I walked out of our hotel room to a view of the mountains behind a few palm trees. Today would be our last day of coastal driving before we reached San Diego. The scenery would shift away from the dramatic and congestion-free setting we had grown used to and progress into a town-dense stretch of road. We would pass through well-known places like Malibu and Santa Monica, which didn’t excite me as much as you’d expect. I am a sucker for undisturbed landscapes.
After enjoying the coastal driving for a while, we rolled into Malibu. Since we had failed to eat breakfast that morning, I was beyond famished and less than pleased by the difficult parking situation we were encountering. After making a few trips up and down the main road searching for a free spot, to no avail, we reluctantly settled for an $8 parking lot. Accepting defeat, we strolled along the sidewalk and sat for lunch at Malibu Farm Pier Cafe, which had a sunny upper deck. After devouring a chicken/ricotta/bacon burger with broccoli mashed potatoes like a half-starved wild animal, I was feeling like a person again. I don’t do well with hungry. I don’t think I noticed that the sun was shining until that chicken burger was in my stomach.
The beach was sweeping and sparkling, and the long stretch of shallow water and gentle waves reminded me a lot of Hawaii. You could see struggling first-time surfers tumbling awkwardly into the whitecaps. We made our Malibu stop a quick one, with plenty more driving to do. Further down the road, we stopped again in Santa Monica to check out the famous Pier and ride a roller coaster (my personal highlight). As expected, the pier was hectic and touristy, but we bought a few crunchy churros and made the best of it. After taking several rocky rides on the roller coaster and spilling churro sugar all over my shirt, we were on our way again.
Highway 1 had definitely changed. Towns were much closer together and full of visitors. Since it was a Friday, and we were nearly in LA, the traffic began to become unmanageable. We reluctantly sacrificed the final portion of our PCH journey to take the bigger and faster moving highway—a move that would protect the last bits of our sanity. Also, we didn’t plan to make a stop in LA. I might (will) make some enemies by saying this…but it’s not my favorite place. I can’t get down with that traffic and the scene doesn’t fit for me. It feels a little like they’ve taken every subway rider from NYC, put them into a car, and said “good luck getting anywhere”. I may be embellishing this. I blame my New Yorker roots and I’m not sure that I could ever be swayed. If you’re an LA native, please don’t un-follow me. New York is no perfect city, either 🙂
Just before we got to San Diego, we made a final stop at a secluded parking area to switch drivers. The sun was getting low in the sky, and I could see the road at a distance. The ocean was calm, and a fox trotted along the sand below the cliff we stood on. I knew that this would be the last moment of ocean calm before we entered city chaos, so I paused to give it the road-trip recognition it deserved.
After making it into the city, we went to stay with a friend who we had met 4 years before on another traveling endeavor. He had worked at the hotel we were staying at in San Diego, and we’ve maintained a friendship ever since then. We went to dinner at a local brewery for some strong beers and unbelievable buffalo chicken pizza (by New York standards) before hitting Gossip Grill, a popular lesbian spot that recently moved to a larger location. After dancing ourselves into oblivion, we took our very first Uber ride back to our friend’s place to call it a night. Yes, I know that I’m about 3 years behind on the Uber fad. I was also 3 years behind on getting my first smart phone. I think “3 years behind” is going to become the new cool.