Between August and mid-October I spent a lot of hours working on a stream restoration project in Lake Tahoe. The end of the field season was going to correspond almost perfectly with my sister’s trip to California for her work with the non-profit Impact edVentures, a surfing and service trip to Santa Barbara, CA. Well, that trip was called off, but she was still coming out to California to recruit students, so we made a plan to meet up in San Luis Obispo and do some surfing and general coast touring.
I was able to get off a few days early and so I decided to first rally down to the Eastern Sierras Wednesday morning and do some leaf peeping as well as mountain biking and hiking with my friend Tim. The weather was perfect and the colors were peaking. We did a super fun mountain bike ride along lower Rock Creek and a hike from Lundy Canyon up into the Lakes Basin in Yosemite National Park. It was a fabulous and relaxing start to the trip.
Lower Rock Creek aspen grove
Early morning light at Lundy Canyon camp
Hike into the High Sierra – Lakes Basin
Next I headed down to SLO to meet up with my sister and her friend at the Thursday night Farmers Market. I’d never been there and the town was pretty awesome – bustling after the Farmer’s market, there were cute stores and cool bars and restaurants everywhere. We went to bed pretty early so that we could explore town more via bike the next morning.
After grabbing breakfast at Sally Loo’s (AWESOME) and riding around town, we headed out to the coast to the local state park Montana de Oro and explored hidden surf spots and bluffs.
New friend Julie checking out Hazards surf spot.
Coastal bluffs at Montana de Oro
We grabbed some lunch at an amazing Thai place in Los Osos and Nicole and I headed to Pismo Beach to try our hand at surfing. Pismo was sunny and warm and the swell was good enough that we could stay away from better surfers and catch a mixture of big waves and beach break. We both got pummeled for about an hour, but had some good rides. I caught the biggest wave I’ve ever caught only to face plant off the board on the drop in! Surfing is always humbling and must take months to even become an intermediate! I have so much respect for good surfers and the ocean in general. After we were exhausted, we changed and took a walk on the Pismo pier and saw about 10 dolphins playing in the surf, a bunch of huge pelicans up close, and an incredible sunset. We liked this place and made plans to come back the next morning for another session.
The Pelicans of Pismo Pier
Sunset at Pismo Beach
After another fun night in SLO, and a morning surf session at Pismo Beach, Nicole and I drove north up the coast towards Big Sur. We stopped at overlooks and other classic Central California Coast sites.
Elephant seals near San Simeon – 500 of the 10,000 that were on the coast!
Big Sur classic shot at McWay Falls
We scored the last camp spot at Pfieffer Big Sur State Park with just enough time to hike up to another waterfall and set up camp. The campground there has eluded me for years. The first year I went there, it was raining non-stop forcing us to evacuate to our dry homes. 3 years ago, my husband and I returned and it was closed due to flooding damage. But this year, we finally got to camp there, in good weather and it really was a perfect Big Sur site – Redwoods, a beautiful river, nice sites, sunny weather, and quick access to many cool hikes and beaches, like the one we rode our bikes to the next morning – Pfieffer Beach.
Pfieffer Beach is so cool! Can’t believe I hadn’t been there!
Biomimicry at Pfeiffer Beach
By lunchtime Sunday we were in Santa Cruz and at my friend Matt’s awesome property. Waves were small and the tides were high, but we hit up Pleasure Point for an evening surf and grabbed dinner in Capitola before hanging out at the hot tub and calling it a night. Monday morning I woke up to rain and it was time to get back to Tahoe since it was snowing! All in all, it was a perfect 5 day trip. California is full of so many great places that it could take a lifetime to explore them all.