i don’t know how deep i was in the veronica mars rabbit hole before realizing that this pch thing is actually an acronym for the pacific coast highway. with these west coast vibes running in my veins, i’ve been throwing around the acronym like it’s my job. probably cause i desperately want to be a local. either way, the T R U T H is that the pch really is as amazing/glorious/magnificent/awe-inspiring as everyone claims. as i sit and type this, i honestly am wishing that feeling were a language, because i’m struck with the realization that i have little idea how to share the emotion of this sacred, spiritual road.
i can say this. i started in LA one woman, and two days later i landed in SF as someone with new dreams.
santa barbara was fancy, y’all. you could just feel the california wealth oozing out of this place. it was a kind of laid back wealth, nothing like a big city. a more quiet wealth. but boy was it there. so… what did i do? i went to the mission and tapped into a spiritual place of healing. i did my daily personal development, which happened to be on relationships, on a bench in front of this beautiful fig tree surrounded by couples walking by and taking in the quiet beauty of this place. talk about divine intervention, right?
SAN LUIS OBISPO || SLO
this little town with its rolling hills and happy folk stole a little piece of my heart. if i was from the west coast, i imagine i would have found myself here for college at cal poly. i walked around the heart of main street petting puppies, slipping into boutiques, and even stopping by the local day of the dead festival. i saw toddlers slurping down on watermelon + cucumber slices, splashing in fountains, and dancing unabashedly to the mariachi. can you just feel that energy? so light, so humble, so free.
i wish we could view all animals in their natural habitat like this! let’s just say seals are playful and sassy!
i stopped in grover beach for the night at a adorable little airbnb hosted by three lovelies originally from pensacola, florida. a coffee grinder. a baker. a juicer. can you imagine all the yummy things they must get into? i felt the vibe for the people here – the people just far enough north of LA to still feel spicy, but not salty. the people here were awake, alive, but also rooted. i believe it’s that earthy feeling that comes with being so close to the sea. it’s scary with immensity, but also comforting in its rhythm.
big sur is a unreal. it was so humbling being in this space of beauty, grounded with my toes in the sand. i wish i could have taken you with me, because the pictures don’t truly represent its majesty.
CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA || MONTEREY
i spent so little time here, but i really internalized the charm of these spaces. carmel-by-the-sea is this little quaint area with super ritzy stores. it felt like walking through an oxymoron. don’t get me wrong – it was so cute! but i felt simultaneously comfortable in my own skin and uncomfortable in this setting. it didn’t feel like a destination for people like me.
you’ll find the combination of wine tasting + art gallery full to the brim with retired couples on every corner. there are endless plates of italian food on little patios straight out of lady and the tramp. devouring these fancy pasta dishes and tiramisu are young couples with kids or those retired couples i mentioned [probably before they go drink the night away]. i stopped by the beach here and saw much of the same – older couples making out [yep.] or kids
screaming taking selfies playing by the ocean.
monterey, by contrast, was much younger. i saw a lot more people my age either coupled or with friends. the most formative thing i did in monterey was stay in a hostel, where i again felt simultaneously comfortable and uncomfortable. but that deserves a post unto its own.
i drove inland a bit for my last night before heading to SF. i found a converted bus on airbnb, and was ALL IN. how fun, right? the host couple was so nice, and their little dog ginger helped ease my i-miss-juniper pain. it was a few miles outside the tiny town of salinas, with a driveway 1/2mi long. there were dogs and cats running around everywhere on the dirt roads. it made me feel closer to my dad in a way, who grew up in northern california on acres of land. this part of the journey was totally solo – kind of like how my dad grew up. no friends with me. no friends in the area. it was a quiet little retreat in salinas, but pops, how the heck did you grow up for years in a space so lonesome?
SO. WHAT DOES IT COME DOWN TO?
i recognized the blessing that we have in our country to be able to choose so many different lifestyles because of the different spaces available to us…
a twinkly, cheerful, upbeat town like SLO
a laid back, no frills seaside like grover beach
a deceivingly swanky village like carmel-by-the-sea
a quiet, peaceful, backwoods vibe like salinas
having this journey made me realize how where we live can impact our lifestyle to an extent that i never imagined. as the journey continued i became bolder and bolder in what kind of lifestyle i want – one that i hadn’t imagined – one that i *never* would have guessed i wanted.
stay tuned, lovelies.
mad love, j