If you’re tired of being in LA this spring and want to venture out to other areas of Southern California then San Diego is the next obvious choice! With so many things to do, places to see, the zoos, the safari park, the beaches! Paired with perfect weather it’s the ultimate day out scene. Want to step it up a notch, well if you have the gas and the patience then taking PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) is the way to go!
I have always wanted to drive up the coast of California along the 1 PCH and never had the time or the opportunity, but this weekend all of that changed. I have a newer reliable car, better gas mileage and some money in the bank as a cushion. Also I was set to attend the USMRA National Championship, details on the event to come!
I cleaned the car, checked all the fluids, filled up the tank (mine cost $40-45 to fill) and loaded Beowolf into the car. I needed to keep Valentine home for this one, the size of the event along with number of other dog’s present can be a lot on her and it was just me so I wouldn’t have help to handle her, it wouldn’t be fair to Valentine or helpful in her training to not give her my full attention. Not to mention I was also working as a stand in RVT so even Beowolf would have to be put up if I was needed. Even though it was a quick trip I managed to do a lot! I saw my father who also got to hang out and watch the event, I took Beowolf to Ocean Beach Dog Beach which is our favorite place to go when in town and we got to see some of Camp Pendleton which is my old stomping grounds! Though I would have loved to do more and see more, this was a short visit.
So let’s get started!
To get to PCH I headed on the 405 West to the 110 in Carson and hopped onto the 1 in Harbor City. Firstly I wouldn’t recommend this, take the 405 to Seal Beach. From Harbor City on its mostly Long Beach inner city and residential areas, I feel like I wasted time and gas on stop and go inner city traffic and wasn’t even close to the oceanic sights I was seeking. This was a lesson I learned for YOU!
Stay on the freeway until you get to Seal Beach, from there the PCH is beautiful! We stopped at Starbucks for some drinks and food and I needed to go to the bathroom, so I let Beowolf out to stretch his legs and he got his pupaccino! I saved money here as well, using a Starbucks gift card I got a long time ago, so it was FREE today! When we were relaxed it was off to the second leg of our adventure!
You still go through beach cities like Huntington Beach, Newport Beach (home of my beloved show, The O.C), Laguna Beach (shout out to my girl Kristen Cavallari!), all the way to Dana Point. It was so nice listening to my music on a beautiful sunny spring day driving through the cute little cities with glimpses of the ocean as you pass by! We didn’t stop anywhere because I was still on a schedule and the plan was just to drive the PCH, next time we will get off and hit the beaches or eat somewhere.
This was basically a recon mission, where to start the PCH journey, where the places I want to get off at, and any other little details I made note of as I passed by. Beowolf spent most of the time with his head out the window saying hi to the beach goers on the sidewalk who were equally in awe of him.
Once we passed through Dana Point I decided to hop back on the 5 freeway as Beowolf was getting fidgety and likely had to go to the bathroom again, I didn’t want to stop in the city to try and find a park, but I knew there would be rest stops.
We reached our first rest stop just before you reach the Main Gate of Camp Pendleton, Beowolf stretched his legs and sniffed for a good spot to potty while I stared at the oceanic views that were once my own back yard. I also longed to be back living on Camp Pendleton that was also once my home, but that was another life, still I couldn’t help the nostalgia from sneaking in momentarily.
We spent 10 minutes at the San Onofre rest stop and when Beowolf was finished we hopped back in the car and was ready for the 3rd and final leg of our drive. As it was a little after 1:30 pm, it wasn’t too busy although there was still plenty of traffic. At this point I knew the freeway like the back of my hand, as this was the route I took to get to work when I lived in Oceanside and worked in Mira Mesa. It was like falling back into line, except this time I wasn’t on my way to some low paying job, and I had more entertainment to look forward to.
I made it to Rohr Park in Bonita just before 3:30pm. Most of the set up for the next day event was done, but there was still plenty to do. So I let Beowolf rest while I ran around taping, cutting, hammering, and other stuff trying to help everyone finish in time for dinner. I didn’t go to the dinner with everyone because I wanted to see family, so my father bought pizza and we just hung out with Beowolf catching up on a lot.
