Our California Adventure – Final

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Barb and I at the Telsa factory in Fremont

Down South

On Sunday morning, our fourth day in California, we were packing up our suitcases and preparing for the 250 Km drive south to our next destination which would be the town of Carmel, officially known as Carmel-by-the-Sea. We recalled that we had both stayed in Carmel one time before when we did a driving trip here around 2004 so it’s been a long time since we were here. I honestly don’t remember many of the details of our previous stay here other than we very much enjoyed it and added it to the four places we planned to stay on this trip to California.

We planned to stop partway to Carmel in Santa Cruz to have some lunch but when I was looking at the map on my phone I added a new slight diversion to our trip which took us off the highway in the city of Fremont. What I knew was located in Fremont was the Tesla car factory where my Tesla was built. The visitor’s centre was closed on Sundays but there was a Tesla employee who saw us taking photos and offered to take a photo of the two of us. Visiting car factories is not something that we normally do but when I saw we were almost driving by Fremont it became a spontaneous must-do item on our trip.

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BBQ Joint

On the way to Carmel and after the Tesla factory, we planned to stop for lunch in Santa Cruz and Barb said that it would be fun to have lunch on the boardwalk where they had roller coasters and Ferris wheels, reminiscent of Wildwood, New Jersey where we stayed on another road trip a few years ago. I should point out that the one lunch we had on the boardwalk at Wildwood ranks among the worst food ever so the bar couldn’t have been lower for the lunch at the Santa Cruz boardwalk. Unfortunately, or luckily depending on your point of view, we never got to the boardwalk as it appeared that every person in southern California had also planned to come to the Santa Cruz boardwalk that day so after driving by it we kept going to a less busy part of town to find a place to eat. Almost by accident, we stopped at a BBQ place called Mission Street BBQ and we had one the finest BBQ meals ever. Brisket, cornbread, cole slaw and beans it was sure to be one of the memorable meals on this entire trip.

Wild Temperature

When we finally arrived in Carmel, the first thing that we noticed was how cold it was. Before we left Napa we saw that the temperature in Carmel was highs of 17 degrees, a full 20 degrees cooler than the 37 we experienced in Napa just three hours away. Everyone we’ve talked to here explained that Carmel is in a micro-climate and is always different (usually meaning colder) than the surrounding California south coast. I didn’t plan on these kinds of low temperatures and I only brought one long-sleeved shirt so it’s possible I may end up buying something here while we’re in Carmel for the next few days. We’re both hoping that after we leave Carmel and go to our next destination temperatures will return to more typical of late June in California.

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Us riding bikes on 17-Mile road near Carmel

Exploring by Bike

As we’ve often done when we’ve travelled, we rented some bikes today and explored the area further than the walking that we’ve been doing. Our rental car has remained parked and unused while we’ve been in Carmel and we had no intention of exploring the area by car given there was a very popular bike ride nearby known as 17 Mile. The 17-mile route is a road that runs adjacent to the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Pebble Beach golf course on the other. Both of these make the bike ride very scenic and there are lots of places to stop to take in the views of the ocean. Barb and I stopped for lunch at a restaurant on the golf course and rode just under 40 km. The temperature was still cooler than we expected, about 18 but it was sunny most of the ride so with both go us wearing long-sleeved pullovers we felt comfortable for most of the ride.

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Barb enjoying the oceanfront view from the balcony in Malibu

Ocean View

It’s now Tuesday the 25th and we have five more days in our California Adventure. Tomorrow we will be leaving Carmel and moving on to our next destination, Malibu. Malibu will also be the only time on this trip where we will not be straying in a hotel and have rented a condo. Driving to Malibu from Carmel will also be the longest drive, over 5 hours to drive approx 525 km, making it a long day.

We arrived at the condo in Malibu after making a stop at a grocery store to pick up a few things. We made a point of driving here along Highway 1 which goes right along the ocean, passing several beaches which all appeared to be very busy for a Wednesday afternoon all with full parking lots. The condo’s balcony faces the ocean and the waves can be heard crashing from the living room. Right now Barb and I are just relaxing in the condo after the long drive and utilizing the laundry facilities while we have the opportunity.

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Me posing on Venice Beach

The Beach & the Pier

We only planned to have two days in Malibu so we knew that there would not be a lot of opportunity to sightsee for more than one day, especially since the first day we planned to do nothing after the long drive from Carmel. We arranged an Uber and went to Venice Beach where we walked from end to end and stopped for lunch. Venice Beach has an endless number of people sitting under an umbrella, selling random things and usually blasting some music out of portable speakers. 25 steps later, another person would be selling something different and blasting different music. Lots of people went by either skateboarding or riding bikes and at least 100 stores rented bikes. It was only Thursday afternoon and it must have been 10x more people on the weekends.

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Barb and I on the Santa Monica Pier

We walked the length of Venice Beach, about 3 Km, and we continued walking along the path another 2 Km to the Santa Monica Pier. It was fortunate that the temperature only had a high of 23 as it made the long walk during the day a bit more tolerable than if it was the 37 we saw in Napa Valley. On the Pier, there were many amusement rides such as a Ferris wheel and roller coaster and again there were throngs of people given that it is a major tourist draw in the area. By the time we had our fill of the area, we made our way home and were glad to relax again in the condo.

Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles

Last Stay

By Friday morning we were leaving Malibu and only had a relatively short drive to our final stay in Long Beach, just on the other side of Los Angeles. Or that’s what we originally thought. What we ended up doing was driving back and forth around Los Angeles for several hours, taking in some of the sights before we finally headed in the Long Beach direction. What did we end up seeing? Top of my list was to see Nakatomi Plaza. You might be saying “What’s Nakatomi Plaza”? Only fans of the original Bruce Willis movie Die Hard would know the name of this building, prominently part of the movie’s plot. Of course, there is no real Nakatomi Plaza, in real life it’s the Fox Plaza and not the headquarters of a fictional Japanese conglomerate.

We had one last place to check out in Los Angeles and that was the Griffith Observatory. The reason for going up to the observatory was primarily to take some photos of the Hollywood sign, prominently visible from this high vantage point.

View of the harbour and the Queen Mary from our hotel in Long Beach

From the observatory, it took us about an hour through heavy LA traffic to finally make it to our hotel in Long Beach, our final stay.  We were pretty tired from all of the driving from Malibu and all the side trips we made. We only planned to have 2 nights in Long Beach so it being Saturday, our trip will be ending tomorrow and we’ll be dropping off our rental car and flying home. This trip seemed much longer than the ten days we spent here but we’re looking forward to getting back home again. We’re flying back home from a different airport than we arrived, returning from Orange County airport instead of San Francisco. We did this deliberately so our driving would be in one direction and we figured that the car rental return from a smaller airport would be much easier. Our only concern is that our airline Westjet may be facing a labour stoppage around the time we’re returning home. We won’t know for sure if we’re going to be delayed until we get to the airport tomorrow.

Update from Saturday, June 29: we were notified earlier that our Westjet flight home was cancelled and we’ve spent the past few hours booking a new return flight one day later now coming home on Monday.

It’s only about 3 months before we travel again, this time for much longer than ten days and much further away so I’ll be returning with more blog updates in early October.

By now, all of our photos from Our California Adventure have been uploaded to my photo website.

Until then,



  • Percival Smith

    Very beautiful and scenic. I wonder why we don’t have such places in Canada? I understand you will be back today. Keep well and stay safe. Love, Dad.

    • Baden

      Dad, we were not able to get a flight back to Vancouver today so we will be flying home tomorrow (Monday). We were reading on the news that WestJet has cancelled hundreds of flights so far so a lot of people are in our shoes.


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