San Francisco is a wonderful city. There is so much to see, but when you only have one day, its hard to choose what to do. To avoid the traffic we caught the ferry across to the famous Pier 39, on our way we saw Alcatraz and the amazing Golden Gate Bridge. Our first stop was to see the seals, which have taken over and made the pier their home. They smell disgusting but you could stand there all day and watch them, they are hilarious. We loved walking around the harbour, it has such a cool vibe. There are boats, seafood galore, buskers, markets and souvenir shops. After a morning on the water, we headed into the city. San Fran has some amazing architecture, beautifully designed town houses and apartment buildings, very different from anything we have back in Australia. We explored Haight St, where we found some yummy coffee and some very cool street art. This area has such an eclectic mix, it was great for people watching. We explored to the very last minute and had to make a mad taxi dash back to catch our ferry. But our lovely driver was able to drive us down the famous Lombard St, which is the crazy windy one, which was actually a lot of fun. It was such an awesome day, we love mixing up going to National Parks with trips to the city, but we are always ready to get back to nature after the hustle and bustle. The outdoors is definitely where our hearts feel at home.
After an amazing few days exploring Big Sur we have arrived in Santa Cruz, home to world famous surf break, Steamer Lane. What a treat to see this wave pumping, it is an amazing point break that offers surfers barrels and super long rides. It was also amazing to see the amount of wildlife that hang out at this break. (Enough shark bait to put us off jumping in the water) There was a whole pack of sea lions sitting on a rock not 50 meters away from the break and these curious creatures would regularly pop up to say hello to the surfers. We even saw some otters, probably the cutest creatures ever, swimming across the break. It was so much fun sitting up on the rocks watching the surfers and wildlife play in the ocean.
Los Padres National Forest is a part of Big Sur. On this gorgeous stretch of coast line we found a hike that led us high into the mountains and down to the beach. We got the most beautiful views of the ocean and found our own little cluster of redwoods. We love finding hikes that lead you away from the crowds and let you feel as if you are 100miles away from everything. There's nothing more freeing than looking in every direction and not seeing one building, one person, one car... Just you and the great outdoors.
One of our favourite stops in Big Sur was spending the night at Kirk Creek. This campground is nestled high above the coast, with magical views of the ocean. It felt so good to be living the VanLife again, cooking in our outdoor kitchen, having dinner while the sun set and waking up in nature. There is just something so magical about being outdoors, with nothing but books, campfires and amazing views.
Big Sur has been on our bucket list for a long time, we have seen so many photos and heard so many amazing things about this stretch of coastline, it was surreal to finally explore it. We spent a few days just driving, pulling over and exploring trails, stopping for coffee, watching surfers, picnicing under redwoods, exploring beaches and just taking it all in. The stand out was McWay Falls, an 80ft waterfall that falls onto the sand of Pfeiffer Beach and camping over the ocean at Kirk Creek Campground, we loved cooking dinner in our outdoor kitchen while the sun set over the ocean. We had an amazing few days making memories, that will last a lifetime.
Joshua Tree is the most unique National Park we have been too, with a desert environment full of massive rock formations and Joshua Trees. As you drive through the park it is so cool seeing the different landscape and wildlife. We felt like we were so far from civilisation, almost on a different planet. There are so many places to explore. We loved rock hopping, climbing boulders and hiking to the top of Ryan Mountain.
Joshua Tree has several places to stay, we camped at Jumbo Rocks, one of the larger campgrounds in the Park. As night comes and the sun sets, beautiful shades of pink and orange are cast across the rocks. We settled in for the night, under a sky full of stars, so good to be living the Vanlife again. Joshua Tree is such an interesting part of the world, such an amazing way to spend a couple of days.
After flying into LAX, we got our camper van rental sorted and headed to watch the skateboarders at Venice Beach. A display of style, enthusiasm and grace was evident as the local and traveling skaters put on a show. With a huge amount of respect and support we sat, watched, took pictures and cheered on their tricks. The time and years of practice is clear as they glide around the park with ease. Satisfied and in awe we set off for a long drive to do some exploring in Joshua Tree National Park.
Boulder, Colorado has some famous rock formations called Flatirons, which sit just on the edge of town. There are five striking formations that shoot sky high. Hiking up them will take your breath away... literally! Coming from a town in Australia that sits at sea level we are not accustomed to the elevation of the town of Boulder plus the extra elevation of hiking straight up a Flatiron. With the 1st Flatiron trailhead sitting at 5,710 feet and a climb of 1,422 feet to reach the 7,132 foot summit, hiking 100 metres feels like you've run a marathon. It is amazing how out of breath you become, but with lot's of places to stop and look out on gorgeous views, we didn't mind stopping often to catch our breath. Once you reach the top you can't help but sit down and take it all in. With an outlook over Boulder on one side and a view of the other Flatirons on the other it was so peaceful to rest and take it all in.