Our California Adventure was an Epic Action-Packed Trip
A friend of mine Thomas, (yes he's the guy in the workout videos) recently went to Maui to compete in his first half marathon. It inspired me enough to do the same.So I did some research and it's always been a childhood memory to one day go back to California to visit Disneyland.
It's funny, with the energy you put out to the world, and what comes back to you. The next day a friend on set was wearing a Run-Disney t-shirt.
So as usual, I did some research. It just so happened that the last half marathon through Disneyland (until further notice, due to the Disneyland Resort upgrade) was on November 12th, 2017. In Canada and the US, that's a holiday weekend and in film, things slow down around then. It gave me about 8 days off.
A bucket-list item was to drive down to California, do the coast, and complete my first half marathon. Two milestones (or goals) within 10 days, plus a lot of driving.
So it begins…
I left on Thursday evening, packed up my Subaru Impreza, folded down the back seats, stretched a foamy out and created a bed. It was a bit squishy, but I made it work. I left at 4 pm from Vancouver, BC. Got over the border and immediately filled up with gas. It's a lot cheaper in the states for gas than Canada. Gas is a lot cheaper in the States than Canada. (Please take note for a complete tally at the end of this post.)
I drove and kept going. At around 11 pm, my eyes were getting heavy. I pulled over to the closest Rest Stop (not capitalized – rest stop) 45 mins outside of Portland, in Washington. In Washington, you can pull over to sleep in the rest stops. A great note for those of you wanting to save some money.
Coming from Vancouver, I knew that rush hour wasn't pleasant. Especially on a Friday morning, everyone is trying to get out early for the long weekend. So I left at 5 am from the rest stop and hit Portland at 6 am. Ran into a bit of traffic. No big deal though and I stayed on the I-5 and kept going.
By noon I finally passed into the state of California. I said to myself, if I get to LA early enough I can enjoy it a lot more. So I kept going. Past some wildlife, some rainy mountain passes, heavy winds and all. But that didn't stop me. At 5 pm it was just starting to get dark and the rush hour was heavy on the long weekend in Sacramento. I debated whether to stop or keep going and decide to continue. At 11 pm I reached the outskirts of LA, right by 6 Flags Theme Park. I had made it to Los Angeles, California!
I know a lot of you are asking yourself, well why drive instead of fly? A flight would have cost me around $500, plus renting a car for a week, $400, plus I don't really get to enjoy the whole way down. And when you drive, it only costs you $160 USD to get down to LA. I think it's worth it.
I have an app on my phone that searches for Wal-Marts. Yes, Wal-Marts. Did you know that at some Wal-Marts you can sleep in your vehicle in their parking lots? There are very few these days, with more and more are cutting back with parking overnight. But the Wal-Mart by 6 Flags in Santa Rosa allows it. So I slept the night. There were quite a few RV's and semi-trailers already there, obviously doing the same. In the state of California, it's illegal to sleep, overnight, at a rest stop. So you get a little creative.
The next day I drove to Malibu, jumped in the ocean, went for a 12km run, and showered on the beach. Then decided to head to Disneyland in Anaheim. This was the wrong thing to do. Although it felt great to relax a bit, I arrived in Anaheim at 6 pm. It took me 4 hours to get from Malibu to Anaheim. (I should have gone all the way around). Instead of cutting through Malibu, Santa Monica, and on to Anaheim. It was gridlock. So if I would have stuck to the highways outside of LA, it would have been faster.
Instead, I felt the ramifications of California, Los Angeles and it's traffic and arrived too late to check in. **This is a big disclaimer. If you plan to do a Disneyland or Disney World run, walk or crawl, show up at least the day before. My friend in LA told me to arrive early, that's why I left Malibu in a scramble. I arrived late and couldn't check in. So I had to arrive at the race the next day at 3:30 am to check in. However, at that check in, they give you your badge. That's all. No race t-shirt, no memorabilia. Nada. Nil. Zilch. So if I am going again I will arrive much earlier. You should too.
I completed the race!!
First bucket list item complete. I stopped a few times to take some videos while in Disneyland. Just to take it all in. The last time I was in Disneyland I was 12. So it brought back a lot of great memories. Running through the castle. I remember it being a lot bigger. Finished it within my goal of 2 hours. 13.1 miles or 21 km's down.
