West Coast Adventure

These photos are a very small percentage of the photos we took on our big trip to California.  We started by flying to LA for Eric’s sister Christine’s senior art show at Biola University.  The show was AMAZING.  It didn’t feel like a student show at all- I know it was loads better than my own senior show.  Christine showed her massive charcoal drawings that seemed to float on the page, and her friend Mar wove a 30 foot whale from reeds and suspended it from the ceiling.  It was crazy how well the two girls’ work complemented each other.  The space was such an inspiring place to be.  I got to help set up the show the day before it opened, and it was cool to see how the drawings transformed themselves and the gallery as we mounted them on the walls.   Big things coming from these young women.  BIG THINGS.

The day after the show opening, Eric and I rented a car and embarked on our trip up Hwy 1.  We intended to rent a Jeep Wrangler, but it occurred to us at the rental office that Wranglers don’t offer much in the way of security, and we were going to be traveling and camping with all our stuff in the car for the next week.  So we settled for a silver Mustang Convertible, no big deal.

You will note that it was December when we drove this drive, and even though it was sunny California, December is no time to be riding around in a convertible.  I spend all our driving time cocooned to the ears in our double-wide sleeping bag.

The Pacific Coast Highway (Big Sur, mostly) is one of my favorite places I’ve seen in America.  It makes me so happy to live in a country that has such diverse landscapes.  On one day of driving through Big Sur, we were completely fogged in, driving hairpin curves with sheer cliffs on our left.  We camped about 30 feet away from one such cliff, and couldn’t even see the edge of it from our tent.  I couldn’t stop noticing the color palette, so different from what I experienced growing up in rural southwest Virginia, or living in suburbia and cities in recent years.  The colors were simultaneously rich and muted- deep forest green, cream, goldenrod, and all manner of grey and brown and black contrasting with the stark white and cerulean waves.

One of the stops we made was Hearst Castle, and I’d recommend it to anyone doing a Hwy 1 road trip.  The views were spectacular, the art and architecture impressive, and the story fascinating.  What impressed me most was the indoor swimming pool, tiled in cobalt blue with gold accents.  Apparently if you’re a member of the “Friends of the Hearst” Club (aka, an important donor), you get to attend swimming parties at the swimming pool.  While we were there a toddler threw his sippy cup in the pool and the tour guides looked completely disgusted.  They had to fish it out with sticks.

Another thing that surprised me (though it shouldn’t have) was seeing citrus trees growing every where!  Lemons, limes and oranges, just growing in people’s yards.

Every time we saw a seal on the trip, Eric and I freaked out and took a million photos (and there were a lot of chances to see seals on beaches- they were about as common as deer are in the woods).  This photo was taken at San Simeon, and the beach was chock full of elephant seals.  Those little white seals are going to grow into that big fat seal, pretty incredible.

We wrapped up our trip in San Francisco, which I adored.  I finally got to eat at Tartine Bakery!  I’ve been obsessed with this place so long, and it met or exceeded every single one of my expectations.  I bought two half loaves of bread, a morning bun, brownie and most delicious of all- a banana cream tart.  Sorry, no food pics.  I don’t have as many photos from SF, because by that point in the trip we were beyond dirty and the batteries on all our devices has been dead for some time.

I will say that if you visit SF, in addition to Tartine, you really need to go to Paxton Gate and The Pirate Supply Store.  They are only a couple blocks away from Tartine, and next door to each other.  Paxton Gate is the oddest, most interesting store I’ve ever been in.  They had everything from gardening supplies and plants and terrariums, to taxidermy and things  like mummified monkey paws, to nature-themed jewelry like silver casts of beetles and rings carved from deer antlers, to art books and old maps and science posters…in other words, everything creepy and amazing.  The Pirate Supply store is the front cover for what is in fact a children’s literacy program.  But you’d never know that; they take themselves pretty seriously as “San Francisco’s only independent pirate supply store.”  The shop is full of pirate necessities like spyglasses, maps, wooden legs, mermaid repellent and lard(??).  The walls are covered in witty and snarky stories and one-liners.  A must-see.

 Oh, on their website you can find a (partial) list of uses for lard.  They include: Grub cooking, Skin moisturizing, Mast Greasing, Hair Styling, Lard fights, Dog rewarding, “My Little Lard Baby,” Shark enticing, Finger nail softening, Salad Dressing (seasonal), Gift Wrap.

I think that important lard info is as good an ending to this blog post as any.

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