California Part Four: the road trip begins and stalls

After acclimatising to America and travelling, it was time to break away from our cosy stay in San Jose and hit the road in our truck.

If you’ve been following my story so far, it will be of no surprise to hear that we got lost. Majorly. And it was my fault. We were on the way to camp site in Santa Cruz, so when I saw a sign saying that Santa Cruz was in the other direction, I made my travel buddy turn the truck around. After driving around, disorientated for a couple of hours, we realised that our campsite had been about 20 mins from the point where we’d  changed direction. We’d been going the right way the whole time. Our campsite was not in Santa Cruz, it was just outside Santa Cruz, at New Brighton State Beach.

Santa Cruz

The campsite was quite nice, surrounded by trees with the beach in walking distance.  It explained why this site was a bit more expensive. After setting up tent, happily drama-free, we headed off to the supermarket to load up on staples for breakfasts and lunches. American supermarkets are like Disneyland for foodies. Simultaneously, they are terrifying if you cannot make a decision. There was a wall of orange juice and milk. Eventually, we made our choices and headed to the checkout, where we started to realise that the British accent had magical powers in America. Everyone wanted to chat. The guy at the checkout helpfully gave us a clubcard and we saved a fair bit on our purchases.

After a sandwich dinner and a game of cards by lantern light, we pumped up the airbed and settled down for the night. It was early but since we were at the mere age of 18, and the drinking age was 21, we couldn’t go to any bars or anything so we went to sleep.

We had a lovely breakfast of cinnamon rolls and orange juice and then headed into Santa Cruz. We had heard good things but sadly the weather was rather unpleasant meaning that everything was a bit quiet and we couldn’t sunbathe on the big, sandy beach. However, we did visit the boardwalk amusement park, which did indeed keep us amused with a couple of good rollercoasters for a little while.

We found a place for lunch, where we could charge our Sat Nav and then we went to find a library for internet. It wasn’t just that we wanted to go on Facebook but we also managed to book a dorm room in LA. Then it was time to find Pacific Avenue which was apparently the place to be. It was okay. Overall we were glad that we’d gone for the day but it was probably a good thing we weren’t staying for any longer. Shame about the weather.

Another early night was in order, after an attempted shower where I left my shampoo in the tent, a read and a feng shui-ing session, where we rearranged the truck in case we had to migrate from the tent into the back during the night.

In the morning, it was time to move to campsite number two. However, after turning off the freeway and driving down the longest load, we arrived and it was deserted and in the middle of nowhere. We had got used to early nights but 4pm in the afternoon was too far. There was nothing to do and we were a little creeped out so I turned the truck around and drove the two hours back the way we came to Monterey, in the pouring rain. There we checked ourselves into the warm and dry Hostel International.


We immediately headed out for a Subway and then to Cannery Row- the main street through the town. We had a lovely afternoon wandering around the shops and finally going to The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory where I bought a brownie the size of my hand and my travel buddy tried one of their many types of caramel apples. We also started off our shot glass collection- one per country. Perhaps optimistic that we would get 7 glasses home safe and sound. America has so many good sweet shops and Monterey’s the Candy Factory was no exception.

Monterey sweet shop

Predictably it started raining again, but it didn’t matter because we’d found the best place we’d been to since San Francisco and we not in a tent.

The next day was another relaxing day in Monterey. Our hostel provided pancake/waffle-making ingredients for breakfasts and after food we went in search of a pharmacy, which we found on Lighthouse Avenue, to stock up on toiletries. We’d come away with travel wash but were in need of actual shampoo.

On our way to another library, on Pacific Street, for more internet, we passed the Bulldog British Pub on the way. Obviously we had to stop in, even if we couldn’t get served. On a parallel road, we found Osio, a cinema and cafe where we got big, reasonably priced salads and then it was internet time.

Finally back at the hostel and after more internet time and a failed game of monopoly,  we mixed it up with dinner, going for toast rather than sandwiches and then had yet another early night ready for our big drive the next day.


21 thoughts on “California Part Four: the road trip begins and stalls

      1. It sounds like you had a great time there- I’ve never been but will certainly have to try and visit! Only been to America once and reading your blog has shown me how much more I have to see!


      2. Awesome! Glad to be able to swap stories, and feel free to throw me questions or suggestions over at Fieldnotes 🙂 London is my next goal destination, so if you have any thoughts, let me know!


      3. Thank you! Happy to recommend some places in London- it’s a fantastic city. The Southbank is a lovely place to stroll by the river and get some food. There’s some nice shops and restaurants around Covent Garden and usually there’s street performers around there too. Camden has a great market with a really good food court and lots of bars. Trafalgar Square is a nice area and is next to the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery- both of which I really like. Most of the galleries and museums have free entry so it’s definitely worth visiting a few of those (although you do have to pay for special exhibitions). From Trafalgar, you can also wander down to Buckingham Palace or to Leicester Square, which is another good place for food. You can get some great views on a clear day from the London Eye and you can get a combo ticket to save money on other attractions like London Dungeon, the aquarium and Madame Tussauds. I’m sure I’ll think of more soon!


  1. Ahh sounds SO fun!!
    Yeah, being in America when under 21 sucks. I remember being stuck in the middle of nowhere in South Dakota for my 19th birthday….luckily I managed to blag a few beers at a rodeo! X


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