Wild West Road Trip {Days 11-14}


After two and a half years of planning and saving, we finally took our big Wild West Road Trip in July! We drove 8,775 miles over 35 days, spent 203 hours in the van, stayed in 26 different hotels/cabins/Airbnbs, and visited 12 national parks, 1 national historic site, 4 national monuments, 2 tribal parks, and 16 states! It was a crazy awesome trip - of course there were a few rough patches here and there, but overall it was amazing to spend so much uninterrupted time with my favorite people and having such gorgeous views made it even better!

I'll eventually get through blogging the whole trip, because so many people have asked for details, but it's going to take a while to get through it all! By the way, some of these photos I'm posting were taken by my husband - he has a great eye and he took a TON of photos! 

If you want to see more of the story, start here for Day 1!

Day 11

Day 11 started with a quick trip to Target to stock up on food and stuff. After that, we headed back to the coast! We drove up the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to Cambria, and it was an absolutely gorgeous drive!

The first beach we stopped at was El Matador Beach just north of Los Angeles. It was so beautiful - we've never been to a rocky beach like this before and it was just fabulous.

We didn't make a lot of other stops that day, but we did manage to make it to our hotel at a reasonable time (which only happened a couple other times on this trip!). The hotel was adorable and cozy - although it was maybe just a little too fancy for us and would have been much more relaxing if we weren't worried about the kids being loud and breaking things. No they're not toddlers, but sometimes they act like it LOL! There was a great little pizza place around the corner that we walked to for supper, then headed to a beach for sunset. Our original plan was to do the Bluff Trail at Fiscalini Ranch, but at this point we were finally starting to accept that we couldn't see everything on our list, and after 3 nights in a row of eating super late (twice at midnight!), eating supper at a reasonable time sounded like a really good idea! Also, this was a really small town and I don't think any of the restaurants stayed open very late.

We meant to go to Moonstone Beach, but I think where we ended up was Leffingwell Landing State Park. I have no regrets about this though - it was gorgeous!

After the beach, we headed back to the hotel to make smores on the patio. I loved this place!

Day 12

The next morning, we actually did make it to Moonstone Beach. We collected some really cool rocks and a little bit of driftwood. After this, we headed up the coast for more of the Pacific Coast Highway.

We made a quick stop to check out the elephant seals. They smell bad and they're pretty ugly, but they are fun to watch!

These photos don't even do this justice - the PCH is hands down the prettiest drive ever. At least the prettiest one I've seen.

I don't remember exactly where this picnic area was, but it was somewhere between Cambria and Bixby Creek Bridge. We had some picnics with some really amazing views on this trip! Of course, we also had our fair share of scarfing down food in hotel rooms and making sandwiches in parking lots or along the side of the road!

Seriously - this drive was so gorgeous! I'd love to go back again someday and drive this in a convertible!

McWay Falls is one of those places that I had seen in photos and thought there was no way it was actually that pretty, but it absolutely was! The photos below are barely edited - it really is that pretty!

You have to park across the road and take a short trail that goes through a tunnel under the road to get to this viewpoint. You're not allowed to climb down to the beach, unfortunately - how amazing would that be?!?

We stopped at almost every parking area we saw to snap photos.

We took the 1-mile trail to Partington Cove - this was one of my favorite places on this drive! The views were amazing, and I don't remember seeing anyone else on the trail or at the cove. It was rare on this trip to get a place to ourselves, so that made it even better.

Our last stop for the day was Pfeiffer Beach, home of the purple sand! Most sand is made mostly of quartz, but this particular beach has a high concentration of garnet, making patches of purple sand.

Day 13

Day 13 was quite an eventful day - we saw Redwood trees, saw Shark Fin Cove, stopped at a lighthouse, and explored San Francisco!

We did a short trail at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. These trees are amazing! The photos don't do it justice at all. The trees are huge!

Shark Fin Cove is a really great beach, and we found some cool shells, driftwood, and sea glass there.

We stopped at a roadside farm stand and bought some strawberries. They. Were. Amazing. And I'm still kicking myself for not going back to buy more.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse is the most picture-perfect lighthouse I've ever seen. Simply gorgeous.

Next, we headed to San Francisco! We were actually pretty nervous of going there after reading so much about crime in the city, but it was really great! It was my favorite city of the trip - definitely better than LA, Vegas, and Chicago!

These photos don't really do it justice, but the streets in San Francisco are crazy! Some of those hills are super steep! Kind of like driving on a roller coaster. This was another time I was so thankful that Daniel was driving instead of me!

Our first stop in San Francisco was Alamo Square. This is where they had a picnic in the opening credits of Full House!

Next up was the Full House house! They've painted the door, but this is the house used for the exterior shots of Full House and Fuller House. I did a little googling and found some shots of the interior - nothing like the show of course, since that was just a soundstage, but if you like to look at pretty houses, check out the Zillow listing!

We spent a couple hours checking out Chinatown. We loved it!

There's a couple more shots showing the crazy hills!

We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and took in the views on the Marin Headlands side. This is one of my favorite family photos from the trip! The good things about going to places overrun with people is that there's always someone to take a photo for you!

We hiked up to this spot on Hawk Hill to watch the sunset. It was a beautiful view and we had a great time up there. This was a beautiful sunny day, but you can see in some of these photos the fog that was rolling in.

Day 14

The next morning, we went back to the Golden Gate Bridge again. The fog was crazy!

A little later in the morning, the fog cleared and we walked around the Fisherman's Wharf area.

The Musee Mechanique was really cool. There were all kind of old arcade games and amusements. Daniel probably would have been happy to spend half the day there, but as usual we were in a hurry. We had a 3 hour drive (that ended up being closer to 5 hours) to get over to the Airbnb we were renting in Mariposa that night.

Next up is two days at Yosemite National Park!

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