Author Topic: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip  (Read 1458 times)

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ihatejulio

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Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« on: July 20, 2020, 04:05:20 PM »
Posted this in the camping thread but thought it might get more traction here.

I wanted take a car camping trip up Pacific Coast Highway/Highway 1 but I'm debating if it's really worth it at this point in time. The starting point would be OC and my turnaround point would be around Olympia or Seattle. My original plan was to hitchhike it for fun but that pastime is impossible to do in the age of COVID.

Never car camped before but it shouldn't be an issue except for buying the necessary gear and finding places to stay overnight. Most of my time would be spent wandering the beaches, bombing mellow hills, and hiking redwood forests. I don't know whats closed or not though as things are not looking bright at all for California in terms of reopenings and active cases. Obviously I would be semi-secluded and in nature for the most part but it would still be nice to safely explore the local towns. Half the fun of camping is making friends and chopping it up with the locals over a beer or a joint but that isn't really a thing anymore I assume. I wouldn't want to put others at risk too so that aspect is out of the question.

Anyone else taken this PCH road trip before? Any recommendations, local sights, or things I should know about before the venture?
« Last Edit: July 21, 2020, 02:10:43 PM by ihatejulio »

offkilter

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2020, 04:55:12 PM »
I've done the drive quite a few times. Residential areas in small towns end up being the easiest places to sleep in your car,  compared to finding remote areas, at least in CA. There's really not a lot of BLM land on the coast on 1. It gets easier once you get up into OR and especially WA. If you plan on skating there's not much on the coast from the bay until you hit Humboldt County which has some decent parks, and once you hit Oregon the coast has amazing parks in almost every town.
In Mendocino and Humboldt counties, definitely take time to explore state and national parks as that's when you start getting into the redwood forest zones and there's a lot of cool shit to see. You would feel satisfied just stopping in the spots off the side of the road in Oregon on 1 as far as beaches and sight-seeing, there's so much to see. You could social distance away from people starting in Mendocino all the way to northern WA on the coast pretty easy as there just really aren't a ton of cities or people in general.

Allen.

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ihatejulio

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2020, 06:17:45 PM »
I've done the drive quite a few times. Residential areas in small towns end up being the easiest places to sleep in your car,  compared to finding remote areas, at least in CA. There's really not a lot of BLM land on the coast on 1. It gets easier once you get up into OR and especially WA. If you plan on skating there's not much on the coast from the bay until you hit Humboldt County which has some decent parks, and once you hit Oregon the coast has amazing parks in almost every town.
In Mendocino and Humboldt counties, definitely take time to explore state and national parks as that's when you start getting into the redwood forest zones and there's a lot of cool shit to see. You would feel satisfied just stopping in the spots off the side of the road in Oregon on 1 as far as beaches and sight-seeing, there's so much to see. You could social distance away from people starting in Mendocino all the way to northern WA on the coast pretty easy as there just really aren't a ton of cities or people in general.

This is a perfect response, thank you so much! How long did it take you to complete the trip(s)?

Freecampsites.com and the app iOverlander should be very useful when it becomes difficult to find a spot to stay overnight. Stoked to hear about the parks on the Oregon coast. Never been north of Redding, CA before so I'm totally willing to take my time in OR and WA. Mendocino and Humboldt are also at the top of my list and I am stoked to revisit Big Sur again.

offkilter

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2020, 11:42:03 PM »
freecampsites.net is the best that's mainly what I use. Sometimes the spots would be a bust and if all else failed I would just drive into a mellow neighborhood in the evening and park along a sidewalk and just stay low key.

I was mainly driving from Sacramento or Humboldt to WA / Vancouver  in about a week or so, to visit my sister. I mean you could turn that roadtrip into two months there's just so much to see, do, and it's easy to exist as a transient once you get north of SF. I would say just leave it as open as possible and have some things planned but you'll be driving and see the most ridiculous beaches with no one on them and maybe you'll want to stay somewhere for a few days.

That's probably the best trip/ vacation you could take during COVID times. You're going to be in isolation by yourself in those areas anyways.

Allez_Jambon

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2020, 09:43:34 PM »
In terms of spots, the only thing I can think of is a barrier spot Andrew Allen sw grinds in the latest Lotties video in Malibu. But whatever, road trips are fun.

I've done it a few times between LA and PDX or SF. Here's some shit outside of skateboarding (and possibly not exactly on the PCH) that I enjoy.

