Tag Archives: Subaru

Pacific Coast Highway: Los Angeles

As we leave San Diego heading north, the PCH follows Interstate 5 for quite some time. Interstate travel doesn’t really feel like the adventure we were looking for, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil. Trying our best, we stayed off the highway along the coast, and north into Oceanside. It was about this time that Kelli and I were ready to eat, and a quick search pointed us to Ty’s Burger House. Perfect choice. Great menu, excellent beers, and an incredibly comfortable atmosphere means that if we are anywhere near here again, we will be back. Highly recommended! It might be worth a trip to Oceanside alone.

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San Onofre State Beach. Long boarders paradise. I’m going back one day!

Out of Oceanside, and back onto I-5, we head past San Onofre, another iconic surfing spot, and head into San Clemente. While not officially US 1, we at least got off the interstate, and into local businesses and the everyday life of the people that live there. Slow moving traffic, and tons of small shops eagerly enticed us to stop and shop, but alas we had a schedule to keep. Maybe another time San Clemente. We definitely need to go back.

 

North of San Clemente, we entered Dana Point, and rejoined the PCH on our northbound tour of the west coast. Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, all places I have wished to visit for so long.

Once we get to Seal Beach, the PCH heads inland away from the coast until we reach Santa Monica, and our stopping point for this segment of the drive.

 

Second Stop: Los Angeles

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Los Angeles is one of the most popular cities in the United States (I’m sure you already know that), and a place that we needed to see for ourselves. From the freak-show fun of Venice Beach, to the elite hideaways of the Hollywood Hills, we wanted to get a small taste of it all.  With only a day and a half to see it all, we played the full-on tourist role and made the best of what time we had.


 

Santa Monica

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The PCH at the western end of I-10 entering/leaving Santa Monica. We have now driven both ends of Interstate 10. It connects from Jacksonville, FL to Santa Monica, CA.

Just after checking in to our hotel (and hours of being in the car), we decided to head out for a walk to check out the surrounding area of Santa Monica. On foot, we crossed the PCH over toward Santa Monica Pier, and then south toward Venice Beach. Along the way, we saw people walking their dogs, their birds, and their snakes. Tons of rollerbladers, bike riders, and skateboarders all telling pedestrians that we were in their way. We passed muscle beach (nobody was there), street performers and artists along the way. The souvenir shops were closing up as we approached sunset, and so we turned and began heading back north to the hotel.

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Sunset over Santa Monica Beach. Yup this shot is my wallpaper now.

Before calling it a night, we decided to explore Santa Monica Pier a bit. We had no idea that the pier was the western terminus of Route 66! Cool! The pier would be a great way to spend most of the day. There are plenty of places to eat as well as play games, and ride rides. It felt like a carnival with an incredible ocean view.

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Santa Monica Pier just after sunset.

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Looking down the pier at the end of Route 66.

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View looking down 2nd St, the route we walked to get to the 3rd St Promenade.

Just up the road from our hotel was the Third Street Promenade. It’s about four blocks of Third Street open only to pedestrian traffic and designed just for shopping. There’s food for every taste, and stores for every style. Live music echoing from every direction, and the smells of outdoor dining overwhelm the senses. We highly recommend visiting here. You could spend the entire weekend (maybe longer) without a car here walking the Promenade and the Pier, as well as Ocean Front Walk.


 

Hollywood Boulevard

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No Trip to LA would be complete without a visit to Hollywood Blvd. In true tourist style, we did what we had to do. We braved the traffic, and headed in to see where stars are made.

It was exactly what we expected. Bumper to bumper cars, shoulder to shoulder tourists and people waiting to be “discovered”. There were people jumping around in homemade costumes. Some good, some bad, some just terrible (think brown Spiderman wearing a fanny pack). If they see a camera, they put on a performance hoping you snap a photo so they can suggest a “thank you” for their efforts. There are people selling things, others very politely asking for money, and a few pushy types trying to get you to go into their souvenir shop.

The strange thing is, there is magic in the air. For some reason, while we were there, we felt a strong urge to find an agent, and try acting as a new career. You really feel as though there is a chance you could become famous overnight while you walk down this street. It is definitely a crowded, hectic place to be, and we truly enjoyed it.


 

Beverly Hills

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Just another Rolls parked in a “red zone”. No big deal.

