Pacific Coast Highway RV Trip – Week One
This was the first week of our RV trip to Alaska via the Pacific Coast Highway. In actuality, we didn’t get on the Pacific Coast Highway to get to our first stop, but we will be using it the rest of the way north to Washington state.
Our first week was a short 2 hour, 89 mile drive from our vacation home in Vista, CA to Golden Shore RV Park in Long Beach, CA. Since we purchased our RV in November 2010, we’ve stayed at about 20 RV parks, and this was definitely one of my favorites. The spaces were nice and wide, included a park bench, room to park our car, and the sites were nice and flat. The best part about Golden Shore RV Park was the location. The park is right on the edge of downtown and is within walking distance to the Catalina Island ferry. It also backs right up to a bike path that goes 50 miles to the north along the LA River and also extends to the heart of Long Beach in the other direction.
Saturday was our travel day from Vista to Long Beach. We left our house shortly after noon and arrived at Golden Shore RV Park right around 3pm. We took a combination of I-5, I-405, and I-710 to get there. Traffic was a nightmare as we approached, and drove though San Clemente, but opened up after that. Regardless, I was exhausted upon arrival; there is never a dull moment driving in the LA area with a 43′ RV + a tow vehicle. After we setup camp we took advantage of the rest of the day to grab a very late lunch / early dinner and get some grocery shopping taken care of.
We had lunch on the outside patio at Yard House right in Shoreline Village. For those of you who haven’t been to Long Beach, Shoreline Village is really a gem. It’s a waterfront / marina area that has lots of shops and restaurants. It was a little chilly outside, but they had those little gas heaters to take the edge off. I went with the Ahi Tuna Sliders which were quite delicious.
The weather warmed up quite a bit Sunday, so it was time to break out the bikes. As I mentioned above, our RV park was right on the bike path that leads to Shoreline Village and beyond. We took a nice leisurely 6 mile bike ride from the RV park, around the lighthouse, through Shoreline Village, and then to the end of the trail in the marina. We stopped at several places to take pictures, including the Queen Mary and a cruise ship that was in town. On the way back we also stopped and grabbed some tacos at a stand that was setup in the heart of Shoreline Village.
The weather forecast told us that Monday was going to be the warmest day of the week, so we decided to take advantage of that by going to Santa Catalina Island. The ferry stop was only a couple minute walk from our RV park, which worked out quite nicely. We boarded the 2pm ferry to Catalina, which takes about one hour to make the 26 mile crossing. The first 10-15 minutes are in a no-wake zone and then they open the throttle up the rest of the way. Our ferry back was at 7:30pm, so we had a solid 4.5 hours to spend on the island. This was enough time to have a wonderful lunch right on the water, followed by a couple miles of walking and taking pictures. This is someplace I could really see spending more time at. I would love to come back in September, when the water is warmer and do some SCUBA diving. The water was amazingly clear and we saw several people enjoying some dives.
According to the weather forecast, Tuesday was going to be the last sunny and warm day of the week. We used this day to visit the Huntington Dog Beach, which was about 30 minutes from our RV park. This was my first time at a dog beach and our dog’s first time at any beach. Huntington Dog Beach is truly and amazing place for any dog lover. There are 100′s of dogs running around off leash on a couple mile stretch of beach. Some people were just running the beach with their dogs while others were tossing a ball way out into the ocean for their dog to chase.
Since it was our dog’s first time in the water we really didn’t know what to expect. At first he didn’t want to go in any deeper than his legs; once the water hit is belly he was out of there. However, after about 45 minutes he seemed to care less and less about the deeper water and the waves. Finally, he just kept going and next thing we knew, he was swimming. I almost jumped in after him, because I didn’t know if he could actually do it. They say all dogs know how to swim instinctively – this proves it!
After the dog beach we took Bobby (our dog) to the dog wash. You can only imagine how dirty he was after 2 hours of rolling in the sand and salt water. While he was getting cleaned, we took the opportunity to grab lunch in Newport Beach. We ended up at a little hole in the wall that had amazing reviews called Bear Flag Fish Company. They have a display of fresh fish that you can order and take home to cook. They also have a menu you can order from and eat there. I went with an order of ahi poke, seaweed salad, and a fish taco. Let me tell you, the reviews were dead on – this place was great!
On Wednesday I had a lunch meeting with the guys from InMotionHosting to talk about one of my projects, Website Hosting. We ended up at a place called Open Sesame Grill in Manhattan Beach. They serve Lebanese food and I went with the lamb kabob plate. Since I’m not used to eating a lot of meat, I was only able to eat about 1/3 of the lamb, but I loved it! It also came with a great salad and spicy hummus. Great meal!
After lunch I came back and hopped on my bike for a ride up the LA River. It’s an amazing bike path that goes for about 51 miles; I tackled 4 miles of it, for an 8 mile round trip. I used to be able to do a 20-30 mile bike ride with no problem, but I’m not in biking shape anymore. I could have done 10-12 miles if I pushed myself, but I wanted to be able to walk the next day.
Once I got back from the bike ride, it was time to leave for dinner. We found ourselves right back in the Manhattan Beach area at a place called Salt Creek Grille. We had dinner with some old friends of ours; it was really great catching up with them. We had a great time and it was a great meal. I went with the stuffed Alaskan halibut.
One great thing about being in the online marketing business for the past 8 years is that I’ve made friends with people all over the world. It’s one of the aspects of this trip I’m looking forward to – catching up with friends along the way.
The week to this point was pretty activity filled, so it was time to catch up on some work. The timing was perfect since it was cold, dreary, windy, and rainy. With the exception of a quick walk to a local coffee shop, the day was spent indoors catching up on stuff.
This was our last full day in the Los Angeles area and we spent it by traveling to CBS Studios to watch a taping of Real Time with Bill Maher. Even though the taping isn’t until 7pm PST, they ask you to be in line by 5:15pm PST in order to start processing you for the taping.
We left the RV park around 3pm to make sure we allowed plenty of time for traffic. Once we arrived in the area, we stopped for a late lunch, which lead us right up to 5:00pm. Since we were just a couple of blocks away from the studio we made it right on time for the 5:15pm lineup.
This is where a series of waiting began. First we waiting along the street to get onto the CBS property. Then, we waited in line to have a security check. After that we waited on a bench right outside the studio for about 30 minutes. Finally, we went into the studio where we waited until the show began at 7pm.
We were lucky enough to get really good seats and the guests on the show this week were excellent. The two most well know were Captain Sully and Elliot Spitzer. The wait was totally worth it and I’m glad we took the time to see a show live, in person, that we watch often on on HBO.