September 7, 2016

“On Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends, we travel for miles on roads without seeing another vehicle, then cross a federal highway and look at cars strung bumper to bumper to the horizon.”
— The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (current read)

My 2 busy weeks of cramming my home improvement project for a photoshoot + Revit and poche cramming for Tuesday’s client deadline finally ended. Since Tim was getting even busier, we parted, I left on Sunday morning for my solo getaway; I put on my travel essentials: Uniqlo leggings, tank, New Balance running shoes, Northface backpack, and packed my open back Bali spa onesie, Franco Sarto leather sandals, black moto jacket, an extra pair of lingerie, skincare essentials, watercolor sketchbook, palette, brushes, novel, Kinfolk mag, Banh Mi sandwich from mom, latte from Zweet cafe, and $40 cash ($20 for refilling gas, $20 for whatever needed food/drink/emergency)

Throughout my years I’ve refrained from driving for long hours and hiking by myself because of fear. But after spending too much time at home and in the office, Tim truly inspired me with his solo road trip stories. I decided to leave everything, just drive, explore, and go solo. No trip advisor / Yelp / texts / phone calls. There’s something very liberating about making an as-you-go adventure for yourself in unfamiliar places. And there’s the risk of going solo as a woman with health insurance still being processed. But pushing all my excuses aside, I drove 250+ miles up north, listened to some solid Radiolab podcasts, then blasted and sang along to every track on Weezer’s Blue album and Avril Lavigne’s Let Go. I was in search to fulfill my list: 1) Trail 2) Something strange 3) Seafood 4) Beach (and somewhere along the line, read and paint a bit)

1. Trail.

After rushing into the Jack in the Box restroom, I drove up to the very peak of a steep neighborhood and found the beginning to Bishop Peak Trail. The lack of signage, the unstable boulders piled on ridiculously steep hills really caused me to struggle. Within 30 minutes of this trail, I was completely alone, lost, and surrounded by poison ivy and other weird bugs I thought only existed in Lion King, so I decided to jog towards whatever light and open space I could find, which led me to this sunny spot of solitude. I sat, felt and heard nothing but really cold wind blowing my hair in front of my face for a good 10 minutes. Since it was getting really cold and a bit dark, I decided to drive out towards downtown.

2. Something strange.

I’ve heard about this gum wall, but didn’t know where it was. I didn’t know I would walk right by it after sipping on some sparkling pear tea, reading at Cafe Scout, refilling coins at my parking meter. Yet the wall is pretty obvious because of the kids shrieking and laughing, and the smell is quite disgusting as you proceed through the alley. But walking through it, reading messages that people wrote with their gum – was quite fascinating. I too wish I had gum to sign my name with.

3. Seafood.

Years ago when my brother and I swung by Pismo beach, we swung by Splash cafe for their award winning, kick ass clam chowder. Although I was getting really cold, I wanted some seafood that came in something other than in the form of soup And I found it: 2 Shrimp tacos drizzled with this creamy, pesto glaze for $7.50.

4 . Beach.

Just around the corner of the main street towards the pier, I picked up ice cream (another great choice as I was shivering). Luckily, this hole in the wall, janky looking ice cream parlor just  had everything I wanted at that moment to fulfill my sweet cravings: sea salt caramel ice cream with a chocolate dipped cone. While I was sketching a mountain and enjoying the sunset by the pier, a few Brazilian men who seemed French, asked me to take photos for them and told me that my English was great. I laughed and we exchanged our travels / living abroad stories. I found myself agreeing with them on so many levels of LA: Unfriendly, cold people in sunglasses, crappy public transportation, yet good weather, an extensive variety of food options and cuisines, and laid back lifestyle with a hodgepodge of cultures.

Would I do this solo getaway again? Hell yes. Next up, Catalina Island.