I’m so excited to share this last part of my travelogue with you! As a recap: I drove down the coast of California, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, earlier this month with Tom (part one is here). This post includes the leg of our trip from Point Lobos to L.A.
I usually don’t wear my beach jewelry until it’s summer (a silly rule of my own), so it was fun to break out one of my favorite rings early for this trip. I got it on Fire Island a few years ago and I always feel like a mermaid when I wear it. (My mom often divulges to people that she’s a mermaid, so you could say it runs in the family.) My earrings are from my lovely roommate… also mermaids.
Sometimes the easiest way to pack jewelry for a trip is to go with a certain theme (i.e. mermaid jewelry, silver rings, or a mix of simple silver and gold pieces). I used to try to coordinate jewelry with each outfit I brought, but that was way too much work, so now I carry a few select items that I know will go with pretty much everything in my suitcase.
Along with my mermaid pieces, I packed simple gold studs, silver hoops, and my favorite midi rings, i.e. jewelry that’s distinctive and easy to wear, not so colorful or sparkly that it’ll take away from my casual, “I’m on vacation” vibe.
The biggest blessing in disguise about Big Sur: there is no cell service. None. At first, this is frustrating and a bit disorienting. But then, it’s liberating. I was able to really take in the scenes that stretched out before me. Our Airbnb hosts in Mountain View gave us a map—a paper one—which ended up being really helpful for pinpointing where we were in Big Sur, which is roughly the 90-mile stretch of Highway 1 between Carmel and San Simeon, where the Hearst Castle is. There are spots where you can stop and ask for directions too, but you definitely won’t have Google Maps to rely on. So planning ahead helps.
I was super, super excited to see Bixby bridge (above), a well-known stop along the Big Sur drive. The funny thing is we saw other bridges later on the drive that looked similar to this one. So I guess I was a little underwhelmed, which I feel horrible saying, because this bridge is amazing, and has so much history to it. (It was completed in 1932, and is one of the world’s highest single-span concrete arch bridges.) The cliffside was also crawling with other tourists at the time, so I found myself getting distracted by people taking photos, taking selfies and videotaping (a bridge?!). I think the gloomy weather was getting to me! Luckily it got sunnier as we continued to head south.
Nepenthe was recommended to us by a shopkeeper in Carmel-by-the-Sea. It’s known for amazing views of the Big Sur coastline (and the Phoenix gift shop, perfect for picking up beautiful local gifts). We ate at a long, bar-like table that was right up against the edge of the restaurant. Across from where we sat was a tree with lots of birds hopping and twittering around inside. At one point, a woodpecker poked its head up right in front of me (see below). He was totally eyeing my margarita.
More Big Sur
This was another time where having no cell service was kind of nice. I still took pictures, but then I would sit as near to the edge of the cliff as I dared, close my eyes and b r e a t h e; really take in and smell the air around me, hear the wind rustling through the trees, the distant waves crashing against the rocky walls far below, feel the sun warming my face. It’s one of the best feelings in the world, to feel so present in a moment, to be thankful for it. Having the chance to take those moments was what made this trip so fulfilling and refreshing for me.
This is McWay Falls, above, in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Another super picturesque, don’t-miss-it spot.
At the Hearst Castle, we took a tour of the grand rooms inside the castle and wandered the grounds afterward. (There are several tours to chose from; a friend suggested we book ahead of time, since they fill up fast.) Once you park and pick up your tickets, you take a bus up the winding road (with Alex Trebek narrating) to where the castle sits. William Randolph Hearst was a fascinating man who hired Julia Morgan—the first woman to receive a certificate in architecture from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris—to design his grand “ranch” (which at one point had a large zoo on the grounds!).
Rincon and L.A.
I kept my look really simple on the trip, mostly sticking with my favorite worn-in jeans for day (I also brought white jeans, dark-wash jeans, and navy cotton slim-cut pants). For day to night, I would often swap out my light-wash jeans and espadrilles (above) for dark denim and pretty flats. (I also wore a striped dress when we went to dinner in Monterey.)
The most useful pieces were my coat (kept me warm when we hiked through the redwoods earlier in the trip), my faux leather jacket (works day or night), and this flowery blazer, which I am obsessed with and will probably wear 300 more times before the end of summer. Also: scarves! (I brought two.) They add a pop of color and keep you warm.
Besides our awesome Airbnb hosts in L.A. (more on that in an upcoming post!), the best part of visiting was catching up with my dear friend Jess, who lives in Burbank. She’s an amazing blogger at Jeans and a Teacup. Tom and I met up with her for burgers at Umami, at The Grove, a pretty outdoor mall. I’m so glad I got to see you, Jess!
Thank you so much for reading! Comment below if you have any questions about the trip or the places we stayed, I know I squished so much into this last post.
Photographs by Tom Schelling, except for: our selfie, Tom in Rincon, and the shot of the bird on the table at Nepenthe, which were taken by me.