After leaving King Cove, Alaska, I arrived in the Seattle airport with a new sense of appreciation for the simplest of things. I was stoked to pick up my truck that I had left in my uncle's driveway for three months and make my way down south. I decided I'd drive the entire Coast Hwy 1 from southern Oregon to my doorstep in Encinitas, California. This road trip not only provided some quality alone time but a much needed decompression from life in the cannery. Here it is, Odyssey, Part 4: solo road trip down the coast, a short trip to Baja, and some quality time at home. Enjoy.
My Ride: The Golden Nugget
The driver's seat had never felt so comfortable in my life. Not only was I in the driver's seat, but I had both hands on the wheel and was ready to be in control of my everyday decisions again. I call my truck the Golden Nugget and she looks mighty fine pictured here on the Oregon Coast.
Oregon Coast Hiking
The best part about a solo road trip is that you can stop, eat, and sleep whenever and wherever you want. I stopped at this random place and took a little hike on the Oregon Coast.
At the end of my first of many hikes on the road trip was this sweet hidden cove along the Oregon Coast.
Mill Creek Campground
I would have my first surf just south of the Oregon/California border in Crescent City. I have no idea what this place was called but it was one foot and super closed out with approximately 15 guys out. Perfect, I hadn't surfed in 3 months, was super out of shape, and more amped on surfing and life in general than ever! This session was one of the most fun sessions I've ever had.
After my surf I pulled into the Mill Creek Campground and picked out this sweet campsite. The campground was located right in the heart of the coastal redwoods and I couldn't stop smiling at the sight of all the huge trees. I mean....they're huge!
Damnation Trail Vegetation
After reading the map the ranger lady had given me when I checked into the campground, I headed down Damnation Trail. A six mile roundtrip trek down a cliff to the beach. Here are some of those awesome redwoods along the trail.
Damnation Trail Meets Cobblestone Beach
Towards the end of the trail the vegetation gets a little shorter and the colors get slightly brighter seeing that there aren't giant trees to block out the sun.
Manchester State Park Campground
At the end of Damnation Trail was a cobblestone beach and this rad rock in the sea. Looked like a window to another world.
Manchester State Park Surf Check
After waking up and making my ritual cup of joe and some breakfast, I headed down the highway and stopped just north of San Francisco. Here's my campsite at Manchester State Park. When I got there a family of quail ran past my car and I took it as a sign of good luck.
Northern California Barn
Once I set up my camp, which only takes about five minutes because it only consists of popping up my tent and rolling out my sleeping bag; I walked a mile or so down to the beach to check the surf. It's probably hard to tell from this picture but it was massive. I didn't feel like drowning with my pencil arms I'd acquired in the cannery so I declined to surf and took a nap in the sand instead.
Quick Surf South of San Francisco
Woke up to a beautiful sunny morning, saw deer on the side of the road as I continued my drive, and stopped to take this picture of a barn. Thought I'd like to live in a barn house some day and couldn't resist the urge to stop and look at this one.
San Simeon State Park
Didn't bother to stop in S.F. but did go for a really fun surf just south of it at this beach that had a Taco Bell on the sand. Yes, you can place your order while standing in your wetsuit. Surf was peaky reforms and packed but really fun for someone who's been staring at Salmon for 80 days.
Next stop was San Simeon State Park. All the campgrounds in Big Sur were full so I drove farther south and scored a spot at this campground a short distance from Hearst Castle. My neighbors were super cool, shared their fire and beer, and inspired me to keep saving my money for epic adventures.
Baja Road Construction
Heading further south I stopped for a surf in the Central Coast. It was super side shore and only a couple of feet but fun and the water wasn't even that cold.
Having made it home and subsisting on V8 and rice noodle bowls, I was happy to be home and eating my dad's leftovers. Furthermore, I was even more excited when I got invited on a Baja trip with my dad and his buddies! Though typically the trip only takes about 4 hours, there was massive road construction which just added to the adventure.
Fish & Me
Well here's the Baja casa, the final destination of our Mexico trip. A quaint little house about 20 feet from an epic little right point.
Shipwreck on the Point
I decided to bring only one board with me on this trip and in was my 5 foot 2 inch twin fin fish shaped by my dad's good friend Mac. Although I don't typically ride boards like this, it worked like a charm in the little to no surf. Me and my fish in the front yard.
At the beginning of the point is a shipwreck. It used to be in one piece but has been deteriorating over the past 30 years. You can often find sharp pieces of metal from the ship in the reef. I think it's kind of rad, adds to the character of the spot!
Ship Session on the Fish
There's also sea urchins in the reef/rocks too. Gnarly factor just went up again. Gotta love it.
Pumping Down the Line
This is my first of many ship sessions. A 4/3 but no booties for me. Just have to tread lightly I guess.
Pumping down the line on a set wave. Yep, this was one of the best waves of the trip. Unfortunately there was no swell but I still had a blast!
Twin Fin Fish
Once in awhile a wave will swing wide missing the point and break 50 yards farther down the point at a place called pink house. A little pink house nugget going unridden.
In the surf movie Searching For Tom Curren there's a part called the Fried Fish Experiment where Curren rides a twin fin fish at a right point at the Ranch. Well, not that I surf like Tom Curren or anything, but I felt like Tom Curren in that part of the movie. That's all.
After a couple of sessions at the ship it was time for lunch. Freshly caught lobster made for amazing quesadillas!
Freshly butchered cow made for some amazing carne asada burritos at dinner time too. Just kidding....we didn't butcher any cattle and this skull has it's own Mexico story. However, the carne asada burritos that night were bomb diggiddy.
Sunset at the Point
One of my favorite things about being in the middle of nowhere is that you have to resort to old school methods of entertainment. Story time at cocktail hour every night before dinner. Classic.
The ship at dusk with nobody out. Does it get any better than that? I think not.
As the sun set not only that night but on our stay in Baja, I couldn't help but reflect on how lucky I am to be living such a privileged life. It is in the nature's moments of beauty that help me to realize my good fortune.
After returning from Baja, it was back to work for me at the San Elijo Camp Store for a few months. I started work everyday at 2:00pm which allowed for ample surf time before hand. Here's a not so secret spot in plain view from the Coast Hwy. Nobody out on a clear glassy morning while commuters whiz by on their way to work. People-free nuggets! Does it get any better than this?
If you have some free time, check out Lauren's previous Odyssey adventures...
• Part III - Oregon, Washington and the Alaska Fish Cannery
• Part II - Colorado, Utah and California
• Part I - The Mountains of Colorado
Artwork, Photos & Captions by Lauren Sweeney