Bay Area Trip – Day 1

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17-Mar-2016: Few of our friends call Bay area their home and we had wanted to visit them and also G and Ar had not been to that area. So this had been in planning for some time, but it kept getting moved forward, one due to we not having the car and also it being a long trip we were not ready yet. This trip got finalized in Feb and we decided to go in March We were thinking of taking couple of days off before the weekend and make it a 4 days trip. The distance from our place to it is around 400 miles and it takes around 7:00 hours to reach if you go non stop 🙂 . We started planning the itinerary as the day approached. The plan was as below:

  • Day 1: Head towards Bay area, via Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and enjoy the scenic route. Reach our friends place.
  • Day 2: Do a SFO sightseeing and spend some time with friends.
  • Day 3: Do some local sightseeing, like silicon valley etc, mainly a relax day.
  • Day 4: Before heading back visit one more of our friend and be home by evening.

We packed our stuff, we ended up carrying lot of luggage ;), mainly food stuff, clothes , gifts etc. I had loaded the car tank preceding night as we were to start early. Woke up at 5:00 am. We had planned to leave by 6:30 am as we wanted to cross LA before peak time traffic. Though as always we got delayed and could start only around 7:30 am. We were cruising along I-5 and traffic was light, but as we entered 101, the traffic slowed us down. It took us more than a quarter hour to cross LA. We took diversion at CA-58 to head towards Moro bay where we got on to the Pacific coast highway (PCH), which was going to accompany us for next 200+ miles. This route is one of the most beautiful and scenic route in the world. The whole road passes right next to the Pacific coast on one side and cliffs on other. There are many beautiful beaches, vista points and arched bridges on the way.

We were making nice progress as traffic was light. We took a stop at San Simon which is a nice town and has great beach front. We had our lunch their which we had brought with us (parathas etc). It was such a nice experience to have it alongside the San Simon coastline. We would have liked to explore this town more as we have heard it has some nice old European architecture style buildings. For some other time ! We also fueled up here and moved ahead. It is important to keep refueling on PCH at regular intervals as you might not spot any gas station for a long stretch.

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Our next stop was going to be Big Sur. This is a resort town on the way and its very scenic. The main attraction is the cove and waterfall descending into it. We parked on PCH and then you have to descend and you get to a bridge. From here you get view of pristine blue waters and the water falling from cliff into the cove. I have not seen such a sight. Its mesmerizing. We spent some good amount of time there and did not want to leave. Just a short distance from here is Bixby creek bridge, which you might have seen on numerous postcards. There are couple of vista points before the bridge, from where you can see the arched bridge on the cliff flanked by Pacific coastline with blue waters. We then crossed the bridge and took break on the vista point on other side of the bridge. You get a different view of the bridge from here which is equally jaw dropping. Big Sur is a destination in itself and you can spend few days here to explore it, which we did not had unfortunately 😦 . We wanted to see one more point (a beach), which is quite popular but couldn’t find the spot and as we were getting late so we continued further.

Around 30 miles from Big Sur is the famous 17 mile drive. This is a private drive and there is $10 fee. Its a small peninsula and you go round the loop which is around 17 mile and so the name. At the beginning there is forested area and the jungle is heavily wooded. We took couple of breaks there, it was cool and peaceful. From here you drive down and you start feeling the ocean breeze. There are many scenic spots here like the iconic Lone Cyprus tree which is timeless, then there is Pebble beach and many golf coarse on the coast line. We took a break at the Pebble beach and had some snacks on the benches overlooking it. It gave us  much needed break. It was around 5:30 pm and I had been driving for close to 10 hours. Ar was started getting bit restive, with her constant question being “Are we there yet?”. We then completed the loop which was quite scenic and then headed out.

There is an exit for Sunnyvale before you enter Santa Cruz. This is the point you leave the coast behind. It was a mesmerizing PCH ride, which we would remember for ever. Yeah, its just like as they show in movies 🙂 . We stopped at a gas station to fill the tank and then we headed for our destination. We reached out friends home at Cupertino by 8:00 pm. We were quite tired, but had completed the 1st leg. We had driven for almost 12.5 hours and covered a distance of over 400 miles. We parked our vehicle, pulled out all our stuff and headed to their home. After freshening up and some chit chat had dinner and then it was time to go to bed.

PS:  I had done the PCH ride before, but it was as a passenger and I always wanted to drive myself on this stretch. I cant explain enough in words how scenic and wonderful this route is..

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Seal & Sunset beach Weekend Getaway

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10-Jun-2017:  Today was more beaches day! We couldn’t see the sunset yesterday and so decided to go to some beach to catch one today. The plan was to go late in second half and come back after the sunset. G wanted to start late in the evening something like 6-6:30 pm and before that have the weekly grocery run. But I was getting bored and wanted to leave early. Finally we dropped the grocery plans and decided to head straight to the beach. We decided to cover 2 of the beaches on our to do list. One was the Seal beach which is close to Long beach and bit south from there the Sunset beach. We planned to go to Seal first and then come catch the sunset on its namesake beach.

