October 5, 2015

My Summer Vacation Preview

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I last posted but it’s been time well spent. I found a new place to live, I’m in the process of moving, and I’m in the middle planning my most epic trip EVER.

Yes, I said it: EVER.

Yes, even more epic than my solo cross-country road trip three years ago.

I’ve been alluding to this epic trip for a while now and although I’ve been reluctant to provide too many details, now that I’ve hit the three month countdown until my departure date, I can’t hold in my excitement in any longer.

In fact, this trip is so epic, I had to give it a name:

Roadtrippin’, Roughin’ It, and Romancin’
the West Coast of the U.S.A.

The plan? Three weeks in my favorite part of America: the West Coast. I’ll fly in to San Diego and out of Seattle. And so far, I have very few fixed plans about what’s going to happen in between. Here’s the breakdown:


I’m a sucker for a good road trip and it’s been much, much too long since my last one. I’d originally planned on spending a few days in San Diego, but I just wasn’t feeling the San Diego vibe. Instead, I’ll drive two hours north to Los Angeles, spend a few days there and then cruise up California’s most famous thoroughfare: the Pacific Coast Highway (although I’ve been warned that no native Californian calls it that). I don’t have a fixed itinerary, but through my research so far, I’ve learned there are lots of points of interest and small towns worth a stop along the way. I’m planning to go as far north as Monterey and then hang a right and head inland. Why? Read on.

Roughin’ It

After my cruise up the PCH, I’m heading to Yosemite National Park! It’s the only definite plan I have on this entire trip so far as I’ll be spending four days and three nights there with Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides (I snagged the last spot in this group trip–bonus for going it alone!). This portion of the trip will give me an opportunity to cross two items off my life list: backpacking in Yosemite National Park and a chance to summit Yosemite’s iconic granite peak Half Dome.


After leaving Yosemite, I’ll drive up through Oregon and head into Washington State. I’ve written before about my brief flirtation with Seattle and I’ve decided that this summer it’s high time Seattle and I got to know each other better. A lot better. How much time I actually spend there remains to be seen, but I’d love to spend a minimum of three days getting intimate with this glorious metropolis. I can’t wait!

It’s not typical for me to spend this much of my vacation time at once but I reach a milestone birthday this year and I really wanted to do something special to mark the occasion and celebrate my life so far. Last year, I learned some valuable lessons about the benefit of traveling slowly and simply taking time to savor your surroundings. This year, I’m putting those lessons into practice.

More to follow as details fall into place. I can’t wait to share this adventure with you.

Have you spent any time on the West Coast and have recommendations for things I should see and do, places to go to eat, or people I should meet? Let me know…I’m hoping this will be a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’ll need your help to make that happen! Leave your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and concerns in the comments below.

35 Responses to My Summer Vacation Preview

  1. Sere says:

    Awesome, Awesome Road Trip!!!! That is like one of my dream road trips(along with driving cross the US). Jealous!! My friend who lived out in Cali for a year or so, told me that the Pacific Coast Highway is called the PCH instead haha. When are you heading out? I fly into LA last couple weeks of May, but I won’t be able to road trip it too much. Have family stuff that I am kind of obligated to do. Wow!, and scaling Half Dome, are you hiking it or climbing it? That must be the training that you are doing right now. I am totally excited for you :)! I can’t wait to hear the details! I know that you will have just an awesome time out there.

    • Marsha says:

      Lawdamercy, Sere, I’m hiking it. This girl does not climb, LOL! I’m stoked, beyond excited, delirious with anticipation, until I can barely contain myself. Phew. My trip starts in mid-June and lasts until the first week of July.

      Your trip sounds like it will be fun as well, even if you are hanging out with family. Everything just seems better on the West Coast, hehehe! :) P.S. I checked out your website the other day–your photos are phenomenal! You have a true gift!

      • Sere says:

        Haha I don’t climb either. And thank you! I do enjoy taking pictures, my camera is like my third arm. It will be fun to visit out west, haven’t been there in awhile. It will be an awesome hike!!! Can’t wait to read about it :).

        • Marsha says:

          Ditto about the camera and the West Coast. I try to spend some time on the West Coast at least once every year, but I missed out on it last year, so I’m making up for lost time :). Excited to see pics from your trip, and thanks so much for being so supportive–it truly means a lot to me. Talk to you again soon!

        • Sere says:

          I am sooo excited to be heading outto Cali. I just have to get over the whole flying thing, not so good on flights. But I will definately let you know when I post my pics and of course I am excited to see yours as well. Talk soon!

        • Marsha says:

          Fantastic, Sere! Looking forward to it!

  2. Pat says:

    Great trip. I had the opportunity to drive from L.A. to San Fran with my daughter a few years ago. It was one of the trips of a lifetime and she’ll always remember it such. Would have loved to see Yosemite. Just didn’t have the time.

