Our RV road trip through the West Coast of the United States has finally begun!
Jimmy and I just hit the road for month-long RV adventure through the west coast of the United States, renting an RV in Phoenix, AZ and heading up the California coast to get to the Global Eclipse Gathering in Oregon, then Burning Man in northern Nevada, and looping back around to Phoenix again.
Below is a rough outline of our route:
We were initially supposed to fly into Phoenix late night on August 7 to pick up the RV, but thanks to Delta issuing us a weather waiver due to incoming thunderstorms in the Northeast, we were able to book a much earlier flight and pick up the RV that night instead of the following morning (Delta, we sincerely appreciate the weather waivers, by the way. I hope all airlines are following suit).
Now we’re a day ahead, which any road tripper would tell you is a welcome change in plans. This allows us to have much more freedom and flexibility before we pick up our friends in Oakland, CA and head north for Global Eclipse Gathering in Oregon.
Day One: Flying Day & RV Pickup
We flew into Phoenix to pick up our RV from a local RV rental company, and left the city only after we filled our bellies with Mexican food at some hole-in-the-wall joint by the University (worst idea, or best worst idea?).
From there we headed west on Rt. 10, driving alongside endless stretches of desert before the inevitable words came from the lovely driver, Jimmy: “I’m exhausted.”
So we found a rest stop in Centennial, AZ to lay our heads for our first night.
Day Two: Crossing the border from AZ to CA
One nice thing about Pacific time being three hours behind us East Coasters is that it’s that much easier for us to be early risers here (anyone who knows me will tell you I am NOT a morning person back home!). Jimmy and I woke up bright and early at 5:30am just in time to catch the beautiful desert sunrise.
Then we made our way to the Southern Californian border to our first scheduled destination, Joshua Tree, CA.
It was a scorcher in the desert, topping 100 degrees well before noon. We stopped In Quartzite, AZ right before the California border, a little village off the highway that is reminiscent of an old western movie set, tumbleweeds, abandoned post office and all.
It’s off-season, so most of the town’s shops and restaurants were closed except for one, a little diner called the Mountain Quail Cafe.
After we filled up on eggs and home fries made our way to the Cali border. I was amused that as soon as we made it across the Colorado River and into California it suddenly seemed to get greener.
We made it to Joshua Tree National Park just in time for the hottest point of the day — 107 degrees. Definitely not the right weather for a desert hike, that’s for sure. Driving through the National Park and watching the landscapes change every couple of miles was breathtaking.
After maybe an hour or so, we turned back around to make our way to official destination numero dos, San Diego.
From Joshua Tree, we were presented two route options by Google Maps to get to San Diego: the highway, or the fun way. State Highway 74, more fondly known as Ortega Highway, a scenic, winding climb up and through the mountainside overlooking Palm Desert.
I looked at the squiggles on the map indicating a wild climb up a mountainside, and said to Jimmy, "that looks scary, especially in this RV!"
"Sounds like exactly what I'm looking for," Jimmy said.
Of course, we picked the scenic (and scary) route.
I later found out that this highway has a dark side to it, having been a dumping ground for many dead bodies due to the desolation and endless steep cliffs. Even spookier than I thought!
But look at that view!
We were unsure of where to land once we made it to San Diego, so I read up on the most beautiful beaches and we drove to Solana Beach, a wealthy beach town north of San Diego. We arrived just in time to capture the sunset.
Jimmy cooked us a shrimp and rice dinner, and off to bed we went, parked on the side of the road in a residential community that probably gawked at our RV parked on the side of the road.
Day Three: San Diego Zoo and Ocean Beach
The next morning we woke up bright and early and immediately headed to Solana Beach to capture some drone footage.
We quickly noticed a trend: lots of older people who were very unwilling to acknowledge our friendly “good morning.” We’re guessing this wealthy neighborhood is a bit weary of tourists, even though the beach we were on was open to the public.
San Diego Zoo was at the top of our list, so we made our way there before noon. It was incredible and totally worth spending a little more than anticipated on (as of August 2017, the price for a day pass is $52 per person).
We then walked around and explored downtown San Diego a bit along the bay.
We stopped for a bite to eat at Carnitas Snack Shack, a place famous for - you guessed it, carnitas tacos. And for good reason, they were enormous, stuffed to the brim with juicy meat.
So much for trying the vegan thing.
Afterwards, Jimmy and I ran out of ideas of what to do in San Diego and the sun was beginning to set, so we hopped back in our RV to head a bit north for the night.
Just as we stopped to fill up our tank, I noticed an old friend of mine, Maggie, posted on Snapchat in San Diego. Turns out, her family’s reggae band was playing at Winston’s, a popular music venue in laid-back Ocean Beach.
With nowhere to be, we couldn’t resist stopping by! This, my friends, is my favorite thing about being on the road: the unexpected encounters along the way.
We’ve now just awoken on Day Four, and I’m not sure what’s in store for us today. I know one thing: as soon as this is posted, I’m hitting the beach.
Want to learn more about planning a California Road Trip? Check out the California Road Trip Itinerary from our friends at asideofsunsets.com!