After about three months in the southwest, we headed to Southern California to kick off our much-anticipated journey up Highway 1. We decided to start in the San Diego area, more specifically, La Jolla. La Jolla was highly recommended to us by friends and family and it did not disappoint. We spent a week and a half in the area, working right off the ocean, exploring beaches and parks in the afternoons, and going to sleep listening to crashing waves.
Our first night, we found a place to sleep on iOverlander, an app where travelers leave reviews for anything you might need during life on the road (camping spots, showers, drinking water, wifi, etc.). We snagged a (free!) beachside parking spot right across from a park, had some leftover curry pizza for dinner, and then headed out to the beach. There were tons of people out, families, college students, couples, all gathered around campfires.
The next morning, we had all day to relax and rest up before our work week ahead. We read on the beach, played cards in the park, and walked along a cliffside path where we got to see sea lions and lots of seagulls and pelicans.
Watching the sea lions was like watching a drama. Pups clambered over adults, sparking disgruntled barks. Younger males constantly fought, slapping their necks together, showing off their sharp teeth, and bellowing at each other. Others just napped on the warm rocks, occasionally scratching themselves, stretching out their long necks, and barking when a seagull invaded their space.
On Sunday evening, we moved a couple miles down the coast to sleep near Children’s Pool Beach, a less busy and more serene version of La Jolla Shores.
Like Children’s Beach is a quieter version of La Jolla Shores, seals are the calmer cousin of sea lions. With a big wall blocking waves from crashing down, Children’s Beach was originally created for kids to safely play but is taken over by harbor seals and their pups each spring. Rather than bickering, barking, and berating each other, seals keep to themselves. They spend all day sleeping and rolling around in the sand, occasionally peering up at us tourists. They aren’t very vocal, even when a seagull pecks at them or a pup steps on one of the adults. Their flippers are short and their bodies are round and blubbery so they have to wiggle and hop themselves up the beach as if they’re doing “the worm”. In case you can’t tell from my description, seals are adorable.
During the week, we worked from the van parked just off the coast. Listening to the waves crashing and the seagulls crying was such a peaceful soundtrack to our work days. We also had some huge upgrades to our work setup recently which made the work week even more pleasant. My company sent me a new laptop back in Flagstaff since my previous one had so many charging issues (remember the McDonald’s meltdown experience?). We also made an extremely useful purchase, an iPad. With the iPad, we gained an additional 30GB of hotspot data each month. Instead of being forced to pay for an overpriced latte to get access to free wifi or camp out in a library parking lot when our hotspot ran out, we can now work from wherever we want, as much as we want.
The iPad purchase also greatly upgraded our entertainment setup. We’d previously had to watch shows and movies on our phones, squinting to see details or read tiny closed captions. The iPad gave us an approximately 300% increase in screen size. With the new iPad, access to a nearby Planet Fitness where we showered regularly, and our ocean front parking spot, we almost feel like we were starting to blend in with the fancy inhabitants of La Jolla (I’m not so sure they’d agree).
After work each day, we explored tide pools and beaches and cooked dinner overlooking the cliffs and the sunset over the ocean. We also left La Jolla for a couple of afternoons and drove down to San Diego to check out other beaches.
One of our favorites was Dog Beach, where dogs run around off-leash and humans sit in the sand watching the drama play out. Choi decided to go for a run here and was taken to the sand when he crossed the path of an overexcited pup. I wish I’d been there to see the tackle but I was immersed in a book. Book readers aren’t safe from the perils of Dog Beach either, and my book soon became the victim of an energetic Australian Shepherd who jumped right on top of my book and me, dusting us with sand and the scent of wet dog.
We got our exercise in during the week a few ways. We traversed a 200ft manmade wall dubbed “People’s Traverse” by local climbers. I went for a few runs and did yoga off the coast in the mornings. One of those mornings I even got to see whales cresting over the waves, a hint of what was to come in Channel Islands next week.
On the weekend, Choi played a couple games of pickup soccer while I worked out and read my book. We drove to H-Mart to get some long-overdue Korean food and stock up on ramen. We went to more beaches and napped in the sand and played in the water. We also visited the beautiful Balboa Park, which was full of blooming flowers and interesting plants.
On Saturday evening, we visited what ended up being our favorite beach from this area, Black’s Beach. We didn’t realize this before coming, but Black’s Beach is a popular spot for several unique hobbyists, most notably, paragliders and nudists. We loved watching paragliders soar gracefully out over the oceans as we made our way down the many steps from the cliffside to the beach. When we made it down to the beach, we kept our eyes out over the ocean or up above on the paragliders rather than on the groups of nudists walking and lounging around the shore. Regardless, it was a welcoming and calming beach with big waves crashing against the black sand.
We had the perfect week and a half in La Jolla. The weather was wonderful almost every day, with just a couple chilly, drizzly mornings. We were able to find safe, scenic spots to sleep without trouble. We worked, cooked, exercised, and relaxed with cliff views overlooking the ocean. We made friends with sea lions and seals and got to explore tide pools and beaches.
La Jolla, we love your easy, scenic places to sleep, your beautiful coastal views, and your marine life. Along We Go!