We left around 4:00 pm. This time around we didn’t miss to get the snacks with us. The route is go to Pacific Coast Highway and head north and Seal beach is located around 9-10 miles from Huntington beach. The route is our favorite and we were enjoying the drive. It was bit hot though but skies were clear, a good news for seeing the sunset. We reached there around 5:30 pm. There is a big parking lot there and the parking charges are $3:00 for 2 hours.

The beach was ok not great. The Seal is for the namesake, we could not spot any Seals 😉 There are only limited amenities, like only one shower/restroom and a small children’s play area. Also the coasts view is not as scenic as you can see long beach port and rigs in the ocean. Ar though played a lot in the water and she was not ready to leave. We spent lot of time in water. The water was warm with nice swirl of waves hitting now and then. Ar also played with her sand toys and created a small castle. We then decided to take a beach walk and enjoy the moment. There is a nice pier where we strolled a bit and then decided to head to the other beach as it was almost 7:20 pm.

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The Sunset beach is 3 miles down south from here and its quite long beach. There are houses lining the beach front and there is ample parking on the road side. So we pulled just before 19th street and beach is just few yards away from there. Ar was not too eager to go as she was feeling bit cold as well. But after some time she was fine. We put down the blanket on the sands and relaxed. We were hungry by now and had some snacks.

Ar was playing in the sand and I just put on the cap on my face and took a quick nap. G also took some rest. It was close to 8:00 pm now and sun was about to set. I wont say this is the best sunset point ever, but it was nice and we had good time seeing the sun set We also shot lot of video footage for our vlogs. It was getting quite cold now as the sun had gone below the horizon. We left the place around 8:30 pm.

It had been a bit tiring weekend, but we had nice time covering 3 beaches and the PCH drive. On the way back the traffic was thin and we reached home around 9:30 pm. On the way we picked up bread and G prepared some nice hot sandwiches and we called it a day.

Dana Point Sunset

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10-Jun-2017: It’s summer time! Not my favorite month though, but G’s fav and Ar’s also , kinda. One thing we like about summer months is that the day is longer and so you have lot of time at your hands. So Ar’s school break has also started and we have planned some beach gateways with family in the vacation time. We plan to cover at least but not restricted to 12 beaches, that would be 1 beach a week for the vacation duration.

This Saturday we woke late and were behind everything, but after a late lunch decided to head out. We did not have a specific plan, though we were thinking about seeing sunset at Dana Point. It was 4:00 pm when we left and as we hit the Pacific Coast Highway, we changed plans and decided to go the other direction i.e. up north and stop at a point where our journey takes us. The weather was good, bit cloudy, we had out sun roof open and were cruising along the PCH.

We passed through Laguna, Corona del mar, Newport beaches and decided to halt at Huntington pier. It was around 5:30 pm now and I pulled up in the parking lot, but when I saw $15 rate, pulled out immediately. For the whole day its fine, but for 1-2 hours we were going to spend there it was not worth it. So we decided to head back to our original destination: Dana point. Ar was bit tired by now and she was anxious when we are going to reach the beach. The traffic surprisingly was thin that day and beaches were also quite empty, may be it being cloudy today. Seeing parking spots easily available at Laguna beach tempted us to stop there, but then we decided to stick to our plans. We took the Golden Lantern exit and were at Dana Point by 6:15 pm. There is enough parking space here and its free.

Dana Point is actually a harbor and you would spot many boats and yachts here. The water on the harbor side is calm and serene and on the other side rash and noisy 🙂 On the extreme right side beyond the harbor is Pacific Coast and located there is the Sun Set point, flanked by the hill’s cliff. There are some nice benches to sit and relax and during low tides you can go down the stairs to the waters. This is the place which was my first outing when I came to US. Nice place and nice old memories.

Instead of benches, we decided to sit on the rocks closer to the water. The sound of waves hitting the rocks is so soothing. We knew we will not be able to catch the sunset as it was cloudy near the horizon. We spent good 2 hours there and were lost in time. Ar also had lot of fun. As sun approached the horizon the sky turns into a painting canvas. It was also getting quite cold now and the tide was also rising, some waves were splashing water on us. It was time to leave. We picked the car and headed home and were back by 8:30 pm. We were back late than we had planned and as Ar wanted pizza for dinner, we had that from Dominoes and called it a day.

PS: Couple of things that didn’t go as per plan: One was snacks which I had packed, was left at home only (no surprises here 😉 ) and so we didn’t had anything to eat on the beach and second being the main reason for the outing to see the sunset remained unfulfilled, so we decided to go again tomorrow at some other place to catch the sun going beyond the horizon.