Summer of Sunsets

Summer is one of my favorite times of year, so I wanted to compile a recap of some of the most spectacular #sunsets in places I have had the privilege of witnessing. In the last 10 months, I have had the opportunity to go exploring and travel a little more than previous years. We seen places that we’ve only talked about and had a desire to visit, and now finally we have made our dream come true. Although there are many places we have yet to see, these sunsets have made for lasting memories and remarkable experiences we won’t soon forget!

Take a look at these stunning places and sunsets!

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Arizona near Phoenix
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Grand Canyon area
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Santa Monica, CA
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Cannon Beach, OR
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Eugene, OR
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Bradenton, FL
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Honolulu, HI
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Bismarck-Mandan, ND
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Honolulu, HI
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Scottsdale, AZ
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Sarasota, FL
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Moab, UT
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Honolulu, HI

 

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Austin, TX
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San Diego, CA
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Hawaii
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San Diego, CA
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Kauai, Hawaii
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Honolulu, HI
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Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

Some of the most memorable moments are captured during sunsets, make sure you don’t miss out on your next moment! Hope these inspire you to go out and explore and venture for that perfect view and/or #sunset!

Read more about my scenic adventures here!

See more gorgeous views in Hawaii here!

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2 For 1 Archaeological So Cal Hiking Trails * Coast to Crest

Santa Fe Valley Hiking Trail
Santa Fe Valley Hiking Trail

Weekends are very special to people, it is considered very valuable time for some. It means taking advantage of time off from work, or it might mean spending quality time with family and friends. The weekend is also perfect for running errands and doing tasks that you weren’t able to do during the week. But the weekend is not only for playing catch up on household work, it’s also great for going outdoors and exploring the local area hiking trails. And hiking on the San Diego area trails are perfect to fill your weekend with fun outdoor adventure!

 

 

 

If you have the desire to make the most of your weekends, here are a couple hiking trails I thought were very easy and interesting. The Santa Fe Valley Hike and the Del Dios Gorge trail heads are located directly next to each other. There is a rock gravel parking area that you can park at no charge, then go and explore one trail and continue on and hike the other; exploring both trails all in one visit. Directions: I-15 to exit Via Rancho Parkway, Go West 3.5 miles, go left on Del Dios Road 5.4 miles, and turn left when you see a organic fruit stand building and veer to the right and continue driving down the road that will lead to the gravel parking area for the trails.

 

The Santa Fe Valley trail is not only great for hikers but you can also bring your bikes out on the trail. There is even a bicycle repair station to use if you need a few tools to do a small repair or simply need to add some air in your tires on your bike. Also, one of the pleasant viewpoints of this hike are the beautiful views of the Crosby Golf Course.
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My visit to these trails did not only present striking natural landscapes for viewing pleasure, but I learned they also have archaeological significance. The flood of 1927 apparently exposed countless artifacts of the areas early inhabitants.

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Del Dios Gorge Hiking Trail

Three pre-historic cultural periods describe this region and it portrays a peak at how Native Americans explored through this valley. The Harris Site is noted as one of the most significant archaeological sites on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

The Santa Fe Valley and Del Dios Gorge hiking trails are both segments of the Coast to Crest Trail, which expands 55 miles from the ocean to the Pacific Crest.

Rattlesnake Viewpoint

One final thought, the next time your weekend is full of an endless to do list, make sure you add hiking and going outdoors to that list. Something to remember; make the most out of your weekend as well each and every day you get. Maximize life by learning, exploring, making memories with your family, and treasure every moment of this life.

Thank you for reading, to see more hiking adventures, check these other 4 great local San Diego Hikes here:

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3 Best Beaches On The Gulf Coast Florida

What does Summertime mean to you? For many, Summer is the season of making memories of fun times with family enjoying picnics, barbecue and watermelon! But for me, Summertime is all about the beachlife. This includes packing up your tote bags, gathering your fluffy beach towels and folding chairs and heading out to the beach every chance I get. IMG_0150Summertime and beaches go hand in hand, you can pack your lunch and enjoy a picnic on the beach, then grab your camera for those gorgeous sunsets that round up the day.
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I’ve spent a lot of time at some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are even a few I’ve been to that are located in areas not even accessible to the general public. But some of the hottest beaches in the world you could say are located in the state of Florida.
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Although the Summer season climate in Florida can be quite hot, it makes for a reason to head out to the beaches and jump in! Here are the three best beaches on the gulf coast you should visit today!

