Bay to La

July 18, 2013

I just got back from the most amazing week ever.


This is how it started. I was dreading a wedding I had to attend. I mean weddings already aren’t my cup of tea, but the real reason was because it was so far away. It was either 9 hours of driving or an expensive flight plus 6 hours of driving. Either way I was going to be out $200-$300. So after a long search for cheap flights, I came up with a far fetched idea. Instead of driving 3 hours to fly 2 hours there and back, I figured why not make an adventure of it. The plan I concocted was to go to Berkeley for another apartment hunt (that is a story in itself), then camp down the coast till I reach LA where the wedding was held. Now my boyfriend thought this sounded ummm… inconvenient. However, after some major convincing and manipulation and offering to pay for the gas, he finally agreed to go. We found some places to check out in the city on Sunday, which was a week from the wedding. It was a little longer than I planned we would be gone, but when you are desperate for a place you will go whenever you get a response and appointment.

After checking out some travel books from the library (Best Hikes with Dogs: Southern California, Fodor’s California Guide, and Back Roads California), borrowing camping equipment from a friend, and researching dog friendly camping sites, we were ready to go. The plan was to leave Sunday to look at two apartments Sunday evening, then either start camping Monday or Tuesday. We decided to not reserve any campsites till Wednesday night in case we found any other apartments to check out or, if by the grace of God, we got to sign a lease. After we packed the car Sunday, we got an email from one of the two places we were looking at, letting us know they already found someone else. Not the best way to start our trip. We drive to Berkeley to look at one place. On the drive, I emailed some listings and got a few more apartment viewings set up. We also ended up meeting up with a girl that was on the same hunt as us. She was awesome, but she also had a dog and the chances of finding a place that allowed two dogs was slim. Nothing seemed to be going right.

Monday started off in a huge fight that almost ended our trip and possibly more. After we resolved the issue, we took a break to fly a kite at Cesar Chavez Dog Park. It ended up being the perfect mood lifter. Neither of us had a flown a kite in years and it was much harder and entertaining than we remembered. Viva wasn’t a big fan of the flying kite monster, but that just made it more entertaining.


In the evening, as we were waiting for an open house, we got an email that a landlord was showing the place right then and we could come over and check it out. We hurry over to this apartment to meet an elderly lady who had a two story apartment and a basement that she had transformed into another apartment. The apartment was a little dark, naturally for a basement, but it had plenty of room and a yard! The lady offered us this “kale ice cream” she was proud of creating. I thought it was much better than any kale dish I had made, as for Gabe he was at least smart enough to smile and finish the bowl. Once we left, we went back to the open house. It was swamped with other potential tenants that were all kinds of obnoxious bragging about getting their doctorate degree and the lemon tree they were gonna improve the backyard with when they moved in. Pshhh is your PhD for ass kissing?

Wednesday we checked out an amazing place that was just adorable. It had a teal and red interior paint job and a front yard. Since we had nothing left set up to view, I searched for a nearby campsite. If we stayed close to the area we could come back into the city if we got any responses. I noticed a park to the east of Oakland; so, we headed there for the night. We quickly realized that camping near the city is not the same as camping up North (Redding). We get to East Bay Regional Park campsite and notice that camping here won’t be private or serene. We set up the tent which luckily was quite easy because we lost all our energy on a hike. We then proceeded to make dinner. Gabe had the duty of building a fire, and mine was to fix the meal. They both took the same amount of time. It was an amazing dinner with steak, corn, squash, and beans. True foodies.


The next morning was the iconic blueberry pancakes just like my grandma used to make. Well, other than I bought the mix from a cute bakery in Berkeley. We then proceeded to pack up the car. I had tent tear down duty, which was not nearly as easy as set up. The tent had to fit in a 2ft x 6in bag. After rolling and unrolling the tent 5 times because it was either too long or too short and bulky I decided to hand the job over to Gabe who proceeded 10 more times before we gave up and threw it in the trunk.

Since we didn’t have any emails from landlords we proceeded on our way down the coast. Next stop Morro Bay.


Now, my sister was in Morro Bay recently during her honeymoon and she insisted that we visit the place. Since we brought our lovely pooch, we had to be aware that not all beaches were furry friends friendly. Thanks to a local’s recommendation, we found a beach, North Point Natural Area, where our dog could roam and experience the ocean for the first time. It was so much fun to watch her charge into the water and run away from the oncoming waves. Then she rolled her wet self in the sand and immediately we regretted bringing this selfish bitch.

