In March, I embarked on part of a trip that I’ve been dreaming about for years. I have always wanted to (and will some day) start in San Diego and drive all the way up the coast to Seattle with no plan, no deadlines, just driving and playing – very not me.
As luck would have it, this year the stars aligned for me to join friends in San Francisco and Napa, then travel down the coast to the Edible Communities conference in Santa Barbara over a 10 day period. It wasn’t the full trip of my dreams, but it was a good start, and it was made possible in large part because Chevy loaned me a car. Thank you Chevy! The otherwise ridiculous car rental fees would have sidelined the whole plan, but Chevy came to the rescue with a zippy Sonic hatchback. Doesn’t it look fabulous at this overlook on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)?
I started the trip with my friends Natanya and Robby in San Francisco to serve as cheerleading support for Natanya’s first marathon. Since we were making sure Natanya got plenty of rest, we were more subdued than normal, but that didn’t stop us from eating some really terrific food.
I was thrilled to dine at several new spots and didn’t mind at all standing online at Swan Oyster Depot for our first meal. It was worth the wait to devour oysters and crusty bread dipped in crab fat. Yes, crab fat. The seafood was so fresh and sitting at the bar watching the servers hustle the plates was great dinner theater.
San Francisco is generally a magical place to me and exploring it with Natanya and Robby made it even more so. Even our hotel sparkled.
The unenviable job of packing the Sonic for the trip to Napa went to Robby. Thank goodness he volunteered; Natanya and I might still be there trying to get the bags in the car. Not to be stereotypical, but, he was traveling with two women and one of them (that would be me) packed for ten days. Luckily the Sonic handled the burden well and, while cozy, it was still comfortable.
Our attention in Napa was focused on the marathon, but we still had time to nibble. We practically took up residence at Oxbow Public Market (three visits in two days), enjoying the variety of food and the free wifi.
When Natanya and Robby headed back to Austin, I started down the coast, taking my time and stopping at every scenic overlook that struck my fancy. I meandered down to Monterey Bay and spent a lovely morning at the Aquarium. What an amazing place!
Driving down to Morro Bay, I stopped to stretch my legs and discovered sea lions warming themselves in the sun. Who could blame them.
I resumed my seafood overdose enjoying clams, mussels and more oysters to my heart’s content. I think I ate five dozen oysters during the trip.
I ended the drive in Santa Barbara to meet Jenna for the Edible Communities conference. We had a bit of free time and enjoyed a visit to the Carr Winery tasting room and dinners at Julienne and The Hungry Cat. After a week on the road, I cherished Santa Barbara’s laid back attitude and gorgeous beach backdrop. By Saturday, my friends threatened me if I didn’t stop tweeting pictures from my morning walks on the beach.
I came home inspired by the beauty of the drive, the fresh California cuisine and a plethora of new ideas – not the least of which is to plan the rest of that drive.
View the full photo set on Flickr.