- Point Dume, Malibu - I used to frequent in Spring 2018 and see mother and baby humpback weekly until season ended.
- Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve, Carpenteria - I poked crabs there and watched them molt and had french fries.
- Monarch Butterfly Grove, Pismo Beach - Depending on different times of year there are lots of butterflies.
- Elephant Seal Vista Point, San Simeon - Lots of Elephant Seals. I take a pit stop and say hello. I learned how they sleep there, while taking with a local volunteer.

https://www.livescience.com/9827-seals-sleep-sink-sea.html#:~:text=When%20northern%20elephant%20seals%20(Mirounga,at%20a%20time%20at%20sea.&text=The%20belly%2Dup%20position%20is,flip%20an%20unresponsive%20seal's%20body.

- Jade Cove, Big Sur - It's really pretty. I think it's the first time I saw a peregrin falcon up close. We scared eachother accidentally.
- Julia Pfeiffer, Big Sur I think - Neat looking place. You might recognize it from like, desktop backgrounds or car commercials.
- Point Lobos, Monterey - I love this area. So many birds, otters, and sea slugs if you're patient and have a good eye.
- Moss Landing - I rented a Kayak and saw seals and otters up close. Also so many vibrant sea slugs during low tide.
- Santa Cruz Hostel - Really nice people. I enjoy hostels, finding it fun talking to others in a similar mindset of driving just for fun. Didnt understand the vibe of the town. Didn't skate and didn't care. Wanted to see critters.
- Fern Canyon - Forgot

Shit i forgot the rest. Im just looking at the google maps and I do a good amount of trips alone, hiking/nature photography. I  know you're probably asking about skateboarding, but I know others will probably have a better response than me. I offer this angle. When being a guest in the natural world, pick up your trash or kill yourself.

El Chupacabra

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2020, 08:49:22 PM »
Gaviota beach just north of Santa Barbara is a nice little gem and not very well known. Plus, Gaviota pass was once a famous spot for bandits to hold up stage coaches, or so the story goes!

Hearst Castle is worth visiting, but Im not sure what its status is in our Covid world right now. The Neptune Pool is something else.


Frank and Fred

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2020, 09:16:51 PM »
I'd recommend going all the way up to the Crescent City area just south of the Oregon border. It is an armpit of town close to Pelican Bay State Prison but it has a strange appeal and some of the most stunning scenery on the West Coast. Dramatic coast line, huge coastal redwoods, remote wild beaches you can hike into through the woods with no one around. Check out the Klamath River Mouth, Wilson Creek, Jedadiah State Park, Point St George... Think Shark bitten sea lions decaying on the beach as bald eagles circle above. You'll think you're in Alaska. Not much to skate until Oregon unless you head inland along the Redwood Highway to Cave Junction, Grants Pass and Gold Hill (super rad little park along the Rogue River).

jake18

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2020, 07:20:16 PM »
Oregon has so many parks. NorthwestSkater.com and SkateOregon.com are good resources to find them.

Going north on 101 through Oregon you have parks in Brookings, Gold Beach, Port Orford, Bandon, Coos Bay, Reedsport, Florence, Waldport, Newport, Lincoln City, Tillamook, Bay City, Nehalem, Cannon Beach, Seaside, and Astoria. And that's just me remembering off the top of my head. Granted, most (maybe even all) are transition parks, so if that's not your thing, you might be bummed. Lincoln City is a wild park to see in person even if you aren't a transition skater. You'll probably recognize half of these parks from northwest tour videos like Beauty & the Beast.

Eugene also has really fun parks and it's not all that hard to swing over on Hwy 38 from the coast and back on Hwy 126 without missing any coastal parks and not much of the coast at all. You might even see Ocean Howell at Washington Jefferson Park under the bridge.

The Washington Coast is also really beautiful and a lot different than the Oregon Coast. Quite a bit more wild/rugged in my opinion with very few of the little coastal tourist towns that dot the Oregon Coast. That said, not many spots and the only parks I know of are in Aberdeen, Hoqium, and Forks. And, while the national park and national forests are open, many of the most beautiful coastal areas on the peninsula (like La Push and Neah Bay) are on Indian land and are closed to non-residents due to Covid right now. I'd probably swing in to I5 at Astoria or maybe even around Lincoln City to hit the two dozen parks in the Portland area.

I'm from the Seattle area and go down the Oregon Coast to Crescent City at least once or twice a year. I just did the drive a few weeks back and didn't run into any Covid issues. In fact, pretty much everything seemed open when I was in Oregon, including bars and restaurants and what not. I normally love to hit all the small town coastal dive bars and chat with the crazy characters but opted out this time. Walking/skating around town felt fine and safe but most of the beaches were just as crowded (maybe even more so) than normal. Everybody was wearing masks whenever I had to go inside a gas station or grocery store.

jake18

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2020, 07:33:06 PM »
Just reread your post and saw you didn't mention anything about parks...so sorry about that.

