PCH Road Trip: Seattle to San Diego

The Pacific Coast Highway, commonly known as the PCH, is a stretch of road that covers 656 miles along the Pacific Ocean.

And I want to drive that sucker from top to bottom.

A simple text from a friend ignited this specific trip planning. She merely said she wanted to travel somewhere together, but I got so excited at the thought of planning a vacay, I go into hypermode.

Immediately my mind is racing, “What can we do that is Covid Kosher?

Rooooad trip! Road trips are totally Covid Kosher, and if we travel somewhere that has consistently great weather, we have the option to camp (or glamp) to further minimize our impact.

Driving wise, I immediately think of the PCH.

I truly adore the West Coast. My first taste was a work trip to Seattle that lasted nearly three weeks, and I drank it all in. Mt. Rainier stole my heart, the Pacific Northwest Pine Trees gave every other tree I’ve ever seen in my life a run for their money. I was hooked and could easily see myself bouncing from NYC and shipping over to Seattle for a few years.

Then a few more work trips over the last few years have sent me to LA, Santa Monica, Malibu, & Santa Barbara causing me to get even more hooked on the West Coast. Basking in the beachy vibes, the views, but most importantly – the PCH drives through Malibu. Holy crap were these drives nothing short of enchanting. I often had a hard time focusing on the road and found myself distracted by the mountains to one side and the ocean to the other. It felt surreal, just to consistently be driving by such iconic views.

So in sorting out what made sense for this road trip, I took what I’ve seen, what I’ve learned from additional work-related research, and boom – the below locations were decided.

PRO TIP: make this trip international by making your start Vancouver and your end Baja

. . .

Now, here is where things get a bit different with this article. I’m not going to breakdown my personal plans for each city and give you insight on my research, blah, blah, blah. No, I’m going to ask you to come with me on this journey.

Whether it be metaphorically, or physically – I want you, curious reader, to help me plan out this trip.

I’ve started an excel document which you have full access to in order to make this a shared process. I encourage you to add in some links to must see spots in the cities we’re visiting – whether it’s tourist traps, hiking trails, cool shops, great bars, or hole in the wall restaurants… drop those links in! Maybe add in suggestions that some cities deserve a longer visit… it’s up to you!

You might be wondering, “Why would I meddle with her travel documents?” Guys, I have an original copy with my intended plans, but I want your recs too! Maybe this is the first step in your very own PCH road trip with friends or family and this can be a resource you guys use 😉

Click here to go to excel

**excel tip: in order to stay in the same box, but get text to drop (list like formatting) hit ALT+ENTER and it will start a new line within the same cell (best for if you want to add any notes to your recs)

Click here to go to google maps

Weekend Escape: Road trip to Salem

“I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!”
“Oh, look. Another glorious morning. Makes me sick!”
“Vanquish demon first, kill husband later.”
“Relax…it’s only magic. Now who’s pathetic?”

Witchy quotes to intro into a witchy post. October 2019 Zoe and I decided we absolutely had to embrace our witchy vibes and head to Salem, Massachusetts. Our souls were craving magic, spooks, and to be smacked in the face with with the crunchy smell of fall.

Salem delivered.

Our journey starts on a Friday afternoon, we’re a bit more organized for this trip than the Montreal weekend trip – we leave about the time we say we’re going to and we get to the hostel at a decent time that evening. The drive time was a little over 4-hrs with traffic.

So this is where I’ll level with you, our hostel in all reality is more or less a halfway house. We picked up on those vibes rather quickly as nearly all of the lodgers are an older crowd of folks that are a bit…permanent to the property. That being said, this place was so cheap – and available – that I’ll stop complaining there.

Wait, one last complaint – the old dudes smoked right outside our window shootin’ the shit at all hours and it was near impossible to sleep…that was actually the worst part.

Now back to the fun parts 🙂

The weekend we were in Salem was the weekend before Halloween so you bet that it was crowded and had a plethora of stuff going on. There was a sick Dark Arts Festival held in the evening in the Old Salem Village, and my god it was Chilling Adventures of Sabrina vibes to the max.

I mean just check these vibes:

We also attended a witch trial reenactment, learned about our past lives, our futures, and we went to a midnight seance hosted by mentalist Jon Stetson.

I will say, the seance was cool, but Zoe and I spent like $60 each and thought it was a real seance we were going to. We completely overlooked the keyword “mentalist” which basically is a dude who is incredibly observant of human behavior and has set up specific situations which have a guaranteed result.

He ended with openly saying everything was fake and then used his platform to talk about his life struggles and perseverance.

Which kudos to him, but we thought we were going to be talking to dead people, not messed with mentally and then lectured at the end.

So major advice – don’t rush-book a seance if you want to experience something quality. But totally book this guy, or others of the like, if you’re a scaredy cat but still want to feel like you did something spooky.

Weekend Escape: Road Trip to Montreal

Sometimes New York is just too much.

It’s too busy, too hectic, the amount of people can be suffocating.

Did you think that I never get tired of the city? That I don’t miss the rolling hills of corn you pass while flying down country roads, windows rolled all the way down? A quietness so immense you can hear a mouse fart?

Of course there are days that I miss it, it’s where I was born and raised.

Most New Yorkers also hit a point when they need out of the city, just a little break, and three day weekends are the perfect opportunity to do just that.

President’s Day weekend 2019 Zoe and I decided to rent a car and road trip it up to Montreal with a few New England stops on the way. Seems like a great, straight forward endeavor right?

LOL.

We had this perfectly planned out trip where we depart at 12.00 p.m. on Friday, hit Providence, RI [drive time of 2 hours from my apartment] to take a peek at what it’s all about, then we go to Boston [drive time of 1.5hrs from Providence] for dinner, then Montreal [drive time of 5.5hrs].

