DAY 3 – Redwood State Park and Dillon Beach, CA
After two hours and a half from Medford, OR, we arrived in California and a little bit after we found the mastodontic Redwood trees. It is seriously impressive and I don’t think pictures can really describe how amazing this environment is.
Before starting Highway 101, we stopped on the beach to admire the ocean at Crescent City.
6 hours later we arrived in Dillon Beach, CA. It’s not a commonplace, it’s a really tiny village close to San Francisco, but my host dad told me it was awesome and we should have stopped there on our way. It was an amazing advice because in Dillon Beach I found my retirement home. A perfect place, definitely cold, but worth every mile.
We slept for the night at a Vagabond Inn in Rohnert Park, CA, before heading to San Francisco the day after.
DAY 4 – San Francisco, CA
In Mill Valley, a half an hour from San Francisco lives one of my best friends: Melissa. We met in Madison, WI, last March and since then we have created an amazing relationship that lasted all those months apart. After picking her up at her house, we headed to Kirby Beach to see the Golden Gate and try to find one of the famous swings. The hike is pretty easy but the weather was terrible, a lot of fog, and the swing wasn’t there anymore. So we just enjoyed what we could see and took some pictures.
Since we didn’t want to give up on the swing we went to Sausalito where the Hippie Tree and its swing are.
Our next stop for lunch was In’n’Out, a fast food famous in California. I loved it. After that, we headed to the city crossing the bridge with Melissa’s Fast Track. You have always to pay a fee on the Golden Gate bridge entering the city. It’s free going out. We parked the car (40$ per two days) close to our hostel and then we headed to the Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square (where we had to say goodbye to Melissa), Lombard Street, the Coit Tower and then back to Pier 39 for dinner.
Our hostel, all the way to Union Square, wasn’t the best one. I should have read the reviews because it was the dirtiest possible, with a mouse welcoming us on the stairs and in a really loud position. We spent just one night there, luckily.
DAY 5 – San Francisco, CA
The second day in SanFran and we headed to the south part. First, we took a walk to Dolores Park before heading to Twin Peaks. A really heavy hike since San Francisco it is all up and downs.
We headed back to the hostel passing thru the Castro, the LGBT district, and relaxing for an hour at the Painted Ladies.
After grabbing our stuff and the car, we decided that we needed to see one last thing before saying goodbye to San Francisco: Land’s End.
DAY 6 – Yosemite National Park and Death Valley
After picking up Giusy from the airport at 1 am, we left San Francisco in the dark and we arrived at dawn at the Yosemite National Park. Unfortunately, we didn’t enjoy it that much because we were super tired but we took a little hike and we took pictures from the car while we were driving to the Death Valley.
4 hours and a half later we arrived in the Death Valley. It was my second time there and I enjoyed it way more this time than the last time. It was actually closer to what I was expecting. 107 degrees F (41 degrees C) in the lowest point. We took a picture and then we went back straight into the car because it was way too hot.
Our last destination for the day was Bakersfield, CA, where we needed to stop just to sleep.
Day 7 – Los Angeles, CA
Finally, on the 7th day, we arrived at our last destination, the one that every one of us was waiting but that left us with a little bit of disappointment: Los Angeles. I think movies and tv shows set everyone’s expectation pretty high so when we saw the Hollywood Walk of Fame we definitely left negatively surprised. It was just this street, full of weird shops, homeless people, smelling like pee with a lot of names written in stars on the ground. Definitely not fancy like you could imagine from Hollywood.
Our next stop was definitely more exciting: Santa Monica beach for a surf lesson. It was 80$ per person and they give you all the gears, a 15 minutes lesson on the beach and then we stayed in the water around one hour and a half. It was magic, being able to stand on the board was awesome. It was always something that I wanted to do but I never had the chance to do. The guys of Go Surf LA were awesome.
Unfortunately, after our amazing experience, I felt really sick and we needed to head to the hotel because I felt like I was about to throw up ( a thing that I did in the car later, bad story). We stayed in a hotel close to LAX. We shared a 6 bedroom with my lovely Franzi that we met there during her travel month and her buddy traveler, Linda. The night ended with me taking Giusy to the Urgent Care because she dislocated her pinkie toe while surfing and a pizza shared together.
DAY 8 – San Diego, CA and Los Angeles, CA.
For our last full day, we wanted to go till the end of the west coast so we drove two hours to San Diego. The weather was unfortunately unpleasant and the traffic drove us nuts way before midday. After a quick stop in San Diego, we headed to Long Beach where we stopped for lunch and a quick refresh in the ocean.
After a quick stop at the hotel, we headed to Venice Beach to accomplish our mission: do a tattoo in LA. We decided to head to the Ink Monkey Tattoo, open until 9 pm. They did two out of three tattoos and we had to go back the next day for the third but we arrived there pretty late, so it was a miracle they did ours. The people there were really nice and if you ever go to Venice Beach and you want to do a tattoo please go there, you won’t regret it. Dinner time came quickly so we ate something at a restaurant in Venice and then we headed back to the hotel.
DAY 9 – Los Angeles, CA and back to Madison, WI.
Our last day we headed first thing first to the Hollywood Sign that we didn’t see it from that close and that disappointed us a little bit.
Passing thru Beverly Hills, we headed back to Venice Beach to see it with the sun and then take Stefania back to the tattoo studio before heading to the airport.
This road trip has been amazing and hard at the same time. I will keep all those amazing memories in my heart forever. I’ve seen so much and I had the chance to do it surrounded by people that I love. We started the journey in three (Stefania, my brother and I) and we ended it up in three (Giusy, my brother and I), I met Melissa in San Francisco, Franzi in Los Angeles and for me, a person that values friendship so much, it meant a lot to me. I got a little bit disappointed by the end of how California is. I think I set my expectations too high because of movies, I should have known that is not everything like they show it on tv. But above that, I want to thank everyone shared those 9 days with me, all of them or just one because it’s because of them that I had the opportunity of enjoying this road trip so much.