Monday, December 10, 2012

my trip to california

so i really did go to california for three weeks, and i think it's time i told you about it.  gather round young people, i'm going to spin you a tale.  mostly this is a reference piece - b/c when i'm going to a new place, i like to google the interwebs and see what fun stuff other people came up with to do; so internet, take this and store it for future california-bound researchers.

so the plan was for me to head solo for the west coast, where i'd stay with my ladyfriend amber for a week, and then brian meares would join me and we'd spend the next two weeks driving up the coast, ending in san fran.

i could probably vacation with amber for ever, because we seem to do exactly the same thing every day.
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we get up, eat eggs benedict, sit around on our laptops for aboutever, get really excited about stacking pretty fabrics together, sit around some more, gossip, then drink some wine and eat mexican food.  sleep.  repeat.

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we accomplished a couple of things: we styled a fun christmas shoot, did some fabric business and hit up the shops on la cienga

lucky for me these were my digs for the week.  pretty inspiring huh?
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and amber's dog penny, who i have pledged to be life-long friends with.

fastforward, brian shows up, and we head to hermosa beach to stay with some great college friends for a few nights.  how cute are hermosa and manhattan beaches?  real cute.
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we rode bikes on the boardwalk, had the most delicious eggs benedict right by the ocean two mornings in a row, played video games at dive bars and ate french fries covered in garlic oil.
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after a morning at the beautiful getty museum catching up with our lucky friends who are much much smarter than us and decided to live their lives on the beach in year round 75 degree weather, we rented a (convertible, how dorky) car and started our drive up the coast.  

we left LA and set out for big sur, stopping for a late lunch in santa barbara.  sb was fine, a little tourist trappy, at least what i saw of it, but we had some great fresh seafood and beers at brophy brothers right on the marina, and we checked the maritime museum because one of us likes boats a lot.
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we stayed in sb too long and made a bad decision to drive into big sur when it was dark. the stars that night were unbelievable, but nothing to compare to the view we woke up to the next morning
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well, i wake up to this view every morning.   zing!

we rented a rustic little cabin at the lucia lodge for 3 nights, which was pretty much a perfect amount of time to be there.  we'd watch the sunset every night around 5:30 from our cialis adirondack chairs and we'd spend the rest of the evening like pioneers, by the fire reading and eating leftover taco bell.
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during the days in big sur, we'd explore parks and lookouts, we'd hike and picnic on beaches and sit in trees scouting for animals.  brian climbed rocks, i looked at things and wondered.  we met big fat elephant seals, ran into friendly deers on paths, and ate cheese out of brian's backpack.
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things you should definitely check out in big sur:
eat lunch at the ragged point inn
julia pfeiffer burns park (there's a sweet little waterfall and a great story to go along with the origin of the name)
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the elephant seal overlook near hearst castle
breakfast at deetjan's
cocktail hour at nepenthe
andrew molera state park, where this little guy walked with us for a while
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and just driving.  it's an event on its own. 
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big sur is unbelievable.  it's sort of like taking acid -- there's a 'NOW i get it' moment once you've taken it all in, that you could never have imagined without actually being there.

notable mentions here:
breakfast at deetjan's
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eggs benedcit and mimosas.  by this fire that was stoked every little bit.  i read the new york times and planned that one day in life, i will be the proprietor of a little artist's retreat like this, but hire someone else to stoke the fires.

nepenthe restaurant, an amazing structure perched on a cliff, hanging over the ocean
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here i had a serendipitous moment, stumbling upon a book in their gift shop by one of the most inspiring artists who has shaped my style, kaffe fassett.  i picked up the book solely because i just can't get enough kaffe, only to learn later that evening (taco bell by the fire), it was his parents who opened nepenthe in the 50s.  lolly and bill fassett bought the original cabin from orson welles, who'd purchased it as a honeymoon gift for rita hayworth, and kaffe helped his family run the bohemian studio-54esque destination for years, until he embarked on a lifetime of travels, designing his fabric and painting.  if you can't get enough color and kooky pattern and fabulous anecdotes of coming of age in mid-century big sur, you'd really think this book is a treat.