It's pretty easy to find free camping along 101 in Oregon but I find that it's best to head a bit inland to the east of the highway. There's the Rogue River - Siskiyou National Forest down south, Siuslaw National Forest in the middle, and Tillamook State Forest up top. I also know you can camp in the OHV area near the dunes in Florence. I normally have good luck with freecampsites.net but it seems somewhat spotty on the Oregon Coast. I've always had more luck just looking on satellite view on Google Maps at the national forests and other public land to try to spot promising forest service roads and potential pullouts. But I'm also down to drive around the back roads for a few hours each night looking for the perfect spot. I didn't see any public lands closed down and most developed campgrounds were open too.

Stealth camping in those coastal towns also works. I recommend getting some type of black out curtains though. I use reflectivix cut to the size of my windows. I used black out spray paint on the window side. Then I attached velcro to each piece and around the windows. The window shades were quick and easy to make. Also takes like a minute to throw up if you do need to crash on the side of the road somewhere. I'd avoid overnighting in pulloffs along 101 as they are patrolled pretty heavily at night and opt for quiet residential streets like offkilter recommended.

I also like the social aspect of these road trips. Most of the coastal Oregon towns have a lackluster skate scene unless other people are traveling through. But Lincoln City has quite a few local rippers. And also Portland is close so always a few out of towners skating too. Was fun to meet people there, have a few beers, and grill up some grub on the P Stone memorial grill.

I've done the LA to Seattle drive along 1/101 in a week and that felt fine. Although I think two weeks (one way) is ideal (and then maybe haul back down I5). But like offkilter said it's definitely easy to spend weeks upon weeks along the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts. Do a month or more if you have time!

All in all, my recent trip felt safe Covid wise. I brought a cooler with grub so I didn't need to shop and pretty much only was in public at gas stations and skate parks. The parks felt a little iffy just with scooter kids getting mad close to me but I mainly skated in the morning to avoid crowds.

Hope you have a great trip and let us know how it goes!

ihatejulio

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2020, 12:32:17 AM »
@Allez_Jambon @El Chupacabra @Frank and Fred @jake18

Major love to all of you for taking time out of your day and giving me such detailed, wonderful responses. I will definitely be checking out the majority of all of your recommendations, especially in the OR and WA coastal areas. Updates on the trip will be coming soon pals!

Frank and Fred

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2020, 09:49:03 AM »
Have fun. Most of my vacations these days include the Oregon coast down to the Humboldt area. I will be camping, surfing and skateboarding between Newport Or and Crescent city Starting the 24th for a week.

offkilter

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2020, 09:02:24 PM »
I ended up taking a week off and driving from Tucson to San Diego and then up to Humboldt this last week. People in NorCal, especially in the more rural areas, are mostly not giving a fuck about masks so definitely try to be careful about that. I only skated one day in Grass Valley and it was crazy packed.

ice nine

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2020, 11:39:05 PM »
i did the drive with my ex about a decade ago, all of it was great but a couple highlights was an elk reservation/campsite thing in oregon. has a chill hike on it that was used as a filming site for jurrasic park 2 the lost world. another was the Ďímystery spotí in northern cali, hard to explain but worth a visit.
I;m sure i;m not the only dc/monster/subaru type guy here

jake18

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2020, 01:51:30 AM »
I ended up taking a week off and driving from Tucson to San Diego and then up to Humboldt this last week. People in NorCal, especially in the more rural areas, are mostly not giving a fuck about masks so definitely try to be careful about that. I only skated one day in Grass Valley and it was crazy packed.

What's the situation regarding masks and so on in rural Arizona?

offkilter

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2020, 10:51:41 AM »
Expand Quote
I ended up taking a week off and driving from Tucson to San Diego and then up to Humboldt this last week. People in NorCal, especially in the more rural areas, are mostly not giving a fuck about masks so definitely try to be careful about that. I only skated one day in Grass Valley and it was crazy packed.
[close]

What's the situation regarding masks and so on in rural Arizona?

