Life is a Highway

Before embarking on this trip, Joe and I outlined our “must see” locations and attractions. For Joe, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) was at the top of the list. Now, you might be thinking to yourself…what’s so special about a highway? For Joe and all motorcyclists alike, the PCH is the Mecca of all motorcycle trips! Why? Well, the Pacific Coast Highway boasts incredible ocean views, winding roads along the west coast, and endless miles of rock cliffs. In essence, the PCH contains all elements for a motorcyclist’s wildest dream. So naturally, when Joe and I were mapping out our return trip to L.A. from Santa Cruz, we chose to return via Hwy 1 aka the Pacific Coast Highway!

Now, we couldn’t drive straight to L.A. along the PCH without stopping for a few days! That would be a complete travesty. Thus, we found ourselves camping in Big Sur.

For those unfamiliar, Big Sur is the “longest and most scenic stretch of undeveloped coastline in the contiguous United States” (Google), and let me just say, it is absolutely breathtaking.

As we drove in to Big Sur, we crossed the famous Bixby Bridge and marveled at its engineering. Later, we would drive back on the motorcycle to take pictures of it and its surrounding landscape.

After admiring Bixby Bridge and taking a few pictures, Joe and I continued along the coast until we reached Andrew Molera State Park. What we thought would be an easy, quick stop to see the park’s beach and its famous, purple, sandy shore ended up being a 1.5 mile hike, but the juice was worth the squeeze! There’s something profoundly special about watching the sunset on a beach, and we finished our jaunt to the coastline just in time to see it.

Of course we took some pictures, but not before we took time to sit, breathe in the fresh, salty air, and look out upon the ocean’s waves.

It’s moments like these I find myself reflecting on the blessings in my life, and traveling around the country with Joe is one of my greatest blessings.

One of my favorite things about traveling with Joe are the unexpected friendships we make and the adventures we find ourselves undertaking. For example, during our trip to Big Sur, as we were hiking trails around Pfeiffer State Park, we came across an area of the park involving a clear river and large boulders. As we were contemplating which direction to take, a young couple appeared, and before we knew it, all four of us were helping each other clamor over rocks upstream.

Though our game of “don’t touch the lava” was fun or in this case “avoid the icy clutches of the river,” the true excitement came from the waterfall and swimming hole we eventfully found.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I see a waterfall and/or a swimming hole, I have to jump in and swim! After an arduous hike, the frigid temperature of the river was a welcome respite, and we spent ample time enjoying swimming with our new friends as we laughed and explored the gorge.

Joe and I both agree that our time at Pfeiffer State Park was a highlight of our trip to Big Sur. We didn’t get to see everything we hoped to, but we definitely plan on coming back soon!

For now, we are enjoying our remaining few days in California. We have a few fun things planned before we take off on our return trip to Texas.

Until next time!

P.S. On our drive from Big Sur to L.A. we came across wild elephant seals! *insert squeal

Woman and Poodles vs. Mountain

It has been an eventful past few days! Joe had his work retreat in Santa Cruz, CA, this week which meant that the dogs and I found ourselves in an RV version of Survivor. Let me explain.

When Joe booked our current campsite, Mt. Madonna County Park, he did not realize that the mountain in which the campsite resides lacks cell service/Wifi, and with Joseph needing a vehicle to drive the 40 minutes to Santa Cruz, this left myself and the dogs alone on a mountain for 3 days with no means of transportation.

Well…technically that’s not true. Joe did leave the motorcycle, but who doesn’t know how to drive one and has refused to be taught by Joe? Moi.

Minor planning oversight…right? But not to worry, I had our SPOT device! For those unfamiliar, a SPOT is a GPS tracking device that uses the Globalstar satellite network to provide text messaging and GPS tracking. So, with our SPOT device, I was able to send and receive a few text messages to confirm proof of life.

Meanwhile, Joe was living his best life in Santa Cruz socializing with his co-workers.

Now before you give Joe a hard time, know that the circumstances were unintentional, and he feels terrible. Did I mention that he’s taking me to Disney in a week? Needless to say, all is forgiven!

Despite the less than ideal cell service and Wifi situation, I did have some form of entertainment during my 3 days of solitary confinement – a ticket to an exhibit like none other. What exhibit you may ask? RVers in their natural habitat.

My favorite full time RVer was a woman I met during my quest to find at least 1 bar of cell service. The conversation started out like any other until she casually mentioned that her first bigfoot encounter was in 2017.

She and her pitbull named Sophia Lorraine were on a hike when all of a sudden someone started throwing rocks at her – the kicker is that no one was around her while these rocks were being thrown. Naturally, she went home to conduct some research and discovered that what she had encountered was a bigfoot.

Because of this chance encounter with a bigfoot, my new friend began a YouTube channel and found herself driving like a bat-out-of-hell to Kentucky for a 2 week bigfoot enthusiast meetup. The meetup involved tent camping in the snow, and though she and Sophia Lorraine were freezing, the trip solidified her belief she was capable of RVing full-time.

And so, she sold her house for a cool 1.2 million, bought a brand new RV, and hit the road.

