Day 7: PCH & San Francisco

Our hotel in Morro Bay was only a few blocks from the water and fishing docks but it was too dark to know this when we checked in.  However, we could hear something odd while walking Maggie before bed the previous night… seals?! We got up early this morning to walk down and investigate. A group of sea otters were awaiting our arrival in front of boats and a calm ocean.

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But this wouldn’t be our only wildlife surprise today.  Shortly after we started our way up the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), we happened upon a muddy overlook with a small crowd of people looking over the railing.  We stopped to see and were thrilled by what we saw. A small colony of elephant seals were relaxing and playing at the shore.

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As we made our way north up the coast we were not too pleased with the weather that was greeting us.  We had mostly avoided rain and clouds on this trip but today would prove to be quite nasty at times.  I was worried that we might not even be able to see much of the coast at all due to the fog.  But I was surprised by the vistas that awaited us.

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Mile after mile of jagged coast unveiled itself to us as we crested every curve and peak.  The teal waters, white foam, and steamy grey air met with dark earth, golden grass, and green moss. We stopped frequently to take photos. Sometimes powerful gust of wind would blow open or shut the car door or send rain sideways onto my coat and face. Mud was underfoot at every pull off and I tried my hardest to keep my phone and camera dry.

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With white knuckles I finally relinquished the wheel to Amy for the final stretch of the drive into San Francisco.  The weather was not improving and we barely made it into town before it was completely dark.  We were just barely able to catch a few glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge in the mist.

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After stopping for dinner at a pier, we learned a very hard lesson about leaving the city over the Bay Bridge: don’t try go anywhere during or anytime soon after rush hour.  It took us an hour just to get on the bridge in the most stressful traffic I have ever endured.  We made it out and drove for a few more hours on to Redding.  California proved itself to be simultaneously the most beautiful and stressful part of our driving adventure.

Maggie’s 1st Road Trip

After completing a lot of firsts, Maggie wanted to share her adventures riding in the car for 7 days to arrive at a snowy and icy Portland.

When the boxes arrived, I wasn’t really sure what was going on and was very worried. I decided 4 am was the perfect time to show my concern and kept my parents up for several hours being sick. I think they humored me to make things seem normal, because before I knew it the apartment was empty and I was standing around unsure of what was to come.

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To my surprise, I got to do one of my favorite things and ride in the car. Of course, I found the pillows much more comfortable than my doggie bed and settled right in.

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After a while, I realized that I’ve never been able to see out the windows for so many days and decided to roll with some sass.

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Several days and many hours later, some of us got bored (obviously not me) and thought it’d be funny if I wore the travel pillow. I was not amused…

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Finally, we went somewhere that I could tag along. Being a drama queen, I immediately jumped up on a wall  and pretended to jump down the cliff below. It was hilarious!

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I got to explore some petroglyphs and petrified wood at a national park in New Mexico which was really fun.

When we arrived in Long Beach, I was not sure how to feel because I’ve never been a fan of water. Seriously though, what that stuff near the water’s edge.

I quickly realized that I can run and play without having to go in the water and can gaze into the warm sun.

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After all that running around, I was tuckered out while driving through Beverly Hills. While I was napping, they stopped for street tacos without me. How rude!

From there, someone got bored in the car (again) and decided we should take a selfie and I slept some more in a sun beam. I must know, can I call it selfie when I can’t take photos?

After what felt like forever, we finally made it to what I was told was my new home. I handled my first elevator ride like a champ and did so with other dogs (they better know that I’m the top dog).  I’ve been spending my time sleeping in my heated bed, next to the wall heater and gazing out the window hoping for a sun beam to lay in.

I am hopeful that the ice and snow will melt soon, so that I can chase the geese and hang out with my new beaver friend.

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My Christmas wish is for some rugs to arrive so that I can explore my new home without sliding all over the place and for some warmer coats. And I’m pretty sure Santa will deliver on that.

I’ll try to keep you posted if I go on any exciting new adventure in my new and chilly home.

 

Day 6: El Matador State Park

From Beverly Hills we went West to El Matador State Park but not before getting stuck in traffic on I-5.  Now that the true LA experience was over we took a windy, high speed, mountainous highway towards the coast.  The sun was nearing the horizon as we pulled up to our destination and we were awestruck by the view.  We joined picnickers and photogs down a steep flight of stairs to the beach as our fingers started clicking away at our cameras.

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There were a handful of decadent mansions adjacent to and above the park. While too sprawling for my taste, the design of this one was quite nice.

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We then left the park for Morro Bay where we would rest up and prepare for the drive up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). On the way out we stopped once more at Point Mugu for a final salutation to the Sun.

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Day 6: Los Angeles

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On Day 6, we left Barstow, a desert town in Southern California, for LA. We knew we were getting close when a dense smog dimmed our view of the valley as we made it through a chain of mountains. We were really surprised to see how thick it was.

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We thought we would start by seeing Long Beach in memory of Amy’s brother.  Even though it was Dec 14th, the temperature was high 60’s to low 70’s.  Maggie really loved Rosie’s Dog Beach and ran around we me like a crazed animal.

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Next we went to Beverly Hills and to see the Hollywood sign (yaaaaay we’re such tourist!). After sitting in lots of traffic I decided to detour up a windy residential road and am very glad I did.  McMansions practically built on top of one another all the way up.  And the view of the city was awesome, save for the smog of course.

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After that we stopped at a highly rated taco stand for the LA street food experience.  They served up some of the cheapest and best tacos I’ve had yet.

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And, of course, the Hollywood sign.

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Next up, we head North to El Matador State Park.

Day 5: Volcanoes Near Flagstaff!

Flagstaff was surprisingly Alpine and cold!  Not what I expected for Arizona but it was a nice change to see evergreens and snowy mountains after leaving a desert. Right in the  central northern part of the state lies a field of cinder cones (ie volcanoes) that form a group of mountains. We drove into Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and were delightfully surprised at what we found–lava flows!

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Fields of craggy, dark grey, igneous rock left over from an eruption that happened about 1,000 years ago.

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Another thing that was quite interesting to me was the color and texture of some of the surrounding mountains.  There were fields of what looked like perfectly landscaped gravel as though a landscaper had put them there.

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Below, you can see a crater left behind by an eruption.

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On the way out we stopped to take pictures of the breathtaking Humphreys Peak, the highest peak in Arizona. It looks like a cloud got caught on the peak while trying to pass over.

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Tonight we will cross over into California and stop over in Barstow for the night.  Then on to Los Angeles!

Day 5: Petrified Forest & Painted Desert

The Petrified Forest and Painted Desert are right next to each other and they were our first stops for today.  First, we drove around the Painted Desert. You can see why it’s called this with all the vibrant colors.

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Then we drove south to the Petrified Forest.  This is not a forest, but rather was a forest over 200 million years ago.  Now it’s a desert sprinkled with petrified logs.

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Basically, long ago there was a tropical rain forest here and the trees all fell into a river basin as they died.  The river covered them with silt and the water brought various minerals, like quartz, that then deposited themselves into the logs. Then they were preserved and buried for millions of years.  Now they are being exposed here by erosion.

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If you look closely you can see all the colors left behind by the minerals.  Beautiful!

Next up, we drive westward to Flagstaff to Sunset Crater.