California Roadtrip: Big Sur, Seals, and Six Flags

Day 2: Big Sur & Elephant Seals

Much to the disappointment and annoyance of my sweet little sister, we drove down to Big Sur for some serious hiking. And by serious hiking I mean a 4 mile moderately strenuous trail...which I didn't think would be too big of a deal after my 37 near death experiences in Maui.

Big Sur is just a piece down the road from Monterey and Carmel, both of which were chilly and overcast when we stopped. Big Sur was grey as well, which I adored. Overcast days, especially by the sea, are so romantic, don't you think?

The grey sky almost melded into the sea, and when looking out at the horizon, you couldn't tell which was which. It was all just this slatey abyss.

the daily selfie. do you like my mullet?

We hiked the Ewoldsen trail in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

you can tell i take this hiking business seriously because i'm wearing spandex.

the one caveat I would mention about hiking the Ewoldsen trail is that it doesn't have what i would consider "good" views until well into two very steep miles. I didn't mind too much, because I love a good leg-burning, heart-pumping hike, but if you don't enjoy hiking for hiking's sake, and if you aren't an especially patient person, I would not recommend this trail.

The problem is that the trail is mostly in wooded areas, and the first few miles are just an uphill climb through trees. I don't know, maybe I'm just not a tree person. If you are a tree person, you'll probably get a get a huge kick out of it.

But once you got up those two miles, you come around the mountain and end up high above the ocean.

And if your name is not bRob and you don't make a habit of taking horrible pictures, you might snap a few gorgeous shots.

She only agreed to pose after a lot of cajoling.

the one bit of wildlife we didn't manage to scare away...

walking in and out of the park you'll see this beautiful little grotto [?] and waterfall across the road. 

minimal hiking required.

After leaving Big Sur, we drove down a little shy of Santa Barbara. On the way, a friend suggested I stop and visit the elephant seals (or sea elephants, as i prefer to call them) between the lighthouse and Hearst Castle near San Simeon.

Easily one of the best pieces of advice I've ever received. Like, cross stitch that mess on a pillow, good advice. The elephant seals are hilarious. Living proof that God is part comedian.

"don't look at me." 
I suppose the "elephant" part comes from their snouts, which look like abridged trunks. And their bodies are essentially lumpy potato sacks. They wrinkle and wobble awkwardly and pooch in the funniest ways.

Let's get serious - my spirit animal is probably the elephant seal.

"hey guys i called middle spoon"
and these guys have NO sense of personal boundaries. My favorite thing was when one seal would go up and hardcore shove himself between two other sleeping seals. Then one of the sleeping seals would inevitably become aggravated, grunt, and wibblewobble out of the way.

this happened every few seconds.

Also they flipped sand on themselves a lot. In a very nonchalant fashion. 

guys why'd you start napping without me?
I could have watched these guys all day. But I didn't. But I could have.

And in case you're wondering how our hours upon hours in the car went down, Marena and I got into a pretty heated discussion about Old Crow Medicine Show vs Darius Rucker Wagon Wheel. I don't know how it lasted so long because obviously OCMS has a lock on Wagon Wheel and Darius Rucker's version is a pathetic adulterated sham, but educating your little sister takes time, I guess.

The car now has a strict no-Darius-Rucker policy.

Darius, I think Hootie wants you back. Or at least country doesn't want you. - bRob

Day 3: Six Flags

Since my sister isn't such a big fan of hiking and wanted to do something a bit more "fun", we wanted to spend one day in one of California's plethora of amusement parks.

Our first instinct was to go to Disney, but at half the price and with a fraction of the little children running and screaming around, Six Flags seemed the more appealing option.

But what we didn't take into consideration is that while Six Flags isn't geared towards children, its more mature audience consists of lovesick teenagers who grope one another in the line for the Roaring Rapids. I'm not judging, but I did have a front row seat for an ungodly number of hours.


Regardless, i think marena enjoyed the rides and i got through two roller coasters before i realized how old and curmudgeony i am and swore off theme parks forever. Not altogether a bad day.



California Road Trip: Monterey & Carmel

So I don't know if you're as obsessed with my comings and goings as I like to think you are, InterWebs, but my little sister and I are currently on a California road trip.

Let me tell you how WEIRD it is to go on a vacation as an adult. I spent the first three days of vacation agonizing about this report I'd done for work and whether or not people knew where to reach me in case of some catastrophic work emergency, like, does anyone know what bRob renamed that one stupid file? and then i anxiously bit my nails and waited for people to send emails back and forth going, ugh bRob is the worst how could she leave us in the middle of this project OR ugh bRob is the worst thank heavens she's gone. But apparently no one's sent that email yet or they've just forgotten to 'cc' me.

Paranoia aside, I figured I might chronicle some of our travelings across southern California (you'll note that I refrained from calling it SoCal, and for your sake, will continue to do so), so at the very least, Grandma won't be so worried about whether or not we've been kidnapped by hippies and whether or not we're staying hydrated (we aren't).

It should be noted I put WAY too much faith in my phone camera. I kind of gave up using my camera camera, because it doesn't always get colors right, but apparently once you expand a phone photo to larger than 2 pixels, it looks like someone drew it with a crayon. And what i mean by that is why is my phone camera so blurry...
Day 1: Monterey & Carmel-By-The Sea

I was a little disappointed in Monterey. While the aquarium was lovely, the town itself was a bit of a drip. I did find a great used bookstore, much to Marena's disappointment. And then, in addition to the eight books I brought with me, I bought two more used books. About dragons. Whatever, I go through weird phases when I'm on vacation. 

[Number of books purchased: 2. This will be an ongoing count throughout the roadtrip.]

Without further ado, I present: the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

It blew my mind a little bit that this is what sand dollars (a sand dollar colony?) actually look like when they're not dead and on your Christmas tree. 

This little buddy was a bit of a camera hog. Baby Turtle was dallying and dancing right in front of the glass and this was the best photo I could capture. Typical.

An angel seahorse. That's not what it's officially called, but that's what I would call it if someone bothered to ask me my opinion.

This picture, in case you can't make it out, is the picture of a dwarf seahorse. As if seahorses weren't cute enough. My sister's finger for scale.

These are jellyfish. Can you believe it. Also - you should probably be super grateful, I've spared you, no joke, 37 mediocre blurry jellyfish pictures right now.

An overly attentive aquarium worker trapped us for 15 minutes to tell us about all the birds surrounding the aquariums. the BIRDS. Not only am I an introvert who doesn't like to be trapped in conversation, but I especially don't super want to be trapped in a conversation about birds. So I asked him to take a picture so he'd stop talking and then tried to escape like 3 more times.

color me hilarious.

This next series of photographs is from Carmel-By-The-Sea. They sure don't do the place any justice, but I am in LOVE with Carmel. It reminds me a lot of the Hamptons. It's absolutely gorgeous, on the ocean, romantic, quiet, and a lot of delusional rich people live there. And the window displays are to die for.  

Obviously you can't see because 70% of this picture is road, but Carmel has amazing, beautiful houses. Glamorous, modern, etc. All on the edge of the ocean (that is too cold to swim in, might i add) with these giant trees shading them. 

I don't even know what these are but I like them.

This display was really gorgeous but you know me and my photography skills...

That dress is probably my soul mate.

Skinny [and delusionally rich] bRob would wear the HECK out of this outfit.

I mean how adorable...

And of course there is a store devoted to mermaid paraphernalia. 

Add one cup of hot chocolate and about 3 hours of driving and I think you've got a healthy idea of our first day in southern California.

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