As I sleepily write this post, in a perfect holiday-induced brain haze, I am reflecting on 2015. A year that has been filled with several trips to the West Coast for both business and pleasure. And not that I didn’t know this before, but with each trip, the West Coast – from Los Angeles to Seattle – proved itself, hands down, to be the best coast in the continental U.S. It is my jam and I can’t wait to fill my 2016 with extended vacations to this earthquake-prone paradise.
First it was Los Angeles in May for a meet-up and unexpected cry session with my functional MD, who is AWESOME. Then it was Pacific Grove, and more specifically Asilomar Conference Grounds, where I consistently thought I was in an Inception-esque dream because of the amazing fog-cloaked landscape (and the surreal feminism that was all around me, which we’ll get into later). After California, it was road trip time to the PNW to meet up with family for the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, WA. And just when we thought we had seen our fair share of Amazon-bred suits and accompanying neck beards, we headed back to Seattle two weeks later for an impromptu, but completely welcomed, working trip for the musician beau.
With all of that sand between my toes, twinkling golden light, and FernGully foliage influencing my decisions, I remembered that sharing is caring and thought I should put together some type of list to chronicle my West Coast adventures and mark the end of 2015.
- El Matador State Beach. A rogue rock did indeed hit me on the back of the head while sitting on the beach, but the beach was so spectacular that no shits were given.
- The Getty Villa. How is it possible that this place is free?! If I lived in LA, I would bribe security guards with Ho Hos and baby sloths to let me stay after hours Every. Single. Day. A first-century Roman country house meticulously recreated in Malibu? YES. I’ve read you were a total miser, J. Paul Getty, but you were spot on with this one.
- Erewhon Natural Foods. People say that I shop like a European, going to the market everyday to get meal ingredients. This grocery store is tailor-made for yours truly. It is to paleo feasters what Pamela Anderson is to vegans. F%$@ing ideal. Again, an Every. Single. Day. kind of place.
- NCIS: Los Angeles was filming at our hotel during our stay. Hotel staff went out of their way to make sure we didn’t see L.L. Cool J but the spa water in the lobby was perfection. Mama Said Knock You Out…
- The Weather. We left frigid spring temps in Denver to find perfect temps in LA. We were reminded of perfect said temps, when we returned to this disaster:
- Bird’s Eye View. Flying over the Rocky Mountains is arguably the most unbelievably beautiful aerial views one can have while being hurled across state lines in a metal tube 35,000 feet above the ground. Not only that, you get uncomfortably close to said Rockies and it’s bumpy as hell.
- Sister Time. This trip was initially for business but after I convinced my sister to attend, it was also for pleasure. A women’s leadership conference at a secluded beach retreat was sure to encourage some deep reflection time as well as the suppression of inappropriate sister giggling during sessions. Both of which happened and both of which were much needed. Jen, your snorting is missed.
- New Friend. My sister, being the leader that she is, brought along a coworker to the conference to soak in some of the fem-empowerment vibes. And just like my sister, she was amazing and just what I needed. Anne is a storyteller and has quite the addictive personality. From using “real” as a perfect superlative to creating a space of her own in the milieu of an academic women’s conference, she felt like family by the end of our short time together.
- Asilomar Conference Grounds. Real. Rustic. And completely retro. In all honesty, I am a total hotel snob. I judge where I lay my head and where I bathe and in the words of my new friend Anne, my standards are REAL high. The accommodations at Asilomar were straight out of the 1960s but it didn’t even matter. The view right outside of our door was so overwhelming that it erased the brick-like pillows and yellow sparkle laminate bathroom counter. The grounds and accompanying beach, which was just steps away, truly took my breath away.
PNW Road Trip
- Eyes on the Road. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT rinse you contact lenses with the hydrogen peroxide solution on the morning of a big road trip. It truly makes you believe that ripping out your eyeballs is the only way to mitigate the shocking pain after the self-inflicted acid bath. Visions of the demise of Batman villains were racing through my head. The label on the bottle shouldn’t be red, it should be covered with used needles in the hopes of making you think twice. Bausch + Lomb, are you listening?
- Hipsters. I was totes prepared for the #authentic, magical world of #SocalityBarbie. Alas, I forgot to pack the latest #Kinfolk. The trip was almost ruined, but then I remembered: #blessed #slowlife #liveauthentic #livefolk #kinfolk #visualcoop #finditliveit #getoutside #letsgosomewhere #neverstopexploring #socality #explore #adventure #lifeofadventure #pnw #pacificnorthwest #thatpnwlife #northwestisbest #thegreatpnw #greatnorthcollective #pdx #communityfirst #oregon #upperleftusa #peoplescreatives #wildernessculture.
- Cannon Beach. We went into this trip with little planned except for reaching Seattle on a certain date, everything else was left to the strength of our cell phone signals. While hunting for a place to stay on the Oregon coast, Cannon Beach sparked a childhood memory for me and we decided to give it a go for the night. We ended up staying three days. Wild bunnies make up the majority of the population in this perfect seaside town and that was just fine with us. Snowbirds? No, we will be Cannon Beach bunnies in our golden years. (No, we cannot take credit for this gem of a video nor the song selection. Also, not quite sure what the motivation was here.)
- Forget the Last Entry. We want it all to ourselves and we will fight to the death to make sure that happens.
- Whidbey Island. The point of this entire trip was to celebrate my Dad’s 70th birthday a year late by joining him at the Wooden Boat Festival. Happy 2nd 70th birthday, Dad!!! (Open-heart surgeries screw up plans, you know.) To mark the occasion of multiple family members being in the same geographic location, my Dad set us all up at the Fort Casey Inn on Whidbey Island. Stunningly beautiful. Eerily quiet. Most definitely haunted. Prayed myself to sleep every night because I am pretty sure the eyes moved in the painting in our bedroom.
- The Weather Again. Seattle is oh-so-glorious when the sun is shining. Mind blowing, in fact. But when Seattleites need to feed the rain gods with all of their copious amounts of recycling and compost, which is most of the time, you remember why Washington’s Department of Transportation took to building no-suicide guards on Seattle bridges.
- New Food. Sitka & Spruce is one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle and a must when visiting. This time, feeling a bit adventurous and embracing the fishy Seattle air, we decided to try something new: oysters. I know. Not adventurous for most, but for us, it was. Coming from very land-locked Colorado, fresh oysters are rare and when they are on a menu, I am skeptical about their origins. After the shigoku oysters at Sitka & Spruce, we are complete converts despite their vajayjay likeness.
- New Friends. Let’s be real, making friends as an adult seems to be exceedingly difficult at times. This was not our experience on this trip. It was easy, fun, and quite addictive to be around passionate and downright hilarious people. And Cards Against Humanity was involved. Need I say more? The best combo definitely involved “a micropig wearing a tiny raincoat and booties” and “losing one’s virginity.”
- Bainbridge Island. We decided to take the 30 minute ferry ride to Bainbridge Island on a whim. While walking to the ferry terminal, we literally stumbled upon $120 just lying on the sidewalk. Being A+ citizens, we looked all around for the owner of said cash. I promise, there was NOBODY around for blocks. We dubbed it the “group wad” and used it to fund our trip to Bainbridge. Ferry tickets, amazing cider at Ale House on Winslow, and almost peeing ourselves after an epic round of Cards Against Humanity was all covered by the group wad. What wasn’t covered was Mt. Rainier peaking through the fog on the ferry ride back to Seattle. Amazing.
Well folks, I hope this list makes you think twice about your love of the Jersey Shore and named hurricanes. And here’s to the end of 2015! Happy New Year and I hope to see you on my next flight to the West Coast.