Big Sur and Carmel

Even though we are back from our trip and back to the grind, I’ll finish up the road trip series by talking about our last few stops in California.These were the amazing views that we saw in Big Sur once the fog finally cleared up. What we didn’t realize at the time was that firefighters were battling a large fire not too far away. The fire is still going on right now, 15 days later. We stayed at Mission Ranch, which is owned by Clint Eastwood and has some sheep in residence. Carmel’s flowers stole the show – beautiful! Manya experienced her first roller coaster at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. A mix of terrified and excited emotions. Shopping spree for school clothes at the Gilroy outlets. We also checked out the Monterey Aquarium. One of the top lunches of the trip was the seafood cioppino we had here! Manya is not a fan of seafood, so she had pizza at the aquarium. And finally, a quick stop at the Garlic Shoppe in Gilroy – so. much. garlic. 

Flowers of Carmel. 

Santa Barbara

After Santa Monica we continued heading north and drove through Malibu (no celebrity sighting but amazing views and shopping) on the way to Santa Barbara. I didn’t know what to expect as most of my knowledge of this glamorous town came from an old soap opera by the same name, which interestingly enough was the longest TV show to run on Russian television screens. We picked up some local strawberries as a roadside snack on the way. Amazing Spanish architecture! Can you spot the unicorn at the Santa Barbara Mission? Manya and Peter are at Butterfly Beach here, right across from the Biltmore Four Seasons hotel. We stayed at the Montecito Inn right up the street. Delicious avocado toast at Mesa Verde, a quintessential Californian restaurant. No meat to be found there but very creative vegetarian options. Matching visors – we have embraced the athleisure lifestyle. Our hotel was actually founded by Charlie Chaplin in 1928, so he’s represented all over the hotel.  

This is the front gate to Oprah’s mansion. Many famous people have houses in Montesito, Oprah and Rob Lowe being the most prominent. I didn’t realize that Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch is located about 30 minutes from here as well. 

LA and Santa Monica 

After Coronado we started moving north and stayed for one night in LA (West Hollywood) and two nights in Santa Monica on the beach.    

We met us with an old high school friend and his daughter for a walk around Lake Shrine, a yoga and meditation retreat near Santa Monica. Weirdly enough some of Ghandi’s ashes are kept here.Manya spent two days jumping in the waves at the Santa Monica beach – there is an ongoing heat wave in southern California, so the water  was unusually warm.  The Pier at sunset I​ love the pink sky here. Can you tell which one I want to buy? You can check in anytime you like…

Coronado and La Jolla 

We only stayed one night in Coronado, but definitely could have stayed longer. It was a fun change of pace from the desert to Oceanside. And the temperature fell to 75 from 105! 

We stopped in La Jolla on the way out of town to visit the seals (not the navy kind) and have a little picnic on the bench by the ocean. 

Palm Springs, California 

We left Vegas behind and headed across the state border to the last state left to visit on our list – California. I apologize in advance for the way too many photos I took in Palm Springs, a desert retreat. We stayed at the Saguaro Hotel, which I have followed on Instagram for a long time and was so excited to visit in person. 

The only place to be when it’s 108 degrees in the shade is the pool. And this was a pretty colorful pool. 

This is the famous #thatpinkdoor – it has its own Instagram account!  

I loved how people incorporated desert plants into their landscaping – cactus and palm trees galore. Indian Canyons is a fun neighborhood to explore. 

Thanks for a colorful stay, Palm Springs! 

Vegas, Baby! 

After the Grand Canyon, We spent two nights in Vegas catching up on the desert heat and catching up with old friends. The pool parry scene at our hotel was insane but Manya fit right in! We also made a quick stop at the Hoover Dam. It was very windy. 

I bought tickets for the La Reve show so long ago that I forgot that I got front row seats! It was a cool show, which incorporated gymnastics, acrobatics, water, and fire. 

Arches and The Grand Canyon 

What a difference the desert makes! We were freezing in Yellowstone last Sunday when it was 44 degrees out and rainy. Arches National Park, where we arrived after a 5 hour long drive from Park City, greeted us with a Riyadh-esque temperature of 104!You have to hike up a few miles to the Delicate Arch to get a close view, so we opted for the distant view instead. Here is Peter taking a picture of the Balanced Rock. We stayed at the Inca Inn in Moab, which was a funky little motel with a tiny pool. We ate dinner at the Moab Diner – a great place!Manya got her second Junior Ranger badge here. The next morning we got up early and drove close to 300 miles to the Grand Canyon. On the way we stopped in the Painted Desert in Arizona, where a nice Navajo gentleman showed us dinosaur footprints, to include the T-Rex footprint above. Pictures can’t express how massive the Grand Canyon truly is! Also, I was surprised that my outfit marched its colors – purple, lilac, and pink rocks!