Out of the 31 days in March, I spent 9 nights in California. Monterey, Los Angeles, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Long Beach, Corona, San Fernando, Ventura, San Jose, Twentynine Palms - from posh lunch spots to the Mojave Desert, I spent a lot of March exploring California, and I couldn’t have loved every second more than I did.
There is so much to cover, but I want to move in chronological order and start with my mid-month visit to Monterey, California with my friend Noha (you can also find her at www.nohasahnoune.com).
I was already in Long Beach, CA this week for a conference; that Saturday night, I took a $59 one-way flight down to Monterey. Our hangouts have a historical tendency to be pretty legendary, so I expected nothing less from this imminent meetup. What’s more, this would be our first time exploring a city that was not in Texas, as she moved out to CA only recently.
We started our first morning with - obviously - coffee, at a laid-back coffee shop called Captain + Stoker.
Once we were properly caffeinated, we took a stroll through town near the water. Let me tell you, there’s no air as fresh as that on the West Coast.
(What’s a scenic beach location without tossing some sand?)
Jeans found here (under $50)
Our next stop along that same 17 Mile Drive was the Lone Cypress - granted, you can barely make it out standing on the cliff back there. Google couldn’t have put it better: “The Lone Cypress is a Monterey cypress tree in Pebble Beach, California. Standing on a granite hillside off the 17-Mile Drive, the tree is a Western icon, and has been called one of the most photographed trees in North America.”
The next day, we explored Carmel-By-The-Sea - one of the quaintest towns I’ve ever seen in my life. But hear my warning, if you visit, it’s not a place for heels. The roads are way too steep and hilly for that. But we thoroughly enjoyed exploring all of the twists and turns of this small, fancy town, full of art galleries and tiny, fluffy, posh pets.
The next day we went to San Francisco - would you believe me if I told you that Noha and I, the dynamic duo, took ZERO photos of/with the San Francisco bridge? We did, however, manage to rack up a nice toll going over the bridge and down into Sausalito without the proper toll tag.
We strolled around, snapped the Painted Ladies, got nitrogen ice cream, and got some amazing steals at the local Goodwill. Oh, and we struggled immensely with parking - not only the near 45 degree angle we had to deal with, but the outrageous parking prices too. But hey, we managed (shoutout to Noha for her heroic parking efforts) - and it was worth every penny.
One of our last stops of the trip was what I consider to be our “Nohemma Moment.” Sometimes the “Nohemma Moment” is us planning a nice, normal lunch, but finding ourselves in the middle of a biker rally - or trudging through calf-high water in a river - or making friends at a coffee shop. It’s something completely unexpected, but always memorable.
We walked down the docks of a shipyard in Sausalito after a satisfying sushi lunch. Noha wasn’t sure if we were allowed to be there. “Of course we are,” I said. “Look confident,” I instructed. We walked down the docks casually, like a couple of yacht owners, greeting and nodding passersby. Then, from a distance, we noticed something that looked like a….. mosque? We were on the wrong row, so we rushed back to shore, then all the way to the end of the dock one more time. As we got close, someone exited from the structure.
“So sorry, I don’t mean to bother, — is this a mosque?” Noha asked.
“No, this is our house.” A young woman and mother came out, hurried, but seemingly completely unconcerned by us standing there gaping at their home. “Tourists come here all the time to take photos. We’re used to it.” They smiled, then continued down the dock, leaving us to stand and admire the architecture a while longer. A quick Google search revealed the home to be a lofty $9 million. We contemplated the absurdity and the magic of calling this place home a few moments longer before heading back to our home - which was definitely not a houseboat, and significantly less grandiose, but home nonetheless.
It was a wonderful trip catching up with an old friend - and I have to admit that though home feels slightly emptier without a best friend, it’s the memories with that friend that makes home what it is.
Thanks for tagging along with us!
That’s the Creme de la Em,