LA to Seattle by Jeep. Pants optional

Jaded Toad BBQ and Grill, Windsor, CA.
Grilled cheese and good tunes at the Jaded Toad in Windsor, CA.

You know it was a good week when you only wore pants once. Long pants, that is, to celebrate the end of our adventure with a semi-fancy dinner in Portland.

The days leading to that particular moment were spent wearing shorts and soaking up sunshine, while exploring amazing things. Towering redwoods, plunging waterfalls and a jaded toad — were all parts to our road trip of a lifetime.


Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California
Jen photographing the redwoods.

Ours was a one-way road trip from Santa Monica to Seattle. Our route followed the famous Highway 101 up the California coast, winding through Big Sur, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and rolling through redwood country.

Approaching Oregon the route turned inland, rumbling on I-5 to Ashland, pausing for a milkshake in Eugene, then continuing to Portland. And finally, 1,500 miles later, arriving home in Seattle.

Jen flew into LAX at 10:30 AM on a Thursday. I picked her up in the Jeep and we hit the road, heading north for a week-long road trip.

Jen and the Jeep.

Don’t leave home without a #

Everyone knows that the second-most important thing you need on a road trip is: a hashtag. Our was #1way2sea. Clever, right? Jen came up with it.

Of course, the single-most important thing to bring on a road trip is: country music. As Jen says, “Country music tells a story.” It’s true. A good story makes the miles pass more smoothly.

Our favorite country ditty was “Nobody to Blame” by Chris Stapleton. It’s a cautionary relationship tale for guys, who want to avoid having their whiskey poured down the drain or having sugar poured into their John Deere riding mower.

Our favorite things

Each day of our trip brought something exciting and memorable. Here are a few highlights.

Visitor Center exhibit, Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
Marveling at the redwoods.

Favorite sight: The redwoods. We stopped multiple times to walk among redwoods while driving through Avenue of the Giants and the Redwood Highway. Each stop was amazing, magnificent and unique. See the redwoods in your lifetime.

Looking down at Highway 1 from the edge of Ewoldsen Trail in Big Sur, California
Looking down at Highway 1 from the edge of Ewoldsen Trail.

Favorite hike: Ewoldsen Trail, Big Sur. This 4.5 mile loop has a bit of everything: redwoods, ocean views and a peek down onto Highway 1 from a fairly precarious ledge.

Elk in Trillium Falls Hike
Elk dining in Trillium Falls.

Favorite wildlife: Elk grazing on the Trillium Falls Loop Trail in Orick, CA. Honorable mention: Seals and banana slugs.

Favorite meal: Jen loved her Wabi Wasabi Pita with chicken at the Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka. My favorite was the Castroville Enchilada at Plaza Linda Mexican Restaurant and Cantina in Carmel.

Favorite bar: The Jaded Toad in Windsor, CA. Grilled cheese, garlic fries, cocktails in mason jars and good tunes.

Airbnb Carmel Valley
Sunset from our Airbnb in Carmel Valley.

Favorite accommodation: Jen raved about the historic Ashland Springs Hotel in downtown Ashland, OR. I was a big fan of our tiny Airbnb with an amazing view (see photo above) in Carmel Valley, CA.

McWay Waterfall Trail, Big Sur, California
McWay Waterfall Trail hike, Big Sur

Favorite day: Mine was Day 2, Paso Robles to Carmel, featuring: Winding views of Big Sur from Highway 1; gorgeous hikes (see photo above); capped off with dinner at Plaza Linda. Jen’s favorite was Day 4, Windsor to Eureka. We spent this day immersed in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. We finished with dinner at Lost Coast Brewery.

Favorite bipartisan bumper sticker: “Somebody else for president.”

Favorite phrase: “I can definitely smell smelly.” Jen sharing one of her many talents.

Favorite TV show: Jen’s bedtime program of choice was Alaskan Bush People on Discovery. Mine was Life Below Zero on the National Geographic Channel. The Alaska theme of both shows is (oddly) coincidental.

McWay Waterfall Trail, Big Sur, California
McWay Waterfall Trail (wide-angle photo taken using the Olloclip ).

