“It’s an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city and possess all the attractions of the next world.”—Oscar Wilde
There are plenty of exotic, warm alternatives to consider, but there is something about the road. This road in particular: the 101 North. There is something about California. Something about wet wetsuits. And hoodies and beanies and jackets. Coffee tastes better, and more necessary. Food warmer. And don’t even get us started on that first beer post Pacific thrashing. Anywhere North of where you are has all the elements necessary to lure you from the safety of your home: danger, beauty, solitude, excitement, nature, cold and adventure — all at the same time. And don’t forget there’s also a world-class city up there somewhere, with arteries of coastline feeding into it that take your breath away with every hairpin turn. Great White sharks swim in plentiful numbers and will toy with your fragile survival instincts every session. You can camp, drive for eternities, or stop and sit right where you are all day and be just as well.
We recently did it old school: loaded up a big 16 passenger van and aimed it north. (I actually don’t advocate this, keeping a low profile is probably a better bet when going north), but we kind of just took full responsibility for our audacity and ended up making friends with some of the most hardened locals because we were so ridiculous when pulling in with RED cameras, 18 surfboards and 8 dudes, we had no other choice but to raise our hands as the parking lot idiots. We usually waited for it to blow out before paddling out.
The perfect road trip number is 3 or if you have two cars it is 7. Remember that.
Here’s some more of what we learned in this WY Guide to going North:
Eat: Save the gourmet feeds for the city. When you’re on the road, take chances on road diners. And snack like a maniac. In fact, this is the perfect opportunity to snack. I don’t know how to snack in my normal life, but put me in a driver seat for hours and I turn into a munch-kin. You should experiment inside the convenience store too. There are wondrous snacks in there. You have hours to nibble, chew and negotiate a variety of candies, chips and Spitz. Take advantage of this road trip feature.
When you do stop, stock up. During our jaunt, Dillon Perillo seems to know the exact coordinates of every Whole Foods along the California coast, which actually worked out nicely for stocking the van with micro brews and a variety of good, relatively nutritious food. Would have never done that on my own, but there’s truly something for everyone in there.
In Santa Cruz:
I Love Sushi: It’s good for a big party of 8 like we had. The sushi is named after sports teams and all the teams we ate were good.
The Bagelry: Coffee and bagels are usually a great way to start the day when it’s cold out. We went here every day.
And be sure to look up local What Youth team rider Cole Sandman. “The Muffin Man” himself. He’ll show you where to surf and then make you take him to lunch.
Watch Muffin Man’s Off Beat here:
In San Francisco/Ocean Beach:
Judahlicious: You don’t need to be vegan to become obsessed. But yes, it’s vegan. But we all loved it, regardless of our appetite for animals. It isn’t cheap, but it’s good and healthy and still hearty enough to fuel your day.
Outer lands: This is where we ate when it was a) not too crowded or b) we wanted to treat ourselves. It’s the spot you’d go for a beer or really nice coffee with your meal and were more or less killing time waiting for the tide or wind to do something. Which is often up here.
Beachside Coffee Bar and Kitchen: Great used book deals happening in the corner and really good iced coffee. Real close to the waves too. And we raided the shit out of the pastries here.
Drink: Gas station coffee for the driver, and Dillon made sure Trumer Pils was in bountiful supply in the backseat of the van. I believe Droid bought bottles of wine and plastic cups for those who wanted something more elegant. Droid, the sommelier…
But in all honesty: Beers are usually in plentiful supply in the van or fridge, just to maintain a steady feel of sanity as you sit on top of each other for hours upon hours. Takes a legend to pass and sip the coffee, and always reward the driver with a purchased libation when you reach your final destination.
Surf: Dillon knows a lot of the spots you’re supposed to check to get clips. But I”ve been doing this trip my whole life, and some of your more fun surfs come when you just see something off the road. It’s good to know a few things. But this guide isn’t for that. Santa Cruz is a guarantee for waves. Big Sur is a major dice roll. The zone just south of Big Sur can be fruitful (Morro Bay zone) and Monterey and Marina always look good but generally try to keep all limbs. Both spots are very sharky. Extra sharky in fact.
Coffee: Trouble Coffee Co.: This is a teeny tiny spot on Judah street and we kicked off every morning here. Great coffee, always a friendly person to stand in line with.
Otherwise, fill that cup every time you stop for gas. You’re going to need it. Recycle your cups though. Or use a thermos. And fuck styrofoam.
Music: A road trip of this magnitude requires the wildest variety. You need Juicy J and you need Kurt Cobain. You need Madonna and you need Slayer. And you need great road trip albums in between like Modest Mouse’s This is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to think about. On our trip, we really got deep with distortion from Smashing Pumpkins and Hole.You need a good person riding shotgun who can feel the energy in the van. It is essential, otherwise you will all meltdown and possibly kill each other in the van.
Zeitgeist: On this trip we discovered the glorious bar that is Zeitgeist. Think about a beer garden: an outdoor area of wooden picnic benches sprawling out under the stars, lit up, but then put a leather jacket on it and blast the heaviest vinyl in your collection. It’s one part awesome outdoor spot, one hundred parts have drinking loud music. Couldn’t love it any more. Their slogan is “Warm Beer, Cold Women.”
Stay: Air B&B or camp in the van: We rented two Air B&B’s on this trip and they worked out perfectly. If you can pul it off, save some dough and camp along the million camping spots along the coast. Then pool some money for a night or two hallway between to recharge and sleep in a bed. Preferably in the city, then you can city stroll and have a home base.
Meet Girls: Campgrounds and the city
When you roll around like a surf equipment bum fight, it may take a special type of girl to talk to you, but it will happen. The bars below may not be hot spots, but we found them to be particularly packed with the right people.
Elbo Room: This is where we spent a team What Youth New Years and a Halloween with Dane once. It’s got pin ball, loud rock and roll, and a club upstairs if the PBR gets you to that point. IT’s cash only so it keeps you in check. But out of the three times we’ve been there, we’ve always had a good time. Even got kicked out for taking a beer into the alley, but, fair enough. We’ll be back.
Make Out Room: This place will throw a sick DJ or a Literature reading at you. You may scratch your head, or have a really weird night with a great cocktail. What a place.
Vesuvio: Still the bar that lends itself to great long nights packed into a booth with close friends overlooking Jack Kerouac Street. We’ve yet to have a bad time here. The staff is fucking awesome, the atmosphere is perfect, and the history is infinite. An absolute gem. No trip to SF is complete without one good stint upstairs.
Dangers: The California coast has all sorts. Including traffic, cold water, lots of rules (America!) sharks and loose women. But we kind of like all those things. Well, some of those things. And most of those things you can plan for, excluding the sharks. It can be ridiculously expensive in San Francisco, but it can also be ridiculously cheap as well.
Now would be a perfect time to leave and hit the road. What else do you need?