California

Stepping Back in Time!

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A great tip I’ve learned during my travels is always talk about your travel plans with others because you never know what information that person may share. For instance, I was talking with a former coworker over a lunch catch-up on my plans for going to Santa Barbara for the weekend and she told me I had to go to Cold Spring Tavern for their amazing chili. After our lunch I Googled the restaurant and was immediately sold on visiting. I might not have ever known about Cold Spring Tavern if not for my lunch date! It’s such a unique and cool place that it gets its very own blog post!

[I’ve written about Santa Barbara before so feel free to check out that post here!]

Cold Spring Tavern might be as close as one can get to traveling back in time to the Old West in California! I get the same feeling when I visit Death Valley that time has frozen here to allow us a peek into the harsh and often romanticized life of the Old West. The Tavern was established in in 1865 as a stagecoach rest stop where travelers could rest their horses and themselves while enjoying a warm meal. The need for a way station began after the new turnpike over the San Marcos Pass was constructed in the 1860s to make transporting easier through the Santa Ynez Mountains. The pass became a vital route connecting Santa Barbara with the rural areas in the mountains, and Cold Spring Tavern was a significant staple on that road and continues to comfort travelers today!

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NorCal in One Awesome Weekend!

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It wouldn’t be a Kayla trip without cramming in as many activities as possible in a short time frame. I’ll sleep when I’m dead! Seize the day! You only live once! These cliched phrases are my mottoes when I travel. I never know when I’ll be back to a certain place so I want to see as much of it as possible while I’m there. And my recent trip to San Francisco was no exception to my rule.

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Catalina Parte Dos

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Go to Catalina on your birthday. Seriously. It’s like a mecca for birthdays! This year I spent my birthday on Catalina Island and it was probably one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had, and not just because of all the free services and gifts! Almost exactly four years ago I visited the charming city of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island (or just Catalina for short), which is part of the Channel Islands of California, and now I’m back for some birthday celebrating!

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Southwest Road Trip, Part 3: A Day at the Races

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This day was spent at the racetrack! Albeit the slowest race on Earth, but it was a day at the races nonetheless! Alright, I’ll stop speaking in vague terms lol. The sailing, or moving, stones at the Racetrack in Death Valley National Park have long been a mystery for both scientists and interested parties since their discovery nearly a century ago. I myself have been intrigued since I saw a program on the History Channel when I was a kid and finally got to check this sight off my bucket list! This is actually my second time at Death Valley National Park in the past year. And there is still so much to see and do I can’t wait to go back a third time. When I was in Death Valley a year ago I was not able to visit the Racetrack. But this trip I properly planned for the grueling drive to the Racetrack and it’s truly a one in a lifetime trip that was a childhood dream come true for me!

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Classic California

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If you google (that is an official dictionary word now, sorry Yahoo and Bing) “best road trips”, you will be hard pressed to find a list that does not include the California Coast. The Pacific Coast Highway (aka Highway 1, aka the PCH) is a must for everyone’s bucket list and a once-in-a-lifetime trip! Literally it is probably a once-in-a-lifetime trip because the scenery might be some of the most breathtaking and gorgeous landscapes I will ever see, but the winding PCH is a slow, car-sick inducing, sometimes scary drive. But let’s not focus on the ONE negative here otherwise I would be doing a crappy job of convincing you all to take this amazing road trip. I mean you can’t get to the incredible Machu Picchu without traveling on rough roads or hiking strenuous trails to reach that far off the beaten path site!

I have actually driven the PCH twice in my life now, so it’s been more than once-in-a-lifetime for me! [I’m an over-achiever like that.] The first time was on my drive to San Francisco in 2011. The California Coast is truly an exhilarating drive that offers constant breathtaking views. Make sure your camera has lots of memory space for all the gorgeous vistas! My friend Hillary (and co-host of my other travel blog) and I wanted to explore central coastal California, specifically Big Sur, and we set out for a four day adventure we titled our “Classic California Road Trip”!

Highway 1

California’s Highway 1

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Off the Paved Path

If you had asked me six years ago if I enjoyed hiking I probably would’ve given you a “are you serious?” look. Honestly I’m not even sure I went on a legitimate hike until my first true camping vacation in the great outdoors in the summer of 2008. I spent six days rafting down the Green River and Colorado River in Cataract Canyon and experienced my first challenging 1200 foot hike up to the Dollhouse. That hike was an incredible experience, full of rookie mistakes such as awful blisters and not bringing enough water, but I think it was a subtle turning point in my life where I connected more with nature. From then on I visited several Missouri State Parks and walked/hiked to some great sites, and my interest in hiking has only risen since my move to the beautiful state of California.

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From mountains to desert!

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Snowboarding + a ghost town + Vegas in one vacation…why not! I am a mulit-tasker and overachiever, so when I find myself mere hours away from various adventures I want to explore them all!

Hillary flew in from Texas to join in on this hodge-podge trip, and we accomplished it all in a four day time frame. Life is short and unexpected so I want to seize every opportunity when I can! At least that is my motto for now. 🙂

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Heading West, Part 3: California

Just me and a crater in the hottest place on Earth!

California, baby! We made it on Tuesday night, Day 6 of our road trip, to Death Valley National Park in California. I’m not sure how many people choose to enter California via Death Valley but that’s how I like to roll: off the grid and a little different. And who knew that Death Valley was such a cool (eh eh, lol) place to visit! There was one place in Death Valley called The Racetrack that I’ve wanted to see since I saw a program on the History Channel years ago, but I never realized there was so much more to do in Death Valley. My enjoyment of Death Valley was also helped by the fact that we were NOT visiting in the summer and the high was only 99 degrees in late September. Really, that’s not bad all all since there was a decent breeze too. We also woke up early to get a head start on the day and we left Death Valley by early afternoon before the hottest part of the day.

[This is the final installment to my grand road trip, so if you haven’t read the first two posts, click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2. Hope you enjoy my ramblings!]

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Venice Canals (and I only had to travel 30 miles to “Italy”!)

Me at the canals

Last weekend my friend Hillary and I met our friend Caroline in Venice for lunch (at my favorite restaurant, Lemonade) and decided to finally seek out the Venice canals. Since moving to LA, I’ve wanted to see the canals, but I don’t come to Venice very often and thus it’s taken me 2 1/2 years to finally visit the canals.

Our first stop, or course, was food! We dined at one of my favorite restaurants, Lemonade. There are several locations throughout Southern California, but we ate at the one on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice. Lemonade is set-up buffet style, in a way, in which you pick out sides, sandwiches, soups, meats and/or dessert and you can either dine in our take to go. Lemonade is described on their website as “seasonal Southern California comfort food” which is a pretty good description. My favorite is their chicken chili! And the reasons I love Lemonade are all the healthy options AND its affordable! Win! Obviously they also offer delicious and unique lemonades to drink, such as Blueberry Mint, Pineapple Coriander, Passion Fruit Pepper or my favorite, Blood-Orange. If you are feeling less adventurous they also offer classic old-fashioned lemonade.

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Malibu Pier

Malibu Sport Fishing Pier

Once called the Riviera of America, Malibu is a beautiful coastal city that consists of a 21-mile strip of winding Pacific coastline. Malibu provides a unique scene to California because it is approximately the location where the coastal landscape changes from wide open beaches to more rocky terrain and also where the beach climate significantly cools. A historic landmark of this idyllic California beach town is the Malibu Pier, which I had the opportunity to revisit last weekend. And a storm was rolling in when I visited the pier so the clouds provided an amazing view!

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