It was a little after 1 am early Saturday morning when we made the executive decision to change the alarm from 7 to 7:45 am. We’d just closed our window, deciding we’d rather be hot with no air conditioning than have the loud San Francisco drunk chatter float up to our sixth floor dinky hotel room. With a 10 hour drive ahead of us and 7 p.m. happy hour plans in L.A., we didn’t have the luxury of sleeping in, but we needed those 45 minutes. As I said to end the day one post, it was the breaking point of the trip as we lay there trying to get some much needed sleep. Somehow, we woke up feeling like a million bucks* and showered, checked out, paid our $25 hotel parking fee and made it to brunch by 8:30 a.m. It was a miracle, and the beginning of an unforgettable day.
*I’m not sure if I’d go quite that far, but we were definitely in far higher spirits than expected. I actually woke up at 7AM anyway, before the alarm, and hopped in the shower to keep us on schedule.
Our good friend Danny suggested we go to the 95 year-old St. Francis Fountain in San Francisco for brunch, and it couldn’t have been a more ideal choice. We got there early enough to beat the hipster rush*, and the food was incredible. Caitlin got the ”Nebulous Potato Thing” pictured above, got the small size and still could only finish half of it. She washed it down with a cherry coke made with real cherry syrup and actual cherries in the glass and I had the bacon/avocado/english muffin/hollandaise sandwich with a fruit cup and bottomless OJ and coffee**.
*The early-bird hipsters were still there, though, judging our conversations and standing in front of the bathroom, oblivious to those trying to navigate around them.
**It was definitely a tasty and hearty breakfast, and I surprised myself by going cherry coke instead of ice cream float or milkshake. With that pile of cheesy carbs you see above, though, I figured any other dairy product would send me over the edge, and a coke at 8:30AM was already weird enough.
We hit the road with printed out directions (thanks again, Danny), rode the 101 for a couple uneventful hours aside from a hilariously appropriate pit stop at “Burrito Factory*,” and stop in “Big Sir” from 3/4 to a full tank with a surprising 7 gallons of gas and entered the legendary PCH 1.
*It was for, ahem, a bathroom break.
We got stuck in a bit of traffic for our transition from the 101 to the legendary California One, so we decided to throw on Zack’s “Ode to California” mix which kicked off with Tupac’s “California Love.” We blasted it, to what I’m sure was the sheer delight of our traffic neighbors. The mix picked up with some excellent oldies as we rounded a corner and were exposed to the most stunning ocean and mountain views we’d ever seen in our lives.
It’s tough to describe with words just how incredible our view was. We attempted to capture it via photos and a James Brown Vine from the car , and you do start to get an idea, but unless you’re in a muscle car, cruising around twisty roads, windows down, cold ocean-and-mountain air tussling your hair and reddening your cheeks, it doesn’t quite do the drive justice. It was truly magical, listening to hand-crafted epic music mixes as we edged around the literal end of the United States — we were there, looking at all you could see on the far west coast. During the whole 8 hour drive, Zack and I mostly just exchanged “Oh my God!”s and one “Cow, I win!” (I’ll let you guess who said that one*), contented to listen to the music and take in the experience. Zack was a champion, driving the entire 433 miles from San Francisco to L.A., giving me the best seat in the house. We fell in love with the drive, we fell more in love with each other, we fell in love with life**. We took a couple pit stops to stretch our legs and snap a couple photos of the waves.
*Caitlin dominates “Cow, I win” and the board game Sequence to an absurd degree.
**Nailed it. It was truly incredible. Everyone needs to experience this drive in their lives.
Once we got through Big Sur, we started looking out for the waterfall spot our friend Janosch described for us and found it just as he described. I was antsy to get to the waterfall and get back on the road and was run walking, as if it was the first morning of a music festival. Caitlin reminded me to be patient and enjoy the hike*, and we stopped to take a pic of her on this bridge, and then we got to the treacherous, horrifying streams we had to cross with only fallen branches and stones to walk across. Well, that was how Caitlin saw it at least. I waltzed across the streams, but Caitlin was terrified, asking me to hold her hand as she slowly made her away across and our shoes got more and more soaked**. (Vine of me crossing the streams that terrified Caitlin.) It was endearing how much the streams intimidated her, but she did get quite flustered and frustrated with me as we made our way to the waterfall***. Caitlin decided she’d had enough just two minutes before the waterfall, so I ran ahead to take this Vine of the waterfall and as I ran back, I was relieved to see her pushing through and we turned around and reached the top together. I was thrilled that she overcame her fear**** and shared the waterfall with me. It was a perfect excursion from the road.