    I am presently planning a solo trip to Alaska that doesn’t involve a Cruise. Really excited about it.

    And it was because of you that I have put Edinburgh on my list too!

    Be safe.

    • Marsha says:

      Pat–Thanks for chiming in! You sound like such an adventurer and I’m totes jealous that you’re heading to Alaska…that’s a place that’s always been on my life list of places to go! When do you leave? And are you going solo? I’m so excited for you because it sounds like you’re going to have yet another trip of a lifetime!

      I’m also glad you’ve been inspired to visit Edinburgh…it’s such a great city; I only wish I’d stayed longer.

      Thank you for your wishes for traveling safety…and it’s so nice to chat with a fellow traveler! Come back soon and visit!!! :)

  3. Ekua says:

    I’m a native Californian and I sometimes refer to it as the Pacific Coast Highway. But more commonly, I call it Highway 1 or the PCH. People aren’t really too concerned with that, people in my city get more upset when visitors refer to San Francisco as Frisco or San Fran 😛 I have a recommendation for West Coast people you should meet: me! But that would require a change of your itinerary to come to SF. I’ve actually been thinking about planning a road trip up the northern coast of CA to Oregon at some point in the summer, but I’m not sure if or when that would happen. Have you figured out your dates yet?

    • Marsha says:

      I heard that most southern Californians call it Highway 1…I had no idea calling San Francisco “San Fran” was a no-no. I’m pretty sure I’ve made that mistake more times than I really want to admit, LOL!

      I’m definitely interested in meeting up with you, Ekua! Will send you an email with my travel dates, etc.! :)

  4. Sounds fantastic! I’m very jealous of your trip to Yosemite, it’s high on my travel wish-list. I did the San Francisco to LA Highway 1 road trip a couple of years ago and had a great time. Would recommend the Monterey Aquarium, a pit-stop for coffee and cake at the Big Sur Bakery, Hearst Castle and sunset cocktails in Santa Barbara. Have a great trip and look forward to hearing about it!

    • Marsha says:

      Thanks bunches for chiming in, Lucy–I’m loving your recommendations…Hearst Castle is definitely on my “must-see” list and Big Sur bakery and cocktails at sunset sound amazing. How long did you take to do the SF to LA drive?

      Hope Yosemite is in your near future! :)

      • We did it over four days – San Francisco to Monterey, Monterey to San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara, then Santa Barbara to Los Angeles – but wanted plenty of time to stop off to see things (and take lots of photos!).

        • Marsha says:

          Sweet! I’m planning on doing it in four as well, except I’d be doing LA to Monterey. Very cool. Sounds like it’s going to be a very relaxing drive. This, of course, is all contingent upon me not falling completely in love with LA and staying a few extra days, LOL! :)

  5. Rhona says:

    I have been waiting for this update soooo long. :)
    I am super excited for you. Sounds really amazing. This huge adventure is epic and something that will bring you hoards of happiness! I’m still smiling as your joy is contagious.
    I have no advise for you, Canadian over here, but knowing you, loads of research is being done making this trip amazing.
    I dont really head to the US much (if you count going to Buffalo to shop) so this will be really nice for me to see your country up close and personal.

    • Marsha says:

      I apologize for the long gap since my last post…I’ve been looking for a new place to live and have just been feeling overwhelmed with the move. But I can’t wait for this summer…and to take you on a virtual tour of my favorite part of the country. So good to hear from you, Rhona! What’s new with you?

  6. Gray says:

    Aw, this sounds awesome! Driving the Pacific Coast Highway is one of my dreams. Don’t sell San Diego short, though. It’s got a lot going for it. Still, this is looking like a great trip even without it.

    • Marsha says:

      Thanks for chiming in, Gray! (I was hoping you would). I’d actually planned on spending time in San Diego based on your recommendation and pics from your recent visit there, but as I looked into it a little more, it just wasn’t making the connection with me. LA, on the other hand, is exciting me like nobody’s business, which I’m shocked by because I’d been there before for a conference and hated it, but I didn’t really get to see LA…so I’m giving it a second chance. San Diego will have its day…just maybe not this time around…Hope you’re well!

  7. Fantastic trip. I have done the entire length, once slowly and other times in sections.

    I used to live in Monterey and would suggest Point Lobos, Carmel Valley, Carmel Highlands, the Carmel village, and Pacific Grove–in addition to Big Sur. Oh, in Big Sur try and find Pfeiffer State Beach (gorgeous beach and whale viewing). So many great places to eat but it is hard to beat clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl from Vivolo’s in Pacific Grove while watching a glorious sunset).

    Speaking of bakeries, try Sweet Jill’s in Seal Beach. Crazy good cinnamon rolls.

    Venice Beach is Always a highlight.

