Route 1 Road Trip Day One: Travel Buddy Reunion, Beach Camping, and Sunday Night Football

The next adventure during the fall of my Glorious Return to America was a California road trip months with one of my most favorite travel buddies, Mr. Nick Cooper. We realized we both had the interest and availability in such a trip way back in April, shortly after we met on the road in Guatemala for the second time, and had been brainstorming ever since. Our plan began as a three-week American west National Parks road trip (which still must happen, Nick!) and evolved into a California Route 1/San Francisco trip. We were both super keen and had already tested our travel buddy compatibility in Nicaragua. September was the perfect time; let’s go for a road trip.

The thing about me and Nick is that we get on like gangbusters. We could spend the entire day drinking beer, a mix of talking shit and DNMs (for the non-Aussies, that’s “deep and meaningful”, conversations where Australian men actually open up about their feelings), and laughing our asses off. Actually, we could do that for multiple days and in fact did on this trip. It’s a beautiful thing to find someone who you both adore and travel well with. We’re so on the same page on travel interests and decision-making it’s ridiculous. Yes, my posts about this trip are going to be travel buddy love-fests, so it is the perfectly appropriate time for me to give the following note of caution…

WARNING: This Route 1 series of posts contains a high concentration of super adorable team pics. It may be too much awesome for some people to handle. What can I say, it’s how we roll. 😛

Team Nick and Erin! Kicking things off at the Getty. The first of many rockin’ duo selfie photos. *


So. I picked Nick up in Burbank, where he was visiting one of his countless friends around the globe met while on another beautiful travel adventure. He jumped into my car and we immediately fell into non-stop talking and laughter. It felt amazing to be in the company of another true traveler again, someone who was THERE in Central America, someone who understands! Someone who rocked up to my car wearing a goddamn Skid Row t-shirt. LOVE! We had much catching up to do since our last parting two months prior in Nicaragua so grabbed pumpkin beer and sandwich fixins from Trader Joe’s and went to the Getty Center for an afternoon picnic.

On the Getty lawn, enjoying capsicum and smuggled in pumpkin beer, the perfect picnic.

First team meeting: discussion of goals for the trip. Nick is from Australia and California was his last stop on a seven-month Central and North America trip. He has a passion for experiencing the epitome of whatever is local wherever he is. On this road trip, the name of the game was classic Americana culture–think bad diner coffee, football, beer, and bar food–and Californian natural beauty.

Progress, day one.

We intended to camp in San Louis Obispo on night one, but spent longer than anticipated having too much fun catching up all afternoon at the Getty. Driving along the coast, we just escaped the greater Los Angeles surrounds at dusk and hunted for anywhere to pitch the tent. We found Faria Beach, five minutes north of Ventura. We quickly pitched my palatial 10’x12′ tent, still dusty from Burning Man, and hit the rocky beach with beer in hand just in time for sunset.

Route 1, here we come! *

Not a bad first night spot. *

After watching the sun set over the Pacific, we drove through Ventura searching for the Yelp-recommended greasy spoon diner Nick had selected. The one we wanted was oddly closed, but as luck would have it right next door was a Red Robin, a Seattle-based burger institution and one of my old high school date-night standards. I am constantly amazed at how many things that I used to do in high school to save money are back in vogue for me personally now that I don’t have an income. Sometimes I feel like such a kid! One of Red Robin’s major thriftiness selling points is their bottomless french fries. As another cheap backpacker, Nick appropriately appreciated the awesomeness. Pro tip: order your burgers, then ask for your first batch of fries as a free appetizer. To top it off, we had some great local beer and the Seahawks annihilated the 49ers. Even though we’re celebrating California this trip, I felt Seattle pride!

First beers at the bar in front of a football game, but far from the last! (I think we did 4 in 8 days.) *

Hello bottomless fries and varied array of condiments. Red Robin, I love you. *

That night, I fell asleep happy to the sound of the ocean crashing against the rocks just outside the tent.

On Day Two, the adventure continued–with a near brush with disaster–from Ventura to the super cool small down of Cambria.

* Photos courtesy of Nicholas Cooper.

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