California Dreamin’: Roadtrip!
By: Christa Sperry RMP, Ryt-200
My mom and I have been planning a trip for just the two of us for a long while now, and we finally made it happen in June. She’s in Florida and we get to see each other about 1-2 times a year but it’s usually over holidays or birthdays when there is always so much to do. We decided to leave everyone else at home this time and strike out on our own west coast adventure. After landing in Los Angeles and picking up a car, we spent the next 9 days and 1,400 miles tooling around California.
The first stop was Joshua Tree where we got a little AirBnb travel trailer for 2 nights. We drove through the entire national park starting at sunrise and by the afternoon stopped for a pb and j lunch at the Salton Sea before heading to Salvation Mountain. Salvation Mountain is truly in THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, USA and is a mountain of faith built by one man in the heat of the desert over many decades. It is not a trek for the faint of heart and an awesome place to ponder the human spirit.
Next we stayed outside of Santa Barbara at another AirBnb for couple nights to check out some beaches and good food. We hopped on a whale watching boat in Ventura for 6 hours and saw not only massive pods of dolphins and sea lions, but also watched 3 humpback whales bubble net hunt a huge school of fish for over 2 hours. I’m not going to lie, I shed some tears. It was one of the biggest highlights of my life, and something I have dreamed of seeing for a very long time.
After what seemed like an unbeatable experience on the whale boat, we drove all the way up the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway through Big Sur. I have made that drive a few times before and the sheer majesty and beauty get me every time. It is one of the most stunning places I have ever been lucky enough to see with my own eyes and it holds a special place in my heart. While driving, we came across a rookery of elephant seals and were able to get pretty close to them as they fought and flumped about.
We stayed in Carmel By The Sea for the next several days wandering around the town and beaches and had a couple fantastic meals (check out Yafa restaurant if you’re ever there!). We hiked Point Lobos State Park and found more hidden beaches, harbor seals, sea lions, baby otters playing in the kelp, and tide pools filled with urchins. And to top it off, the entire landscape was covered in a hundred different kinds of wild flower just in case someone might not think it was already dazzling enough. We also went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for a day which I highly recommend. They had naturalists giving talks everywhere and gigantic tanks with hammerhead sharks, sea turtles, and sunfish. They also rehab many of the animals there in order to release them. From the dock outside the aquarium you could see more seals and otters in the water below.
From there we took the long way back to LA through farm country with mile after mile of pistachio trees, date palms, lettuce and strawberry fields as well as half of the other stuff you enjoy piling on your plate on any given day (shout out to the farmers, workers, and bees keeping us fed all year round!). We then parted ways and hopped on the late night flight back to our homes. It was an amazing trip and I feel so fortunate I got to do it with my mom. I hope this inspires you to pack your bag and grab a friend or loved one to head out into the great unknown - adventure is out there!