On September 4, we stopped into Phil’s Coffee in the Mission District before heading to the John Muir Woods to do a short hike and then to make our way to Point Reyes, where Sam’s good friends Danny and Leah live. Danny has lived in Point Reyes for nearly ten years, and it felt like he was the mayor because he knew everyone everywhere we went! Point Reyes is small, has a beautiful seashore and brings a lot of creatives from the Bay Area to it. We stopped into the Tap Room for dinner and then the Western for a drink (where Danny’s band, The Haggards, are celebrities). In the morning, we went to Station House Cafe (which had the BEST bread from Bovine Bakery) and then to Shell Beach.
We spent one more night in Point Reyes (and took one more trip to the Western) before heading to Davis to visit my friend Jeff and his girlfriend Meghan (and their adorable cats). Jeff works at a bike shop and hooked up a couple of free bike rentals for Sam and me while they both worked on Friday. One spot Jeff recommended was the arboretum near campus, which contains a small grove of Redwoods. Once Meghan and Jeff were home from work, we all biked into town to get dinner and drinks…and to play a round of giant Jenga.
In the morning, we walked to the local farmers’ market and got supplies to take a picnic to a winery later in the day. Davis is in close proximity to wine country. Life hack: If you’re considering making the haul to Napa or Sonoma…maybe try Matchbook Wine Company instead. We were given a generous tasting for $10, and that fee was waived once we bought a bottle of wine (about $16 each).
After the winery, we checked out the historic district of Sacramento and then went to find burrowing owls. Yes, burrowing owls. A sad note that these owls’ population has dramatically decreased in recent years, but they have been around California for decades. We were able to see a few before they darted into their knolls.
We left Davis on Sunday morning and made a quick detour to the Travis Air Force Base to enjoy breakfast with Sam’s friend Cory and his family, and then we were on our way to Big Sur (equipped with recommendations from a few good friends).
Our first stop was to Partington Cove, a short and steep hike down to the water. The main trail has smaller subsidiary paths and also features a tunnel. On our way to the hike, we saw a large busload of septuagenarians outside the Henry Miller Library, and we later learned David Crosby was performing. That night we camped at Big Sur State Park campground; camping is expensive in the area, but this one was worth $42.
In the morning, we got coffee at the Big Sur Bakery and then parked our car at the trailhead for the Tanbark Trail and Tin House. The hike has a lot of uphill but ends at the tin house, which has gorgeous coastal views. The tin house at the top was built in the 1940s by Lathrop Brown, who spent just one night in it and discovered the tin made a lot of noise as it expanded and shrank with the changing temperature and abandoned it after that.
Another spot that came highly recommended to us was the Sand Dollar Beach, so we decided to check it out after our hike. When it came time to sleep, we learned how difficult and discouraged dispersed camping seems to be in the area. Luckily, Sam’s friend Nate had recommended a road that not only proved to be one of the few areas to disperse camp (despite it being national forest land) but also one of the best views we had while camping during the whole trip.
We returned to Sand Dollar Beach on the morning of the tenth before leaving Big Sur and driving to Ventura. We stayed with Sam’s friend Nate, ate amazing tacos and toured Patagonia, where Nate works. Nate was working on a video for the September 20 Strike for Climate Action, so it was really neat to be able to see his editing space and that process in the works.
Los Angeles and Lone Pine
We reached our south-most part of our journey on September 11, when we arrived in L.A. to see my good friends Molly and Haye. We dropped off our stuff at Molly’s apartment and made our way to USC, where Molly teaches yoga. Haye and I took her class, and then we all reconvened for a beer.
Sam and I spent the next day and a half applying for jobs and catching up on work, and then we were on the road again. Molly, Sam and I drove to Lone Pine, which is near Molly’s favorite hike: Big Pine Lakes. We cooked dinner and camped at Tuttle Creek and planned on getting up early to hike. The entire trail is a 14-mile loop that encounters seven lakes. We made it to the second lake (9 miles roundtrip), which is an astounding shade of blue, and rested before turning back.
Molly went back to L.A. once we returned from our hike, and Sam and I headed toward Wild Willy’s Hot Springs…and judging by the plethora of cars we saw and human-made howls we heard once night fell, I would say the hot springs lived up to their name. Ever the young soul, I declined to go in the hot springs at night and decided instead to wake up early and catch them at dawn, which is the way to go.
There were three different pools of varying temperatures, the coolest of which was quite large. After getting our fill of the hot springs, we stopped in Mammoth Lakes at my favorite coffee spot of the trip: Stellar Brew. And after caffeinating ourselves, we were off to the finale of our trip.