So, what do Jed Clampett and Weezer have in common? They both know that Beverly Hills is the place to be. Strolling along Hollywood Blvd, we what seemed to be hundreds of vans, shuttles, and busses just for tours of the area. We found a Beverly Hills stars tour that promised to show us where many celebs live, plus a drive down Rodeo Dr. Kelli successfully talked him down to a two for one deal for a ride in the roofless van they used. It was a perfect way to see the sights without having to worry about the crazy LA traffic.IMG_9403

Beverly Hills has some very strict rules about the tour vans, some of which restrict them to certain streets. Fans of architecture would enjoy a tour like this, as well as fans of celebrity gossip. We saw houses which are regularly used in films, and locations where some celebs made some not-so-good decisions.

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Somebody famous used to live here… They probably moved to Malibu.

 

 

 

 

 

Towards the end of the tour, we realized that not many celebs still live in Beverly Hills. At least not on the tour route. Most of the homes we stopped at were described as “So-and-so used to live here, now they live in Malibu.” Although we never saw anybody famous, it was nice to finally see where so many stars have called home.

 

 

Now, I gotta go call my agent. I think I saw a house for sale.

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Zion N.P.

Okay, so this place is still on our list of places to see. We had no idea how busy southern Utah could be when kids are out of school.

 

Kanarra Falls

Since all the sites near Zion were all booked up, we had to find a place about an hour away from the entrance. Even that far out, we could only book two full days at the small park we found. (We lucked into a third because somebody cancelled)IMG_0521

Kanarraville is a few miles south of Cedar City, Utah, and you would never know it was there unless you were looking for it. But looking for it is a great idea. We stopped here because it was the only place we could find to sleep. However, when we got here, people started telling us about a great hike at the end of the street. The trailhead was three blocks from our RV! Awesome!

IMG_7538We settled in for the night in hopes of getting an early start the next day. (Didn’t happen, sleeping in is too nice)  The next morning, after breakfast, we packed up the camera, and a bunch of water, and headed for the hills. Kanarra Creek Trail follows the creek up into Zion N.P. in kind of a back entrance sort of way. Parking at the trailhead is $10 per car, so stay in town and just walk up.

The destination is a slot canyon that winds its way up into the mountains, ascending waterfalls along the way. Warning: You Will Get Wet! If you don’t get wet, you haven’t seen anything good.

 

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Incidentally, this photo just won a photo contest! Woohoo! Thanks GoNewmar.com!

It is absolutely worth the stop if you are just passing by, and have a few hours to waste. We lucked into it, and can’t wait to go back. Hiking in a creek made us feel like kids again.

 

 

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The Narrows

IMG_7650If you have seen a picture of Zion N.P., you have probably seen a photo of The Narrows. The Narrows is the narrowest part of Zion Canyon with walls a thousand feet high, and follows the Virgin River through the gorge.

Hiking the Narrows can be as strenuous as you want it to be. You can stay on the paved, mile long, ADA trail, and laugh at the people that fall into the water. Or you can go ahead and plunge in, and make a go of it, heading upstream along with hundreds of other people, stumbling on every rock on the river bottom. You can stumble along for miles if you wish, or hike around the first bend just so you can say “I hiked The Narrows!”

 

 

IMG_7679We chose to go a few miles, and thoroughly enjoyed our choice. The further you go, the less people you see, and the more remote it feels. With a permit, you can hike all the way to the other end, but that’s like fourteen hours. We’re not up to that yet.

 

 

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Bryce Canyon is still calling our name, but there was no way for us to get there. We will have to see it on another day. At that time, we will probably head over toward Moab so we can finally see Arches N.P. as well.

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Small Town, Big Sights

IMG_0488Page, Arizona never struck us as a place to visit. Kelli has had a few things in the area pinned to see and do, and as we did our homework, we found that Page is the place to be. For a small town, it has plenty of hotels and RV parks, as well as a bunch of restaurants. Want to rent a bicycle? They got it. Want to rent a boat? This is the place to be. Do you need a guide to see the sights? They’re everywhere! A small place I’ve never heard of, and yet, most of the businesses cater to tourists.

Horseshoe Bend

IMG_7225Horseshoe Bend is  a short hike just outside of town. The trail is a mile and a half round trip, but the first half is much easier. It’s three quarters of a mile downhill to the overlook, and then three quarters of a mile back up the same hill to your car. That second half is a killer though. If you go during the summer, plan to be there during the coolest part of the day. We went while it was 104 degrees f, and made sure to bring two liters of cold water in our pack. Two liters for a mile and a half is not excessive in some cases.