I'm in a city here and mask use is high, but I'm sure rural AZ is no better. It was just something I noticed because the rural towns in Nevada County, Mendocino and Humboldt counties in Northern CA are very far-left and mask use in public was pretty much non-existent.

burn_to_live

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2020, 11:41:19 PM »
Expand Quote
I ended up taking a week off and driving from Tucson to San Diego and then up to Humboldt this last week. People in NorCal, especially in the more rural areas, are mostly not giving a fuck about masks so definitely try to be careful about that. I only skated one day in Grass Valley and it was crazy packed.
[close]

What's the situation regarding masks and so on in rural Arizona?
I was on a recent trip to the Sedona/Flagstaff area and mask use is about 50/50.
Gonna go down to the Bronx and hang out with the gonx

ihatejulio

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2020, 01:19:12 PM »
YO!

I just got back from my road trip today and it was overall pretty great and just what I needed at this point in my life. Unfortunately, I didn't make it all the way to WA as originally planned as I was concerned about my car running into trouble but I still explored the entirety of CA and about 1/3 of the way into OR around Coos Bay. There was an overwhelmingly vast number of things to see and do so and I tried to fill my days with as many things as I could. Next time I am going to fly to WA and rent a car to travel down the coast instead of driving up and then driving back down again. Thank you again for all the suggestions from y'all in this thread.



Highlights:

Rockridge curbs. It seems like every time I go there I have magical sessions that I hold near and dear to my heart and every visit tops itself. This time I got to meet one of my all-time favorites Karl Watson. Hearing him give me props for my incredibly basic ass skateboarding was a definite lifetime achievement. I was fortunate enough to be in one of his IG stories and got the opportunity to thank him for the years of inspiration. He told me to "Just keep shining." I will Karl, I will.

Sleeping next to the ocean every single night. Every single day of my trip I got to spend falling asleep and waking up to the sounds of the ocean and waves crashing. And the best part I didn't have to pay a cent to do it. Major shout out to the app iOverlander which saved my ass numerous times throughout my trip in finding places to stay for free.

Eating delicious clam chowder, pizza, and pastries from all the quaint little towns along the coast.

Meeting a few awesome people along the way. Fellow friendly overlanders that share the wandering spirit.

Most serene drives I have ever taken. Cruising through the redwoods and zipping around corners through 2 lane roads was an adventure unto itself.

Enjoying Cannabis Cup award-winning flower from the Mendocino coast. 

Hikes. Some of the most incredible and breathtakingly gorgeous hikes I have ever taken in my life were undertaken on this trip.

Downsides:
Fires. Everything was on fire on the way back home. It also prevented me from visiting Big Sur. At one point I didn't see the sun for just under 2 days. Very unnerving.

Trouble finding places to charge stuff. I got concerned navigating without battery life with fires causing road closures.

A lot of shops and restaurants closed down or out of business. It seemed to be the same story in every town along the coast that I visited. Just a lot of somberness and "For Lease" signs hung up everywhere.

Showers. I wanted a shower so badly. It is what it is.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Overall: 8.5/10. Can't wait to do it again post-COVID!

Nosferatu

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2020, 08:12:50 PM »
Glad you still had a great trip. We are definitely fucked right now with fires and covid simultaneously.
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ihatejulio

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2020, 08:24:22 PM »
Glad you still had a great trip. We are definitely fucked right now with fires and covid simultaneously.

Thanks buddy. Glad I made it back before it got too intense with all the fires happening simultaneously. After having to live through the Camp Fire in 2018, I don't fuck around with unpredictable wildfires.

jake18

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #20 on: September 11, 2020, 09:40:48 PM »
@ihatejulio stoked to hear you had a great trip. how many days did you take? how much did you skate aside from the curbs? what was your favorite hike? glad you made it back home safely what with the fires and all.

ihatejulio

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #21 on: September 11, 2020, 10:20:37 PM »
@ihatejulio stoked to hear you had a great trip. how many days did you take? how much did you skate aside from the curbs? what was your favorite hike? glad you made it back home safely what with the fires and all.

Thank you! The total was around 2 and a half weeks with about 5 days of that spent in the East Bay of CA. Aside from the curbs, I honestly didn't step on the board except at one stop in Mendocino County. I had a really fun session at Fort Bragg skatepark and the locals were all pretty friendly. I saw a couple of spots in some towns along the 1 and 101 but I mostly spent my time lounging about and exploring the coast and forests.

