Originally, this blog post was about 8,000 words long, filled with personal details of almost everything that we did on this trip. Filled with all the things I thought and felt and observed and loved and didn't love. But, I decided to shorten it. I took off the journal entry-styled descriptions of every day. Because for one, y'all are mostly interested in scrolling through the photos I took. But mostly, because this trip was really special for my mom and I. For me. I've decided to keep those detailed, intimate memories to myself, although I still am sharing photos. If you have any questions about the exact places we went or other questions that aren't addressed by the images here, I'd be happy to share more with you.
This past Christmas Eve, I was partaking in my family's usual holiday tradition of Christmas light sightseeing when I had a completely random thought.
"I want to go on a California road trip with my mom".
Yes. I'm telling you- it was SO random. Although my mom and I had talked about how we both love the West Coast and wanted to explore it briefly before, to actually go was always one of those throwaway ideas that don't ever end up happening. But for some reason, I decided then and there that we should really do it. My mom and I are both quite ambitious and spontaneous, so I knew she'd agree. The trip would be my Christmas gift to her.
So, as soon as we had finished our Christmas light tour, I was on my laptop researching all the destinations on the West Coast + the best flight deals :) I ended up settling on Monterey, California (near Big Sur!) to fly into and Seattle, Washington to fly back from. But even though I'd definitely made bigger purchases before then, booking our plane tickets was a totally different experience. Because although the tickets themselves weren't outrageously expensive, I was pretty much committing myself to a whole two-week trip. Food, lodging, rental car, gas, + more. And that could (spoiler alert: would) be up to 4-5 thousand dollars. But in the end, I decided it was worth it. Finally, around 4 AM on Christmas Day, I booked the tickets.
The next morning (well really, a few hours later on that morning), I printed out my American Airlines receipt, put it into a small gift bag, and placed it under our Christmas tree. When I told my mom to open up my gift, at first, she thought I was pranking her with an empty gift bag since the receipt was so light. And when she first pulled out the paper, she was in total disbelief. But after a couple minutes of reassuring her that YES, that paper was legit, we were both PUMPED!
Fast forward to June of this year. My mom had unexpectedly injured her knee. And it was worse than just a little tear, the doctors had discovered that she had congenital Discoid Meniscus (basically, her knee wasn't formed properly which causes pain and swelling), which would require surgery to correct. If all went well, the surgery would only take a few weeks to recover from. But there was a possibility that she'd need to go through with a more complicated surgery if the surgeon encountered any more abnormalities. That surgery would require more than 6 weeks to recover from.
Basically, our trip (which was set to happen in July) had a 50/50 chance of NOT happening at all. We were devastated by this, but we kept our hopes up.
Surgery day comes around and thankfully, my mom didn't have to undergo the complicated procedure. She would be able to recover in time for our trip.
After the surgery, we only had about 2 weeks to pretty much plan our whole trip. So we kept it simple. My mom and I are small and short (I am taller though! ;) ), so we decided to rent a minivan to call our home during our time on the Pacific Coast Highway. We ordered and shipped a couple of road trip-essential items (a cooler, cots, and generator) to places we would stay at along our route...and our clothes, snacks, my camera gear, etc., flew with us.
As for our roadmap, well, we didn't really have one. Remember when I said that my mom and I are pretty spontaneous? This is kind of what I meant ;) There were definitely some places that we FOR SURE wanted to hit (Big Sur, Carmel, Point Reyes, Portland, Newport, Arch Cape/Cannon Beach, Olympic National Park, and Seattle), but for the most part, we stopped when and where we wanted. This gave us the luxury of discovering tons of hidden gem beaches and little towns. And although we did end up sleeping in several random (but safe) parking lots if we weren't able to find a KOA or campground nearby, I think that going with the flow was totally worth it!
One thing special about this trip is that I decided to shoot film. If I shot at all. Some days, I didn't even pick up my camera because I was so focused on taking in everything around me. The sound of the waves. The constant fresh/salty smell of the ocean. The abundant little succulent plants in California. The way that the afternoon light bathed the golden hills. The different ways that each different beach's sand felt beneath my toes. The way that the sun reflecting off the water blinded us as we drove along the coastline. The variety of trees in...well, just about everywhere in the PNW.
For the digital photos I did take, most of them are personal iPhone photos. I brought 4 extra digital camera batteries and 2 chargers and never needed to use any of them. (That's correct....I used a total of 1 battery during the whole 2 weeks.)
Some of my favorite memories with my mom were made on this trip. We've both had a quite a rough year in many ways, so it was so relieving and refreshing to be making memories with her in a completely new and exciting place. We were free from any baggage that comes with living in the rut of life at home. We were having FUN. The time we spent together wasn't perfect (living in a minivan for 2 weeks isn't always the most comfortable situation), but I wouldn't have had it any other way.
Here is a full recap of our trip:
7/16/19: Dallas, TX - Monterey, CA
These 3 photos were all shot on film.
7/17/19: Carmel-By-The-Sea - Big Sur Coastline, CA
When you decide to trust a stranger with your film camera (face palm)
7/18/19: Monterey - Capitola Beach - Davenport - Point Reyes Peninsula
7/19/19: Tomales Bay - Point Reyes - Fort Bragg
7/20/19: Fort Bragg - Eureka
I didn't take any professional photos while we were in the Fort Bragg/Mendocino area. My cameras stayed in my bag until we reached Oregon.
7/21/19: Eureka, CA - Brookings, OR - Port Orford, OR
7/22/19: Port Orford - Florence
7/23/19: Florence - Newport - Philomath - Portland
7/24/19: West Linn - Rockaway Beach
7/25/19: Arch Cape - Nehalem Bay
7/26/19: Cannon Beach
7/27/19: Canon Beach - Astoria
7/28/19: Astoria - Lake Quinault, WA
7/29/19: Lake Quinault - Ruby Beach - Sequim
7/30/19: Sequim - Port Angeles
7/31/19: Sequim - Port Angeles - Hurricane Ridge - Seattle
8/1/19 : Seattle
8/2/19: Seattle - Dallas, Texas