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next stop: carmel.  the drive from big sur to carmel takes no time, so we wasted a few hours stopping at overlooks along the way and taking dirt roads to see where they ended up.  brian really took to standing on rocks
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we splurged and stayed at the hyatt highlands in carmel - totally worth it.  the room was amazing; it had a fireplace and a perfect view of the pacific.  dinner was delicious, the hot tub was right by our room and the service was on point (i'm a stickler for service, and they nailed it).
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we had eggs benedict, took off on rented bikes to discover big trees and do some seal spotting, climbed some more and ended our day with drinks in the amazing floor-to-ceiling windowed bar at the hyatt.
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the next day, we checked out the aquarium in monterey and we did the 17 mile drive at pebble beach.  the aquarium was meh... too many kids (stressed me out) and the otters were closed for home maintenace.  but the 17 mile drive was awesome.  we stopped in at the posh little market on the loop and grabbed some cheese, some chips and a bottle of wine and had a picnic on a rock where we watched a pod of whales migrate and listened to some fatty seals whoop and bark. 
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from carmel, we headed for san fran, stopping in santa cruz for lunch
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(holy fish tacos, have you ever?), and another stop at sunset at moss beach (where the mavericks surfing competition takes place yearly).  i don't surf - brian does - but i'm fairly fascinated by big waves, so checking out mavericks was definitely a highlight.  there's an underwater rock formation at this beach's point which causes an unusually crazy large wave break seasonally.   after winter storms in the pacific, the waves typically reach 25 feet, but they can top out at 80 feet.  there's an invitation-only competition held there once a year for the world's best big wave surfers.  25 surfers are invited, and from november though march they wait for a call, telling them it's on, and they have 24 hours to get to the contest.

we didn't get to see any surfing - the waves aren't coming in just yet - but we did get to explore the volcanic rock beach that at low tide was full of hundreds of small tidal pools with the most amazing sea life i've ever seen thriving in them.  neon pink starfish, clusters of sea anemone, tiny weird crabs, and sparkling little fish.  make sure you do this.
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after sunset, we headed into san fran, which i admit, was a major culture shock after being out in the great wide open for days.  i think if we did it all again, i'd want to drive south instead of north.

jordan recommended a really swanky hotel for us, where we had the most amazing view of the water, and were right across the street from the ferry building.
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san fran was mostly about eating, and my highlights were:
-tyler florence's wayfare tavern.  they really nailed my trifecta of restaurant perfectness: excellent menu, spot-on service and well-executed decor with personality and warmth.  just their bathroom made me have those dreams where you find extra rooms in your house you never knew about and you get all jazzed up about a new excuse to decorate
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-baker and banker: probably the best meal we had on our trip, plus a gorgeous dining room with delicious food, an amazing wine list and impeccable service
-the slanted door: apparently majorly touristy to locals, but that was fine with us.  it was delicious and extra spicy, again with just-eager-enough servers, fabulous ginger bourbon drinks, and a local fish ceviche that made me fairly breathless after every bite (it was served on fried plantains).
-chowder from the street stands at fisherman wharfs.  we may have had this three times.

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in between eating, we schlepped around the city and did our share of first time visitor things: we enjoyed the japanese tea garden, rode a few trolleys, took a ferry to sausalito for lunch where i found an amazing store full of only tiny things,
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i checked instagram while brian studied west coast boats, and we saw the golden gate bridge (i had no idea of its dark secrets until a friend told me to check out this movie - so between this and the overwhelming homeless population, being in SF required contemplation of some of life's more melancholy moments).

but it's hard to get terribly down when there's always another cheese plate around the corner (this one from the cowgirl creamery)
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we rested, we explored, i was inspired and humbled,  i unplugged, we caught up with old friends, spent our days in the sunshine and laughed a lot.  it was a good trip.

and in conclusion, one of the best reasons to go to california for a few weeks
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34 comments:

Anonymous said...

so enjoyed your post...thank you!

Emma said...

Where did you get that monogrammed tote? Love!

Raiana S @ lifeSTYLE said...

i would actually die for eggs benedict after this post, oh my YUM. Looks like you guys had a blast!!

Quinn said...

You guys are too cute. And how do you stay so damn skinny eating all that cheese and benedict. lucky. Where'd you get that native looking sweater from the photo of you and Brian canoodling on the railing? I like.

Kimberly Olsen said...

i loved your post! ...and i have seen the movie the bridge - its just as horrifying as it sounds.

