Monday, July 12, 2010

California Recap, Part Four

Monterey, CA
The City of Monterey was by far my favorite stop on the trip. The picturesque coastal city is rich with history and has a fisherman's wharf complete with sea lions. We spent an embarrassing amount of time watching the animals lounge on the rocky shore - and watching a pup eagerly follow its mother, until she went into the water. I did a bit of financial damage in Monterey, first with a necessity item: a sweatshirt. I had been shivering throughout most of the trip. I didn't realize that I'd be so cold in California with 70 degree temperatures and no humidity. (Who thought that I'd have to return to Wisconsin to warm up?) I also picked up a Tahitian pearl necklace at the wharf and a small oil painting at a local gallery.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
During the planning stages of the trip, Nate was adamant that we scout out Redwoods. We settled on a visit to Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California's oldest state park, to admire the 2,000-year-old trees. After walking through the forest, I'm convinced that those who really understand the magnificence of the Redwoods are those who have seen the trees in person - photos just can't do them justice. A word of warning for those who visit Big Basin: when you drive out of the park, be aware that the two-lane road will unexpectedly narrow to one lane with traffic continuing in both directions.

Winchester Mystery House
A stop in San Jose was a last-minute addition to our itinerary when I remembered that the famed Winchester Mystery House was in California. I had a bit of fixation with the lore of haunted locations growing up and vowed to visit Sarah Winchester's mansion eventually. (Unfortunately, photos weren't allowed inside the eccentric home.)

Cold Spring Tavern, Santa Barbara, CA
After we stopped in San Jose, we turned around and headed south to arrive in time for our flight from L.A. This gave us the opportunity to dine at a former 1860s stagecoach stop: the Cold Spring Tavern in Santa Barbara. Named as "one of the best places for a romantic getaway," I couldn't wait to bring Nate here for a rustic early-birthday meal. (I have a feeling it was one of the only places in California with venison on the menu.)

Ty Warner Sea Center
We couldn't leave Santa Barbara without a stop at Stearns Wharf and the Ty Warner Sea Center to touch a shark and play with starfish (which I should apparently called "sea stars," but I refuse).

Seal Beach, CA
Our last full day in California was spent in Seal Beach, thanks to a recommendation from Carrie at This Free Bird. Seal Beach is a small town (at least by L.A.-area standards) with around 24,000 residents. We couldn't wait to lose track of time on shore with another full day of splashing in the ocean and collecting shells. Carrie recommended that we stop at the California Seashell Company, or what I now refer to as "the best shell shop ever," for inexpensive souveniers. (I may have picked up a slightly tacky shell Christmas ornament.) When we stopped at a local bar for lunch, I noticed my alma mater's mascot on the wall but didn't think much of it. Halfway through the meal, I was startled to realize that we weren't in Wisconsin - University of Wisconsin's Bucky Badger was actually adoring the walls of Californian bar.


  1. So cool! You guys went to so many great places! That baby seal is adorable! :D

  2. oh i really enjoyed myself in Santa Barbara too.

  3. Such great pics!

  4. AWww, that baby seal is the CUTEST!!! Looks like you guys had the best time. I love California!


  5. i'm going crazy over all those otters on the beach. they are so CUTE! i need to see these guys in person when i visit CA. i love seeing the pics of all the different places you've been on the trip! ~joelle

  6. OMG ...those seals are so adorable:) Such a wonderful trip:) I love those photos:) Kisses,sweetie and see you soon:)

  7. what a fun trip! the seals melted my heart :)

  8. yay for seal beach!!! so glad you had the chance to visit - you got such terrific pictures of all the places you visited. i really must pay a visit to monterey...

    i have to see this ornament you scooped up. that place is shell mecca! xo-carrie :)

  9. Oh my gosh, the baby seal is sooo cute! What a wonderful vacation you had!

    Chic on the Cheap

  10. Oh my goodness, the baby seal!!!! Vacations are the greatest, hope you had a wonderful, relaxing one :)


  11. What can I say? I miss California and it looks to me you guys had a wonderful trip! great memories here good for you!

  12. We were just there for our anniv in September. We did the beautiful 18 mile coastal drive. so gorgeous!

  13. That picture of you with the seals is lovely! Seriously great looking trip - you hit so many cool towns!

  14. what an amazing trip! thanks for taking us on your journey...beautiful pics! i agree, redwoods are manificent and stunning in person...definitely should be on everyone's bucket list.

  15. seems you have real is always fun :)

  16. SO jealous of your trip! Looks like you had a great time!

  17. What a fun trip Jessica! I went to the Winchester Mansion when I was a kid, and loved it! Staircases that go nowhere, upside down pillars, and everything done in 13's. Apparently Sarah had an obsession with that number. Cold Spring Tavern looks like a great spot! I'll have to check it out the next time I head up the coast.

    Bren @ Chasing Beauty

  18. I cant believe you made it to Cold Spring Tavern! I went to UCSB - and we used to drive up to that place every once in a while -totally a hidden gem :-)

    Thanks for sharing all of you pics!

  19. Ever since I watched It's Complicated I've sort of become obsessed with Santa Barbara it just looks so gorgeous and I think it'd be a perfect departure from life in New York. I'm so envious of you!

    The baby seal is so strange looking, haha it's like awkward teenage stage with flippers that are too big!

  20. How cute!! I haven't even been there! XD

  21. i came to look at your California pictures as you mentioned them on my blog. oh my, what a fantastic trip you had!
    must say, i read about your trouble with hiring a car....? we'll be hiring a car in LA (we're flying to and from all the destinations so only need a car to get around LA) and i'm the only one with a driving licence as my friend doesn't drive. does this mean we won't be able to rent a car even though i'll be the only one driving it...?
    oh and i'm totally following you from now on!


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