By: Christopher Hernandez
So I just got back from a little 6 day trip out west with my friend Paul (@thatniggapaul on Instagram if you would like to check out his stuff) for his 21st birthday. He had never been out to California before but always wanted to go so I thought it would be cool to rent a car and just go everywhere, like a nice California sampler. I mean 6 days isn't very long to see all it has to offer, but we managed pretty well. This will also be a good post to show everyone that traveling, especially inside the same country, doesn't have to be expensive or long. I always find people asking me, "How do you afford to do this stuff? How can you pay bills and everything and still manage to make all these trips?". I'll show you.
Well first off you have to sort of plan ahead. I know ideally you want to live spontaneously and just enjoy every thing you come across but a little bit of structure will save you a lot of money. By structure I just really mean get an idea of everything you want to see and plan a route. The last thing you want is to get to your destination then realize you want to see something thats 5 hours out of the way. Also try to get yourself into a sort of minimalist mindset, you don't need everything you think you need. You need food, water, and shelter. Everything else is extra, that mentality alone will save tons on travel expenses. You've got to remember that us humans are much hardier than we think. People can live in the wild and go days without food; we are incredibly sturdy organisms. I'm not saying you need to live so bare that you eat once a day, but you don't need to spend $5 or $10 on every meal you eat. And lastly, if you really want to save on travel expenses, skip the hotel or motel or whatever. Just sleep in the car or outside. You'll survive without that shower and bed, I promise. Park your car in a National Park, or a residential area if you're in a city, or even a Wal Mart parking lot and you're safe to sleep the night away. And you can shower at most Travel Centers and big travel gas stations like Love's, Flying J, Pilot, and Travel America for like $10-13. They're everywhere when you're traveling on interstate highways.
Alright no more money saving tips, now the fun stuff. So for my little California Sampler, I wanted to take Paul to less city-oriented stuff and more outdoorsy type stuff, because honestly I don't even know what to do in the city. Just not my thing. My list was: Grand Canyon in Arizona, La Jolla Cove in San Diego, Big Sur on the coast of California, San Franciso/Golden Gate Bridge, and Yosemite National Park. Paul's list was: Universal Studios in LA, some beaches, Grand Canyon, and pretty much whatever I thought was best. He kept an open mind which was great. So here's where that planning stuff kicks in, you have all these destinations so now you just gotta link them up and keep your trip lined up accordingly. La Jolla Cove is in southern Cali, Universal in LA, Big Sur between LA and San Fran, and Yosemite sits East of San Fran. So we started south in San Diego, went north through LA and San Fran, then east through Yosemite and on home. Easy.
Well first was actually the Grand Canyon. If you've never seen it and you're on your way to California you might as well its on the way! We got to the GC in the middle of the night and got to see all the crazy stars, man what a beauty. Never get those views in the city. Slept in the car and woke up early morning to check out all the views. The Grand Canyon is enormous, and you definitely need more than a day to really get the experience, but all we had was a day so we just got the most views we could get before we had to head to San Diego.
The next day we hit La Jolla Cove in San Diego, the place was packed with tourists and Sea Lions. Smelled horrible but I can't complain, the Sea Lions were a really cool part of the visit. Except for the one that stranded Paul and I outside an arch coming off the beach. He punked us out pretty bad. So we get down to the beach and there's a cool archway to our left leading out to the ocean with rocks we can walk across, so we do. We get out of the archway and we're looking at the cool view of the rocky beach and all the Sea Lions nesting and bathing and what not, and we realize there's one right next to us flopping up on the rocks were standing on. So immediately we're like "oh shit they bite we better stay back" and he plops up right on the rock blocking our way back to the beach. Well fuck man now we're stuck out here. I walk over to the Sea Lion to see if I can sneak past the side of him out of the cave and he starts barking at me. So we're trapped and Paul doesn't want to swim out and around the outcropping of rocks with his phone on him. Our only chance was to climb the arch and get over the top of it to get back down to the beach. Thank you Trent for getting us into rock climbing, I think we would've been stuck there all day. Also luckily the arch wasn't very tall, probably only 15 feet high. I mean it would have definitely hurt to fall, and maybe broken a few things, but we would've survived. I'd say it was about a V1 boulder problem with all the mossy holds and our bare feet.
Next on the agenda was Universal Studios and LA. I kind of consider LA sort of the Mecca of California, "where dreams come true" and all that stuff. Traffic sucks though. Universal Studios was really cool, basically for us the attraction was Harry Potter World, which was pretty amazing actually. Love me some Harry Potter. Besides that just a big tourist thing, lot of foreign people which is always cool though. Never get to hear so many languages on a normal day in Texas that's for sure.
Now finally we were heading to Big Sur, I think my favorite place in California. The coastal views on Highway 1 are just insane. Narrow winding roads, steep cliffs, low hanging clouds, and a ridiculous view of the never-ending ocean. That place really makes you feel small and insignificant, but at the same time so inspired to do anything. Nature can do that to you. Paul and I got in some good little hikes/climbs; one amazing one down to a rocky beach. We spent almost an entire day just driving up that coast and playing in the fog.
Got to San Francisco that night just in time to check into our Airbnb. Slept long that night, and got up next morning for tea with our host then brunch Downtown. Then we aimed for Golden Gate Park to get in some good views of the bridge. Spent most of our time on Baker Beach, which offers breathtaking views of the bridge and the water's not too cold either. Down at the end of the beach are some nice boulders and other rocky stuff you can climb around on and get splashed by the incoming tide.
Last on the list was a really quick visit to Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is a huge National Park, you need at least a week, maybe two, to really get the full experience. I mean this place is crazy, there's so much to offer. However we only had a couple hours...we sort of ran out of time. But I had to at least show Paul a little teaser of what they have to offer. We got to Yosemite around 6 or 7 at night, only an hour or two before dark. I figured Yosemite Falls would be a fun quick hike. Got to the base of the falls as the sun was setting and took a quick, cold, dip into the little pool at the base of the falls. Really brisk, but really worth the swim. By the time we were in the water night was already on us so not being able to see sort of freaked me out. But totally still worth it, things that bring the greatest fear always bring the greatest joy (Kerouac). After that we headed on the long drive home, a great trip came to an end. I'll see ya later California, hopefully soon.