Naomi@DesignManifest said...

someday you will come to philly and we will eat eggs benedict. brian meares is invited as well.

Shelby said...

Cialis adirondack chairs - ha! Sounds like you hit all the great spots CA has to offer. My husband and I make this drive quite often as our fam lives in Northern California and we'll definitely have to check out the Lucia Lodge on a future trip.

Julie Catherine Smith said...

Loving this post. "Eating your way through California, one eggs benedict at a time." Thank you for all of the suggestions!

Kate @ Daffodils said...

We live in Monterey, so it is always fun to see other's take on it. I have two little ones, who love the aquarium but I personally think it is overrated. 17 mile Dr and Big Sur are awesome, aren't they?! Glad you had a great trip!

Lisa said...

Wow you really do like eggs! That restaurant bathroom is amazing, thanks for sharing.

coby kutcher said...

awesome post! I had my rehearsal dinner at nepenthe. always go to Deetjens when in big sur-wish I was there right now! thanks for posting all the gorgeous pics!

Lisa Lilienthal said...

I live in so cal an am moving to no cal, so we've done this drive a few times -- but you have filled in some bits here and there that I think will complete me! what a wonderful adventure. thank you for sharing.

aleXandra said...

everything looks amazing:) !

www.karmellove.blogspot.com

Gigi said...

I've never seen so many pics of Eggs Benedict in one place. Fantastic! My #1 complaint of being pregnant is not being able to have it (raw eggs and such.) Just did our own Big Sur trip for a wedding in October. Deetjan's is perfect. Big Sur is a place I'm glad I experienced but I'm not sure I every really need to return. The driving on Hwy 1 was a little too perilous for me. Buy the book "The Wave" for Brian Mears if he hasn't already read it.

Lauren Mizrahi said...

As a resident of CA (SF specifically) and a lover of eggs benedict I really appreciated this post. It made me crave my favorite weekend meal so much! Thank you for the beautiful and funny post!

Rachel Anderson said...

That is a LOT of effing hollandaise...You got style, Meares.

Danika Herrick said...

I am so glad to here I am not the only person with the "magical extra rooms" dream... been having them since college time, thought they were residuals. They are equal if not better to flying dreams.

Sadie + Stella said...

So I love you and I love Amber. These pictures are so inspiring. No wonder you were so tired when I saw you :) I bet Rowdy was so jelly.

{Hi Sugarplum!} said...

So glad you guys had a great trip! We've done that exact drive/trip...and loved every second of it. You hit all our fave spots...Big Sur is def the best America has to offer!

faye said...

this sounds like a nice trip. great shots!:D

Beth said...

Good post. Glad you had a good vacation. Making a list of some of your places. Cracked up about the eggs benedict.

Amber said...

I love your blog! And I knew instantly you had gone to Martha's in Hermosa by your photo!!! Good choice- my fav. South Bay breakfast joint :) Next time you'll have to get the Havarti Corn Scrambler- I promise it's better than their eggs benedict!

.life is reediculous. said...

the hubs and i have toyed with a little west coast adventure such as this...and this is by far one of the best vacay recaps i've ever read. well done.

Katie Waddell said...

LOVED this post!! I'm from the bay area and I haven't been able to visit in years. :( Thanks for letting me tag along to some of my old haunts!!

Holly Phillips @ The English Room said...

Wow! What a trip!!! Jealous. Eggs Bendict anyone?

Beach Tropic said...

Best holiday photos I have seen. Love your journalistic style!!

angela said...

My husband and I did a similar trip (LA to SF, driving only on hwy1) five years ago. The BEST portion of the drive, hands down, was Big Sur to the Monterey Peninsula. So I don't know that you missed a lot between SB and Big Sur in the dark, with the exception of Hearst castle....That place is pretty spectacular.

Lauren said...

That's too bad you felt that way about Santa Barbara. Such a shame to have the chance to be in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and not do it right. Can't wait to go back.

Brett said...

Your trip looks amazing! Especially the food and the fat things that swim in the ocean, I love em'! I dare say the thing that was most noticeable to me was that you didn't use even one capital letter. I don't know what this says about you but its interesting.

rachel said...

THANK YOU for posting such an amazingly inspiring guide to california! I just moved here from Tennessee and am excited to try a few of these delightful recommendations.

FlowerGirl said...

So where did you have those fish tacos?

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