  1.  Siesta Key BeachDirections

Siesta Key Beach is located on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida. This is the beach of all beaches! It’s the beach you dream of with wide spaces of beautiful white sand of which the sand is cool to the touch. IMG_5271The sand at many beaches can be very hot on the feet during those scorching Summer days, but the sand at Siesta Key Beach is cool and very fine. The sand is made of Quartz and has a luxurious and cool feel to the feet!

There is a nice facility and large parking lot at this beach where you can find restrooms, and at times some events and activities are going on, for example seafood festivities and live bands.

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Additionally, every Sunday evening around Sunset there is the traditional Siesta Key Beach Drum Circle where people gather in a large circle and there are a few instruments being played, and folks can hula hoop or dance.

 

This is one beach you must visit on your next trip to Florida! Siesta Key Beach has also been named for some accolades recently as well.

  • o The whitest and finest sand in the world (The Great International Beach Challenge, 1987)
  • o The Best San Beach in America (The Travel Channel, 2004)
  • o The Best Beach in America (Dr. Beach, 2011, 2017)
  • o 2015 awarded #1 U.S. Beach (Street sign posted on Siesta Key)

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Siesta Key Beach Drum Circle Celebration
2. Bradenton Beach: Directions

Bradenton Beach can be found located on Anna Marie Island in Bradenton, Florida. From I-75 go take the exit for SR 64 and go west and you will run directly into the parking area for this beautiful beach.

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Bradenton Beach, FL
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Bradenton Beach, FL

From my experience visiting this beach, there is not alot of commercialism nearby or at this beach which is one reason why I love this beach! It’s sort of old school, it allows you to truly escape the crazy noisy things going on already in our busy lives.  Parking is free in this particular parking area, and the beach is what you see is what you get. There is a restroom building located at this parking area, and you can find a few businesses and swimsuit boutiques as you drive further south. There are a handful of free parking areas as well. It was a treat to be at the beach and see the Sand Art displays on the day we visited this beach in the month of December.

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Bradenton Beach Sand Art Display
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Bradenton Beach Sand Art Display
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Bradenton Beach, FL
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Bradenton Beach, FL

If you are looking for a quiet, and easy access to a beach for relaxing and enjoyment, Bradenton Beach will not disappoint.
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3. Clearwater Beach: Directions

This spectacular beach area is highly visited every year and offers a lot of beach fun and activity. Located in Clearwater, Florida, the beach is beautiful and lovely with its wide and sparking light colored sand and inviting blue waters to enjoy fun in the sun, building sand castles, or enjoying a picnic on the beach. There are several tourists who visit this beach so it can be busy, and parking can be a challenge at times.

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Clearwater Beach, FL
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Clearwater Beach, FL

You will see some hotels and resorts located directly on the beach in the distance. Several boutique shops and restaurants, and souvenir and snack shops line the streets on the main drag that lines this beach. You can also rent jet skis and boat tours to add a little adventure to your visit. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a must see as it is the place that the popular movie, Dolphin Tale, is based on.

Clearwater Beach has also been in the rankings of beaches in years past including one of the best beaches in the U.S. and many others. So while you visit the state of Florida, make sure to include a day at this stunning beach for an incredible beach day experience!

 

So the next time you think of Summer, the only thing that may come to your mind is Beaches! For me, there is nothing better than a day at the beach with your family playing in the water, relaxing on the sand, and enjoying a delicious picnic. When you come to Florida on your next travel or vacation, these three beaches are a must see to add to your itinerary!
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Coastal Road Trip Part 2: Redwoods & Oregon

And then there were trees
Our adventurous expedition continues, as our plan today was to spend time hiking and exploring these massive trees and nature trails. Redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens) are the tallest tree species on earth! And then there were trees, lots of trees. They were big, small, wide, corked, and even drive through with a car trees. Gigantic trees were everywhere you turn. We did get a little tease earlier in our drive as we started venturing through these magnificent specimens starting around a little town called Leggett, California. We browsed our way through Smithe Redwoods SNR, Humbolt Redwoods, and then onto the Avenue of the Giants.

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Avenue of the Giants was a peaceful less traveled path to take to explore these natural wonders. This particular area is the greatest accumulation of biomass, which is comprised of both living and dead organic material, ever recorded in a coast redwood forest in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Did you know that coast redwoods are taller than any other living thing! Here are a few interesting stops we made on this tour:

Stop 2: Bolling Grove where many of the redwoods take interesting shapes and sizes.
Stop 3: Visitor Center
Stop 4: Weott
Stop 5: Mahan Plaque is where there have been reports of people seeing an elusive large creature across the road (Sasquatch, Big Foot).
Stop 6: Dyerville
Stop 7: Chandler Grove
Stop 8: Drury/Chaney Grove where a nice 2.4 nature loop trail takes you through these massive species of trees.

