So Cal

Fresh off the plane from Hawaii, we were ready to explore the rest of what California had to offer. We spent the night in Santa Cruz, famous for it’s skateboarding and surfing. With our holiday weight from Hawaii, we decided to start the morning with a run along the pier before heading further south to Monterey.

Laura taking a selfie after a morning run

Monterey was somewhere we were both excited about as we’ve heard incredible things about the sealife here. Once known as a sardine packing town, it is now home to one of the most visited aquariums in the world and further afield (or further a sea) there is an abundance of marine wildlife that we were keen to spot. After making our way through the very touristy aquarium, we took a stroll along the coast, never taking our eyes of the shoreline, where we’d been told we could often spot whales breaching on their way down South. We weren’t so lucky this time but were able to take lots of photos of the sea lions and seals in the bay before trying our very first clam chowder. We spent the next morning at the Monarch Butterfly Grove in Monterrey where hundreds of thousands of Monarch butterflies nest every year. They were almost camouflaged to the tree but when looking you could make out their beautiful wings, and even better now James had bought a new zoom lens for all this wildlife we seemed to keep spotting.

We struggled with finding good campsites for the rest of Southern California as they were mostly closed (November) or fully booked however the ones we did manage to get a spot at were pretty nice and close to the beach. We were able to spot Elephant seals in the Big Sur and even the most gorgeous sea otters in Morro Bay. We spent ages trying to film one in the distance before walking back to the car and seeing that there were at least 20 (with babies) right near the entrance to the jetty. Typical!

Laura taking a nap on the beach

LA for both of us was a bit disappointing; Santa Monica felt a bit grotty which quite clearly a big drug and homeless problem. We took the truck to the world famous Hollywood sign and then did a bit of our kind of shopping…we’d decided earlier in the trip that we would get surfboards at some point and after using Catch Surf boards in Hawaii, we’d decided this would be the brand for us. We spent a few days trying to find Catch Surf stores and see if anyone was selling online and managed to find a friendly guy in LA who had just sold his surf shop and was looking to get rid of the stock. So we were able to nab two new surfboards for half price. Pretty neat! We spent most of our time in LA getting surf board accessories including roof rack, leash, wax, and wetsuits as we were warned we would need them in Baja (this was in fact not true!)

Surf boards in tow, we decided to try these out for the first time in La Jolla, San Diego. We’d been warned of the stingrays that like to bed themselves in the sand so we were trying to shuffle our feet to avoid getting stung. We hung out the back and were surprised at how busy it already was even at 8am. Surfers are extremely committed apparently and I was starting to see why. We didn’t catch many waves before we headed back to camp to freshen up as later that day, we would meet with one of James’ friends – Jon.

It’s always so nice to see friends from home whilst on a long trip. James had met Jon a while ago through his best friend Craig. Jon originally from the UK now lives in Seattle and was down in California for a retreat. We met up for a sunset walk followed by dinner and drinks (a few too many) and managed to even sneak breakfast in before Jon flew home the next morning. It was great to meet him and hopefully we get to connect somewhere in the future again.

San Diego also allowed us to meet up with one of James’ old colleagues Mo and his wife (and gorgeous husky!) They took us around for the day and showed us some of their favourite spots in the area, including some (you’ve guessed it) delicious ice cream.

Us with the husky!

The last week was a perfect way to wrap up our three months in the US. We got some much needed admin done such as the car service and retuned/repacked the truck ready to cross into Mexico. We were excited and nervous all at the same time of what the next part would bring, but onwards and upwards as they say.

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