I have to say, meeting and chatting with new people is probably one of my favorite parts of life on the road – everyone is unique, and quite frankly, you never know where the conversation is going to take you!

I could continue to regale you with stories of other RVers that I have encountered in the wild, but you’re probably wondering about the other 7 days that I have left unaccounted.

Well…Joe and I took advantage of our location and visited a local vineyard/winery! We thoroughly enjoyed chatting with the owners’ daughter-in-law as we tasted various wines and watched adrenaline junkies skydiving in the distance.

Not only have we enjoyed tasting the local wines but also the local beers. The night before Joe’s work retreat, Joe and I met one of his co-workers and her husband for some brewery hopping. Afterward, we ate dinner on the Santa Cruz Wharf and saw some seals playing in the ocean!

Overall, visiting this area has been magical – we have enjoyed the serenity of the beach, as well as the cool comfort of the redwood trees. Hiking through the forrest has been rejuvenating and my somewhat exaggerated tale of solitude aside, it has been nice to be unplugged for a few days.

Until next time!

The Not So Little RV That Could

In each city we visit we have our fair share of adventures, but have I mentioned that the adventure isn’t solely limited to the activities at every stop? Cue the driving between locations. Let’s just say traveling from Simi Valley, CA, to Coyote Lake, CA, was no exception.

Now before you worry, the RV is intact, all poodles and humans emerged from the odyssey unscathed, and we did in fact make it; however, we may or may not have prayed for Jesus to take the wheel along the way!

So what incited our prayers to a higher power? Buckle in friends, allow me to take you on our journey.

Like all great stories, we must start at the beginning…the morning of our departure. You will be pleased to hear that Joe and I managed to wake up early, pack the RV, and walk the dogs prior to readying ourselves for the task ahead – crossing Slide Mountain.

Honestly, the name of the mountain says it all, doesn’t it?

Allow me to set the scene.

It’s 100 degrees outside, and the main characters consist of 2 poodles, 2 humans, a Suburban, an 8,000 lb. camper, and a mountain named after its vertical prowess.

People….we climbed over 4,000 feet in elevation in the span of 25 minutes. Oh. And did I mention that the mountain has a 14 1/2% grade?

Despite the steepness of the mountain, we inched our way up slowly but surely. As we made our ascent, we noted several trucks pulled over to cool off their engines. Before we reached the peak, we too would need to pull over for a quick cool down!

On the way up, Joe made sure to pull out all the tricks – turning off the A/C and blasting the heater to draw heat away from the motor and pulling over occasionally to open the hood.

If only the descent was easier than the climb! We counted at least 4 runaway truck ramps on the way down as we descended from 4,100 ft. to 150 ft. in elevation. Hence, the prayers!

Thankfully, we made it in one piece and will be avoiding said mountain by taking an alternative route on our return to L.A.

So, we survived the mountain and the drive to Coyote Lake, but what were we up to prior to leaving?

The day before we left, Joe and I met Rick, Andrea, and Harley for dinner at a Casa Blanca themed restaurant. Joe chose it based on its quirky decor and reputation for tasty tequila. What can I say? Marry a man who knows that you’ll find a themed restaurant endearing!

The Casa Blanca themed dinner was delicious, and despite the promise of tequila, we decided to forego margaritas in favor of driving to a mini golf course after dinner. There’s nothing quite like a friendly family competition involving putt putt!

Now, not to brag…but Rick and I may or may not have tied for mini golf champion. *insert flex. I had two hole-in-one’s though so really who’s the REAL champion? Marinate on that.

Needless to say, mini golf was a blast, and we can’t wait to come back to see Rick and the fam in a few weeks!

For now, Joe and I will continue to enjoy Coyote Lake and later, Santa Cruz! We have gone shopping at the outlet mall, hiking along the trails at the park in which we are staying, and working out at the local Orangetheory gym.

It’s both peaceful and beautiful here, and we are enjoying the respite from the big city.

Stay tuned for what’s to come!

Until next time!

Party In The U.S.A.

We have had a busy week! So busy, the change of pace has almost been a bit jarring. After all, we went from living off grid in the mountains to trying to keep up with the hustle and bustle of L.A.

In our effort to inundate ourselves with the big city, we inadvertently jam-packed our schedule with a plethora of activities. At the beginning of the week, Joe and I visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. When I found out we were staying 10 minutes away from this museum, I knew we HAD to go!

Why was I so excited about visiting a presidential library and museum? Well, growing up, almost every time I visited my grandmother (my mom’s mother) in Bryan/College Station, TX, she would take me and my siblings to the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library. I suppose presidential libraries are just synonymous with my childhood! So, naturally, when I saw we were close to a presidential library and museum, I told Joe that visiting was a top priority!

Admittedly, it also doesn’t hurt that I’m a bit of a history buff and was excited to see if the library and museum had a piece of the Berlin Wall. After all, Reagan is famous for his speech where he challenges Soviet Leader Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!” In case you were wondering and much to my awe, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library DOES have a piece of the Berlin Wall, and it was so surreal to both see it and touch it.