    The southern Oregon coast is majestically beautiful. If you are staying inland from Yosemite, I would suggest visiting Lake Tahoe, Lassan, Crate Lake, Mt. St. Helens.

    SO many places to go and things to see.


    • Marsha says:

      Charles–your recommendations sound amazing. So good to have the perspective of a former local–your opinions and insights will weigh a lot my ultimate decision. Unfortunately, I’m allergic to shellfish, so no clam chowder. :( Bummer. Thanks for taking the time to write such detailed suggestions. I can’t tell how much I appreciate it! Come back and check on my progress sometime, will ya? :)

  8. Sounds incredible! Very jealous of Yosemite. BUT… we’ll hear all about it when you get to Seattle :)

    • Marsha says:

      I’m squeeing with delight and anticipation! I SO want to meet you guys when I get to Seattle, if you’re around. Will let you know trip deets as soon as everything’s nailed down a bit better. Have a happy Friday! :)

  9. Amy says:

    Kudos on the exciting itinerary! On your way north from L.A., consider taking Hwy 154 out of Santa Barbara. It’ll give you a nice change of scenery and the chance to visit Solvang if you’re interested in eating ebelskivers as well as Los Olivos if you’re tempted by wine tasting. (Parts of the movie “Sideways” were filmed there.)

    Going north on Hwy 1 from San Luis Obispo, consider dipping into Morro Bay, if only to gawk at Morro Rock (a volcanic plug), and briefly stopping into Cambria to eat a slice of Linn’s olallieberry pie (mmmm). Farther north, maybe you’d enjoy a quick visit to the elephant seal viewing point, where some juveniles and adult males might be molting still.

    FWIW: As a SoCal native raised in O.C., I always knew Pacific Coast Highway as PCH, no “the” in front of it. We put “the” in front of freeway numbers but not PCH; I don’t get it, but that’s always the way I’ve heard it from other natives.

    Happy road-tripping!

    • Marsha says:

      Amy, your recommendations sound awesome, and it’s reassuring to know they come from a local. I’m really looking forward to the drive on PCH (see–I’m learning!) and some of the stops you suggested sound right up my alley. What’s new with you? It’s been a while…

  10. Red Hunt says:

    This looks liek an exciting road trip! I’m jealous, as it is one of my dream road trips to visit the West Coast and hit all the National Parks! Have fun…I’ll be watching for photos and reports from the road!

    • Marsha says:

      Believe me, I’m as excited as a–well, I don’t know what. This has been a dream for a long time. I’m just so excited it’s finally going to happen. Keep your fingers crossed for me! Here’s hoping a road trip escape is in the near future for you too!

  11. Amy says:

    You came to mind, Marsha:

    3.29.12: Giant boulder crashes down on Highway 1, closes roadway near Big Sur

    Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2012/03/28/2008190/hwy-1-closed-boulder-rock-slide.html#storylink=twt#storylink=cpy

  12. Wow! surely looks like you had a great time in the road trip! the camping site is absolutley wonderful! i cant go to such places now as the kids are too small..

  13. Sere says:

    Hi Marsha,
    I came across this link while checking things out for my California trip and thought of you. Did you know that this was going on? It might be kind of fun to be involved in. I’m not sure how well I would deal with the crowds, but it would be kind of neat to be part of the history. I will actually be in California when the Golden Gate Festival is going on. Check it out if you would like.

    I also have a few pictures from my last road trip out to Omaha from the Bridges of Madison County in Iowa if you would like to see those, just check out my last blog post :). Hope things are going well for you and you are getting settled into your new house and everything.

  14. Wow–this is almost EXACTLY the solo trip I planned (and then cancelled) for this coming May. But I was going to do it by train. And then everyone said ‘you can’t do that by train’. So I changed it. Instead I’m doing San Francisco, Yosemite, and maybe Monterey. By car.

    But I’m super jealous of your trip! I can’t wait to hear about it!!! And I’ll be sure to share some of my Yosemite solo recommendations, as I’ll be there in three weeks–yikes!

  15. […] got 3 days to get from Sacramento, California to Seattle, Washington during my West Coast road trip this summer, and it turns out that this particular leg of the trip is providing the biggest […]

  16. Johnny says:

    That looks pretty awesome! What are the things you want to see most while driving up the PCH? I’ve heard it’s beautiful scenery, and I sure do love the beach. Also, if I may ask, around how much does a trip like this end up setting one back? Do you always stay in hotels or do you camp and sleep in your car some of the time?

  17. Amelia Potter says:

    looks like lots of fun.. I missed having road trip with friends, too bad I don’t much time to do this again due to hectic schedule. :(

  18. Marsha says:

    What I want to see most on the PCH: Channel Islands National Park, Bixby Bridge and Big Sur, and Hearst Castle. Everything else is up in the air…