So as any normal person would do, they would stay the night with family. However I am a future vanlifer (not nearly ready to start) and need to get the experience living in my car…again. Since the event was set up on a public park they needed overnighters to stay in the parking lot and keep an eye on things. This was the job for me and another girl who came to compete with her dog. Originally the plan was to shoot over to Ocean Beach and sleep in the parking lot there, it’s free and permitted until 2am then opens back up at 4am. A few friends suggested I do that as well as reviews sounded promising, the only risk would be being woke up by police between the hours of 2-4am, though the risk was low as not many cops bother you if you’re not bothering anyone. Plus in my car I just look like a tourist who parked her extra car there, versus a large RV that’s a big target. Nonetheless the sanctioned opportunity to just stay in the parking lot at the park was better, I didn’t want to really do more driving and there was a bathroom right by the car. It was also quiet and more private than at night where there can be a lot of passerby people who could disrupt my sleep.
I let Beowolf out to run around the huge field while I set up the bed in the back of my car and got dressed into something comfortable then it was time for night night. Only 1 parking patrol car drove by around midnight (park closes from 10am-6am) but they didn’t bother me, not sure if they didn’t care about 2 vehicles doing nothing, or if they knew there were 2 vehicles permitted to be there, but I slept like a baby. It was so warm and cozy as I used this new car air mattress I got on amazon. It was easy to inflate and insulate the heat better than I thought, in fact when I woke up the next morning all my windows were dripping from the steam we created!
I was glad in the end that I stayed there, the bathrooms were better than portal potties. I let Beowolf out for a minute and then deflated the mattress putting away our night things and got ready for the beach! We got to Ocean Beach dog beach around 7am and it was already getting busy, there weren’t many dogs though which I was happy about. There is a reason I stopped taking Beowolf to dog parks and that reason stretches to public beaches as well. He has never once started a fight or caused trouble, but not everyone watches their dogs or has control of them, Beowolf can also be a… wolf… which means he doesn’t always come when called either. It had been a while since I let him mingle freely with other strange dogs and so before getting out of the car I gave him a pep talk to be on his best behavior.
He heeded my advice and was a very good boy, though like I predicted he didn’t much want to come when called. He was more focused sniffing the thousandth pile of seaweed to care about my commands (something we need to work on) but all in all he was well behaved and made new friends, he also made sure to stay close by. I managed to get amazing footage of him, but my stupid phone was dying and his reluctance for paparazzi meant I couldn’t get all the shots I wanted! Oh well, reason for another trip I suppose! We stayed there a little over an hour and then went back to Rohr park where it was already packed!
The event was awesome! I got to see friends that I haven’t seen in a while and watch people from our club compete on the National levels which was great, my father stopped by to hang out and watch the event too. Even Beowolf sat with us for a good portion of the day until it was time to break for lunch in which case it was time to put the beggar away. As it grew later in the day I needed to head out, like I said it was a very quick trip, I needed to be back to work the next day and didn’t want to get in too late. My father checked out my car and made sure I was ready for the 3hr drive ahead of us, I filled up the rest of my tank (I never start a long-distance drive without my tank FULL) and headed out.
The drive home was great, later than I wanted so the sun was lower than I like, making it so I must constantly flip back and forth the sun visor for shade. Overall it was as I predicted. I just took the 5 straight up because at this point I just wanted to get HOME! This made it easier too not having to navigate a lot of traffic, just stay in this lane and we’re good. I travel this way a lot as well, my grandpa lives in La Habra and so I take the 5 everywhere.
I got home around 7pm which was good timing for the drive. Bagheera and Valentine were ecstatic to see me, I let Beowolf out to run the property with Valentine while I unloaded the car and got settled into the house. They could use the nice stretch of their legs too, Beowolf with me having jetlag and Valentine from being in the kennels overnight.
We’re exhausted, to say the least, but it was a great time! Even though it was short I mostly wanted to see if I could do it and take advantage of things I’ve been wanting to do. Like, get a first-hand knowledge of Pacific Coast Highway and stealth camping in other places. I intend on taking PCH northbound at a later date to check out those areas as well, likely will be when I go up to Sacramento for my stepdad’s grand opening of a restaurant.
In the meantime, stay classy San Diego!