Taken with California

In the 18 years I’ve known my best friend’s father, he, in one night, spoke more than he’s ever spoken over the course of my friendship with his daughter.  What initiated this sudden love for speech was spurred by his move to California.  “Why doesn’t everybody live in California?!  It has everything!” he exclaimed.  I now wonder the same.

Road trips are not the most relaxing of vacations.  I found being constantly on the move – every two days or so for two weeks – exhausting in the end but, of course, well worth the trouble.  Out of the 2 weeks we spent the majority of our time in California, specifically LA, San Diego, Death Valley and Santa Barbara.  When able to do so we cruised down the Pacific Coast Highway for breathtaking views of the ocean, sand, trees and sun. I especially loved watching the frenzy of activity at Manhattan and Newport Beach; volleyball matches, joggers, dog walkers, surfers, paddle surfers, bicyclists, roller skaters were all out and about taking in another perfect day.

To see a different side of Cali we spent two nights in Death Valley National Park.  Neither of us even knew of its existence until one of our friends in London recommended it.  Among many worthwhile sights, a handful of ghost towns can be found in the park where buildings and vehicles were left behind after mining efforts were abandoned in the early 1900s.  Eery but fascinating to see remnants of the old west.

For a bit of an adventure we went off-roading and drove for 2 hours up & through Titus Canyon.  One hour into the drive is when the bumpy ride begins to pay off.  Large rock formations in different hues become visible and at first you think your eyes are playing tricks on you due to the subtlety of the colors.  At second glance, your eyes are held captive by the natural wonder.

The last leg of our trip was dedicated to unwinding.  We had dedicated 2 nights to Santa Barbara but fell in love with its vibe, food and wines, so much so that we tacked on another night.  This afforded us time to do a full day vineyard tour in Santa Ynez (and met two wonderful ladies, Jamie & Georgina), hunt for the best tacos in town at Lilly’s Taqueria, get owned by a 1.5 lb dungeness crab (4 legs left uneaten) at Santa Barbara Shellfish Company, shop for food photography props and get some R&R before returning to London.

While I’ve completely jumped on the bandwagon, living in California isn’t in the cards for me just yet but the memories of the time we spent there won’t be far from my mind.

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