We continue our journey north passing through Eureka and arriving into our resting destination of Arcata, California. But before arriving in Arcata, we also stopped for a rest at this neat stop in Klamath, California where a giant Paul Bunyan and Babe statue stood. We went into the museum and shop to browse around a bit and glanced at all the historical photos of characters from the old Wild West including the Indians and other explorers.

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We arrived early but yet late enough to check into our hotel and we dropped off our food and personal items, then headed back out to explore a new area. We returned to a scenic spot we passed by earlier to re-capture a few more photos of these extraordinary vistas and views.

After capturing a few eye catchy coastal view photos, we headed back to our hotel in Arcata, and while on the way we stumbled upon a quaint Mexican restaurant while driving through Eureka. We are usually very hesitant to try new places, but it was a sit down restaurant and we thought we’d give it a try. If you have food allergies or food sensitivities, they will do whatever you ask them to suit your needs. They mentioned to me that most of their sauces contain milk, except for one kind and that is what I chose for my Enchilada sauce. The food and sauces were made of quality ingredients. Hence, our meal did not disappoint, and was very delicious! If you are traveling through this area, you may want to check out this restaurant.
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After inhaling the scrumptious dinner at Tres Pecosos, we thought we would try to seek out another photo op before the sun goes down. A scenic area for a sunset at the beach and coast area would be perfect. But there were still a couple of hours of sunlight and we were just too tired to mill around until sunset so we captured a few stunning shots and made our way back to the hotel and hit the sack.

Sunset at beach area, near Eureka

The excitement level at this time was through the roof

And we had not even made it to the Oregon border yet. We’ve heard the most wonderful things about Oregon and especially about the coastline and its remarkable beauty. We awoke to a morning full of sun and fresh breezes. It was an absolutely beautiful day in Northern California, and we were ready and set to charge our way into another Redwoods area *Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP area and on into Oregon with our excitement level maxed out at this point. We topped off the gas tank and hit the road running. We also noticed that the California Redwoods parks are considered both the National Park and State Park areas.

This particular area of Redwoods is named for an American explorer, Jedediah Strong Smith, who traveled across the lands of the Sierra Nevada to the Pacific coast in the early 1800s. There is also the Smith River that provides such elegant beauty and crystal clear waters.
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Smith River

Side Note: There are a couple things we noticed as we traveled further north along the coast into northern California, Oregon, and Washington. There are several homeless (or look like they were homeless) folks wandering around the streets, parking lots, roadways and highways. We also noticed several folks appear to live in their vehicles and made lengthy stays at every rest area we stopped at. A few rest areas had posted signs that stated parking in this lot for only a minimum number of hours are allowed or vehicle will be towed. We also noticed that free coffee was offered at the rest stops in Oregon and Washington. Another thing we made a note of and something to be aware of is know where your rest stops or bathroom breaks are. The number of rest stops in California seems to be limited and the ones they do have several of them were closed. This is something to keep in mind as you travel on a road trip through California.

We could hardly believe our eyes
As we cruised through the massive Redwood National Park near the Klamath area, and again were in awe. From the enormous trees to the amazing shoreline beach vistas, it was a nature photographers dream.

We finally crossed the California border and into the beautiful state of Oregon. We drove down the roadway for a period of time this morning, and came upon a nice facility that was one of the Oregon Visitor Centers. We used the restrooms, browsed around the shelves full of pamphlets, brochures, and magazines about Oregon. We took a few info brochures, and then spoke with the woman working behind the counter and she provided us a few tips about the scenic stops and photo opportunities along the coast. These are some of those points of interest we made sure to stop and explore as they are described here:

Natural Bridge Cove: Trail

Arch Rock
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Port Orford Heads State Park
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Coos Bay
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Heceta Head Lighthouse (Viewing area)
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Cape Falcon
Tillamook
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A quaint little farming town with an air museum with a large blimp hangar, cheese factories, and agriculture fields.

Cannon Beach

This little beach town was spectacular and was alive! It appeared quite busy for how small it is. Several folks crossing the roads, on sidewalks, restaurant parking lots were full, it seems this beach town jewel had it all going on! The beach is wide and offers quite a scenic treasure accompanied by the large rock formations and is home to the word’s third largest monolith Haystack Rock standing 235 feet high, home for birding and natural beauty wonder. This coastal area made for incredible filming scenes for several movies and films. Examples include The Goonies, Point Break, Free Willy, Overboard, Twilight movies and many more.