*Mostly because I was feeling really tired and didn’t have the energy to keep up with Zack.
**One does not simply cross a creek in Converse. My shoes had zero traction, and I could envision clearly what it would be like to slip and break my butt.
***I was totally not upset with Zack, although I totally took it out on the poor guy. I was frustrated with myself for not being less of a scaredy cat about just hoppin’ on along the creek.
****Only time will tell if the fear is truly overcome. (Spoiler: It is probably not.)
We still had plenty of driving to do after the hike, including over two more gorgeous hours on PCH where we had to restrain ourselves from pulling over at every opportunity to see things like the throng of sea lions* or the incredible views along the beaches. We had happy hour plans to make. Well, as hard as we tried to power through and cruise in “Big Sir” at 80 mph, we just weren’t going to make it to LA before 7:45, let alone 7. Caitlin spent a solid 45 minutes navigating between both our phones to co-ordinate moving happy hour to dinner and changing our dinner reservations from four to six while arranging it with two sets of people. Oh, and the Bulls were playing in a game seven playoff, so Andy was texting us updates all throughout the half, culminating in a big Bulls win** just in time for Andy and my buddy Alex to leave their apartments and meet us and Caitlin’s friends Jason and Amarra at the restaurant.
*THE SEA LIONS!!!! All of these wild animals, just piled onto the beach like it’s nothing. It was as majestic as I’d ever seen sea lions. When we were still sort of far away from their main hangout, I saw them all napping on the sands and two dark figures standing in the middle, which I initially thought was a pair of crazy humans, but it turned out to be two sea lions “standing,” and either fighting or dancing (I’m hoping for the latter).
**Best text of the day. We were thrilled to hear our Bulls had won their series. Actual best text from Andy during the game was “Belly w/a big 3…and appeared to signal how large his testicles are.”
Andy had suggested Wood & Vine based on Yelp reviews, and it ended up being a delicious choice. I had potato gnocchi that melted perfectly in my mouth, and the best mixed drink I’ve ever had in my entire life, no exaggeration. It was called “The Accomplice” (which is an amazing drink order anyway, because when the waiter says, “Who’s ‘The Accomplice’?” you get to say, “That’s me!”) It’s a mix of champagne, organic vodka, strawberry, and lemon juice, and it was so smooth and easily drinkable that I indulged in two, thanks to Zack’s deep and kind pockets. I hadn’t seen my friends Jason and Amarra since 2009, so I basically jumped on them when they came in the restaurant, and we talked about what they were up to and a podcast idea I’ve got* that they’re going to help me with. And, of course, it’s always a treat to hang out with Festival Crasher Andy and super sweetheart Alex**. It was a perfectly wonderful dinner, and when it was finished, it was time to have some laughs.
*Caitlin came up with this gem of an idea on the drive and I can’t wait for her to share it with you all soon.
**Love those guys. Dinner was excellent, though the lighting was so dark we had to hold the candles to the menu to read any of it, but once we ordered it was just a great meal with great friends. I didn’t get to talk to Jason and Amara as much as I’d hoped, but I did get to hear about the movie soundtrack Jason was working on and was at a great spot at the table to be able to pivot between conversations with everyone. I wish it would have been longer, but I could easily say that about every step of the trip.
After dinner, we headed a few blocks away to the UCB theater for a comedy show called “Before You Were Funny,” where the idea was that three comedy writers would dust off some very early pieces they’d written in high school or college and read them aloud. It felt like it could have been really hit or miss based on the description, but it was a big hit*. Whether it was that guy (that you don’t know from that show Veep that you don’t watch) reading his purposefully bad poems from college, complete with grading notes from his bizarre teacher, or Dan Harmon’s girlfriend, (who you only likely know well if you read the brilliant Pappademas profile in Grantland) reading unsent emails to a high school teacher she was in love with, or the writer from Kroll Show reading his first sketches from his college improv group, the Rubber Chickens, it was all incredibly funny. And Caitlin even got a cupcake**. After the show we filed out and Andy handed me his phone with his address in it to guide us to his place, since my phone’s battery had died hours ago. We got back to his Glendale apartment, watched that week’s Parks and Rec and caught some solid futon Z’s. What a day.
*I am in 100% agreement here. I was skeptical, but we were all rolling in the aisles.
**The girl baked and brought these. I’ll admit, when the two hosts began handing them out, I definitely wanted one, but was also concerned that they would become some cruel Office-like joke on the audience and we’d all be running for the bathrooms. Thus, I let Alex bite into his cupcake first before indulging in mine. It was delicious.