California, here we come.

Alright, so this post isn’t exactly my way of telling you that I’m headed to Cali soon- although I definitely wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to go if it presented itself…

But really, this post is an intro to a vacation recap that I’ve debated sharing. Why? Because it was a road trip Merry and I took in 2009– we were just babies!! At 19 years old, we planned and we planned and we planned, hit the open road, and spent a wonderful week exploring California. I literally planned every. single. detail. and kept it extremely affordable (no more than $500 dollars each!) So, if nothing else I figured I could share the tips that made our trip great and you all can laugh at how we looked at 19:)

Before I dive into the recap, let me give you a rundown of our itinerary. We left our hometown at about 10 pm and drove through the night, all the way to destination #1: San Francisco. We spent our first three nights in San Francisco, exploring the surrounding area as well. Our next night was spent in Hollywood. Our fifth night was spent in Laguna Beach. Next, we headed back up to Oregon, where we camped for our sixth night. After spending part of our final day at a couple spots in Oregon, we headed back home.

As I mentioned above, we left home at 10 pm and drove through the night. I’m not a big fan of driving in the dark, but it was really nice to not waste as much daylight. Plus, we left on the night of the 4th of July so we got to see quite a few fireworks as we drove into the night!

We had a few road trip essentials that really helped with the drive including bottled Starbucks Frappes for caffeine, snacks, water, tootsie pops, a quiz magazine, an iPod with an adapter for playing in the car, and most importantly- each other. I say that because we entertain each other with no effort at all. Funny/ entertaining things just seem to “happen” when we’re together. Oh, and pepper spray. My oldest brother totally went out and bought us each pepper spray for this trip.

The night we were leaving was also the night we packed. (Last minute, much?) Now, I’m a pretty organized packer, but back then? Not so organized. Throw Merry into the mix, who doesn’t even fold clothes when she’s packing, and forget about it. Such a mess! Oh, and we were also WAY guilty of over packing back then, something I like to think I’m getting better at every time I travel.

Here’s a picture of my attempted organization the night we packed and left for Cali. I’ll spare you a picture of Merry’s organization, and just let you know that her clothes were in a mound on the floor…

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When we got the car all loaded, we set off on our first big adventure, just the two of us.

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Things were going really great driving through Washington, watching fireworks being set off for the 4th of July. We neared the Washington-Oregon border, when I started seeing all these flashing red lights in the distance that seemed to span for miles. Since I was driving, Merry hadn’t noticed them- so I asked, “What are all those red lights?!” I felt like we were driving straight into some sort of alien invasion! (Hey, your mind jumps to crazy conclusions when you’re young, alone, and driving in the dark in the middle of nowhere.) She had no idea what they were and thought my reaction to them was quite funny. Once we got right next to the flashing red lights, we were surrounded by HUGE wind mills. Yep, that’s right- wind mills. Those creepy pointy huge ones that you see all the time now. Back then, I had never seen them before (or at least never noticed them before) and I did not enjoy seeing them for the first time in the middle of the night. Merry couldn’t stop laughing, and I don’t think I’m ever going to live the “scary wind mill” thing down.

After we made it through the alien wind mill invasion, we crossed over to Oregon!

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By this time we had to stop for gas, which they don’t let you pump yourself in Oregon. Now’s a good time to mention that we had saved all our change for months leading up to this trip, rolled it all and ended up using it for gas the entire trip. Change adds up! And yes, we were those girls paying for gas with rolled coins.

The rest of “day 1” as you could call it was pretty uneventful. Just two girls heading down the highway with Cali on the brain. I’ll fill you in on the wee hours of the morning drive as well as day 2 in the next installment of this Cali road trip series. Be sure to come back and check it out!



  1. […] The last time I left you, Merry and I were driving through the night on our way to California. As the sky was just barely lightening up around 5 am, we had finally made […]

  2. […] haven’t been on a “just the two of us” adventure like this since our California road trip from 2009. It’s going to be […]

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