As we departed the Cannon Beach area we felt a little sad, as we really wanted to stay longer. But we knew we had to make our way on to Portland, which was our resting point for the night. We proceeded north on highway 101 and reached highway 26 which took us all the way into Portland and definitely did not disappoint, as it was quite a scenic roadway. We enjoyed glancing at the natural surroundings and tree lined road as well as the open fields as we watched the sun set.

We couldn’t have asked for a lovelier day the next day. We woke up to a beautiful Portland morning and hit the road towards Seattle. We arrived in Seattle a handful of hours from Portland and prepared to make our way downtown to find parking. We pre-purchased baseball tickets to see the Seattle Mariners play on July 4th and it was a blast! The stadium was full of cheer, music, excitement, and patriotism!
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Safeco Stadium 4th of July Fly over from McChord Field: C-17 Flyover: WOW!

The Seattle morning offered to us was unbelievable! Full sunshine, blue sky, gorgeous temperatures, and not the Washington temps I remember. (in a good way). (I lived on Whidbey Island, WA 20 years ago).

We walked around the city for a while, then filled the car up with gas and started our return trip. San Francisco was our final stop, return the rental car, and catch a flight home. But of course, before that flight departure, we took in another baseball game and saw the San Francisco Giants play ball! That was certainly a thrill to see! I don’t know how people watch the game when they have such a gorgeous view looking right back at them in the stadium!

Our road trip back through Oregon was sort of a detour path as a result of the fires on I-5 near and around the borders of Oregon and California. Our detour included taking us onto Highway 99 South through several beautiful open landscapes, Mt. Shasta, Diamond Peak Mt., and other gorgeous vistas for our viewing pleasure and an overnight resting stop in Eugene. To cap off the evening, we enjoyed a stunning sunset!
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This coastal road trip was truly a remarkable experience for us! I remember always hearing about Highway 1 and PCH (Pacific Coast Highway); the scenic views, landscapes, and beautiful beach towns along the path. And I have only seen photos of places like Pebble Beach (or watching golf tournaments on TV), but for many years it was just a dream or a thought. It is remarkable that I have lived in the West between California and Washington for more than 20 years and have never driven this route. Well, now it’s not just a dream anymore, it became a reality for this wandering adventurer!
Thank you for reading!

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Read my Coastal Road Trip Expedition Part 1: Pebble Beach, Redwoods, & Street Art

Sources:
Avenue of the Giants brochure
California State Map
Oregon state printed informational material

 

Coastal Road Trip Expedition*Part 1

Coastal Road Trip Expedition Part 1:
California Coast * Mavericks and Pebble Beach* Streetart

It’s an adventurers dream to make the road trip of 2700 miles, visiting 3 states, and sleeping in 7 different cities. Not to mention capturing over 1000 images of stunning landscapes, blue crystal waters, and impressive giant trees and nature trails. I hope I got your attention, because that is exactly what we did to kick off our first timer experience on this extraordinary coastal road trip route. We went road trippin along the coast on PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), Highway 1 the path along the pacific ocean coastline consisting of some of the worlds’ most beautiful scenery.
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The scenery along the southern California coast is magical, although overcast conditions were presented to us as we began on our journey through southern to central California. Which is sometimes typical of southern California weather, the marine layer can come in along the coast and is usually burn off by noon. We proceeded onward with our trip heading north.

But before I continue to share more of our incredible experience, I want to explain a brief overview of the planning and preparation we put into this trip.

Our goals and dilemmas consisted of the following:

  1. Quality of sleep and rest in a comfortable, safe, and clean hotel.
  2. Allowing for about 6-8 hours of driving a day only~making sure to get enough rest.
  3. Not paying too much for lodging.
  4. Food and meals: I have food sensitivities so I am limited to which restaurants and types of food I eat. (Gluten, wheat, dairy, peanut/legume)
  5. The quantity of food for all breakfasts and lunches. (Great for budget travel)
  6. Return flight – limiting the number of bags and other things. (since I had to bring all this food)
  7. The type of cooler to bring:  disposable one. (Since we had a return flight).

The meals planned for each day were as follows:
Breakfast:  Hotel breakfast for my husband, I ate Cheerios and granola together with the
Almond Milk of which I brought.
Lunch: Deli cut lean turkey meat (I brought this also)-using Gluten Free bread for me;
and a peanut butter sandwich for my husband. And tortilla chips.
Dinner: Denny’s or Mexican Restaurants
Snacks: Fresh carrot, celery, cucumber slices. Almonds and Cashews. Tortilla chips, fruit

PLANNING:

Lodging and Transportation: The planning of this trip was not that easy.

