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Cruisin’ {& Eatin’} Down the PCH

The fastest route between Seattle and Los Angles is about 1200 miles and 16+ hours of drive time; however given this road trip is our summer vacation for the year, we wanted to slow things down and enjoy the drive by cruising the PCH. Why fly when there is gorgeous scenery to enjoy? A road trip down California’s coast shows you just why so many people want to live in this beautiful area. The route between San Francisco and Los Angeles is the iconic All-American road trip and described by many travel enthusiasts as one of the best road trips you can do anywhere and a checkmark to cross off of your bucket list. Doing it in a convertible? Even better!

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Traveling in a convertible isn’t too bad on humans in the front seat since we have our sunglasses and a windshield protecting our faces. Little puppies in the back don’t have those luxuries, so we had to take some precautions with the girl including a harness where she was tightly strapped in and the now famous Doggles to protect her eyes. Normally Bonnie hates when we put stuff like that on her (you may remember the reindeer antlers at Christmas-time— only worn for a quick, but much-hated picture), but she seemed to be alright with the Doggles. It even looked kind of like she was smiling at us. I personally think she liked them because she could sit up when we were going at fast speeds and get a whiff of all the interesting smells passing by instead of trying to hide her face behind the seat.

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We started early on a Tuesday morning from Seattle, but instead of hitting the coast immediately we made a pitstop down I-5 in Portland, a city we enjoyed so much on our first visit. On a recommendation from one of Dustin’s coworkers, we stopped at Pine State Biscuit where we had the best Southern-style biscuits we’ve ever had. The sausage gravy they used was also incredibly spiced and pretty much perfect as well. Dustin got a sandwich called the Reggie Deluxe that included fried chicken, bacon, cheese, gravy, and an egg. He also requested a side of hashbrowns in case that wasn’t enough. Yup, that’s my guy! It was ridiculously extravagant and ridiculously tasty. We are seriously going on a chicken and kale diet (after our first trip to In-N-Out of course). I decided to go slightly healthier and just get biscuits and gravy topped with a fried egg. Sorry for the not so great picture, but we were starving at this point and ready to eat!

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As if those biscuits weren’t enough, we stopped by Voodoo Doughnuts because there was no way Dustin was getting me out of Portland without some Voodoo! This time around, we ordered the Marshall Mathers (a frosted cake doughnut covered in M&Ms), the Portland Creme Donut (the official doughnut of Portland— basically a Boston creme doughnut with eyes drawn on for a little flair), a Cap’n My Cap’n (frosted yeasted doughnut covered with Cap’n Crunch cereal), one of Voodoo’s famous maple bacon bars (just what it sounds like— a maple bar topped with crispy bacon!), and finally a repeat of the Memphis Mafia (peanut butter, chocolate, banana fritter). I didn’t intend to get a repeat from last time, but it was enormous and just looked so tempting that I couldn’t leave without it when ordering under pressure. As expected, the doughnuts were all amazing. We both agreed that Voodoo’s yeasted doughnuts are better than their cake doughnuts, and the frostings are what takes them over the top. The vanilla frosting on the M&M and cereal doughnuts with the sweet toppings is a great combination, and the maple frosting on the maple bar is perfectly decadent. Yes, this was an indulgent day, but we were too stuffed to eat dinner, so I hope it wasn’t too bad!

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On the way out of town I stopped by the bakery Saint Cupcake for one of their smoked chocolate chip cookies that I had seen talked about on a TV show. I’ve talked about smoked chocolate chip cookies before, but the cookies I’ve made use cold-smoked chocolate chips whereas this cookie used cold-smoked flour. I grabbed the cookie to-go and it became our dessert the next day as we drove through the Redwoods in Northern California. The cookie had an almost bacon-y flavor, and I can’t even imagine how delicious the combination of smoked chocolate chips and smoked flour would be.

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After Portland, we hit the coast, stopping in Lincoln City and Newport, allowing Bonnie to play on Oregon’s incredibly dog friendly beaches. Our little puppy who was too afraid to run in a lake while we lived in Washington loved running on the sand and even running into the ocean and biting at the waves. She loved it a little too much, perhaps. We tried to keep her from ingesting salt water, but she definitely got some down and gave us a little scare with some digestion problems towards the end of the road trip. She’s fine now though.

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We spent the night at a bed and breakfast in Coos Bay, Oregon, and headed out early the next morning for a looooong day of driving. But before we left town, we hit the Coos Bay Farmer’s Market where we picked up some feta and olive foccaccia, jalapeno summer sausage, and the best fresh blackberries I’ve ever tasted for a picnic lunch at the beach in Brookings, Oregon, right near the Oregon-California border.

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Once we officially made it in to California, we drove through several state Redwood forests. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do any hikes since we had the pup, and dogs are prohibited. But we had a great time looking directly up at the trees while we were driving (perks of a convertible) and eating the previously mentioned smoked chocolate chip cookie. We’ll definitely be back again to explore this area more thoroughly. There was lots of love from Bonnie in the Redwoods though.

