I've wanted to travel my whole life. As an adult, I haven't had many opportunities to go anywhere. So, after my divorce in 2005, I decided it was time to hit the road and start traveling like I always dreamed of.
My first trip was decided, planned, & booked within 10 days of my leaving. A friend of mine told me traveling solo was an empowering experience, so I figured, why not?! My reason for choosing a road trip for my first solo adventure was simple: I would be in my own car & feel less intimidated traveling in familiar transportation.
I chose my route based on places in California I've always wanted to go, or places I've been & loved (like Disneyland). I was meticulous in my research and mapping of this route. I say that because there were detours along my trip & I never felt lost or flustered because I had studied my maps.(this is one of the reasons I dislike, & refuse to us,e GPS!)
My trip started by driving to, & over, the Golden Gate Bridge. I thought this would be cool, forgetting how much I hated going over bridges due to my fear of heights!! Nice time to remember--as I'm driving OVER the bridge!! Anyway, I continued down Hwy 101 until I got to my first destination...San Simeon. I did stop in Galt at the outlets--boy, is that place huge!!
I've wanted to see Hearst Castle since I was a little girl. I have to say that it didn't disappoint. It is an incredibly beautiful place! I only went on the first tour, but wish I had scheduled more time here & taken at least one other tour. Even today, 4 1/2 yrs later, all I have to do is close my eyes & I am transported back to the mansion, standing on the beautiful terrace overlooking the ocean. Breathtaking!!
I also wanted to stay at a Bed & Breakfast, so I stayed in Cambria at the Ollalieberry Inn. It is a fabulous B&B and I stayed in the Angels Nook room in the adjoining building. The food they provided was fresh & fabulous and the staff was awesome!! I met some lovely couples from around the country who all made me feel like a part of the group. It was heaven and, again, I wish I had been able to stay longer.
The route for my trip was Hwy 101, part of which was along the coast. Once in a while I would just stop at places that piqued my interest. I didn't really stop as many times as I would have liked. But then, I would have never gotten to my next destination .....Disneyland!!
Since I was traveling solo I decided, for my safety, to stay at the Disneyland Hotel since it was on-site. Also, I've always wanted to stay there. I've never felt safer anywhere! The staff was fabulous and I had the best time doing all of the things I wanted to do. I met Mickey and Minnie Mouse, went on rides, saw shows, etc. It was a fun and relaxing time!!
After a couple of days, I continued my journey to San Diego. Along the way I stopped at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. I had the best time going on a "safari-like" trip around the park seeing all of the different animals. Again, having never been, I didn't allot enough time & wished I could stay longer, but I needed to be on my way to San Diego.
I got to my hotel, Humphrey's Half Moon Inn & Suites, located on Shelter Island. I had a beautiful view of the Bay. I was there for a few days so I was able to sit & relax on my deck & enjoy the view. Also this hotel included a concert hall behind my room, so when I was in my room at night I could hear any concert going on: including Clay Walker (a country singer--I'm not familiar w/him since I'm not a country music lover), and Ladysmith Black Mambazo/Richard Thompson.
During my stay I went to: SeaWorld--FANTASTIC! I saw all of the shows & got drenched at the Shamu Adventure; San Diego Zoo--I love zoo's. My favorite was the Koala bear exhibit. Koala's have always been my favorite animal, so needless to say, I spent a lot of time here. Unfortunately, I got lost in the zoo & it took me forever to get "unlost" so didn't get to see all of Balboa Park after I left the zoo; Old Town San Diego--I love history so this was right up my alley. I spent a lovely afternoon here & had lunch at the Cosmopolitan restaurant; San Diego Mission--again, I love history, so tried to see some of the missions on my journey. It was beautiful & peaceful!
On my return trip I drove up to Santa Barbara. I traveled from San Diego to Santa Barbara on a Sunday, mistakenly thinking it would be a nice drive. Yeah, that is if you like bumper to bumper traffic! It ended up taking me over 6 hours to make the drive & because of the traffic I did not stop along the way. I had been drinking a lot of water so, let's just say, I was never so happy to get to a destination!
Unfortunately, my happiness was short-lived when I got to my hotel. I stayed at the Mason Beach Inn, which AAA (in my opinion, mistakenly) gave 3 diamonds. I was afraid to leave my room at night, so I didn't partake in any nighttime endeavors. I locked myself in my room, barely sleeping that night, and checked out the next morning! After I found a Starbucks, I did a little sightseeing around Downtown Santa Barbara & the Old Mission Santa Barbara.
My next stop was Solvang--a quaint Danish town in the Santa Ynez Mountains. I was there the day after Sandra Bullock & Jesse James got married in the area. If you ever go to Solvang, Mortenson's Bakery is a must! The pastries are to die for!! Thinking about that place makes me smile. Since I was "right around the corner", I stopped by Mission Santa Ines--what can say? I love missions.
My next stop was Pismo Beach. I walked along the shore for a long time. It was a beautiful day & I just relaxed and enjoyed the moment. I walked around the town for a bit, shopping along the way, got a bite to eat and continued my journey.
My next stop was San Luis Obispo. I hadn't been there since I was a little girl visiting my grandma. I was trying to find the San Luis Obispo Mission--however, I didn't pay much attention because I drove right past it--twice!! Who would have thought the mission would be in the center of town?? By the time I realized I was there...the mission was closed.
On my last day, driving home, I stopped at the Mission San Miguel. It was closed due to renovation, but I walked around a bit anyway and took some pictures.
As I was getting closer to home, the dark clouds were coming. Wait, it's in the middle of July, how can there be dark clouds and rain!? Luckily it didn't matter as my first solo journey was over & I was home safe.
On reflection my friend was right. Solo travel is empowering. I got to go where I wanted to go, when I wanted to go, & if I decided to change my mind about something, I did, without worrying about anyone else. I met a lot of nice friendly people along the way & I had the best time! Whenever I recall this journey, it brings a huge smile to my face.