Seattle —> Los Angeles. 4 Days
by Chef Corso
We’re goin on a road trip! Yes!
So much possibility, so much unknown.
I think the thing to remember about a road trip is all you have to do is get there. You have a general idea of where you COULD stop, but the journey is all part of the fun.
For our trip, we had a pretty easy task: Get from SEATTLE to LA in 4 days.
Easy enough. Just 1,200 miles in front of us. We could do short days, we could do long. We could bomb it down I-5 or we could take the scenic route.
DAY 1 SEATTLE, WA – COOS BAY, OR
I was with my new friend Roland and we asked each other, “well, what do we want to see?”
His response, “ I try to avoid I-5 like the plague”. Noted.
My response, “ I’ve never been to the Redwoods, I’d like to see that up close.”
And there we had it. A “plan.”
Let’s try and get off the fast track as soon as possible and head toward the Oregon and Cali Coasts.
We started in Monday morning traffic through Mercer and Seneca streets. We couldn’t wait to get moving. Our plan was to get through Portland on I-5 then on to Salem. Then take a hard right to the Oregon Coast. We cruised, caught up on all the life stuff and things and we hit the rock dotted beaches in no time. We knew we were going to be juuuust fine.
A random road-side stop developed at Devils Churn and we were mesmerized by the ocean meeting a narrow inlet. The waves crashing and turning every way possible into dramatic smashes on the rocks. We could have stayed for hours.
We crossed 100 year old bridges covering protecting coves and wild, native rhododendrons in every hue.
It was a solid day 1 of driving and we crashed at a cheap hotel in Coos Bay, OR.
It’s often not all about the charge or how many hours of driving you get in. Trust yourself and sometimes you just need to rest.
DAY 2 COOS BAY, OR – OAKLAND, CA
We rose at a reasonable hour, made camp coffee in the parking lot and we were on our way.
After about an hour on the road with steady rain, we stopped for breakfast. And just our luck, it cleared up for just enough time to cook.
I whipped up Dirtbag Eggs Benedict with 9 ingredients and it took about 20 min until we were eating an amazing breakfast with a coastal mist in our face. So easy and tasty. Our bellies were happy and it’s better and quicker than waiting in line for a diner breakfast.
The goal was to hug the coast as much as possible until 101 pulled us inland in the northern part of Sonoma County. Man, we were treated to a delightful day. Massive redwoods, lush full greenery in all the greens you an imagine and rain. Misty rain, sloppy rain, angry rain, little “hey, I’m still here” rain. As we made our way down the coast, we stopped for lunch at no where specific state park. I did a little recon mission to find a good spot to cook.
After 10 min, I hit the jackpot. A massive chunk of rock with epic waves crashing around and a breeze that you only can feel on the west coast. We tested a new recipe, Spanish potatoes with Bravas Sauce. Amazing, satisfying and super easy with 10 fresh ingredients and around 25 min.
We forged on through northern cal, crossing rivers and winding through Foothill Pine lined valleys.
It all popped out in the town of Cloverdale and the perfectly manicured vineyards of the Sonoma County as the sun began to squint at us.
Admittedly, we were getting tired but pushed on to Oakland, greeted by the Bay and Golden Gate bridges. We took down a cali burrito in record time and crashed.
DAY 3 OAKLAND, CA – BIG SUR, CA
After a long day 2, our only goal was to get to Big Sur and camp.
Not too many miles to cover. And we both needed to catch up on some emails. We went South through San Jose waving goodbye to the bay and headed over 17 through Scotts Valley. Winding through eucalyptus trees with their shedded leave and bark. We plopped down @ a cafe in Santa Cruz for a few hours and were reconnected to the world just enough to tie up a few things and onwards we went.
One of the great parts about Cali is they grow A LOT of our food. Strawberries, artichokes, Brussels, fruits and nuts. And from Santa Cruz to Big Sur is prime Arti, Avo and Strawberry territory.
At a local veggies and we stocked up on fresh provisions at 7 artichokes for $1 and smiled as we scooted through the wind swept Cyprus’ of Pebble Beach and Carmel knowing that a future veggie mixto dinner was going to be fantastic.
As the roads began to wind, the classically amazing bridges of Big Sur started to appear. It’s funny to think about infrastructure as iconic, but if done right, a bridge, a tower or path can make the natural scenery that much more mesmerizing and memorable.
And there it was; McWay Falls in the Pfieffer State Park.
I’ve seen this picture before.
On instagram and travel brochures, everywhere.
It’s weird to see something with your own eyes that you’ve seen in pictures 545 times before. When you actually SEE it you say, “ wow…damn…there it is” and soak it in. I would suggest next time you take your photo, your selfie or whatever. Get your shot, then put your phone away and see it through your eyes. Your post can wait a few min. Take a breath, really see it because you’re here. And it’s amazing.
We turned down a forest service road, set up camp quick as the sun was setting and cooked up a hearty classic: Meat & Gravy & Potatoes. We slept hard and well.
DAY 4 BIG SUR – REDONDO BEACH,CA
Early am with the sunrise and beaming rays.
I made a fresh compote of apples, dried apricots, sugar and a little water. Spooned that into some oatmeal and we had elevated oaty.
We need to our finish our journey today.
Wow how the scenery changes from deep inlets and crashing waves over chunky rocks. To pastoral rolling hills and the plains of San Louis Obispo to beautiful history of Santa Barbara to palms and surf of Malibu.
We discovered a “new to us” route turning left off the 101 onto the 23 passing Lake Eleanor park. We never knew such mountains existed in LA.
As you could imagine, we hit traffic and were reminded, yes, you do you live in 2019 and many people live in LA.
But we powered through and made it our destination. Redondo Beach. Screeched the brakes, threw off our shoes and sox and right into the ocean.
We made it! 4 days. 1200 miles. What a trip.
If you’ve never visited or driven the west coast of the United States, put it on your list. You can do it in 2 days but take your time and you will be rewarded. It’s one of the last stretches of open public coast line in the country.
And remember, it’s all about the journey, not the destination. And it was made that much better because I could share the experience with a good friend and travel buddy.
You will get there, don’t worry.