and rafts of cormorants in the surf surrounding the iconic-looking lighthouse. It was easy to get lost in the mix of crashing waves, the smell of pine, the brisk breeze, and the taste of the ocean air. If someone could make an air freshener smell like that, it would need to come with a huffing warning.

    Other than a few viewpoints, the last stop was another tide-dependant one that we didn't exactly nail on the head, but was fun nonetheless. It was raining steadily as we made our way down the fairytale-esque trail to Cook's Chasm. The jet black rocks were of obvious volcanic origin that had been worn into their current state by millennia of crashing waves. While walking down, we could feel the largest wave in each set pound the small caves of the chasm. Had it been high tide, we would have seen Thor's Well devouring ocean water like a black hole and the Spouting Horn would have been launching water 30 feet in the air, but instead, each would periodically shoot up a 5 to 10 foot "ocean geyser".

    Soaked and happy with our expeditions, we skipped our last potential stop, the Sea Lion Caves. The way we saw it, if the place has a gift shop and overflow parking filled with Buicks, we probably don't need to be dragging our little bear through that sort of tourist trap. That left our final journey to Coos Bay. We passed some tired, yet adorable old fishing and crabbing towns on the way and finally made it to our little cottage.

    Dinner usually wouldn't warrant its own paragraph, but when Danielle's first words upon being seated are "oh no, I've watched too many Kitchen Nightmares to eat here", it deserves the nod. With no real alternatives, we did eat there, and of course pointed out everything that Gordon Ramsay would yell at them about. The only other table in there were of an age that required the waitress to literally scream her questions to them, no music, the menu was 6 pages, there were cold cucumber and tomato slices on the seafood fettuccine, the portions were enough for 4 people each, the owner went up to the other table to talk about himself... they broke all the rules, but somehow the mix of playing russian roulette with our health and the view of the bay worked just fine, food waste aside.

    Tomorrow we make our way back to California with our trusty scribbles!
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  • Day1

    Classic Spontaneity

    March 31, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 11 °C

    What was due to be the last day of vacation before racing 1,139 miles back home became a whole new adventure with one slightly longer than usual hug...

    Back to the actual start, we started our trip from San Diego to Santa Clarita on Wednesday, where we stayed with Jason's parents before starting off our caravan to Oregon early Thursday morning. That's right, just about 700 miles in one day with an almost 4 month old. We overestimated our abilities. Wesley did get to see and be in his first snowfall at Mount Shasta, so that was pretty neat!

    After a hotel room pizza dinner and a seemingly eye blink of sleep, we hit the road again. On the way, we stopped at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm to stretch our legs and see some flowers. They were only at a 10% bloom, so we mostly saw dirt and leaves, but we were able to see Aunt Shari, Uncle Al, and Kari before meeting at the beach for the weekend. A bit of browsing, some delicious bratwursts, and we were off again. We navigated Portland's Friday rush hour before the road cleared up heading into the Oregon forest and finally to our weekend destination, Cannon Beach (or more accurately, Tolovana Park). Stephanie and Patrick arrived almost exactly when we arrived with mom and dad, so after settling in to our ocean view hotel rooms, we went to dinner together. After that, Wesley informed us that it was bed time and we happily obliged.

    Saturday started off with us filling a small bistro for breakfast, saying our formal hellos, and passing Wesley around his extended family. Grandma Nancy's 80th birthday celebration weekend came together with her surrounded by six of her kids (including spouses), 10 of her grandkids (including spouses and Cruiser), and 5 great grandkids (including April and William's pups)! Through the day, we hung around the beach, connected with sorely missed family and awesome additions, walked to Haystack Rock, Jason almost peed himself, and went did some wine sampling at the cool little market across the street. The whole group got together for a pizza dinner in a fashion that would have made the Fire Marshal cringe, then headed back to the beach for a fire and to watch grandma drop innumerable marshmallows into said fire. With the fire smothered, some of the cousins went out to soak up the little time we had together.

    After a hearty breakfast and some group photos, Sunday morning meant goodbye to most of the group and some much needed R&R for the rest of us. Which leads us to the hug that changed the scope of our week... Once Wesley was down for a nap, we gave each other a hug and held on in expectation of the impending drive home. We knew that repeating our previous drive wasn't in our collective best interest, so we decided to take our time and trade in the 5 for the PCH on our way home. In typical Jason and Danielle fashion, we loosely planned our next 2 days, booked on Airbnb, and flipped the script on an otherwise daunting trip south.

    With our spirits renewed, we were able to enjoy an afternoon of visiting, walking around Seaside, seeing the jaw-dropping views from Ecola State Park, and making the obvious food poisoning related jokes. We had dinner with the remaining group at a hardware store. That's correct, a hardware store that serves food and drinks alongside u-bolts and claw hammers. Wesley informed us that it was, once again, time for bed, while some of the group went to the beach for s'mores.
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