best west coast road trip! (part three)

In case you missed it, you can read part 1 and part 2 of this series to see our whole trip!

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Across the Mountains to Salvation.

From San Diego, we went back east and backtracked on our trip a little bit.  Our first stop over the mountains was in a small old mining town called Julian.  They are now known for their apples and beautiful vistas in the autumn, but it was fun to visit in the summer.  We got some snacks, walked around the cute little downtown, and then continued on.

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The mountains and views, of course, were gorgeous.  The photos really don’t do these wide expanses and mountains justice.  The roads and journeys to each destination were definitely a highlight of the trip.  I loved getting to take everything in and chat and joke with my love for many long hours.
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The reason I really wanted to head east at this point was to visit Salvation Mountain!  I’ve been wanting to visit this beautifully painted masterpiece for so long and that dream finally came true this trip.

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This beautiful masterpiece was primarily built and painted by one man, Leonard Knight.  While he has since passed, this serves as his legacy and gift to the world.  You can read more about him and Salvation Mountain here.

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On our way out of the sparse town around Salvation Mountain, we came across this Danger Reality Ahead sign, and I felt like we were really about to enter the real world again after being in such a magical place.

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Reaching Palm Springs & Joshua Tree.

I’ve never been to this part of California, but my parents went to Palm Springs when I was younger, and I remember looking at photos of their trip and thinking it was lovely!

We stayed at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club, which is now one of my favorite hotels, by far.  We went for a dip that night and had delicious cocktails by the pool.  We ended the night with a little fire in our room’s courtyard while listening to some great records on the record player in the room (!! love).227 220 221231

In the morning, we ate a King’s Highway in the hotel lobby and then headed off to Joshua Tree to explore for the day.

We stopped at the visitor’s center to get recommendations since we only had a few hours to spend in the park.  We entered at the west entrance and did a loop to exit at the north entrance.  Along the way we hopped out for a few short hikes, some great vistas, and, of course, photo ops!  It was a hot day, but we loved exploring and seeing a landscape like nothing we had seen before.

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After Joshua Tree, we headed back over to Palm Springs for a delicious pizza dinner at Birba.
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Next Stop: LA!

Next, we headed back to the coast to the lovely city of Los Angeles.  This is the first time I’ve really spent time there, so we made sure to do the really touristy things.

We walked along Hollywood Boulevard and looked at all the stars.  It was actually pretty neat to see!  We also stopped at Venice Beach and took a nice stroll and then went off to the LACMA to take a look around.

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We also happened to have some good connections in LA:  my cousin works at Warner Brothers and our friend works at Disney!  That meant we got to go visit their lots and check out things behind the scenes (including the set of Gilmore Girls!).

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From here on out, it was all about driving back north along the coast to SF!  Sad that the trip was coming to an end, but there was still much more to see (!!).

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The Way North

We stopped in Santa Barbara, which was so, so beautiful.  I would love to spend more time there soon!

We stopped into the Kotuku Elixer Bar and got a very refreshing cacao shake.  It was delish, and the shop was lovely.

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Before continuing on our journey we went to the Old Mission and had a picnic near the rose garden.  It was such a beautiful day.

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Next, we stopped in Solvang, a cute little Danish village.  We got some delicious baked goods (fresh Danish cookies!) and found a book store called Book Loft that also had a Hans Christian Andersen Museum inside!  The owner was very friendly and we chatted a bit before heading on our way again!

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Our Final Stop: San Luis Obispo

And then we reached the Madonna Inn!  This is another one that’s been on my wish list for a long time.  We stayed in the rich-looking Dez room (part of Ren Dez Vous), with beautiful velvet wallpaper and gold details.  I adored the room and didn’t want to leave to do anything!


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You really need to visit the Madonna Inn to truly take in all of the decor.  It’s impossible to describe, but it’s amazing and delightful!353

We did end up leaving the room (eventually) and went horseback riding on the grounds of the Madonna Inn!  While on the trail, we saw a coyote which I thought was pretty cool!

We also went to downtown San Luis Obispo to hunt down an herb shop I wanted to check out.  It was hidden in a beautiful area and had amazing teas.  If you’re in the area, check out the Secret Garden Herb Shop.

After that, we went down to Pismo beach to go ATVing on the dunes!  It was frightening, especially at the start, but I finally got the hand of it.  To top off the day, we went to a delicious chip-based restaurant called Chipwrecked.  A place that specializes in Gourmet Potato Chips is worth a stop in my book!


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After our fun in San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach, it was time to head back north to SF.  If we hadn’t stopped at places like Big Sur and Monterey many times in the past, these would definitely have been on our road trip list.  (So make sure to build these into your itinerary if you haven’t seen them before!!)

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It was a wonderful trip, and we got to see so much in this part of the country that we had never gotten to see. I am really thankful that we had this opportunity to explore and learn – and that we were able to do it together.  I love making memories.  I hope you enjoyed this little sneak peak into your trip and that it inspires you to take on a new adventure!