Not only is the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library home to a piece of the Berlin Wall but also to Air Force One. I may or may not have squealed after seeing it because not only did we get to see it, but also we got to go inside it!

No pictures are allowed inside the famous plane, but a museum employee was setup at the entrance to take visitors’ pictures. I have included a few of the pictures taken by various museum employees during our visit to the presidential library and museum below. Feel free to laugh at our expense – the pictures are far too reminiscent of cringe-worthy family photos from the 70’s/80’s that you see plastered all over the internet!

Despite the high definition yet low quality pictures, touring the inside of Air Force One was incredible! Various curators are stationed throughout the plane, and their expertise allowed us to fully experience and appreciate Air Force One’s monumental impact and history.

I could honestly write an entire blog post about our visit to the Reagan Presidential Library, but it is only one of our many stops from this past week! I have much more to write about!

A few days after our presidential library and museum visit, Joe’s brother, Rick, and his family took us to Hollywood! From national history to the entertainment industry’s history – history is history, am I right? Ha!

Joking aside, we had a blast! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Walk of Fame, placing my hands in the handprints of Hollywood stars at the Chinese Theatre, having a family photo op at the Hollywood Wax Museum, and competing with different family members in various challenges at the Guinness World Records Museum. We stayed out way too late laughing and enjoying each others company!

Though we stayed out late, Joe and Rick were awake bright and early the next day to do some work on our towing vehicle aka the Burb.

“It should only take an hour and a half, 3 hours tops” – famous last words from Joseph Garcia.

Let’s just say 3 hours turned into 10 hours…but hey! Joe and Rick worked everything out, and by the end of the day, Joe was bringing me street tacos and a new and improved Suburban! It wouldn’t be a Garcia family get together if the men weren’t working on some sort of project!

So, that was it, right? Presidential Library, Hollywood, and Rick’s garage? Nope! This week held one more stop! Camp Pendleton.

Yep. Saying we had a busy week was no exaggeration!

My cousin, Evan is a marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, and we were too close not to make the drive to see him!

We met for Sunday brunch and afterward, Joe and I piled into Evan’s car so that he could drive us around Oceanside and give us a tour of Pendleton! It was beautiful, intimidating, and amazing. Joe and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of national pride and gratitude as we toured the base.

After driving around Pendleton, Joe, Evan, and I went downtown in search of ice cream and to spend more time with each other. Both ice cream parlors we attempted to visit were closed so we found a doughnut shop and ate doughnuts as well as drank iced coffee outside as we enjoyed the sunny, breezy afternoon.

It was so good seeing Evan – who knew California would turn into such a family stop?

We have one more week in the L.A. area before we make our way north for Joe’s work conference. Who’s to say what this week will hold?

Who knows! But Joe and I are enjoying time with family as we make the most of California.

Until next time!

See You On The 405

After 5 weeks of traveling and living off grid, we made it to California! But first, allow me to start from where we last left off.

Previously on Garcia’s Moving Castle…we were wrapping up our time in Flagstaff, Arizona. My lungs were recovering from our jaunt to Grand Falls, and Joe and I had nixed our initial plans of traveling to Mammoth Lakes, CA. Instead, we decided to take off for the coast! So, we said goodbye to our new friends, packed up the camper, and readied ourselves for the 8 hour journey through the Mojave desert.

We decided to split up the trek to Simi Valley, CA, into 2 parts. Thankfully, the first leg of the journey was uneventful, and we stopped at a KOA (Kampgrounds of America) in Needles, CA, for the night.

Let me just say…God. Bless. Hookups. After fetching and toting water, setting up solar panels and maintaining a generator for 5 weeks, full hookups at a KOA might as well as have been an all-inclusive resort in the Bahamas. A bit hyperbolic? Perhaps. Completely accurate? Absolutely.

Joe and I both agree that our night at the Needles KOA Campground was both rejuvenating and peaceful, and by peaceful, I mean we slept like the dead.

After having one of the best nights of sleep in our lives, Joe and I girded our loins for the second half of our journey…the mountain pass. Spoiler alert, we made it, but we may have sprouted a few grey hairs along the way. From flash flood warnings and random torrential downpour, to manual grade shifting through the mountains, navigating Los Angeles traffic with an 8,000 lb. trailer would make even an atheist pray!

But hey, like I said, we made it. Phew!

So, we survived the journey to California. What have we been up to since then? Lots!

Joe’s brother’s family lives in LA, and because we don’t get to see them very often, we have been making up for lost time! The first day we got in, we met them for dinner, and last night, we went to the Santa Monica Pier!

It has always been a dream of mine to visit this famous pier and ride its ferris wheel, and Joe’s brother, Rick, made it happen. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good funnel cake and amusement park, and by the end of the night, my blood sugar was certainly feeling the effects of the pizza and sugary goodness we consumed.

Induced sugar coma aside, our time at the Santa Monica Pier was magical. Feeling the ocean breeze, laughing and talking with family, and experiencing the city from the dizzying height of the ferris wheel left me with a sense of childlike wonder.

Gosh, I’m grateful.

And with that, I am going to end this post.

Until next time!