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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Colombo

California Coast Road Trip

“Why California?” they ask. “Bend is the bessststst.” Yes, it is a special place, but you all are constantly complaining about Californians moving up there, so I’m just doing my part to even it out. It’s pretty rare to be in a place in life with no real ties to a particular place, and the chance to start fresh anywhere you like. I kind of had this opportunity a few years ago after getting back from a long backpacking trip, but I was in a…lets say… more emotional state. I wanted to be close to friends and family, and had a connection at a job in a field I was interested in gaining experience.

After a few years of event planning, and living with my friends, I felt like I had a better grasp on who I am and what I want. Don’t get me wrong, I am going to miss my people a lot, and already do, but the chance to get back to my big-city roots, and live out my beach phase dreams, San Diego was a no-brainer.

I was originally planning to take this road trip by myself, which in hindsight seems like actual insanity. Not only slightly dangerous, but to think of how painfully bored I would have become with my own thoughts gives me anxiety.  What would I have done without someone hand feeding me chips and salsa whilst navigating 5 lanes of traffic through LA with zero visibility out of my rear view?  Probably have a panic attack. Lets just say she deserves a shout out for being the real MVP.

We drove a total of 1,364 miles over 5 days from Bend to San Diego, taking some unconventional stops based on free accommodation and our inability to emotionally handle long stints on the road. I’m a plane person and I’ve known this, but that obviously wasn’t an option if I wanted to hold onto my only asset, being my car.

Here’s the basic Itinerary:

  1. Bend to North Lake Tahoe (stayed night with fam in Reno)

  2. Reno to Petaluma (stayed night with fam)

  3. Petaluma to Santa Cruz (quick stop in San Francisco and Half Moon Bay, stayed night at Airbnb in SC)

  4. Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara (stop in Monterey, stayed night at Airbnb in SB)

  5. Santa Barbara to San Diego (stopped in Santa Monica and Laguna Beach)

We lucked out on incredible weather 90% of the time, and good food 90% of the time. Honestly, the only hiccup during the trip was Annie someone dropping an unopened bottle of wine in our Airbnb driveway. We picked up the shards of glass at 7 am in silence, determined to not let the tragic incident set the tone for the rest of the day.

We were able to squeeze a lot in a short amount of time, and my OCD about planning drives between light traffic hours resulted in very few instances of being stuck. The one thing I wish we could have done was drive Hwy 1 through Big Sur, but this part of the hwy was closed and we would have had to turn around resulting in a 4 hour detour. Below are my favorite pictures from the trip. Please prepare yourself for an excess amount of pictures of our faces in front of things, because what else were we going to photograph 😉

Picnic on Lake Tahoe after our longest leg of the drive. We shared Tiki drinks at Garwoods and our moods increased exponentially, they strong!

Petaluma was beautiful! We went to a few boutiques and I choked down a particularly strong mezcal marg at a place I actually can’t remember the name, but it’s probably the only happening place in this town so you would find it. Not many pictures from this destination as Annie someone had a full blown allergy attack that probably needed medical attention, so we decided it best to go home and get a good nights rest.

It was semi-gloomy in San Francisco but our hike (walk) down to the beach was so nice!  Annie peed in the bushes as pedestrians walked by, you can’t do that here girl we aren’t in Kansas anymore!

Had an awesome Airbnb in Santa Cruz, had it been a clear day you could see the ocean.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

We didn’t do a whole lot in Santa Cruz other than spend too much money, oops!

Lone Cypress on the 17-Mile Pebble Beach Drive

Maybe sort of completely exhausted can you tell?!?


We had the cutest Airbnb in SB. Our host gave us great recommendations for tasting rooms and we went a little crazy in the Funk Zone. When we got back we all watched the Bachelorette together, made my night.

Santa Monica Pier

Who doesn’t love a good roller coaster?! Let’s be real, this ride was about a tenth of exciting as the New York New York ride in Vegas but you bet your bottom dollar when the carnie asked if we wanted to ride another round for free we were like YASSSSS WOO DO ITTTT!!!!

Last stop, Laguna!

1000 Steps Beach

Definitely took the long/wrong way from Santa Monica to Laguna, went through about 50 stop lights and Annie couldn’t stay awake so I was bored.  Once we got there however, it completely paid off.  We had real good sushi, chilled on the beach, and watched adorable little kids surf.

Made it to San Diego! First stop touristy margs in Pacific Beach

Saying goodbye to my bestie was hard, I think we hugged 4 times in 1 minute. I’m so grateful she was able to take the trip down with me, memories for life.

#californiacoast #featured #roadtrip


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