So in total, this trip should’ve taken 9 hours, plus 1.5 for dinner and stops. I created a mapped out google doc that said so.

How long did it actually take us?

OVER THIRTEEN HOURS.

So what caused this delay?

Let’s list it off:

  • Right off the bat, our start time was off, we didn’t leave until 3:30 p.m.
  • Traffic. Traffic. Traffic.
  • Boston has a massive underground tunnel system not for the weak of heart or sensitive GPS systems. I kid you not Boston might as well have its own world underground – it felt kin to that of a Purgatory. Will you make it out of the tunnels? Only if God allows.
  • Last but not least, we took quite a few fresh air stops to awaken our tiring souls

Boston was such a hot mess getting to, realistically we should’ve given up [we really were tangled in those tunnels for so long..] but the level of determination to see Boston was intense.

That being said, when we finally made it, we were enchanted. It was so quaint.. so charming.. it’s been decided a formal trip needs planned there asap. Boston is deserving of it’s own weekend.

Now.. the next moment to highlight the level of delirium..

THE BORDER.

Picture it: It’s 4:00 a.m. and two twenty-somethings, who have been driving for nearly 12 hours, approach the border.

It’s intimidating and doesn’t make sense.

As we approach, there is a sign that says, “WAIT TO PULL FORWARD UNTIL SIGNAL

Frantically, we’re both looking for a signal of sorts – a light maybe??

Then we see an arm extend out of the building ahead, motioning us forward.

Signal?!” we whisper to each other frantically.

So I inch the vehicle forward and we’re faced with a stern looking officer who quickly bombards us with the questions, “Where are you coming from? Why are you visiting? Who are you visiting? Where are you staying? Whose car is this? When are you leaving?

We answer them all reasonably enough, then we get our passports back – all good to go!

So I hit the gas, but the car isn’t moving…

I push the pedal harder, harder, to the floor. The engine is revving so loud in the sleek Dodge Charger but we aren’t moving…

What kind of Canadian border magic is this?!” I wonder.

Then, I assess the car in more detail.

I 100% forgot that I put it in park.

Then it clicks – I just revved my engine at a Canadian Border Patrol Police Officer.

Oh my god.

In the US, a rev of the engine is considered a challenge – what if it’s the same in Canada or what if it’s worse??

I turn to look at him, my mouth open and eyes wide in shock, I owe him some kind of explanation for my weird behavior, right?

I, uh, forgot the, uh” I say rather intelligently while looking between him and my dashboard.

It’s okay.” he stifles a laugh.

While Zoe is next to me whisper-yelling, “DUDE GO GO GO GO BEFORE HE DOESN’T LET US IN!

Queue my zoom out of there.

So that’s how we made it into Canada.

The rest of the weekend was spent stuffing face with various poutines, all the coffees, beaucoup de franglais, hating the way they all say deux [they say it like dur], too much wind in the arctic tundra for us to handle at times, more shopping than our bank accounts would like, and we both got tattoos.

Below are key locations of our weekend 🙂

STAY

Samesun Hostel book on HostelWorld

Samesun Hostel | Montreal, QB

We stayed at Samesun Hostel which was incredibly affordable and if it cost anymore than what we paid I’d be bitter af.

We arrived around 4AM, the guy seemed to have a hard time understanding what was going on and why we were arriving when we did – even though we literally gave them a heads up that afternoon what our latest ETA would be. But he finally got it together and gave us our towels and room keys.

We journey down some stairs and a corridor, before we make it to our room. We open the door and we’re hit with it.

We are hit with the nastiest smell you could ever imagine, and we immediately begin gagging uncontrollably. We frantically glance around the room both looking for a free bed and the source of the smell.

Zoe frantically whispers, “Those are dudes in those beds.

Aw hell nah.

No way are staying in a room with 10 nasty-smellin-ass boys – especially when we paid for an all girls dorm. No, no, no. Not happening sorry.

We rapidly evacuate the room – still gagging – and force the front desk dude to change our room to what we booked.

After that, it was smooth sailing. The beds were hostel-level fine, the breakfast was pretty decent, and it was located in a decent spot where we could walk nearly everywhere.

EATS

Clam Chowder + Lobster Mac & Cheese

The Aviary | Swansea, MA

The Aviary was our New England dinner stop on the way up, and all I have to say is wow, did this place live up to our expectations of everything we thought traditional New England cuisine would be.

The lobster in the lobster mac was so fresh it quite literally got us all hot and bothered.

This poutine was either the duck or the pulled pork…I think it was the duck…

Hippi Poutine | Montreal, QB

This place was straight fire from top to bottom.

The poutine was everything we wanted and then some, and they had the cutest french children’s books everywhere.

It also was incredibly close to the hostel – approx. 10 min walk.

Pain Perdu

Café Chat L’Heureux | Montreal, QB

This is a cat cafe – need I say more?!

I don’t, but that doesn’t mean I won’t 🙂

Café Chat L’Heureux has you remove your shoes upon entering to keep the place clean and cozy for the cats. They also serve a great cappuccino and decadent desserts – each table also has a detailed paper with the cat’s photos, names, zodiac signs, and if they’re available for adoption :’)

Biscuits & Gravy + Breakfast Potatoes

Penny Cluse Cafe | Burlington, VT

Penny Cluse was our exit brunch of the journey. This place echoed the New England quintessential charm and had such a homey diner vibe. It had major Luke’s from Gilmore Girls vibes now that I think about it.

If you find yourself in Burlington, Vermont – this has to be on your list.