 

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best west coast road trip! (part one)

A few weeks back, my love and I took the most wonderful road trip along the southwest and west coast of the good ‘ole USA.  I love seeing new places and taking it all in, and that’s exactly what we got to do.

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First, some good stuff:

Originally, we were going to drive up and back on Route 1 along the CA coast from SF.  Then we found an amazing deal from Hertz.  Car rental for $1 a day if we drove the car from Phoenix to SF.  That’s right, $1!  It was an amazing deal, and even with the cost of a one way ticket to Phoenix, it was less than we would have spent on the car rental had we not found this deal.  Summary:  always check Hertz (and other car rental companies) for their current deals!

Okay, now, let’s be real, this is the really good stuff:

Our trip started in Phoenix and ended in SF 8 days later.  It was one heck of a journey!  It looked something like this, although I’ll have to break it into parts since we had too many stops to add to one Google map:

Roadtrip Map

So Let’s Get Started: Phoenix & Beyond!

Things started a little rough.  We missed our flight for the first time in our lives!  Apparently we needed a little extra sleep, but it did damper some of our plans for Phoenix.  Since we were only traveling for a little over a week and wanted to hit up so many places, we didn’t have much time at each stop.

We didn’t let this ruin the trip, though.  One of the best things to remember when traveling either domestically or abroad is to stay flexible, and that we did!  We laughed it off, paid the change-flight fee (unfortunately), and went on our way.

In Phoenix, we drove around a bit, but honestly didn’t do anything too exciting.  We also knew we were taking the scenic drive to Tucson, so we didn’t have extra time on our hands.  I’ve been to Phoenix before and liked it, so I  have a feeling we’ll be back at some point.

We drove the Apache Trail (Highway 88) to Roosevelt Dam and then on to Globe, all through the Superstition Mountains.  It was incredibly breathtaking.  We drove along lakes and through fields of majestic saguaro cacti.  It’s a scene like no where else.  We stopped at many pull-offs to snap some photos and yell into the valleys below.  I highly recommend this drive to anyone who likes to see the beauty of the landscape and feel a little bit disconnected from the rest of the world (in an amazing way).

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We also stopped in Goldfield, a ‘ghost town’ that is very clearly now just a tourist trap, but it was fun to step into this bit of US history.  In the 1800s, it was a bustling gold mining town but closed down in the early 1900s.  There are still remnants of the mine, tools, and buildings from the original town.

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The scenic drive took 4-5 hours, and we ended up driving from Globe down to Tucson via 77 as the sun went down and into the night.  We arrived at our AirBnB and it was super unique.  It had lovely gardens and also had a temple inside!

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We got some much-needed sleep and woke up early to depart for the next part of our journey.

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A few hours in Tucson & on To Sells.

We grabbed a quick breakfast at Prep & Pastry and then drove to the Saguaro National Park to see more beautiful landscapes and lots of cacti!

We took a few hours to check out the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and I’m so glad we did!  It was so much more than a typical museum.  They had many gardens, animals, great scenery, aquariums, and much more.  One of my favorite museums I’ve been to!  Plus, I love their mission and always love supporting places like this:  inspire people to live in harmony with the natural world by fostering love, appreciation, and understanding of the Sonoran Desert.
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After spending the morning+ at the museum, we knew we needed to get on the way to make it to our next destination before sunset.  Daylight goes so quickly on a road trip!

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We, again, took a bit of the long way to get there because we wanted to check out the Tohono O’Odham Nation Reservation.  This is the first time I’ve ever been on a reservation and it was definitely interesting (and a bit sad and unsettling) to see.  I have many thoughts on the reservation, but I’ll save that for another time.  For now, I’ll just say, I’m glad I got to see a reservation for myself and meet some of the people that live on one.

We stopped in the reservation capital, Sells, and got a bite to eat from the supermarket and just drove around the community.
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From Sells, we continued through the reservation to Why, AZ, and then up through Ajo (beautiful!) to Gila Bend on Highway 8.  Then we continued our journey west!

We stopped at Dateland and got delicious date shakes.  Dateland wasn’t quite what I expected (it was basically just a rest stop), but the shake was definitely delicious, so I recommend grabbing one to go!
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After Dateland, it was starting to get dark, but we made it through Yuma and then to our destination of Jacumba Hot Springs, right on the Mexican border, by nightfall.  Along this drive we saw the Mexican border and the wall on the border as well as border patrol and patrol stops.  I have definitely never experienced that before in the US, and it was interesting, to say the least.

Jacumba was amazing, and I will definitely go back at some point.  It’s a simple hotel but has pools full of hot spring water.  It is so lovely and feels wonderful.  We went to bed and then went for another dip the next morning before heading out on the next part of our road trip!

Tune in later for part 2 (and 3) of this series.  For more images from this part of the trip, check out our Through the Lens section of the site for our photo portfolio.

Love to all!

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