Favorite technology: I liked my Olloclip Active Lens. It enables wide-angle and telephoto pictures using the iPhone (see an example above). Jen appreciated my Garmin Forerunner 15 GPS watch as a navigational aid. If you’re extremely bored, you can check out GPS profiles of our hikes: Ewoldsen Trail; Lithia Park; Trillium Falls.

#1waytosea – In (more) pictures

In closing, here are a few more favorite images from the trip.

Big Sur Selfie
Big Sur selfie.
Marveling at the redwoods along the Ewoldsen Trail in Big Sur.
Redwood on the Ewoldsen Trail, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
Marveling at the redwoods along the Ewoldsen Trail in Big Sur, California.
Redwoood on the Ewoldsen Trail.
Gould Grove Nature Trail, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California
Jen surveys the Eel River in a redwood forest.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California
“Tree fell 1-10-16.” Think anyone heard it fall?
Trillium Falls Loop Trail, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Orick, California
Spider web between redwoods.
Crescent City California.
Enjoying the coastal vibe of Crescent City.
Thacher Winery, Paso Robles, CA
Thacher Winery, Paso Robles, CA
Lithia Park, Ashland, Oregon.
Lithia Park Reservoir, Ashland, OR
Bill and Tim's Barbecue, Eugene, Oregon
Milkshake break in Eugene, OR at Bill and Tim’s Barbecue.
Willamette River, Portland, OR.
Day 7, last day! Morning run along the Willamette River in Portland.
Seattle Space Needle
End of the road: Home safely in Seattle!

If you made it this far, you’re dedicated! The photo gallery below contains additional images (with some duplicates from above) from our road trip.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My “What’s Next” list – v1.0

April 9th, 2016

I left my job yesterday. My terrific colleagues threw me a party with thoughtful parting gifts, including: a box of blue Peeps; a microwaveable bowl of soup; and a plastic shovel.

The shovel, I assume, is for breaking ground on whatever’s next in my life. Or, it could be for digging myself out of a huge hole down the road. Either option is appropriate because, as of today, I’m deliberately without a job.

I’ve had many jobs in my life, including:

  • Paperboy (I was a pretty good one);
  • Bartender (I was awful);
  • Travel writer (got the scoop on skiing the Italian Alps from the seat of one’s pants);
  • Product manager at a start-up company (exactly how it sounds);
  • And, most recently, digital media guy (dotcom 4life, yo!)

(Side note: I’m writing this while sitting in a coffee shop. The server just called out someone’s order: “Breakfast sandwich!” It’s 3:30 in the afternoon. Heck, even without a job to wake up for, I finished my breakfast by 11:00 AM today.)

I’ve heard that during one’s ____ (sabbatical? timeout? period of enlightenment?), s/he should re-examine the concept of “To Do” lists. So then, here is my “What’s Next” list, version 1.0:

Go all in on my relationship

Jen (my girlfriend) and I have been dating long distance for almost three years. We’re moving in together in 11 days. Check.

(Side note: I am most tolerable in small doses. I mentioned this fact to Jen. She still wants to live with me full time. This could get interesting.)

Get reacquainted with my family

My parents are getting older. I see them roughly twice per year. I told Dad I was planning an extended visit. His response was, “How long are you staying?”

Don’t mess with a retiree’s square dancing schedule.

Get in shape

My brother and I are planning a mountain bike trip along the Great Divide. We will ride roughly 50 miles per day, from Banff, Canada, south through Montana. During bear season.

Serve my community

One of my proudest moments occurred when I was honored as a youth mentor of the year.

One of my most photogenic moments occurred when I was a volunteer firefighter. I never actually put out a fire. But the photo of me in my firefighting gear made a great profile pic.

(Update: The server just called out someone else’s order: “Irish breakfast tea!” I’m not making this up.)


There are many more things I want to do, places I want to go, people I want to see. If you receive an email or text message from me that starts with “It’s been a while!” you should expect that I will ask to sleep in your spare bedroom. Or on your couch.

I’m excited and terrified. I believe that whatever comes next, is directly related to how hard I work. And I will work hard.

Right after I finish this second breakfast.