We had always talked about riding the Pacific Coast Highway, but this year we were actually going to do it. With a ton of planning and research by yours truly, the Wild Frogs were off! We left Dallas at 3am and arrived at LAX at 8am PST. After a crazy, hair-raising taxi ride in LA traffic with Farshid, we ended up at Glendale Harley Davidson where we were scheduled to pick up four brand new 2015 Street Glides for our week of adventures. Dave not feeling well for some reason, but we think it might have been a combination of gas station burritos and the 100 mile an hour taxi drive. After a little bit, he began to feel better and we were headed off towards Malibu.
Well I know it sounds cliché, but LA traffic is no joke. It was white knuckles on the 101 all the way to the turnoff to Malibu. I don’t really care to do that again, but it was “all part of the experience” as we always like to say. But it’s the shitty part for sure. The weather was pretty dreary, kinda overcast with thick fog for the most part. We didn’t really see the sun for the entire first day, and the traffic from Malibu going north on PCH1 was also terrible. I figured once we got out of LA we would be fine, but apparently not. We pulled off for lunch at a roadside crab shack after we got a ways out of Malibu but the weather still wasn’t cooperating with us. After filling up our bikes and bellies, we rode on to the next adventure like we always do. We travelled about 70 miles up the coast taking several stops until we finally arrives in Santa Barbara. We found a spot to park and walked down to a private beach where we met some local residents who filled us in on the area. Apparently, the weather is a little gloomy there this time of year and does not clear up until around August. Due to all the graduations going on in Santa Barbara, traffic was terrible and most all the hotels were booked up. They recommended we continue on up to Buellton, CA where hotels would be cheaper and the traffic much lighter.
We finally got into Buellton, CA at about 5pm on Saturday afternoon. It’s a pretty nice town but the hotel was pretty crappy. I didn’t sleep well the night before and I was exhausted after dinner, so Dave gave me a Xanax to help me sleep. David went out to the local pub where he met a guy named Kevin that he hung out with, while me and Phil chilled out and rested up for the next days adventure. We headed out early the next morning at about 7:45 headed north to San Luis Obispo. It was another cloudy day, but we were looking forward to seeing more of the coast. We pulled off in a cool little seaside town called Cayucos and had a lunch of steak n eggs and Bloody Mary’s before continuing up the coast towards San Simeon, CA. Once in San Simeon, we decided to take in a few sites at the world renowned Hurst Castle. While this was not planned, it was a remarkable experience. We didn’t do the grand tour, but an abbreviated one that really left us amazed. Wanna talk about extravagant? Well this is it. So much amazing things to see and the property is indescribably beautiful. There is no telling what its true value is this day and age. Priceless? Maybe…The weather was finally beginning to look much better and the sun was finally creeping out. We headed north on the PCH1 scouting sea lions on the beach and stopping off at Big Sur to take a few photos. It doesn’t get much better than this, or so I thought.
We were late getting in, but we spent the night in Monterey, CA the second night and headed out the next morning at about 8:30am on Monday morning. Originally, we were planning to ride all the way north to Redwood National Park, but it became clear that we were going to have some seriously hard and fast riding in order to make it there and back in our allotted time. So we abandoned that plan an opted to head inland to Lake Tahoe. Before doing so, we went down to the pier took some photos, visited the Monterey Harley Davidson shop and did a little sightseeing. After a Bloody Mary, we left Monterey towards Lake Tahoe on highway 5 which is a fantastic ride. Along the way we passed dozens of farms and Strawberry fields, limes, oranges, vineyards and all the scents were fantastically overwhelming. After some interstate riding and a stop off for lunch, we finally got on highway 88 towards Lake Tahoe which is also a beautiful ride and arrived Lake Tahoe at about 6pm. Me and Dave hung out at the hotel and had a pizza dinner and a $2 beer, and Dave had a $3 water, while Phil went down and did some gambling. Now Phil said he won $450 on a straight flush to the King, but you never know about Phil. I don’t think he can count too well and besides, he’s well known to have a gambling problem. The next morning, we ate at ihop, headed out in some chilly weather and drove around the entire lake stopping occasionally to snap a few photos in Incline Village and Emerald Bay. We went on down and had a burger before heading out on 89 South towards Yosemite. It’s hard to say which ride was best on this trip, but this highway 89 was just amazing. It was worth the trip just for this particular stretch of road that eventually connects with highway 395. After hitting 395 we passed Mono Lake which is in the town of Lee Vining, CA. Here we found nice little hotel across from the lake and set off to find some supper. We picked up BBQ from Bodie Mikes BBQ and took it back to the room where we chowed down on a plethora of beef and pork and played a little poker. The BBQ wasn’t too shabby. We are from Texas after all, so we know good BBQ when we taste it.
