THE CALIFORNIAN DREAM
Hard work and problem-solving is 95% of the job when you own a start-up. The other 5% is why we do it. It’s the excitement of figuring it out and the rebelliousness of not knowing. It’s the spirit of collaboration. It’s the endorphins when it works, and you pull something off that you really can’t believe. The legend that is The California Dream is that 5%. It is the notion that California is an enchanted land where opportunities are plentiful, and creativity oozes from the soil. 2019 is our year of Great Sleep & Big Dreams, Joel wanted to be outside, and I wanted to be in the sun. What could be better than a California Road Trip?
Our first stop: the home of Dr. Seuss and the fat sea leopards. Our Kayak instructor from Everyday California (an engineering student, passionate about using tides to create energy) introduced us to San Diego. He sent us to Hodad’s at Ocean Beach (OB) for a burger. It felt like walking onto the set of Almost Famous - the Newport Antiques, the Harps playing on the boardwalk, the lifeguards with the red canoes. The surf shops loaded with a side of tourist tees and seashells. We fell so hard for this hippy little street that a drawing of the decaying signs makes an appearance on our new collection tee.
The rest of our tips:
A casual hike at Torrey Pines Natural Reserve
Breakfast from the farmer’s market on India Street on Saturdays
We went to Buona Forchetta for dinner and LOVED it.
The botanical gardens in Balboa Park.
Stay at: Hotel Solamar
SAN DIEGO > PALM SPRINGS
Take the long way round by heading North on I-15 until you hit Temecula where you’ll head southeast on CA-79 and pick up CA-371 heading east. Weave along the road through Anza and Ribbonwood heading into the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. As you reach the top of the mountains and start the 3,000ft descent into the Palm Valley, you’ll round the bend and be rewarded with incredible views across the valley which will take your breath away.
Palm Springs was unexpectedly my number one spot of the road trip. I loved the people, the architecture, the heat, the hotel we stayed at, and most of all the Sunday night we had at Pappy & Harriet’s.
Our Sunday in Palm Springs:
Wake up at the original desert hideaway, La Quinta Resort & Club
Architecture tour with Kurt from the Palm Springs Mod Squad
A visit to Moorten Botanical Garden (it’s fantastic, and Clark who owns it is one of the best storytellers I have ever met)
A drive at sunset through Joshua Tree to Pioneertown for live music at Pappy & Harriet’s. I am not good enough with words to describe Joshua Tree and a Sunday night dinner at Pappy & Harriets. It’s kind of magic.
PALM SPRINGS > LA
We first hit Abbott Kinney and got sucked in by the feeling of home (I’m Australian). We ate fresh peaches with burrata and scrummy lamb pizzas at Gjelina and shopped the shops filled with white, blue, leather and stripes. We spent the entire afternoon watching the skateboarders on Venice boardwalk.
We stayed in West Hollywood, a neighbourhood divided by upmarket shops and the old soul rock and roll of Sunset Strip. I put on make-up for the first time so far, and we were convinced to go for a vegan lunch at Gracias Madre, which was absolutely delicious.
Some other favourites:
LA > SANTA BARBARA
Next head up the central Californian coast to Santa Barbara where the Mediterranean-style white stucco architecture gives off a delightfully sleepy energy.
If you’ve got a taste for wine, in Santa Barbara, you will be spoilt for choice. Our first stop was to meet Dave Potter, the man behind Municipal Winemakers & Potek Winery. Dave spent some time learning his trade in Australia before returning to Santa Barbara, so he and Molly immediately hit it off. At Municipal Winemakers, Dave is certainly adding a bit of joy into the wine tasting process. There are no stuffy tasting rooms here, and a far more accessible approach means both his permanent tasting rooms and popup events are regularly packed. Next, Dave showed us around his newest venture, the more upmarket Potek Winery. Set in an amazing 3,500 sq ft industrial space with a brewery and BBQ restaurant next door, this is an excellent place to get stuck for an afternoon.
