California (Part 3)

And here we were again, crossing the Central Valley of California. Grassy hills gave way to fruit-filled orchards, which then gave way to vineyards divided by a vast network of irrigation canals. Mount Diablo appeared through the haze, only to be obscured by golden hills on the edge of the Bay. We passed through the Caldecott Tunnel and emerged in the Oakland highlands, GPS set on the Berkeley Marina. We met Luke down by the sailing docks, and followed his “spaceship” Toyota Previa home. The next day we hiked Mission Peak, which was hot and dusty. So hot and dusty that we decided to take refuge in the foggier and colder city of San Francisco. We wanted to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, but unfortunately dogs aren’t allowed. Instead, Becca sat with Porter by the water while I explored the old fort, which was pretty interesting. Our travels brought us near Lombard Street, so we decided to check it out. Driving down it is a very strange experience because you are both the witness and object of the tourist spectacle that is Lombard Street, simultaneously taking in the sights while being photographed by tourists on foot. Things got VERY touristy when we headed down to Pier 39 to see the seals.

Below the Golden Gate

The next few days were spent bumming around Oakland and Berkeley. This mostly consisted of eating delicious vegan stuff. Though we had planned to go to Oakland’s First Friday with Luke, he decided instead to drive to L.A. to go surfing. This is fairly typical behavior for Luke, so we weren’t surprised, and easily pivoted our plans to spend the night at Collin and Katherine’s place in Sunnyvale. It was a nice evening of burrito bowls, and locally-sourced, fair-trade, potentially organic “street-cados” (avocados literally picked up off of the sidewalk). Wonderful mellow times! The next morning we were back on the road again, taking the road south over the Bixby Bridge into Big Sur.

Bixby Bridge

Such a crazy road! We stopped a few times to hike, take pictures of a waterfall, and go for a swim in the ocean.

Big Sur

Catching the last light over the Pacific in Morro Bay before we headed back east.

West Coast

Night fell as we passed through the mountains and into the desert. The best campsite we could find was at the edge of Carrizo Plain National Monument, way down a dirt road. We set up camp, I took some pictures of the Milky Way, and fell asleep under the stars.

Carrizo Plain night

Milky Way
The next morning we awoke to the most incredible sunrise. Last night we had no idea what the geography looked like, and now it was brilliantly lit up in shades of orange and blue.

Carrizo Plain campsite

Another thing we didn’t see last night were the endless Tarantulas that call this desert home. At first we didn’t realize what those dark blotches were on the road, until we slowed down to take a closer look.


Onward, past Bakersfield and Barstow, across a landscape made lurid by Hunter S. Thompson.


The sun was almost below the horizon when we drove across the Colorado River into Arizona.

California (Part 3)