After a good nights rest and a hardy breakfast at Nicely’s restaurant, we headed out on highway 120 west and into Yosemite National Park. It was a perfect day starting out with sunny skies and a temperature of 70 degrees. Now I had always heard of Yosemite National Park, but I never really researched it until after this trip. My only regret is that we didn’t spend more time here, but the time we did have was magical. We have had some beautiful rides over the past few years, but for me, this was one of the top three for sure. You just don’t see scenery like this, even in Colorado. The Redwood trees were gigantic and amazing, and the different colors of rock, lakes and mountains were very unique to my eyes. We made a few stops to take in the views and went for a very short hike. Seems the boys were a little out of shape for this type of adventure, but we finally ended up at Half Dome where we took a few photos. With the limited amount of time we had, we pretty much just drove through the park and out the west side to Yosemite Valley where the temperature was a blistering 103 degrees. After a brutally hot drive across the valley through Merced we crossed over I-5 and headed back to Monterey, CA where it was a cold and wet 46 degrees. So we went from 70 degrees, to 103, to 46 degrees all in a span of a few hours. That’s California for you.
We spent the night in Monterey once again and headed back south on highway 1 through Carmel, stopping several times to take in the wonderful views of the Pacific. Of course, we stopped at the Bixby Creek Bridge and Big Sur to capture those iconic photos that you see in the magazines. The weather was so much better today than it was the first day on the PCH1, so we took our time as we made our way back south. We stopped off at a roadside café close to Big Sur and had a burger and then ended up in Pismo Beach, CA for the evening. The ride from Monterey to Pismo Beach only took about five hours with stops so we got in pretty early. After checking into the hotel, we ventured out in this cool little seaside town and took in the sights. They had a car show and some pretty cool shops and we finally ended up at Harry’s Bar for some grub and a few cocktails. As a matter-o-fact, Dave got a free drink after the rickety ol chair he was sitting in collapsed sending him to the floor in a hail of embarrassment. At least we’ll just say the chair was rickety anyway. But it was a cool little place with live music and good atmosphere. The next morning we headed out south to Santa Maria where we stopped at the local Harley Davidson dealership to pick up a few t-shirts before heading back to LA. As opposed to staying on the coast this time, we headed east on highway 166 through the valley for a pretty lack luster drive for about an hour. We were dowsed with some cow urine after getting stuck behind a cattle truck but eventually arrived at highway 33 which would take us south through the Los Padres National Forest which was amazing. This ride had some great elevations and tight switchbacks which made a nice final ride for the Wild Frogs California adventure. We were running pretty tight on time to return the bikes, but we stopped off at a nice roadside restaurant in Ojala, CA for a $12 salad and $5 ice tea before risking our lives once again in the LA traffic. Once we dropped off the bikes, we took an Uber down to Hermosa Beach, CA where we would spend our final night in California. We settled in and walked down to the boardwalk to check out a restaurant that was recommended to us by the locals called, Killer Shrimp. After a bit of culinary indulgence on shrimp and lobster, we walked back to the hotel with Blueberry Yum Yum desert thanks to our host Farshid. The morning came early at 5:30, but man what a wonderful trip. This type of adventure is something only most people dream of, but I’m happy to say I lived it. And I did it with two of the best friends a man could ask for. My Wild Frog brothers.