By the time we hit the road again, it had gotten a little late. We decided to try out a Mexican restaurant my sis recommended, Taco Temple. After a 40 minute wait and a quick run to the store to buy breakfast supplies we shared a ginormous burrito. It was delish and satisfied even my wallet, 8 bucks for the both of us!
By the time we got to Morro Bay State Park it was around 7:30. We drove onto what looked like a Best Buy on Black Friday. The tents were set up on a parking lot that had some sand thrown on it. There wasn’t any privacy or nature in the whole place. We were pissed. Do people really consider this camping? Luckily, we had already ate because this place wasn’t worth the firewood… well except for making hot chocolate. On the upside, we were close enough to the ocean that we ran across a golf course to catch an amazing sunset. Worth it? Shmunset… I want to camp dammit!

That night, Viva reeked from whatever dead sea creature she rolled in at the beach. I drug her into my shower and after we got cleaned up we hit the sack. Viva always insists on being in the middle and under the covers. I’m not the spooning type; so, it’s fine with me.  That and I felt bad because she was still shivering from her traumatizing shower. By 7am we could hear kids screaming and diesel trucks driving close to our heads. We were over that place. We packed up quickly… well that damn tent won’t just go in its home… “You too good for your home?!!” We made a pit stop at Morro Rock, which used to be a Volcano or something before heading to Santa Barbara.


Sitting in the car checking our email for the umpteenth time, I notice that I have a missed called and a new email.

“Hello Gabe and Amy,
After meeting with many amazing couples it was very hard to pick one. (another rejection is what I thought) I have decided I would like you guys to live in my apartment.”

I was hysterical with excitement. “Oh my God… oh my God. Gabe! Gabe… we got a place!! We got the place that was our first pick!!!” Right then I get another call from the same number. It was the landlord lady making sure we still wanted the place…. I’m thinking, “Calm down. Don’t sound crazy. Don’t blow this.” Breathe. “Yes Bev, we are so happy you picked us. Thank you so much. Yes we will be back in Berkeley Monday to sign the lease. Thank you.”

Ahhhhhh. The hunt was finally over. The floodgates open which allowed a carefree adventure to begin. We were so excited and relieved. I was so elated I didn’t care where we were going next.  If we hadn’t found a place by the end of the week, we were going to have to forgo a yard and then forgo bringing Viva. Weight lifted. Back to our now stress-free trip.

Luckily, the further south you go the more dog friendly it was… must be the weather. So, we end up on another dog beach, Arroyo Burro Beach Park. Right side of the beach was on-leash, left was off-leash. To the left, to the left. Since the water was warm enough to wade in, we dragged our poor pup out past the waves. She calmed down when she no longer saw white water.  I wonder what parents feel like watching their kids experience new things? I mean it can’t compare to mine because there was no crying or screaming… just a few adorable whimpers. She then surfed the wave back to shore and wouldn’t let us near her the rest of the time. Then she embarrassed us by spraying the burrito we fed her all over the beach. We had doggie bags, but there was nothing solid to pick up… TMI? Well, Gabe picked out a rock that he deemed to be the most naughty and punished it by placing it over the mess. On to the next one.

We then grabbed Viva some real dog food and some more doggie bags. We wanted to have a lavish meal to celebrate our housing success, but realized we are even more on a budget now. So we just got chicken, shrimp, veggies, beans, bread, fresh pineapple… you know the bare essentials. Poor or not, we are still foodies. We arrived at the El Capitan State Beach which had the correct human to tree ratio. Moments after we arrived, our neighbor informed us that the previous couple had a dog that got sprayed by a skunk. Well at least this meant we aren’t camping in a Walmart parking lot any more.


Even though the campsite allowed dogs, the beach fifty yards away didn’t. Can you believe that? What is a dog gonna do to ruin a beach? Hey, normally we don’t give her burritos. That was just bad luck. Dogs bring so much joy and to deny them the beach is tragic. One hour later we were drinking hot chocolate and Viva took off barking at something. By the glean of our lantern I saw black and a white stripe. Nooooooo!!!! VIVA!!! VIVA!!! Oh noooo… the smell.

Me and Gabe’s response:

“Gabe grab her!”
“You grab her!”
“Feel if she got sprayed”
“You feel if she got sprayed. ”

We really are a loving selfless couple. It didn’t seem like she got sprayed, but it was hard to tell because everything smelled like skunk. I figured if she got sprayed, I couldn’t stick my nose in her coat and sniff away. So close. Too close. We leashed her up. I know what you are thinking, “You didn’t have her leashed before?” We are over-confident parents. More like over-confident people which results in thinking we have the best dog ever. Reality slap in the nostrils. Leashed and next to us three more skunks still came to our site. We yelled, threw oaks balls, but nothing seemed to deter these demons. I think our site was on a skunk family farm. What other creatures that small and herbivorous causes so much fear in humans? I will do anything to avoid them, but why do they have to be so cute?

