Taking a journey doesn’t always mean having to go far. Sometimes journeys just take us into a part of the world we have not yet explored. Sometimes a journey is as simple as trying something we haven’t tried before. Just around the corner is another journey waiting to be found. So, let me start by telling you a little about my wife Suzy and me. We don’t eat at fast food restaurants and we avoid chain restaurants. We are always looking for a unique adventure even with something as simple as a finding the local diner or locally owned restaurant in whatever town we may be visiting. We take that same approach when we travel. We traveled around California this summer and enjoyed our first experience with Airbnb.
Every few days we explored new locations throughout California. Staying on a sailboat in Newport Beach, a beach-side retreat in San Francisco, a beach home in Trinidad, a wonderful garden cottage in Napa, an Airstream in Santa Barbara, and of course a visit to our children and grandchildren in San Diego, along with a bit of a side trip to Tucson, Arizona. And every one of those locations was a new experience. And all along the way we met and connected with wonderful people. In many of those places we enjoyed food that only the locals would have known about. We walked along sections of beach that an average tourist would not know existed. We received the inside scoop on all the best places to eat, drink and discover.
Our first experience with Airbnb was the sailboat in Newport Beach. Getting into the sail club was clearly identified and the host even had a video to watch to help you get in and get accustomed to the workings of the boat. It was the start to an amazing vacation. After a few days, we left for San Francisco and when we arrived at our next Airbnb we had to do a double-take on the address and the location. That feeling that I may have made a terrible mistake overwhelmed my body. We pulled up to the front of the house and saw disconnect notices on a front door and what appeared to be an eviction notice. I started to think that looking for a Holiday Inn was going to be our next step. We took a little drive around the area which bordered on the Great Highway on the west coast of San Francisco to decide what we were going to do and found the neighborhood to be clean and safe. We went back and entered through the back as instructed and found the location to be just as described. We later found out that the previous tenants in the front of the building had just moved out and the Airbnb host was not aware of the notices on the door. The best part of the trip was that we parked our car on the first day and never moved it until we left. Public transportation in San Francisco was some of the best I’ve ever utilized in a city. San Francisco even has an app to purchase bus and rail tickets that was easy to setup and use.
Our next leg of our journey took us to the Redwood National Forest and a beach house destination in Trinidad. We traveled up Highway 101 to get out of San Francisco but soon found ourselves on Highway 128 heading toward the famed Highway 1 then back to 101. There were so many beautiful road and gorgeous sites along the way. Mendocino soon became one of my favorite stops. It was like walking back in time seeing all the water towers behind homes and businesses. We didn’t get a chance to visit for too long but that will be a location we hope to return to in the future. We stayed at the edge of the Redwood National and State Parks in Trinidad with Trinidad Beach to the west of our beach house and Trinidad Harbor to the south. A few sites I wouldn’t miss in the redwoods are the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail. The redwoods, hemlocks and douglas fir trees in that location will bring a sense of calm to even the most stressed traveler. If you get a chance to take a guided tour with a park ranger it will be well worth the effort. The amount of knowledge that the rangers can provide and the one-to-one attention along the path is greater than any Google search could ever provide. Another great side trip while in the redwoods is one to Fern Canyon and Golden Bluffs Beach. The drive in is on a one lane gravel road that travels through redwoods up and down the ravines until you reach the beach. You are led by a ranger with lights on and windows up because the dust is unbelievable. It looks like you are driving through Jurassic Park. In fact, some parts of Jurassic Park 2 were actually filmed in Fern Canyon.
One of the most memorable of Airbnb locations was a family in Santa Barbara that rents out their 23-foot Airstream for a backyard adventure. They have a side yard that is set up like a private campground. Campfire ready for a match and outdoor lighting that just set the calm mood for a surprising city destination.
There will be more to come as we dive into some specifics in future posts.
Until then, start your own journey!