Back home...what an awesome trip. I updated the previous four posts with captions under the pictures.
Highlights and summary -
Our goal of the trip was to visit our friends and former neighbors, Cary & Julie and their kids, and go exploring as much as we could of Southern and Central California in one week.
Cary & Julie live in Huntington Beach. A big thanks to Cary, Julie and their kids for hosting us. We had a blast and enjoyed exploring CA with you! All the kids did great, they traveled well, and I hope they remember this experience for a long time.
Huntington Beach really is Surf City, USA. When Cary & I went to SUP surf early one morning, there were a lot of surfers already in the water at 6:45am. When we left the water to go back and meet the family at 9am, there were many more folks in the water....everywhere for miles between Bolsa Chica and Huntington pier. If you love surfing and want to be around many other surfers, this is the place. Waves everywhere with surfers of all sizes, shapes, and ages. We took the kids stand up paddling at Huntington Harbor. Cary has his whole family paddling now...very cool.
I want to give a big shout out to the good folks at the Stand Up Paddle Co of Laguna Beach. Here is a recent local write up on them. I met and spoke to the owner, Tommy Donnelly, and we talked about the SUP stoke on the east coast. He had just paddled that morning with EJ Johnson in Dana Point. Our conversation was about 1 minute before the earthquake struck that made big news on Easter. I had stepped out of the shop for just a moment to speak with one of my sons when it hit and I didn't even feel it. I think I didn't notice it because I was so focused on my son and was bent over at his level. But Cary came running out to show me the chandeliers still swaying back and forth in the shop. Everyone else felt it. So here's to Tommy and the good folks at the Stand Up Paddle Co of Laguna Beach...it was good to share our first earthquake with you...on their 2nd day of being open...Cheers! It's a very nice shop by the way...go check them out if you're in the area. By the way, I definitely felt one of the aftershocks the next morning.
Thanks also to Ralph Bill of Sup-Position for coming out to SUP surf with Cary and I at the Bolsa Chica jetties and bringing me the Starboard Element to try out. Contact Ralph if you're in the area....nice guy and was super stoked out on the water.
We checked out Dana Point Harbor and Doheny State Park. This is SUP central where a lot of the SoCal pro SUP'ers train and is home to the Battle of the Paddle. A very nice area. I was hoping to test some race boards while there but our timing was off with it being Easter and everyone was closed (except for the Laguna shop).
Santa Barbara - another cool beach town. A big thanks to Will V for providing some great recommendations and also coming out of his way to greet Cary and I early at the beach to point out where to SUP surf. Unfortunately, work called and he couldn't surf with us. Saw a dolphin while we were SUP surfing - always good karma. Loved that right hand point break...perfect for SUP surfing.
Pismo Beach - another cool beach town (see the pattern forming here?). We saw whales from our room's balcony at Spyglass Inn overlooking Shell Beach. Also saw sea otters hanging out in the kelp close to shore and seal pups swimming up to the beach. The kids had a blast playing in the tidal pools and seeing lot of little sea critters. Lots of surfers were out there....big overhead waves. Saw a few SUP'ers out there.
Cambria/San Simeon - one word...stunning. Absolutely gorgeous country. As Alan says, it's dreamland. The beautiful Pacific Ocean with big rolling green hills and mountains abutting right up next to it. The pictures don't do it justice. There were hundreds of Elephant Seals at the beach four miles north of San Simeon. We loved watching them as much as the kids did. We took a very nice hike out on the point of San Simeon Bay at WR Hearst Park. We visited the Hearst Castle but didn't do the full tour experience which would have taken over 1/2 day and lots of $$. But it is an impressive sight to see. We drove several miles north of San Simeon towards Big Sur but didn't go very far before turning around. Those roads aren't for the faint of heart. We didn't have time and the kids didn't have the stomachs for the whole Big Sur driving experience. But what little views we saw were absolutely beautiful. Stopped by Arroyo Laguna, the local windsurfing/kitesurfing beach. One kiter was already out and others were rigging their sails and kites...the wind really picked up that afternoon. Big thanks to Brian Caserio for all the great tips/recommendations on things to do in this area.
Our last day was just a mental day with no plans but to drive south back towards LAX and see what we could. We saw the Oceano Dunes State Park, the cool little Danish town of Solvang, the town of Ventura, and did the PCH Hwy 1 drive from Ventura down to Malibu and on to Santa Montica. On the way, we saw many of the famous SoCal surf breaks - Rincon, C Street, Leo Carrillo, Point Dume, Zuma Beach. I wanted to see Jalama but we just plain ran out of time for that out of the way drive.
There is so much to see and do that you possibly can't do it all in one week. I'm grateful for the two SUP surf sessions we had and for everything we were able to experience. Whenever I return, I want to spend more time in Santa Barbara and the Cambria/San Simeon area....and go see all of the Big Sur Hwy 1 drive between San Simeon and Carmel. I also want to spend more time in the Dana Point, San Clemente, and San Onofre area for more stand up paddling.
On to the next outdoor adventure...