After you complete the race, this does not guarantee you entry. You still have to buy entry into whichever park you want to see. Plus there isn't a discount if you only want to go for a day. There is a discount for Canadian's if you want to go for 3 or more days. Just go to their website. I didn't have time to waste and needed to get a lot done.
I met up with a friend who works for DC comics as a writer. Boy, am I ever happy that I met up with him. He knew all about the Disneyland app, Max Pass and how to maximize everything. We went on all the rides, got some photos with characters. The best ride would have to be California Adventures, Guardians of the Galaxy. Do not eat lunch right before this ride, you may lose it.
I stayed in an Air BNB for the next 3 nights. The next day I hung out with some actor friends in Hollywood then headed towards the Hollywood sign. There are about 7 different trails to get to the top. Don't go to the observation center if you want to get behind the sign. We got a great view of it. But didn't make it to the top. The next day I met up with a friend in Santa Monica.
The day after, I headed to Joshua Tree National Park. Passed through Palm Springs to try it out. It was the first and only place that I saw a lot of Washington and BC plates. Oh yeah everyone goes below the speed limit too. Really felt like home.
If you've never been to Joshua Tree, don't expect to do some major hiking. I did plan on it but should have done more homework. It's got this kind of eerie energy to it. You have to think to yourself. How did all these boulders get here? Imagine you go to the beach, you stack a bunch of rocks and pebbles in piles. Now, these rocks and pebbles are huge. That's what it's like. Weird cacti, unique plants, and eerie rock formations. Stunning to look at. Took some great photos.
I then headed up the coast towards San Francisco. Wow. Shell beach was cool. Lots of weird wildlife, rock formations, and caves. HWY 101 takes you off the coast. It's not like Oregon, so I mixed it up with HWY 1.
Headed towards the coast and drove all the way up to the turnoff for Hearst castle. It's in the middle of nowhere. It's a sight for sure but it's $25 entry and approx 2 hours. I didn't have time to waste. So I paid the $25, went up in a shuttle and walked around the outside. It is beautiful and breathtaking. I heard the owner couldn't pay the property tax on it so the state took it over. Wow, it's magnificent. That pool reminds you of Vegas mixed with a touch of Greece.
After Hearst castle, you have to go the opposite direction because, in Big Sur, there were 2 mudslides that are 500ft off the HWY all the way into the ocean. The HWY will be closed for about another year. So I did a 4-hour loop and missed Big Sur and Monterey. Just got there at 4:30 pm. This brings up a very valid point, do not do a road trip in November. The sun goes down too early. Passed through San Jose and kept going to San Francisco. Slept in my car at the viewpoint of the Golden Gate Bridge on the Marin side.
Only to wake up to a phone call from my worried Mother, saying that a very dangerous storm was coming down the coast. So I hung out in San Fran for the day. I am glad I did. Absolutely love that city. Just had to run the entire bridge, back and then some. Drove to meet my good friend Omar. He's one of the most talented hairdressers I know. Then headed into downtown San Francisco. Hit as many spots as I could while walking very quickly. Tourist spot to tourist spot in pouring rain and fog. Nothing new for San Francisco, or a guy from the Pacific Northwest.
The Avenue of the Giants
The next day I drove up the coast to the Redwood forest. There are quite a few spots to hit. I did some research and found that “The Avenue of the Giants” was the place to go in Humboldt State Forest. It was magnificent. Not many people around either. Then I drove all the way to Portland… but since that is a different state, that's a different post.
All in all, I spent $400 US in gas. Hit everything I could. Spent $180 US on Air BNB's for 3 nights. I drove 5800kms or 3450 miles. It was crazy. But I wouldn't trade it for anything. It was a trip for the memory book and I checked off 2.5 bucket list items. Yosemite had to wait because in November the park was getting pounded by snow. One of my big bucket list items is to hit a bunch of the major National Parks in the USA. I am only missing Yellowstone in Wyoming, Glacier in Montana, and of course Yosemite, CA. Joshua Tree. Check. California is done. But I'd like to go again soon.