Roadtrip to LA

My Mum and Peter were here to visit recently, and rather than hang out in San Francisco (they’ve been here a number of times, and done all the normal tourist things), we decided to go on a bit of a road trip. They were flying out of LAX, so we figured we’d take the Coastal Highway down from SF and see what we could find along the way. Oh, and since Peter was involved, we of course had to figure out a way to make a bunch of car-stuff be a part of the trip ๐Ÿ™‚

The first night of their trip here, they stayed in SF (after a lot of trouble with their hotel room — use a reputable booking website, kids!). We got up in the morning and headed over to Oakland where we had breakfast at the Oaks Card Club. Did you know there was a casino in Oakland? Me neither. It was super busy at 9am as well, which blew me away. At the front it’s a normal, pretty boring-looking bar, then out the back is a huge cards-room. Apparently it’s a hold-over from the prohibition era.

After that, we went next door to a place called Fantasy Junction. Now although this place sounds like a strip-club, I assure you it’s not. Although there are a lot of exotic curves to be seen…

Fantasy Junction Fantasy Junction
Fantasy Junction Fantasy Junction
Fantasy Junction Fantasy Junction

From there, we headed south via Saratoga, where we stopped for a snack. Peter’s eyes bugged out when he spotted a Tesla Roadster, until I explained to him that their headquarters were roughly in the area, and that they were becoming kind of popular with the sorts of folks who are likely to live in Saratoga. While we were standing there admiring it, the owner, one Doug Cheeseman came walking over. Peter was grinning like a kid in a candy-store, and Doug was an incredibly nice, cheery guy. He offered to take Peter for a drive (which of course he accepted immediately), and by the time they came back to where we were waiting, Peter was actually driving (massive grin still firmly in place.

Tesla Roadster Tesla Roadster

After that brief interlude, we continued on to the destination which had actually brought us via Saratoga: The Hakone Gardens. This is a beautiful, traditional Japanese Tea Garden — apparently the oldest one in the Western Hemisphere. We spent a while exploring the gardens, then dropped back into Saratoga to get some food before heading to where we’d made reservations for that night, in Marina (pretty much everything in Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey was booked out!).

Hakone Gardens, Saratoga Hakone Gardens, Saratoga
Hakone Gardens, Saratoga Hakone Gardens, Saratoga
Hakone Gardens, Saratoga Hakone Gardens, Saratoga

We stayed that night in Marina, and ventured into Monterey for touristy dinner of seafood. When we got to the restaurant we were aiming for, someone had fallen down some stairs and gashed their head open, and was being taken away by EMTs. Bad stuff. Dinner was OK, then back to the hotel where I saw my first wild raccoon in the parking lot (the thing was huge!). The next day we were up and off, headed South on the Coastal Highway. We stopped in to check out some sea lions near San Simeon, then across the road and went to Hearst Castle for a tour. That place is amazing, and the pictures don’t do it justice. Hearst basically built a small, extravagant Mediterranean town on top of a hill, at the end of a 5-mile driveway, in the middle of nowhere.

Coastal Highway Coastal Highway
Coastal Highway Coastal Highway
Coastal Highway Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle Hearst Castle

After The Ranch (as Hearst referred to his place!), we continued on to Ventura, which is where were bunking down for the night. The next morning we got up and headed to the highlight of the trip for Peter (and I must admit, it was very impressive for me also); The Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, CA. This place has an incredible collection of vehicles, most notably a load of incredible Bugatti’s (including a prototype Veyron!) . One of the vehicles was purchased for thirty MILLION dollars. No kidding. The best part? It’s actually a private museum, housing mostly the personal collection of one Peter Mullin.

Mullin Automotive Museum Mullin Automotive Museum
Mullin Automotive Museum Mullin Automotive Museum
Mullin Automotive Museum Mullin Automotive Museum

Later that day we skipped back over to Santa Barbara to take a look around, and stopped in at the Four Seasons Biltmore (which I’d been to previously for a wedding) for a coffee and snack.

Santa Barbara Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Ventura Harbor

One more night in Ventura, then it was time for Mum and Peter to get to the airport, and me to get to Mike’s house. I was headed there to stay a few days and work with Mike, since he’s a colleague of mine who I don’t get to see to often (since Automattic is completely distributed), and I was going to be in LA so that seemed like a good idea. I stayed there for 2 nights and got to drop by Intelligentsia twice to get some amazing coffee. We also visited a couple of Mike/Michelle’s favorite spots, including a delicious taco-truck that visits CalPoly.

On Thursday night I took the FlyAway bus to LAX and hopped a flight back to SFO, where my trip ended, having come full circle.

You can see all of the pictures I uploaded on Flickr in my Coastal Highway Roadtrip set.

  1. Stephane Daury said:

    Sure looks like an awesome road-trip. Gives me ammo for my own with the kids. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Beau Lebens said:

      It really was a great trip — I had a fantastic time. Roadtrips get a little intense when you're suddenly squished in a car/single hotel room with people for a few days straight, but maybe as a Dad you're already used to that — I'm used to having my own space ๐Ÿ˜‰

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