Tuesday, September 6, 2011

California... Knows How to Party... Californuhuh... Knows How to Partayay

We left Berkeley with an ipod full of new podcasts and high expectations for Monterrey, the scenic coastal views from highway 1, and the nearby wilderness of the Big Sur area. How could anything possibly go wrong? Well, we realized that something was in fact quite wrong when passing cars waved us down while pointing to our sticker-laden top carrier. Aptly named Odysseus, the top carrier plays a critical role in shlepping our camping gear, guitar, and other miscellaneous road trip items. Unfortunately for us, the poor guy seemed to have enough after three months, having blown out one of his hinges. Luckily, we were able to make a quick duct tape fix and move on towards the coast.

Visibly shaken from the near demise of our dear friend Odysseus, we continued on to Paul's aunt and uncle's house in Pebble Beach. From the moment we got there, Pebble Beach and neighboring Monterrey were simply a gas. Gary, Terri, and Marcy welcomed us to their home with open arms, and we were able to see the world-renowned Pebble Beach golf course and the strikingly beautiful Point Lobos. Also, if you are ever in the area, make sure you hit up the clam chowder at Fisherman's Warf for the price of on the house. Seriously. Dudes are just standing outside restaurants slinging out clam chowder to passerbys like its there job (because it actually is their job).

The next stop on our tour of California brought us further down the coast to Big Sur for a two-night backpacking trip. Oh what a trip it was. The views from on top of these mountains were simply divine, the pine cones were the largest any of us have ever seen and the camp sites in the Los Padres National Forest were top notch. The only complaint that we could muster upon arriving back at the car was that the trails were a bit overgrown at times.

Little did we know, a few of our merry travelers had been POISONED! (gasp)

Yes, poisoned. A poison most foul. Poisoned by a poisonous oak plant (after all we've been through with you oaks and other trees and plants, this is how you repay us?). Ben and Kate took the brunt of this hellacious attack from Mother Nature, with Paul and Tommy luckily coming out unscathed.

The fab 4 hit the road north on beautiful sunny coastal highway 1, took a quick (albeit necessary stop) back at Gary and Terry's for some grub and a shower and then continued north back to Berkeley for a Labor Day BBQ at Grace's pad.

We were met at the BBQ by our wayward fifth companion, Sarah. After the good times were over at Grace's, Paul, Kate, Tommy, and Ben, sleeping bags in hand, marched on over to Sarah's boyfriend's apartment for the night. It was then that Sarah dropped the bomb that she would not be continuing on the road trip with us. The four of us were deeply saddened by this news, but after some talking, we respected her decision. The now-not-quite-as-fab four will keep on keeping on, and we all wish Sarah the best with whatever the real world throws her way.

The next morning, we headed out with heavy hearts but our heads held high to enjoy San Francisco's vibrant downtown for the day. First stop, Chinatown. Ben has not shut up about how awesome the House of Nanking is for the entire trip, so he and Tommy had to chow down on their Sesame Chicken, delish. Paul and Kate went for Dim Sum, meh.

The squad then went and explored Golden Gate park for the rest of the day and enjoyed the drum circles, flowers and very pleasant weather for the afternoon. The remaining squad left San Francisco and met back with Wilson who treated us to some amazing Pong Pong Chicken (Paul now has to name his dog Wilson) before we got to Sacramento to kick it with our looooong time friend Matthew Cameron Wambsgans.

Classic Lombart Street pic, a touristy moment for Chief

Matt, his wonderful girlfriend June, and his equally fantastic roommates treated us to 2 days of pool, darts, smiles, and amazing meals. Matt drove us north of Sacramento to the Yuba River, which is such a chill spot. We brought Matt's dog Yoko and kicked it by the river with a couple dozen naked hippies. Par for the course in California apparently.

We waved goodbye to Matt and packed back in to Chief and headed to what we thought was going to be another spectacular backpacking trip, this time in Yosemite National Park. We headed into the wilderness two hours up a dirt logging road with our food in bear boxes and joy in our hearts. We tied up our boots and walked about a mile before it started raining. We put on our rain coats and trudged on. Then the thunder got really loud and the lightening appeared to be very close. Still, we persevered. Then there was a hail storm pelting us with ice balls the size of marbles. At that point we decided to bounce and went back to the car to wait out the storm. The Sierra National Forest was cool and all, but we were trying to do a sweet backpacking loop in Yosemite. Oh well. We hit the Grizzly Giant tree (very cool) in the Mariposa Grove and trekked south to Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks.

Now, at this point on the road trip we have seen our fair share of trees, so it was only right that we went on a pilgrimage in Sequoia National Park to see the widest (General Grant) and biggest (General Sherman) trees in the world.

While all of the giant sequoias in these groves were stunning, in an anonymous poll of the fab four, it was unanimous that the redwoods were the cream of the crop tree wise, beating out giant sequoias, dogwoods, birch trees, etc.

Now, this trip from the get go has been billed as a tour of America to get the 411 on all things associated with our beautiful country. And as any true American knows, Sundays are associated with two words: football season. Because of this it was our duty to go experience this cultural phenomenon by speeding out of King's Canyon to make it to a dive bar to catch the end of the Redskins game. As I'm sure you all know, it was a resounding victory for the skins (hail), something that we certainly had to celebrate the only way we knew how; with a trip to some free hot springs. After a little research, we found exactly what we were looking for in the southern reach of the Sequoia National Forest.

We found a great campsite in the area next to a raging river and all went to sleep with dreams of 104 degree pools floating through our heads. The next day, our dreams became reality at the Remington Hot Spring. Located about two miles west of the Hobo Campground on Kern Canyon Road, which is off of highway 178 a little south of Lake Isabella (theres a parking lot on your right you can't miss it), the Remington Hot Spring is sort of like heaven on earth with three tubs of hot water right off of a river with a rope swing only a short float away. Additionally, at the hot spring there is a massive river eddy, which you can ride upriver only to ride the faster main current back down to the hot tubs. If any of you faithful readers are ever in the area or are looking for something to do in SoCal, we could not recommend this highly enough. (if you dont like seeing naked hippie butt then dont look to the right of this next picture)

After our relaxing hot springs, it was off to LA for some good times with some old friends. We stayed with Paul, Kate, and Tommy's friend Danny Cohen (sorry Ben) in Venice and had wonderful times going out to get beers and even some tacos with Tommy's amigo Isaac Nicholson and Ben's chum Joe Lennarz.

Once we had our fair share of the Hollywood lifestyle, we headed even further south to La Jolla to stay with Tommy's extended family, grabbing some frozen bananas on Balboa Island along the way (there's always money in the banana stand).

Although Uncle Kurt and Alex were both away from home and missing from the Eve clan, Aunt JJ and Kevin certainly picked up the slack, showing us an unbelievable amount of hospitality during our stay. Aunt JJ even rented us boards so we could attempt to go surfing (key word being attempt).

Today we are packing up and heading out to Joshua Tree National Park with Danny for the weekend and then VEGAS on Sunday. Should be a good time. California has been spectacular but its time to head east.