Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Road Trip: The Beautiful Northern California Coast

The stark contrast between the northern California coast and the southern one is pretty remarkable.  It was only a couple of weekends ago that The Dutch and I drove the relatively short stretch between Los Angeles and San Diego on Highway 1.  We stopped and had coffee at Huntington Beach where a strong surfing culture is evident.  There was a lot to like.  The infamous California sunshine was wonderful and the people, friendly.

In San Diego, we spent some time frolicking in La Jolla and Pacific Beach.  Although both nice, there was hardly an open spot - either at the beach or the parking lot.  

A couple weekends later, in hot pursuit of spotting migrating gray whales in the more northern side of the Pacific, we went on a road trip with a couple of good friends to camp glamp at a place called Costanoa.  Cradled between the tourist trap touristy Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz is a peaceful stretch of Highway 1.  It's rather beautiful and untouched.  The highway hugs the coast giving you full, unobstructed views of the rugged, dramatic cliffs of the scenic Nor Cal coast you might have already seen more than once in a magazine or a travel brochure.  

I love it there.

It's has the quaint, quiet charm of an old-fashioned well-behaved beautiful lady.

I love the local farms at almost every turn!  


Berry season is in full swing here and I will say this many times in my lifetime, I'm certain, but nothing beats the taste of a plump, fresh, organic, just-picked strawberry. Swanton Berry Farm operates an honor system farm stand.  I LOVE that!  They also have a U-pick and jam tastings.  If you are camping nearby, we accidentally discovered that fresh, perfectly ripe strawberries complete the perfect s'more (which is worthy of an entirely separate post).

And the coastline itself is gorgeous.  We hiked along the coast at the Ano Nuevo State Reserve and although I have been there before, on the same exact trail, no two experiences are ever the same.

Look at all this wildlife waking up!


Yes, we came to see the whales, and sure, we spotted a few of them in the wild.  But the highlight of this trip was the gift to witness the inherent beauty of this side of the world, along with the campfire dinner and the amazing company kept.

I have not yet run out of great things to say about Costanoa.  Read about my post about camping at Costanoa in late November here.  The next time, I will be bold and really camp in a tent and sleep on the ground and all that.  It took me a while to ease into it, but now, I cannot even wait to try it!

Ano Nuevo State Park is across the street and offers limitless hiking and biking opportunities and wildlife viewing.  It is home to a large population of wild elephant seals that you can see (and smell) from a viewing deck that can be reached by a mile or so easy hike.  

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