Favorite hike is a tie between the one I took near the Oregon coast in the picture I posted above and the Humbug Mountain trail. I also took one in Trinidad in Humboldt and that was equally as impressive. Wish I could have spent more time on the road but anxiety kicked in about my car making the journey and the fire situation quickly evolving.

jake18

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #22 on: September 12, 2020, 11:00:38 AM »
Expand Quote
@ihatejulio stoked to hear you had a great trip. how many days did you take? how much did you skate aside from the curbs? what was your favorite hike? glad you made it back home safely what with the fires and all.
[close]

Thank you! The total was around 2 and a half weeks with about 5 days of that spent in the East Bay of CA. Aside from the curbs, I honestly didn't step on the board except at one stop in Mendocino County. I had a really fun session at Fort Bragg skatepark and the locals were all pretty friendly. I saw a couple of spots in some towns along the 1 and 101 but I mostly spent my time lounging about and exploring the coast and forests.

Favorite hike is a tie between the one I took near the Oregon coast in the picture I posted above and the Humbug Mountain trail. I also took one in Trinidad in Humboldt and that was equally as impressive. Wish I could have spent more time on the road but anxiety kicked in about my car making the journey and the fire situation quickly evolving.

Sounds wonderful. Did you sleep in your rig? How was that? Did you mostly do stealth camping in pullouts and side streets or did you spend any time camping in the woods?

ihatejulio

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #23 on: September 12, 2020, 11:19:17 AM »
Expand Quote
Expand Quote
@ihatejulio stoked to hear you had a great trip. how many days did you take? how much did you skate aside from the curbs? what was your favorite hike? glad you made it back home safely what with the fires and all.
[close]

Thank you! The total was around 2 and a half weeks with about 5 days of that spent in the East Bay of CA. Aside from the curbs, I honestly didn't step on the board except at one stop in Mendocino County. I had a really fun session at Fort Bragg skatepark and the locals were all pretty friendly. I saw a couple of spots in some towns along the 1 and 101 but I mostly spent my time lounging about and exploring the coast and forests.

Favorite hike is a tie between the one I took near the Oregon coast in the picture I posted above and the Humbug Mountain trail. I also took one in Trinidad in Humboldt and that was equally as impressive. Wish I could have spent more time on the road but anxiety kicked in about my car making the journey and the fire situation quickly evolving.
[close]

Sounds wonderful. Did you sleep in your rig? How was that? Did you mostly do stealth camping in pullouts and side streets or did you spend any time camping in the woods?

My old Ford Explorer worked out pretty great except for the gas mileage which ate into my budget really quickly. Other than the first day of spending the night in my car at a sketchy Home Depot parking lot, it was surprisingly comfortable and I felt well-rested each morning. I slept on 3 body pillows instead of a sleeping pad and it worked better than I hoped. I hung up tapestries for privacy instead of blacked-out window panes.

Didn't spend any time camping in the woods and mostly opted for sleeping on pullouts along the coast. I did get the knock once in Oregon but it was no big deal. Being a skater, getting kicked out of spots is beyond normal and part of daily life anyway lol. The trick I learned to avoid detection is to wake up around 6 am and leave before 7 am. iOverlander and Google Maps really helped me find spots to stay and probably saved me 200-300 dollars in campground fees.

Lou Strux

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #24 on: September 13, 2020, 08:38:27 PM »
Sad I missed you by a day at those Rockridge skurbs, IHJ.
Maybe next time.

offkilter

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #25 on: September 13, 2020, 09:48:44 PM »
Humbug and Trinidad are both epic spots! Sounds like a great trip  :)

Hacksaw Jim Duggan

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #26 on: October 01, 2020, 08:59:49 AM »
Bumping this thread as Iím going to be out in this area in about a week and hope to skate/film along the in addition to camping/sightseeing.

Any skate spots in between LA and SF along the coast (Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Monterey, etc...)

B. Hopper

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #27 on: November 19, 2020, 12:54:01 PM »
The best stretch of Hwy 1 is between Morro Bay and Santa Cruz. They are pretty strict with the no camping signs, but generally less strict in enforcing it. However, with Covid, it's been strictly enforced as residents in otherwise private areas are very vocal to local government about enforcing camping. Particularly in the 100 mile stretch that is Big Sur.

It can still be done but not like it used to and that takes away a lot of the magic imo :/
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Pinkfrosty

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Re: Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip
« Reply #28 on: November 22, 2020, 01:00:46 AM »
Iím from Philadelphia and how anyone loves Jimís is beyond me,not better or worse than pats,but it stinks,smells like rotten cheesesteak shit.phillips and Oregon steaks are the best south philly style steaks.ishkabibbles used to be far better than Jimís but ever since they opened another place across from where tower records used to be its half as good.still better than Jimís.best in the city is chinks on torresdale,I mean ďjoesĒ not the one in fish town,that one kinda blows