By the morning we are skunk free. We take our time in the morning to soak up the last of our camping experience. After another delicious breakfast, we packed up. On the last and final day, we were able to squeeze the huge tent into it’s tiny home. What a feeling of success. We conquered camping. Man make fire. (wo)Man take down tent. Huhaha. Beat on chest. Ouch that hurts. Rub girls and apologize.

LA Bound! Now that camping is over we could arrive, however late we wanted, and not worry about leaving anywhere before noon checkout. We decide to take the Highway 1 through Malibu because it’s beautiful and there was a hiking trail, Zuma Canyon, that was designed to tire our fury friend. Well this empty trail was on a 45 degree incline for 45 minutes and we didn’t bring any water except maybe one cup. The view was far from worth it. The best part was knowing that I would lack any guilt in having pizza later. What’s better than guilt free pizza?


Our hiking delay put us back on the road directly in 5pm LA traffic. Awesome… pizza I’m coming. We arrived at Gabe’s sister’s place in Seal Beach at 7:30 and by 8:30 we have acclimated her new pup, Emmy, and our dog, taken a much needed shower, and hit the road for BJ’s amazing deep dish pizza. My sis and her man mix up directions and arrived a little later setting back our eating time till 10pm. By then my guilt free pizza experience was closer to that of a euphoric drug than carb and cheese binge.

11:30pm pass out.

Next day. Guess what we did…? come on. If you have made it this far you should know. I’ll wait. Come on guess. Please just guess. Ugh you are no fun. We went to a dog beach. Now, don’t you feel silly you didn’t get it? This one was in Huntington and no library book was required to discover it. This one was packed. It was a dog cluster. Just so you know the beach looked like all the other beaches in So Cal. Dogs hadn’t ruined it. It didn’t stink. There weren’t dead sea lions due to dog contamination. People were still laughing and having a good time. I think people were happier here than at other beaches. They were here with a purpose other than tanning and checking out the opposite sex. Or maybe people who take the time to make sure their pets are happy are just better selfless, easy going people. It’s worth looking into.


We spent the rest of the evening lounging, which is something I normally struggle with. Now, I’m not a fan of board games either, but Gabe convinced the group to play Smart Ass. This is a game I play every day; so, of course, I win. However, when it got to betting time my team lost and it cost me clean up duties after our BBQ. Did I forget to mention we BBQ’d again. If only I was on the Paleo diet. Speaking of diet I would now like to mention that I only got Starbucks once on our whole trip… Yep. Also, I had 5 green smoothies/juices. I’ve very proud of my self control. Never mind there was a Keurig nearby. Proud.


Dog beach. Yep for the last time. Viva was finally getting used to the waves. The water was perfect and the waves were small. Even Emmy was slowly approaching the water.

We were having so much fun that when I finally checked the time it was 3:45. I had a wedding to attend at 5pm that was 45 minutes away. Gabe, Run! Sprinting in my swimsuit and flip flops with Viva in the lead we made it back to the house at 4. Ready and out the door at 4:25. Arrived at wedding at 5:05. Phew. I almost forgot about the reason for this whole trip. My friend’s wedding was in the Fullerton Arboretum which was gorgeous. After the ceremony and dinner I prepped myself for my favorite part of a wedding… Dancing! Well all the champagne in the world wouldn’t make me go out and attempt to salsa with the experts. I underestimated how Salsa inspired the wedding would be. The wedding couple met at a Salsa club and attend competitions and it appeared that is how they met most of their guests. The DJ gave us white salsa rejects some Daft Punk and Gangum Style to dance to while the Latin dance crew took a break. Oh well. I’m going to only play twerking songs at my wedding. So everyone start taking lessons now.

It is now Monday and time to head back to Berkeley to sign our lease. We make a pit stop for lunch to meet up with my Sis again. I hate coming to LA and not going out to dance…. if only we salsa’d then she could have been my wedding guest…. 2 birds. 1 stone. Next time.

Berkeley why are you so cold? Too late now. We sign the lease after a little misunderstanding. The landlord thought we were moving in that day. Weird I know. I mean who packs up their stuff before signing the lease and checking out the place again? Well if I was moving to NYC I would. August 1 is our move in day. The place is pretty dark and will need some work, but we love it and are so happy to have a place. We even enjoy the landlord. She is a funky old lady that critiques Latin American children’s book for cultural relevance and racism. Yep there is a job for that. She did tell us about this amazing satire of the book Goodnight Moon called Go The Fk to Sleep. Hilarious.

The book reading by Samuel L. Jackson

 11:30pm we arrive in Benicia where we will crash before heading home in the morning. Did I say morning? I meant noon. On the way back the heat temperature rose and we (me) planned our move and reminisced about our amazing trip. I reminded Gabe about having to convince him to come and what a foolish man he can be sometimes. Time for these fools to rush in.

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