This could end up being the second longest post I have ever written, so please make sure that you have nothing else to do for a while. Alright, here we go.
So, I finished my trip down the California coast with Sung Eun (who is also called Grace), Sohyung (who is also called Shaun), Lindsey and Keiko. It was great. Really great. I could tell you why, but it is better just to tell the story.
On Tuesday of last week I cleaned and serviced my car. On Wednesday I went out to dinner with Drake and got some advice about what to do in southern California. On Thursday I packed my car, and that is where the adventure began. My plan was to have two people sleep in the car, and three people sleep in my small tent. I decided that, in order to make the tent comfortable, it was a good idea to bring a pad. So I brought the foam mattress from my bed.
As you can see, the mattress filled almost the entire car. Other necessary equipment filled the rest of the trunk, which left only enough space for everyone to bring approximately a plastic bag full of personal possessions. In total, making only the equipment fit it the car took me 3 hours. I packed and repacked 3 times. At 6pm, With the trunk bursting with stuff, I went to pick everyone else up. Here we are, once we finally managed to make everything fit. From left to right: Lindsey, Keiko, Sohyung, Sung Eun and Me.
Now that you have seen the picture of the group, I need to explain something. Frequently, when men found out that I was going camping with 4 girls, they congratulated me. When women found out, I was often on the receiving end of mild chastisement. The truth is that, before we started traveling, I was extremely nervous about being the only guy because I didn't want people making assumptions about me. I was also concerned because I know from previous experience that some more conservative Koreans would strongly disapprove of the girls coming on this trip to begin with. I had originally wanted Manabu to come so that we would not stand out in public as much, but Manabu went back to Japan too soon. Plus, then I met Keiko, who enthusiastically told me that she really wanted to travel around California. I am easily won over by enthusiasm. I tried to hide the fact that I was really worried about seeming sleazy by acting like it was no big deal. Admittedly, there was another, more sexist reason why I was a little nervous about camping with only girls: I know very few women who are any good at camping. However after maybe half an hour of driving Lindsey asked me how I felt about camping with only girls, so I told her, she understood, and I felt much better.
We left Davis at around 6:30 for Big Basin Redwoods State Park in San Mateo County. The drive was a lot of fun. Everyone was smashed into the car, the radio was playing loud Korean dance music, and everyone was taking turns eating and singing along. At around 8:30 we entered the San Mateo mountains and were met by a thick fog and rain. The drive took us through one lane roads surrounded by haunting oak trees, and somehow the conversation got turned to the movie "The Blair Witch Project". Some cars came up behind us, and I decided to let them pass by pulling off the road. My car stopped 5 feet short of hitting a deer which had been standing on the side of the road. It was the first wildlife of the trip. We continued on and finally got to Big Basin SP at 9:30 pm.
It was then that the last of my worries about camping with 4 girls was put to rest. It was raining, dark, cold and late, but everyone was still excited about camping. There were no complaints, only enthusiasm about trying something new. I was very impressed. I love that kind of attitude. Here are Keiko and Sung Eun making the tent.
And here are me, Sung Eun and Keiko in the (barely) three man tent the first night. We were packed very tight, and I ended up sleeping on my side for most of the night. Lindsey and Sohyung slept in the car, and before they went to bed, they laughed for 5 minutes straight for reasons that are still unexplained.
I slept very well. Keiko got a little wet. It was raining, and Keiko had the unfortunate luck of sleeping with part of her head in a puddle that formed on the side of the tent. Well rested, I got up at around 6 and took a walk around the beautiful Big Basin forest.
Everybody else slept for another hour, and then broke camp. While they may not have had much experience with camping, the girls learned very quickly.
Look at how packed the car is! We still had to fit the tent and several backpacks after this!
We drove to Santa Cruz, and when we found out that the boardwalk was closed we went to the wharf, where I finally saw a seal after not seeing any the last two times I have gone to the ocean.
Here we are on Santa Cruz beach. Beautiful day right? Remember that blue sky, it doesn't stick around.
Next, we drove to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was terrific, awesome, fantastic, stupendous, etc. This is a Sea Otter.
Me, in "The Splash Zone".
The aquarium was wonderful, and its message of conservation of marine life struck a cord with us. After leaving the aquarium, we made a bee-line for the nearest seafood restaurant: Bubba Gump's. The items at Bubba Gumps were really, really expensive, so we only ordered 3 things and shared. The food was good, and we had the best seat in the house. At $72, our meal at Bubba Gumps was our most lavish expenditure on an otherwise frugal trip.
We continued our drive down the coast to Kirk Creek Campground, a place that I had picked out because of it's beautiful location on the edge of sea cliffs in the middle of the central coast. Hmm, what happened to the blue sky?
