This California road trip was among the top vacations we have ever taken. It ranks right up there with our Florida road trip and our trip to Captain’s Quarters last year. This was an 8-day adventure that we will never forget and I am thrilled to share our journey with you!
This post will contain day 1 and 2 of our trip. I will post the others one day at a time as I get them written.
California Road Trip ~ Day 1
We started out our trip at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport at 5:30 am. There was a 2-hour layover at Dallas Love Field Airport that we used to eat an early lunch and we got to LAX at around 1:00. Once we touched down it was non-stop fun for 8 days! We headed to Enterprise Car Rental to pick up our rental car. Even though we paid for a compact car we used a coupon and got a free double upgrade. We drove out with a 2018 Mazda CX5 as our home base of operations for the next 8 days. From that point on we had no plans and no reservations!
Our first stop was at In & Out Burger in Marina Del Rey. We fell in love with their burgers the last time we visited California when our grandson Bronson was born. After filling our bellies we decided we needed to find a hotel for the night.
How We Pick Our Hotels
We set a goal of around $100.00 a night for a hotel. We didn’t need fancy or frills because on this trip we would only be using the hotel as a place to sleep. All we needed was clean, comfortable and safe. To find our hotels we used hotels.com and TripAdvisor. These two sites have never let us down. We read the reviews on TripAdvisor then book the hotel on hotels.com because after 10 bookings you get a free night!
We ended up at the Rodeway Inn & Suites Pacific Coast Highway in Harbor City. While it sounds like it is on the coast it was one of those points that PCH veers off into the city. The beaches were just a short drive away though. It was clean and comfortable and fit our budget. There was nothing special about this hotel but it did fit the bill.
White Point / Royal Palms Beach Park
After we stowed our gear we headed out for our first excursion. We drove to Santa Monica around the pier but decided not to stop because it was just too crowded. We ended up going to White Point / Royal Palms Beach Park in San Pedro.
This was the perfect place to start our California road trip. We parked the car and basked in the beauty around us. I started taking some pictures while Phillip got out his drone. There was a sign beside the rocks by the shore that said Please do not abandon or feed animals. I was a little bewildered by this but continued about my business.
I noticed an older lady sitting on the sidewalk petting a cat. As I took more pictures I realized there were other cats in the rocks by the shore. In a few minutes another lady pulled up and together they started laying out food and water on the rocks. It didn’t take long for more cats to come out of the rocks and enjoy their meals. I struck up a conversation with one of the ladies while Phillip flew his drone.
The Cats in The Rocks
She said she had been coming here twice a day for 18 years to feed the cats. She came here on vacation and fell in love with the place and convinced her husband to move here. When she first started taking care of the cats, there were upwards of 50! She told me that throughout the years she caught them and took them to be spayed or neutered and she rehomed all the kittens. These few cats were the last ones. They were all pretty old and she figured there wouldn’t be any left in the next couple of years or so. As we were talking a raccoon came out of the rocks and started eating! She laughed at the look on my face and said he was a regular visitor! I really enjoyed meeting this woman who had dedicated her life to taking care of these cats.
We headed back to our hotel and noticed a donut shop on the way. We just had to stop at Granny’s Donuts where we got 1/2 a dozen mixed donuts to eat for dessert when we got back to our room. They were fresh and delicious. We settled in for the night around 8:30. It had been a long day and we were really exhausted.
California Road Trip ~ Day 2
We left our hotel at around 9:30 for the first full day of our California road trip. Phillip wanted to go to Westwood Cemetery to see Marilyn Monroe’s final resting place. Along the way, we saw the Los Angeles National Cemetery and decided to stop so I could snap a few pictures. I looked at all the tombstones all perfectly lined up row after row and I was in awe. It was very humbling to see all these graves of people who had given their lives for our country.
We started back on our way and ironically we passed a passed a full-blown “I hate Trump” rally! Of course, we didn’t stop as this is not something that I wanted to participate in!
Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park
The Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park was the most peaceful little cemetery I had ever seen. I put together a slideshow of some of the graves that I recognized along with the photos of the Los Angeles National Cemetery and also from the Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery that we visited later in the day. Take a peek and see how many you recognize.
Beverly Hills & Hollywood
We stopped to eat at a wonderful place in West Hollywood called the Saddle Ranch Chop House. I loved this place. I felt that the salad I ordered was decently priced and very tasty. After we ate the manager brought us a complimentary dessert, a piece of snickers pie! It was oh so good! The best part of eating here was the entertainment. A couple of young men came up and offered to sing for us. I tried to trip them up by suggesting some Led Zeppelin. They blew me away with their version of Ramble On!
We continued our drive on to Hollywood up into the hills and then stopped to visit the Walk of Fame. Check out the slideshow below to see what Beverly Hills & Hollywood look like to the average tourist.
Finishing the Day
We decided to get a start on our drive to Yosemite so we headed on out and ended our day around 8:00 that evening when we checked into the 99 Palms Inn and Suites in Tulare. This was the most disappointing hotel we stayed in. The pool was closed even though it was still daylight and hot outside so we could not swim. The key card didn’t work well because the slot was full of dust. The owner told us it was because Tulare is considered the dust bowl capital of the west. All that would have been ok but the room, while it was clean, was very old and worn. We didn’t realize it until we were ready for bed but Phillip’s side of the bed was so worn that he had to put a pillow under his side so he wouldn’t roll off of it!
Stay Tuned For More
I hope you enjoyed Days 1 & 2 of our whirlwind road trip through California. I will post new posts in the days to come as I get them together. Come on back so you can see how the rest of our trip went!
Part 2 is now available!