My husband is a premier member to the Choice Hotel chains, so one of our stays was free and we gained more points again for the entire week to receive another free room or two for another stay. We found that the most comfortable hotel that offers more value among the choice hotel chains is Comfort Inn. My husband made reservations in 7 different cities and researched on Google maps to the location of that hotel to see what restaurants were nearby, and if it appeared to be in a somewhat safe area. All of this went into the planning and preparation for our exciting coastal road trip on PCH Highway 1.

We also rented an economical car instead of driving our own vehicle. This ended up being affordable and saving wear and tear on my own vehicle, and our rental car was much more comfortable for those long days of sitting. Our plan was to drive back from Seattle to San Francisco and drop off the rental car and fly home from there. For some reason the Portland airport didn’t allow Dollar Car Rental return, and it was quite expensive to fly out of Seattle to return to San Diego, so San Francisco was where we drove back to and reserved a flight for $72 one way ticket for each.

Meals: Now this was a little tricky. Considering we had a car, we’re thinking we could bring everything that we needed for a road trip, but with a dilemma of an airline flight return home. So, I thought about the foods and snacks we eat and gathered enough for each day of the week using zip lock baggies, the amount of bread for sandwiches for each day’s lunch, and breakfast meals for me since I have food sensitivities. We would seek out certain restaurants for our dinners, and those include places such as Denny’s and Mexican Restaurants of which I can usually find healthy, gluten free options from those places.

JOURNEY BEGINS:

We finally hit the road around 8:45a.m. after leaving our personal car at the car rental place nearby the airport and picked up the rental car. I noticed a few pieces of art in this car rental facility which I thought was very interesting. Look closely now, this art piece is comprised of several vehicle tail lights attached to the wall. Check out these photos:


Here is another art piece that caught my eye nearby the airport and they were moving as the wind speed increased.
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As I mentioned earlier, the day was a bit overcast with some clouds and haze but at least the traffic was minimal driving through the LA area. It was quite a scene driving through Santa Monica, Malibu, and Santa Barbara as we proceeded making our way towards Monterey and the Pebble Beach area.

There are so many California towns and cities I remember hearing the names of over the years, but never really knew exactly where they were until we drove through them. It certainly was a treat to see some of these smaller cities and beach communities as we passed on by.

DSC_0205WEBDSC_0485 webDSC_0220-WEBlogoWe finally made it to our goal stop and point of interest at Pebble Beach. My husband has already experienced Pebble Beach and has played Pebble Beach Golf Links many years ago and paid $250 for the round of golf and waited 8 hours to tee off. We learned how much a round of golf is today at that same course while chatting with the starter and it is not cheap, a whopping $525 for a round of golf.

PHOTOS: Pebble Golf Course

Prior to wondering in awe around the clubhouse and shops at that Pebble Beach golf course, we cruised on our way through the infamous 17-Mile Drive along with a $10 park entry fee. This is one of the most famous scenic drives in the world. We drove through a couple of the viewing stops such as Shepherds Knoll, Huckleberry Hill, and Poppy Hills Golf Course but made a quick visit at China Rock, Bird Rock, and Cypress Point, and not to mention the spectacular Lone Cypress. DSC_0095-WEB17MIL-LONE-CYPlogoThis is one of California’s most enduring landmarks and has withstood this rocky post for more than 250 years.

After a long day of driving, we rested for the night in Marina, California then awoke early and hit the road onward towards San Francisco. Santa Cruz was a neat town to buzz through as we saw quaint coffee shops and surfing boutiques. But our eventual place to see and visit was Half Moon Bay and Mavericks, the place where surfers take on epic big wave challenges and the Monster Mavericks big wave international surfing contests. Waves can sometimes reach up to 60 feet high!
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There is a beautiful lighthouse on this point, of which the surfers head out to sea for about another couple miles then hope to catch that dream of giant waves.

Not only do surfers face the challenge of rough and cold waters here, but the climate is quite cool and cloudy many months of the year in this particular area.

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After wandering around the surfers territory of Mavericks, we made it up to San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge. We missed our photo opportunity that day as it was fogged in and overcast so we just pressed onward heading north. At this point we are on the 101 freeway and found our next pit stop to rest. Santa Rosa was quite charming as we walked around for a bit and encountered a little street fair event with live music and vendors.20180701_134613 I noticed a couple pieces of street art of which are a couple of my favorite characters in the cartoon Charlie Brown series. The weather in this part of California was spectacular feeling the breeze of refreshing coolness and the warm sun simultaneously.
To be continued…

Coming Soon: Coastal Road Trip Expedition Part 2 : California Redwoods Ave of the Giants

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**Let me know what you think and please comment and let me know if you’ve taken a Summer roadtrip and how you prepared and details of your adventure.

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