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California Coast Babymoon Road Trip

Just got back from a fantastic, fun-filled week of warmth, sunshine, beaches, and best of all, 10 straight days with my Baby Mama in sunny Southern California. We covered 2,200 miles over those ten days…well eleven if you count the […]

Just got back from a fantastic, fun-filled week of warmth, sunshine, beaches, and best of all, 10 straight days with my Baby Mama in sunny Southern California. We covered 2,200 miles over those ten days…well eleven if you count the late night drive from Portland to Roseburg after Lori got off of work, and to be honest, I could do without sitting in a car staring down the long and monotonous barrel of a freeway for a while. Fortunately, the meat of our trip (from Monterey to San Diego) was leisurely covered on secondary roads, and I could probably do a few thousand miles on back roads until I start to feel fatigued…but freeways…agh. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.

Dear readers: This post was originally written and published on February 18th after returning from our ten-day road trip from 2/4 to 2/14.

It must have been some time in November when we decided on taking a trip to celebrate our transition to parenthood and last few months as just the two of us. “Babymoon” seems to be the word of the moment, and it stuck. We made a trip to Powell’s Books on one particularly wet and nasty Saturday (we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time, as you might imagine, in their mammoth Travel section over the past year) to research our upcoming trip. Now, this might seem a bit unorthodox in the internet age, but the tradition dates back to before our first big trip together (Peru and Ecuador) in 2010. I was living in Seattle at the time and Lori was visiting from Atlanta. It was a particularly wet and nasty Saturday (go figure) and we were strolling around Pioneer Square when I thought I’d show her the iconic Elliott Bay Book Co. (at it’s old location, before it moved up to Capitol Hill). I’m not sure if we knew where we wanted to go, or that we were even going to attempt a six week backpacking trip together, but a few hours later we did. Ever since, it’s been a tradition for us to hit the biggest bookstore in town to feel out the possibilities and usually buy a map. Depending on how committal we are, we walk away with a travel guide as well. Online is good for the finer details of a trip, but nothing beats a good bookstore for deciding where to go in the first place.

So, in a nutshell, we walked into Powell’s that day with our list narrowed down to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico (around Puerto Vallarta), and for old times sake, a two week backpacking trip from Panama City to Mexico City. 2-3 hours later, we walked out having decided on…a California Coast road trip! I’ll spare you the finer details of the decision process. Let’s just say that we realized we really wanted to do a road trip, and while Mexico was enticing, California seemed to make the most sense.

Browse the interactive map above to learn more about our route and stops (including lodging, eating, beaches and sights).

Lori and I have both spent a fair amount of time in California (my parents are from Monterey and most of my extended family lives there, and Lori had passed through on a road trip or two), so we weren’t necessarily going to cover a lot of new territory on this trip. However, we hadn’t been south of San Francisco in six years, which really seems like a crime to be honest, and certainly had not done a road trip down the coast together. Given the especially soggy winter we’ve been having here in the Pacific Northwest (and our adoration of all things warm, beachy and sunshiny), we decided it made the most sense to bee-line it to Monterey, take our time heading along the coast to San Diego, then bee-line it back along I-5.

Our Itinerary
Thu 2/4Portland to RoseburgFamily / Roseburg, OR
Fri 2/5Roseburg to Monterey BayFamily / Pacific Grove, CA
 Fri 2/5 – Sun 2/7Monterey Bay / Carmel MissionFamily / Pacific Grove, CA
 Sun 2/7Monterey Bay to San Simeon / San Simeon to Pismo BeachSandcastle Inn / Pismo Beach, CA
 Mon 2/8Pismo to Lompoc / La Purisima / Lompoc to Santa BarbaraHyatt / Santa Barbara, CA
Tue 2/9 Santa Barbara to Santa MonicaFamily / Santa Monica, CA
 Wed 2/10Santa Monica to San Diego / Mission San Juan CapistranoThe Beach Cottages / San Diego, CA
Wed 2/10 – Fri 2/12San DiegoThe Beach Cottages / San Diego, CA
 Fri 2/12San Diego / La Jolla to GormanStudio 6 / Gorman, CA
 Sat 2/13Gorman to ReddingFamily / Redding, CA
Sun 2/14Redding to PortlandHome

Uncharacteristic for AwayGoWe, we decided to splurge a little bit on this one. One can only slum it so much, and well, the whole point of this trip was to take it easy and enjoy our time together. We figured since we were staying with family half the time, it might be nice to treat ourselves to some 3 and 4 star digs. The great thing about doing a trip like this in early February is the hotels were deeply discounted, so we felt pretty good about that. It almost felt like…a vacation! Lori and I joke a lot that even though we “travel” a lot, we don’t ever go on a “vacation,” at least in the traditional sense. I’m not sure many people would consider carrying a 20-30 lb. pack on your back in tropical heat, riding crowded chicken buses through underdeveloped countries, and staying in hostels a “vacation,” but maybe I’m wrong on that one.

Honestly though, we were a bit worried about the temperatures. We had been following the weather forecast in the weeks leading up to our trip and all looked pretty typical for the time of year all the way down to San Diego — highs in the 60s…maybe low 70s one day, dropping to the high forties at night. Brr. Glimpsing the headline of a Monterey area newspaper on the first morning of our trip, however, it looked like we might be in for a very warm treat. More to come!

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