Horseshoe Bend is part of the Glen Canyon, and just downstream from here is Lees Ferry where the Glen Canyon turns into the Grand Canyon. Visiting this site is a kind of preview to seeing the Grand Canyon if you haven’t been there yet.

 

Lake Powell

IMG_0470A lot of people refer to the area as Lake Powell, and for good reason. Lake Powell is massive! If you bring your own boat, you can launch at the public ramp, and leave your truck/trailer for up to 14 days. That’s a lot of boating in the desert. Lake Powell is a man-made reservoir created by damming the Colorado River, and resulting in a vacationer’s destination which straddles two states.

IMG_7147We took our kayaks for a paddle from Antelope Point along the shoreline to visit Antelope Canyon. This stretch of Antelope Canyon is Filled with water, and is visited by a lot of different watercraft. Kayaking this waterway can be a challenge because the power boaters can really stir up the water creating wakes that bounce back and forth from canyon wall to canyon wall. There are tour companies that will take you on a boat tour of the canyon if you wish, or you could rent any number of craft to get there. We saw plenty of other kayakers as well as a bunch of jet-skiers.

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Lake Powell has nearly 2000 miles of shoreline, rivaling the west coast of the United States. If you are looking for a place to camp alongside the water, you will find one. The beaches are large slabs of rock with no sand to blow around, and no seagulls to steal your picnic. The water is cool and quite refreshing on the 100 degree days of summer. Along with the low humidity, this is one of our favorite bodies of water yet.

 

Antelope Canyon

IMG_7422Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon on tribal land. You can only see it with a guide, and as I said, guides are everywhere. There are three parts of the canyon; The water filled part of Lake Powell, The Lower Canyon, and the Upper Canyon. We explored the waterway in our kayaks, and we went to a guide to see the Lower Antelope Canyon.

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The guides take about 12 to 15 people on a tour at a time, and they do a great job at keeping the canyon from getting crowded. Our guide, Tana, did an awesome job explaining everything. She even explained how they have to maintain the canyon to keep it safe for visitors. She showed everybody that had a camera or even a camera phone how to take the best pictures of the undulating walls of the narrow passageways. Thanks again Tana.

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This is Tana, the most patient and knowledgable guide I’ve met.

 

 

 

 

All in all, this is a great place to visit, and we wouldn’t hesitate to stay in the area again in the future. Maybe next time we will take a boat tour on Lake Powell to go see Rainbow Bridge National Monument over on the Utah side of the water.IMG_7462

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Wells, NV/Angel Lake

Sometimes you accidentally find something that everybody should know about, but only the locals know. That happened to us when we stopped in Wells, NV for a couple nights.

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The owner of the park we stayed at saw the kayaks on our car, and recommended that we go check out Angel Lake. As he described it, he pointed to the top of a mountain. With that one motion, simply extending an index finger, and aiming it 30 degrees above the horizon, he officially piqued my interest. He continued to explain how to get there, and confirmed that it was hidden on the far side of “Chimney Rock” near the peak. He rambled on about snowmelt, made sure we knew very well that there are no guardrails on the road, and sent us on our way.

Wait. It’s June. Snowmelt?

IMG_7950A quick check online (and Facebook) confirmed our directions, and off we went.  As we climbed the hill, the dashboard thermometer on the Forester began dropping, and we started thinking maybe we should have brought jackets.

At the top of the hill, we found a small campground and $5 parking. It was a full ten degrees cooler up there, and it felt incredible!

As soon as we opened the doors of the car, we could hear the waterfall. The peak of the mountain is littered with large patches of snow, which is melting in the 83 degree weather. The runoff gathers together into small streams which converge on their way down the rock face into one large, icy cool, waterfall. At the bottom of the waterfall, Angel Creek forms to feed Angel Lake, a beautiful, crystal clear, 8,400 feet high lake.

IMG_0506As we put our kayaks into the water, I started thinking about our skydiving experience from a couple years back. We jumped out of a plane at 10,000 feet, and opened the chutes at 7,500 feet. We were free falling for another 900 feet below where we were about to paddle. Un-real.

Most people rip through this area at 80-90 mph, and we would have too. Luckily enough, we stopped to rest a couple days, and found this gem.

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