We be Trippin’: Stories of a Coastal Road Trip

bekah General 2 Comments

At the start of summer, Bryan and I began talking about our end-of-summer vacation. Working in youth ministry, summer = go time! and come mid-August, we are ready for some rest and relaxation while the rest of the world gears up for school.

The conversation circled around where we would go. Please keep in mind our discussion included a destination with kiddos…

Puerta Vallarta? We can totally survive on chips and guac for a week! And they have quesadillas for the lil’ munchers, right?

Hawaii? Out of our budget!

Palm Springs? Too hot!

Spain and Portugal? Yes please SANS kids!

We agreed that in this season with children- five and almost-three-years old- there is no.such.thing. as vacation, to which we switched gears, and pondered how we can make the most memories, see places and people we love, and do so on a budget.

Coastal road trip was the plan! In less than 24 hours, our friends got back to us- yes, come, stay!- and the dates were set.

7 days. 3 stops in 3 beautiful locations with 3 families we adore. Woot!

Goal? To explore coastal towns- old and new, create as many memories as possible, and savor family time with each other, and sweet friends.

We pulled out of our driveway in Huntington Beach, the car loaded for a three month trip, and took the 1 along Malibu; windows down, the sun shining. Our road trip had commenced.


San Luis Obispo was our first stop for an early dinner at Firestone Grill:

tri-tip sandwiches, salad heaped with tomatoes, peppers, onions, feta, and pine nuts, a basket of fries, and Firestone beer to wash it down.


Farmer’s Market, a favorite Thursday evening tradition when we used to live in the Central Coast, was ours to share with the boys.

We snacked on salty kettle corn and sweet raspberries, and chose a bouquet of tuberoses for Wendi.


Tanner and Ty explored the creek and climbed walls.


In Arroyo Grande, we stayed with the Lee Family, dear friends whom we’ve stayed in touch with since we moved four years ago.

The next morning, tennies on pavement, we hiked the Bob Jones Trail, and met an endearing golden-doodle.

Ty made a new friend!


While the boys napped/rested back at the house, I wandered the downtown, rummaging through junk in search of treasure.


Stay tuned for a post about the fun finds I came across!


Saturday morning, after waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, we said our goodbyes to the Lee Fam.

The boys were especially sad to leave their friends Tobey and Reagan.

Driving to Paso Robles, we paused downtown for a picnic lunch.


And did some cloud-watching!


T and Ty chased butterflies.


And we paid a visit to an old friend who owns Reminisce, an antique store. If you’re ever in Paso Robles, stop by and say hello to Jeanie.



From there, we continued North, our next destination: Watsonville, outside of Santa Cruz, to visit the Bentleys.


As families, we walked the beach trail, devoured a giant Pleasure Pizza specialty- half artichoke, half pesto {yum to the yum!}

and completed the evening with dessert, of course, at The Penny Ice Creamery!


Ty, clearly in his happy place!


Four kids in a bath, bedtime routines, and the next morning we were off to Santa Rosa to visit Bryan’s buddy, Brian and his two kids.

An hour from the City, we took the Richmond Bridge into this memorable town.


 Stopping to stretch our legs, we took in the fragrant smells and colorful sights of Luther Burbank Home & Gardens.


Among roses, sunflowers, edible herbs, and fountain gardens, Tanner shows off Naked Ladies,

finding the name of this lanky, pink bloom hilarious.

“Naked ladies,” he yells! Yes son, we know!


I prefer checking out some adorable buns.


Arriving at the Burke home, we were welcomed with hugs from Brian and his daughter Riley. Upstairs, their freshmen son, Colin, slept, and the boys threw open the door and attacked. The Pogues are here!

Brian barbecued steak, steamed rice, an abundant salad was made, and wine poured for the adults, as we simultaneously caught up and got to know one another.

The next morning, boys in the double BOB, we explored the majestic Redwoods in Armstrong Forest.



And checked every nook and cranny for Ewoks a hidin’.

Under the looming trees, we lunched in the still silence of nature, our laughter the only thing heard for miles.


Riley watched the boys for an afternoon while Brian drove us through Sonoma Wine Country; its rolling hills covered in vineyards, tasting, tasting, and more tasting… oh.the.wine!

Look who made friends now!


An unforgettable time was spent at Francis Ford’s Coppola Winery Restaurant, Rustic, where Brian so graciously treated us to dinner at the best family-style meal we’ve ever been privy to.

Never have we been more wined and dined! A million thank you’s, Brian.


Days that followed included Windsor, a sweet town that beckoned the boys with the original Powell’s Candy Store.


Ty may have scared some of the kids away!


Bryan forced me into another antique heaven in Healdsburg- let’s just say it’s a good thing our car had no extra room!


Tanner’s highlight was this mom & pop Lego store, started by a father and son who collect pieces, kits, figures, and odds and ends.

It’s apparent we are parents of boys, when hours of vacation are dedicated to tiny plastic Legos. And we love it because they love it!


You see those eyes? Those are his crazy I’m in heaven eyes!


Expending kung fu ninja wiggles, we hopped in the car and made our way home to the coast, boys sleeping in the back,

as Bry and I reminisced over the road trip memories made.


One of our favorites trips we nodded ~ doing life with changing scenes, special people, and being together as a family.

We laughed at the pictures we hadn’t captured:

Ty peeing on a park playground structure.

Tanner demonstrating an epic, exhaustion-overdrive meltdown in front of Tobey and Reagan.

Little sleep, kids that fight bedtime, zero quality time between Bryan and I, and too much overeating of delicious foods.

But that’s what we love- it’s real life and its messy and it’s not always picture-worthy.

And that, we believe, is where the best memories are made.


 Do you have a favorite family vacation? Please share- I’m always up for tucking ideas away for the future 🙂



Comments 2

  1. I just loved this post. Loved hearing how your family built such special memories and all the friends you got to visit along the way. The coastal area is by far a favorite vacation for us. Our special spot is Nantucket Island. Not a place we get to go go often but there is something magical about it and it captured my heart the first time I stepped on to the island. We got to all go as a family 3 years ago. It is a vacation that is burned into my memory. My kiddos felt the magic too. If you can ever go I’m sure it will grab at your heart too.

    1. Post

      Lisa, I may be joining your next family trip to Nantucket Island. It sounds dreamy and all sorts of “famulous” (fabulous family) memory-making ish.

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