California Road Trip – Live Report

My parents and I are on our way up the coast of California from Laguna Beach to Los Angeles to San Francisco, with a lot of stops along the way. Join us the next few days as I share live photos from the road at our stops from our journey from Southern California, along the coast and through the middle of the state, to NorCal.

I’m trying to get the hang of this live posting thing, using iPhone photos exclusively and the WordPress app on my phone to update the post as we travel. I’ll be back with a more comprehensive report in the near future, which will include more stories from the road, plus “real” photos taken with my DLSR.

We’ll start with a couple from yesterday in Laguna Beach. It was a beautiful day and stunning sunset…

On the first day of the road trip itself, we headed north, with the first stop being Griffith Observatory…

First photo from an abnormally gorgeous day in LA at Griffith Observatory.

I believe this man invented a line of breakfast sausages, and has been immortalized at this Hollywood observatory for that culinary achievement.

The view from Griffith Observatory was stunning today (those clouds are something else!), but the architecture of the observatory itself is just as impressive to me.

My parents wanted to see some icons in Hollywood, so we headed to Hollywood & Highland. Here’s a pano of the Chinese Theater.

Something was being filmed in front of El Capitan theater that had one of the lanes closed. Just in case LA traffic wasn’t bad enough for you.

All of this wasn’t really my scene, but I guess it’s something to cross off the list. It has all of the tackiness of Times Square (including Micky Mousse!), with a California twist.

Another of Griffith Observatory, out of order for some reason.

Some assorted photos from Old Mission Santa Barbara:

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Pano of the inside of the church at Old Mission.

Dinner consisted of beef tongue, lip, and cheek tacos from Lilly’s Tacos in Santa Barbara. Who knew weird parts of the cow could be so delicious?

Day 2

That is not the sunrise over Morro Bay, California–it’s the warm glow of the power plant gracing the coastal skyline! 😉

The way Morro Rock just seems to rise out of the water is pretty impressive, and the Embarcadero looks like it offers some delicious local foods. I wish we had more time to explore this city, but it’s off to the next stop.

In the comments, Michael recommended a place called Raven’s Deli as a good spot for sandwiches. Never one to pass on a delicious sandwich, I was in.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying attention and ordered the tri tip special, which wasnt a sandwich…

However, 75 cents later…BOOM! Sandwich!

Michael’s recommendation was spot-on, as we all loved the food. I guess I won’t block his IP Address from reading the blog. 😉


Made it in and out of Sequoia, and what an amazing day it was. Beautiful, fresh snow and a gorgeous blue sky, plus those humbling Giants.


Panorama of sunset at Kings Canyon Overlook. This looked much better in person, I assure you (and hopefully better on my real camera).


General Sherman, the tallest tree in the world. No photo can adequately capture the scale and grandiosity of this giant.


I don’t normally photograph giant sequoias, but when I do, I prefer to do so sitting on the snow, so my clothing is sufficiently wet for the car ride to Yosemite… (I’m that blue dot in front of the tree.)


Dinner at South Gate Brewing Co. Solid meal, but definitely not 4.5/5 start quality as the 300+ Yelp reviews might suggest. Maybe it’s graded on a curve because this is a gateway town…

More updates to follow from Yosemite tomorrow!

If you’re planning a California road trip or vacation, check out my California category of posts for other things to see and do. 

Your Thoughts…

Any thoughts on the places we’ve visited? Recommendations for additional stops between Los Angeles and San Francisco? Have any questions or other thoughts? Please share below in the comments!

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13 replies
  1. Kayla
    Kayla says:

    Love the light and shadow on the first Old Mission Santa Barbara photo. Sounds like an awesome journey ahead of you, fun to follow along!

    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks! We got really lucky with Old Mission Santa Barbara–we got there right as they ended the self-guided tours for the day, so not only was the light perfect, but all of the buildings were virtually empty.

    • Kayla
      Kayla says:

      Another great day of live photos! Looking forward to a CA road trip like this one day. It’s bringing back childhood memories while I follow along.

  2. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    We felt exactly the same after visiting the Chinese theater. I was checked off the list and isn’t anywhere we’d go again. I strongly prefer the WDW version!

    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      Interestingly enough, it was my parents’ favorite part of the day. I was excited to show them Griffith Observatory (my favorite spot in LA), and neither were all that impressed.

  3. Darrin Robichaud
    Darrin Robichaud says:

    Even the iphone shots you take are awesome. Love the live updates and cannot wait to see the real camera shots. Thanks again.

  4. Michael
    Michael says:

    Gorgeous shots!

    When you make it a bit further up the coast – and if you’re in the mood for clam chowder – check out The Splash Cafe in Pismo Beach. We used to go there all the time on family trips to the coast. Fair warning: it can get busy, but it’s worth the wait!

    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks for the recommendation in Pismo Beach. Unfortunately, it was already getting late as we drove through; I definitely want to go back at some point, so I’ll keep the suggestion in mind. I mean, Pismo Beach has “Dinosaur Caves Park.” Dinosaurs AND caves?! Might as well call the place “Heaven on Earth Park.” 😉

      If anyone else has restaurant recommendations, particularly between Morro Bay and Three Rivers on the 41 or 198, please let me know!

    • Michael
      Michael says:

      You’re passing right through my old stomping grounds! I grew up in Hanford, and if you’re going up to Three Rivers, you’ll pass right through it!
      – It may be out of your way on this leg of the trip, but Harris Ranch (at the intersection of 198 and I-5) does great steaks, with the cattle raised just up the road. There’s even a small airstrip onsite so that pilots can stop in for a meal. Good cookies for sale in the bakery if you don’t want to stop for long.
      – If you’ve never had a tri-tip sandwich, pop in at Raven’s Deli in Armona, CA, which is between Lemoore and Hanford (Raven’s is less than a mile north off the 14th Ave. exit from 198). They also do deep-pit beef and turkey, and sell seasoned salts by the canister. Great stuff for grilling!
      – My recommendations in Hanford are colored by nostalgia, I’m sure, but hey! If you need a meal and are feeling like pizza, Boston House of Pizza on 10th Ave. in town is a family favorite, and by far the most popular pizza joint in town. (I love it cold the next morning, too, but that might be hard to handle on the road).
      – If you’ve already eaten, though, there’s a famous ice cream parlor in the middle of downtown Hanford – Superior Dairy on Douty Street. I love their Lemon ice cream, and their Rocky Road is fantastic, too. You might consider getting an S.O.S. to share if you don’t want to pick just one flavor. It’s also just across from the historic Civic Auditorium and Courthouse Square.

      Enjoy the drive! The San Joaquin Valley isn’t exactly the most scenic part of the state – flat as a pancake once you get over the coast range – but it’s spoiled me with great produce for the rest of my life…!

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