Sorry if this is long-winded. Just trying to get the drive documented so we can move onto the fun stuff. Onward!
Day 3 – Are we there yet?
It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for morale. We were up and on the road early after chowing down on some waffles shaped like Texas. Today we decided to make a couple of stops along the way and try to see a little of what Texas and New Mexico had to offer.
Our first stop was just outside of Amarillo to the famous Cadillac Ranch! We didn’t have any spray paint with us, but we found a bottle that wasn’t quite empty and made our mark. The cars were so textured from layers of built up paint, which is something you don’t see from afar.
We hit the road and before long found ourselves crossing the New Mexico border. We stopped in Santa Rosa, NM to see the Blue Hole. We didn’t know what to expect, and luckily we didn’t have any expectations because it would’ve fallen miserably short of them. Basically it’s an 80ft hole that has clear blue water and is a constant 60ish degrees. You can swim and dive here, but since there was snow on the ground we decided to pass. Though Snickers and Ariel had a nice little rendezvous.
Then it was straight on to Albuquerque. Sadly, we didn’t get any crystal blue persuasion as Walter White is no longer in the business, but we did get some good beer at Marble Brewery. With bellies full of beer (2 flights) and brisket nachos, we paused our drive and took a walk around Petroglyph National Monument. There were ancient markings on volcanic rock from Native Americans and Spanish settlers. It was a nice 2 mile walk to stretch our legs and digest our food.
The landscape through the rest of New Mexico was amazing! The sun came out and lit up the mountains and the rocks were illuminated with a red hue. Our goal was to make it to Flagstaff before calling it a night. For whatever reason, the hotels were filled up and it was expensive, but we found a decent place right near the University of Northern Arizona and called it a night.
Distance travelled: 608 miles
Beth’s favorite part: Cadillac Ranch followed closely by TX waffles
Matt’s favorite part: Petroglyph National Monument
Day 4 – Let’s hike!
We were up early in Flagstaff and ready to start the next leg of the journey. We weren’t ready for the freezing temps! It was in the teens as we loaded up the car! We found a hike just outside Flagstaff to work off breakfast and get the little pup some exercise; it was a 2.5 mile loop at the Elden Lookout trailhead. It wasn’t too strenuous, but the ice and snow on the trail made us glad we packed our boots. Luckily it was sunny and we got a great lookout of the city from the top.
Driving down the western side of the mountain was breathtaking. The sun played off the mountains and the scenery was a much welcomed change from the desert the previous two days. After a couple of hours we reached the California border!!!! Huzzah! Too bad we were still a day and a half from our destination 😦
We stopped at a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant to refuel, and were a bit underwhelmed by the lack of spices in our burrito and tacos. We were also price gouged for gas ($3.70! A GALLON!), but when you’re about to hit the Mojave Desert and the next gas station isn’t for 70 miles you gotta do what you gotta do. It probably didn’t make up for it, but later in the evening we were averaging 58 MPG going down a mountain into Bakersfield. I wish I knew what that drive looked like, but it was dark so we were basically careening blindly down a mountain.
Distance travelled: 480 miles
Matt’s favorite part: coming down out of the mountains
Beth’s favorite part: hiking in Flagstaff
Snickers’ favorite part: ditto to the hiking (woof!)
Day 5 – BIG SUR
This could really be a post of its own, but let’s just put it here and get the drive recap over with. We got up early (again) in Bakersfield; since the hotel didn’t have a complimentary breakfast – the first time this trip! – we treated ourselves to breakfast at Cope’s Knotty Pine Café. It was a greasy spoon diner with hearty helpings and hit the spot. Initially we were going to go with Google Map’s directions to Santa Cruz, but at the last minute changed our route to drive the coast up Highway 1. That was the best decision we could have made! It added about 2 hours to our drive time, but the views were well worth it. If you ever find yourself having to make that decision, just drive the coast.
The first hour or two was mostly desert; there were grape vines and almond farms as far as the eye could see. Then out of nowhere (well over the mountain) the scenery did a complete 180 and changed into lush greenery with rolling hills. There were wineries everywhere! We made it to the coast and made our first stop at a dog-friendly beach. We were able to walk up and down and let Snickers off leash to experience sand and seawater for the first time. She loved running around in the sand…and antagonizing the beached elephant seal, but she wasn’t so keen on the waves. I guess a giant moving object could be a little scary.
We drove the rest of the way up the coast through Big Sur. The views were incredible! Mountains to the east, ocean to the west! I wish we had more time to hike through there, but we were exhausted and just wanted to get to Santa Cruz. We will be back eventually to hike and camp.
We made it to our AirBNB and settled in for the week. The place was small, but comfortable, if not a bit overcrowded with furniture. The area was extremely walkable and we were relatively close to the beach. We cooked dinner in our small kitchenette and had fresh blood oranges from a tree out back. The computers were set up and it was time to settle in and enjoy the week in Santa Cruz!
WE MADE IT!
Distance travelled: 290 miles
Matt’s favorite part: driving through Big Sur
Beth’s favorite part: seeing Snickers in the ocean