Stealing Molly’s attention and curiosity was Lotus Land, created by Gana Walksa who was also quite wonderfully known as “the enemy of average”. Plants and trees that were planted by the masses, gaudy shells lining the pool, stones and crystals dotting the paths. Sky-high cactus climbing over a pink house. She adorned herself with jewels and her garden with crystals, lava rocks and seashells. You felt the electricity and easily imagine Madame swanning through the garden, demanding ‘more is better’, which, judging by her six husbands and ten passports, seemed to be her motto in life.
THE LONG WAY TO YOSEMITE (via Morro Bay and Big Sur)
When we were in California, the Ferguson Fire burned through the Sierra Nevada mountains and into the Yosemite Park boundary, closing much of the park and devastating almost 100,000 hectares of surrounding land. So, the first part of our trip through Yosemite was off limits. On the other hand, more than a year after a huge landslide closed the road, Highway 1 along the Big Sur Coastal area opened up again. Two weeks of zero swell had scuppered my dreams of badly surfing my way up the California coast, but it looked like things might be picking up at Morro Bay. I hatched a new plan: squeeze in a surf at Morro Bay, take the very long detour to Yosemite, via Big Sur. Perfect.
So commenced a long but worthwhile detour along this dramatic stretch of coastline. First off was Morro Bay. I think it’s fair to say this isn’t on the bucket list for many people, but the water is cold, the surf is great and the food is questionable. In Australia, I’ve been lucky enough to surf a couple of times with dolphins, and at Morro Bay, as a dramatic fog floated across the sea, I had the surreal experience of surfing with sea lions playing in the waves. It was also in Morro Bay that I picked up a tourist tee from the Surf Shop, inspiring our own Ocean Beach Tourist Tee.
After a few hours, we were out of the water and back on the road towards Big Sur. ‘Take your breath away’ isn’t something that you tend to actually say very often in real life, but in California, we seemed to be saying it a lot. Our drive through Big Sur was no different. If you can, book in advance and find a campground to stay at. If like us, your decision is last minute then don’t panic - there are worse ways to spend a day than winding around the steep hills of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park on Highway 1. It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline I have ever seen. For lunch, or if you’re passing through and want to stop for an early dinner, the Big Sur Bakery is a great shout.
After a long drive, we found a place to stay in Carmel-by-the-Sea. We had no idea what to expect of Carmel, but it turned out we had stumbled into a small but very exclusive little town. Clint Eastwood was mayor here (before actors being mayors in California was cool). It’s the shoot location for a lot of HBO’s Big Little Lies, and that’s exactly how it feels when you’re there.
The next morning, we up and at it and are finally on the last stretch of road to Yosemite National Park. A smokey haze and smell of ash drifted through the park from the fires, catching the light in weird ways and making for a bit of a surreal experience. We checked into Evergreen Lodge and met Lori from the Echo Adventure Coop for a hike up and around the controversial Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and the incredible surroundings. I was determined to spot some bears along the way but unfortunately was rewarded only with bear scat - next time. On the way back, Lori showed us her favourite secret swimming spot, and we spent the whole of the next day sunbathing on the rocks and swimming in the river. Pretty dreamy.
On our last evening in California, we ate dinner, got a bottle of wine, and sat out the back of our lodge watching the sky and smokey haze turn all different versions of pink. Molly’s journal entry from that night sums up that, and our entire trip pretty perfectly:
Sunday, 22 July
Sitting in Yosemite, watching the sun turn the sky pink as it slowly hides behind the mountains. The floorboards creak, and we hear the rustle of bushes and the voices of an older couple as they find their way through the shrubs. We can smell their weed and hear them laughing, hiding from their kids. Our last night in California, is upon us, a scene almost too cliché.
That’s the thing about California. It’s all so Californian you wonder how it could possibly be real? Driving up the 101, the windscreen transforms into a Hollywood production; spectacular slow-motion bends in road-runner roads that take you from vast bay-watch beaches to cowboy deserts, the pink sunset skies which seem to have been altered with cinematic effects.
You can’t help but be seduced by the backdrop, and like the people around you, feel as though it is your duty to play the role of a Californian dreamer. It’s set up for you.
10% of all sales from the Pendletones Collection will be donated to The US National Park Foundation.
A very special thank you to:
For working with us to pull together such an incredible itinerary. Be sure to check them out and build your own road trip.