Early Fall Road Trip up the California Coast

While California does not have traditional seasons like most places, since the weather is never more than a slight variation of 70 and sunny, there is still a noticeable change in the air when autumn begins to slowly approach. Instead of the changing colors of leaves, we see crowds disappear at our local beaches, surf breaks, and camp spots. The weather may not start to cool as quickly as most places, but the ocean water temperature drops, more wetsuits are noticed in the lineup, and the anticipation of winter swells is palpable along any seaside town.

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The Aloha for People team decided to take full advantage of this remarkable time of the year and take a road trip up the California coast to see how the different coastal areas reacted to the inevitable fall months. We hopped in our '89 VW Vanagon, affectionately named Vansel Adams, and headed north from Hermosa Beach towards San Luis Obispo. While this adventure certainly was more for our souls, we also had a large shirt order to deliver to SLO Town and this seemed like a perfect excuse to kill two birds with one stone.

On Saturday morning, we rose with the sun, grabbed coffee at one of our local favorite spots, Two Guns in Manhattan Beach, and began our northerly voyage with shirts in tow, cameras at the ready to document anything worth noting along this legendary coastal drive. We hit the 101 before most of the Westside dwellers had woken from last night’s shenanigans and morale was high as we cruised towards Ventura.

Now, no coastal drive in search for waves and deeply religious experiences can be made without a stop in Ventura. This town boasts legendary surf breaks at C Street and South Jetty as well as being the home to Dane Reynolds, Patagonia, and one of our favorite breakfast spots, Busy Bee Café. However, the surf was flat as we barreled through town so we didn’t paddle out. We did meet up with our friend and incredible host, Parfait Eklu. He owns Barrel 33, a boutique bar with a warm and cozy atmosphere along with an unparalleled wine list. Parfait prides himself on the experience he provides his guests, which is as unparalleled as his wine list. We always love to see Parfait when we pass through Ventura.

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We ventured on through Santa Barbara, past the legendary Rincon Beach, which could have been named Rincon Lake on this day. As we passed through Gaviota, something stopped us in our tracks. It was a small shoulder on the side of the southbound 101 that had been turned into a makeshift parking lot next to literal train tracks. We decided this was a perfect place to get out and explore, take in the day, and make sure we weren’t overworking Vansel. A small sign on the tracks said “No trespassing” but the path beyond the tracks filled with shoe prints told us a different story. We took the path to the edge of the cliffs where we were greeted with a gorgeous view of the great Pacific Ocean. Standing above the water about 50 feet gave us an incredible vantage point to admire the beauty of the ocean and its vast size. Nothing can make you feel smaller and more humbled than taking a few moments to admire the ocean. We gathered our thoughts and our things and continued northbound.

We reached SLO around lunch time and were able to drop off the shirts, visit with our pals at the old fraternity house for a bit, and then score some Firestone Grill tri-tip sandwiches before the major Saturday afternoon rush hit. After our bellies were full and our souls revitalized by the divine sustenance, we loaded back up and reversed directions, southward towards home.

Getting out of the big city can reinspire, revitalize, and overall recharge oneself. We reflected on our journey as we approached LA and the city lights thanking each other for getting us out of bed and onto an adventure. The colder weather ahead brings shorter days but also lots of opportunity. We are excited for these months and will continue to build the Aloha for People brand thanks to the encouragement and care from our friends, family, and Aloha Ambassadors everywhere. Until the next adventure…

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Brian Poage