California here we come.

Happy New Year!

If you had asked me awhile ago if I’d ever attempt to take a road trip, I’d probably scoff at you. PFT. Why not just fly there? I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t just ‘fly’ there. Back in November, my boyfriend had applied for the Art Center of Design in California and he received his acceptance. It was a busy month for him trying to make arrangements. It was decided that the most cost-effective strategy would be to drive down with all his possessions.

….Road trip?

Yup. Right after we recovered from Christmas and New Years, we were set off to drive to Pasadena, California. It was estimated that it would take 22 hours and about 2,000kms.

We left in the middle of the night as we anticipated some questioning at the border. Surprisingly, it took less than an hour and we were on our way.
The first leg of the trip was a breeze as we made our way into Oregon. I experienced my first ‘rest area’ stop and it was okay! I like that they offer that for truckers and travellers. As we were in Oregon, we had the car serviced to take advantage of the ‘no tax’ policy. We were in Toyota for most of the day, where we had a chance to watch the Rose Bowl football game. Specifically, we were in Wilsonville. I’ve noticed during the drive there is a lot ‘Villes’ in the States. We stayed overnight at Quality Inn and they price matched the rate I found on Expedia, score! It was a bit creepy as I think we were one of the very few people checked-in because the guests had cleared out for the holidays. The hotel itself had all the amenities and even included hot breakfast (they did not offer ketchup though….?!). We were so tired from the drive, we must’ve dozed off before 9pm without consuming dinner!

The next morning after being well rested, we headed out just after 6AM. We had to haul the luggage back and forth to prevent theft! The sky was coloured in oranges and red while the roads remained quiet. It was beautiful. Whereas yesterday the drive consisted mostly of city, road and highways, today’s drive was a scenic change. The sun came high onto the sky and we were driving down roads that had farms, mountains and terrains. To keep busy, I turned on the music every once in a while (Rihanna or Drake) and had fun going through the radio stations that was offered in every city, they mostly played the same songs. We didn’t play any games but instead chattered the whole way through. We had a pit stop for food in Yreka! at Casa Ramos Mexican Restaurant. It felt like were in the middle of nowhere, just in a parking lot eating food. They had a great lunch platter; chicken enchilada, rice, beans, and salad for only $6.95. It felt nice to stretch my legs and lean against the car with the sun basking in.
After lunch we were back on the road and headed off to San Jose. The drive was very long and the boyfriend had to consume a coke or two. We made use of the rest areas and in general I tried to keep him entertained as much as possible. Towards the end, we saw a lot of curving roads and mountains that led us back into the city drives where we met rush hour. We did not arrive at his sister’s house until about 7pm. By then, we were pooped. We were greeted by his sister and brother-in-law along with their 3 adorable doggies! 

Our first night in San Jose, his sister and her husband showed us Santana Row and it was a delight! Everything seemed meticulously kept and for a Wednesday, it was quite busy. We were treated to dinner at LB Steak.  It was a beautiful restaurant with great tasting steak and modern with a touch of classical interior. As a night cap, we headed to the Hotel Valenica,  which was a very trendy and exotic hotel. I could imagine myself staying there for a special occasion.

Our second day in San Jose started out delicious; his sister took us to Bill’s Cafe where we gorged on breakfast foods. We headed out to San Fransisco, which didn’t take more than an hour. What a different atmosphere! This place is gorgeous! The town is leisurely strolling and it’s just lovely to be around. The main event today was visiting the Alcatraz Tour. As it was the very beginning of January, I thought it’d be not as many tourists but was I surprised. It was about a 10 minute boat ride over and we were on the island. The tour is open to your own pace and you can start wherever you like. There is a bit of a trike up the hill and you reach the prison. For me, I enjoyed that they offered a free audio tour. It’s done very well with stories, narrative, sound effects and guides around the prison. Was it what I expected? No. It is less scary than I thought and for majority, it is very clean. I felt confined though and I could see how once upon a time there would’ve been a fascination of crime here. In about 2 hours, we were done exploring the prison and ready to go back to land! I recommend this tour with one or two people as it is mostly a tour where you are immersed in your headset.

As we were back in San Fransisco, the boyfriend took me to do fun things on Pier 39. I finally bought water taffy for the first time (meh) and saw sea otters! We drove down the famous curving hill (crazy!) and to end the perfect day, we visited the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s majestic! There was a spot to take photos and after we fulfilled our tourist obligation, we attempted to walk the bridge. I would say it’s about  a 45 minute walk each way and we only did half as we were starting to lose sunlight. I am definitely going to find my way back to San Fran to finish the bridge and find out what else they have to offer.

That evening, we were treated to a feast at Boiling Crab. I question again, WHY don’t we have joints like this in Canada? This is like Crab Pot but you have the choice to choose specifically what you would like vs having a set menu. The concept they’ve developed is a funky restaurant where you order food that comes in plastic bags marinated with sauce, no utensils and you pour it on your table to devour. We were just barbaric! There was bibs and a roll of napkins….need I say more? We had crab, corn, rice, fries and sausages all in a delicious sauce! There was little talking and a lot of eating. By the end we were stuffed and our hands covered with sauce! It was a quite the experience and I definitely recommend it.

Sadly, the next day we had to make our way to Los Angeles. By the time we got there, it was evening. That was the end of our road trip.
Or so I thought. Over the next few days there was a lot of driving that still needed to be done. LA as I mentioned in my previous post is huge! Anywhere you’d like to go would at least take you min. 30 minutes. The last of the days were used catching up on sleep, settling in and enjoying each other’s company.  Before you knew it, I was on a plane back home.

Road trips I conclude are fun! Things that I recommend if you are going to embark on one:
– Bring a blanket. It gets cold around some areas and this comes in handy
– Bring a GPS. Quite the handy device to have (life-saver!)
– Make sure you have a sufficient amount of cash and credit in case of any surprises
– Don’t be in a rush. The vacation IS the road trip, enjoy the sights and conversation
– Bring a case of water and sugared drinks?
– Make an extra bag just for garbage
– Bring great music
– Be vigilant if you see the driver getting tired, safety first
– Don’t forget to take lots of pictures!

Happy travelling!

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