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The drive from Coos Bay to Sonoma (our destination for the evening) was a long one, and probably the only uncomfortable day of driving on our trip. We didn’t stop much and those last 100 miles or so, we were really ready to get out of the car. We stayed just outside of Sonoma where the wine country hotel prices were a little cheaper. We were exhausted and ready to eat without any pretensions. Fortunately, there were a ton of taco trucks on the streets near our stop, so we popped open a bottle of wine, grabbed a plate of authentic tacos and scarfed them down on our little patio. It was a pretty cute way to end a long and tiring day.

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The next morning we got up, went for coffee and pastries, and took Bonnie to a dog park in Sonoma to get a little of her craziness out before a day of visiting wineries. We started out the morning at Sebatiani because we heard their grounds were dog friendly. Well we just went in and asked, and they said that as long as Bonnie was leashed and well-behaved she could come in the tasting room! We actually found this to be true at all of the wineries we ended up tasting at, so it seems as though California wine country is a pretty dog friendly place in general. Good to know for future trips! Next we stopped by Buena Vista and Bartholomew Park for tasting. We really enjoyed a unique chardonnay at Buena Vista, and Bonnie even made a friend  at Bartholomew from a family who was actually on a road trip moving to Seattle.

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We took a little break from wine and visited Three Dog Bakery where we stocked up on treats for the puppy. She was a lucky little girl— cakepops, carrot cakes, cannoli, and more.

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Following our trip to the dog bakery, we drove to Napa for a late lunch and had a peach salad and a BLT pizza on the patio of an Italian bistro. After lunch, we hit two more wineries, Clos du Val (super dog friendly) and Regusci, where at Regusci we sample (and purchased) a wine with grapes from vines over 100 years old. Dustin drove us home to Sonoma on the Oakville Grade, a fun and windy road. Then we rested until it was time for dinner at LaSalette Portuguese restaurant where we shared several courses.

Friday morning we headed to San Francisco (my first time in the awesome city) where we stopped for obligatory pictures with the Golden Gate Bridge and ate clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl and a crab sandwich on Fisherman’s Wharf. We couldn’t tell if the museum with all of the old time games was dog-friendly, nor were there any employees to ask, so we took her inside anyway and enjoyed some fun.

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We walked over to Ghiradelli Square for a world famous sundae. This made for a happy boy.

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Then we explored some of the neighborhoods in the city cruising around in the convertible since the sun was starting to peek out. We hit Alamo Square Park from which you can see the Painted Ladies, the house featured in Full House, my favorite TV show as kid. Great moment of nostalgia. I love Bonnie rolling on the grass in front of them.

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We left San Francisco before rush hour making a stop at Stanford to let Bonnie stretch her legs as we walked around  the beautiful campus. Rice is still better though!

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We also stopped by Apple’s campus in Cupertino. Traffic in Cupertino sucks. We hit it right at 5, and we regretted our decision to stop by Apple. We couldn’t even find parking on our visit to Infinite Loop. I managed to snap this picture out of the side of the car. I told you convertibles were useful.

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The San Jose traffic in general was pretty horrible, but we finally made it to the Monterey area where we stopped by Tarpy’s Roadhouse, an eatery with their own dog menu that included a $35 steak. That was way more than our entrees cost! Bonnie ate the chicken and veggies instead. She was a little unsure about the veggies at first, but once the princess was fed by hand, she decided they were ok to eat.

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The following morning we drove around the Monterey peninsula to do the 17-Mile Drive around the gorgeous Pebble Beach golf course. This is where the great views really started. After that lovely, leisurely drive we stopped in Carmel where they have picturesque white sand on their dog friendly beaches and also grabbed some sandwiches for lunch.

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Then we hit the road, top down, and drove up and down windy roads with stunning views of the Pacific, and sometimes kind of scary drop-offs. It was breath-takingly gorgeous. We kept on driving and hit Avila Beach near Santa Maria, then headed to Santa Barbara for dinner at the Brewhouse with another dog friendly menu. This one was more reasonably priced, so Bonnie got some burger sliders. After dinner it was a short drive to Ventura where we were closing in on our destination of LA!

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The last day of the trip was super short through Malibu where we got delicious fried seafood at Malibu Seafood Company and some gelato (salted caramel, strachiatella, and pistachio) from a pretty good gelato chain in Italy with a few select locations outside of Italy. Pretty good gelato in Italy translates to great gelato in the U.S.

12.5 miles later, we arrived at our new apartment in Los Angeles. We did the obligatory first-day-in-a-new-place-trip to Target to buy toilet paper, cleaning supplies and all that jazz, then we came back to our place, ordered a pizza (our tradition for the first night in a new home), and crashed on our newly purchased air mattress. We didn’t have sheets, so I used Dustin’s jackets to cover me.

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We were all pretty tired as you can see, trying to catch up on sleep to be ready to start our new life in California!

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