When we got to the campground it was raining slightly. About as much as it had been it Big Basin. Sohyung suggested that we might want to consider going to a motel, but I said I thought it would be fine, as long as we made another tarp out of trash bags and duct tape. The girls spent 15 minutes making the most beautiful and precise trash bag and duct tape tarp ever, and just as we were getting ready to set up the tent, an incredible downpour started. I looked at everyone else, apologized profusely for being too macho, and announced that we were going to a motel. We packed the car lightning fast, and shut the doors just as the rain got even heavier! Here we are soaked to the bone. We had all been wearing raincoats and we were still this wet!
This is a picture of the rain that is about to hit the windshield. Visibility was 20 feet. I drove south at about 20 miles per hour, and watched small landslides inch their way onto the left lane.
We stopped for $4 a gallon gas at a town along the way, then went on the San Simeon, where we found a Motel 6. I went into the Motel 6 and, shivering, had the following dialogue with the receptionist. Me: "Can I have a room for 5." Her: "We only allow 4 people per room, sir." Me: "Is there a rolling bed we can get, or something?" Her: "You can get two rooms." Me: "That kind of breaks out budget..." *long silence* Her: "How many people do you have, sir?" Me: "5." Her: "No how many people (holding up 4 fingers) do you have sir?" Me: "Um, 4, and I can sleep in the car?" Her: "Yes, that's right, but it is very cold in the car, don't you think? Spend as much time as you can with your friends and get warm. It might take all night to get warm..."
And so I did just that. Here we are in the room of Motel 6. All 5 of us, all night.
The next day, we got up at 8:00 and just barely made it to the 9:00 tour of Hearst Castle.
Here is Lindsey, the movie star, looking like she belongs at Hearst Castle. We have a running joke that Lindsey is a Korean movie star and that we are her bodyguards.
The Neptune Pool.
Me and Keiko relaxing.
The indoor pool.
So, in an effort to make more space in the car, I decided to use the tarp and bungies to fasten the massive bed pad to the roof of the car. This is how it looked on day one.
We stopped at Morro Bay for a picnic lunch.
And to fly my kite.
Keiko was really good at flying the kite.
The wind was perfect, but I think I want to get a better kite, one that I can actually steer.
Well, by the time we were halfway between Morro Bay and Santa Barbara, the tarp had begun catching the wind and nearly fell off. We had to roll down the windows to keep it in place. We made two stops to repack it. The second time, we used duct tape to keep the front end from catching the wind.
Finally, after maybe half an hour of the tarp fiasco, we got to the Santa Barbara Mission.
First, we went to the restrooms, and when we got back, the mission was closed for the day.
Actually, these photos are a little misleading. I don't think there was anytime during the trip when we were not in high spirits.
So, instead we tried to sneak into the parts of the church that were still open.
The Korean girls, all Christian, snuck into the church during a mass and were kicked out. Having just left the church, one of the girls (who shall remain nameless), remarked "Alright, let's go to Chip 'n Dale's!" I was a little taken aback by this. I discovered that, in fact, no one knew what Chip 'n Dale's was, and in fact she was only repeating what she thought I said when I announced that we would be staying in Carpinteria.
When I explained what Chip 'n Dale's was, everyone understood why I had been laughing so hard. We got to Carpinteria State Beach (Drake's recommendation). I have never been in a campsite that was this crowded, but I guess in SoCal it can't be helped.
Here we are crossing another river. After the trip to the Redwoods, I have decided that a river crossing is a requirement for every trip.
Carpinteria is famous for natural asphalt, which can be found on the beach.
Here are some of our sunset pictures.
More sunset shots.
Speaking of S'mores, I should tell you about dinner. Sweet potatoes, hotdogs, tortillas, canned corn, garbanzo beans, and Smores. All cooked in tinfoil over charcoal. All eaten with chopsticks. Not your typical American camping experience.
Sunrise on Sunday morning.
Robatalle's Candy, also Drake's recommendation.
We left Carpinteria and drove north on the 5. Made a stop in Buttonwillow, went into Subway and saw the longest line on any Subway, ever.
Here is Keiko striking a 1920's sexy pose with a 1920's era car.
And us waiting for service at Denny's. Check out how annoyed Lindsey looks with me. I am sort of a Paparatizzi.
Here we are on the side of I-5 reattaching the tarp, which almost blew off again. Notice the tape. We used an entire Costco roll of Duct tape to hold that sucker down.
This picture shows well how tired everybody was by the end of the trip.
We got back to Davis at around 7:00, I think. Actually, I was really tired by that point, so I can't recall very much. But everybody got home safely, and hopefully got enough sleep before their 9 am classes.
I ended the trip happy. I really only knew Sung Eun before the trip, but after the trip I can say with great confidence that I really, really like all 4 of the girls. They all have great personalities, and are about my speed when it comes to travel. We travel very well together, because everyone has a different set of skills, and we all watch out for eachother. In other words, I'm planning another trip.