The Serendipitous Road Less Traveled


We had a plan. It was a very good plan, too.

The Plan:

  • Drive our daughter’s belongings to Oakland, leaving early Thursday morning.
  • Unload U-Haul trailer, return trailer to U-Haul, give giant hugs and kisses to our daughter, then get back on road.
  • Drive until my eyes are bleary, then pull over at closest motel to get some much needed sleep.
  • Wake early, drive home (missing L.A. traffic if at all possible!).
  • Arrive home early afternoon Friday.

Sure, it was a rockstar trip up and back, but it was totally do-able.

Until we tried to do it.

After a long day of driving WAY too slow towing a trailer loaded with all our daughter’s belongings, my nerves were fried. As I watched my husband shuffle boxes and cruft to the storage unit, I made a decision. We would not stay in a motel as previously decided ~ we were going to take the road less traveled.

That’s when I found us a room in Carmel. A sweet little place complete with a fireplace and jacuzzi tub. Heaven.

Watching the sunrise over the ocean was breathtaking. I've never seen mist on the water before.

Watching the sunrise over the ocean was breathtaking. I’ve never seen mist on the water before.

It’s been on our bucket list for years to visit Carmel and while we didn’t get to see much of the town in our 10-hour stay, the drive down the coast more than made up for it.

I’ve only driven the coast once before ~ way back in my twenties and I vaguely remember being terrified. It’s a twisty two-lane road with more drop offs than David cares to remember. Poor guy, he was the designated photographer and every so often he’d look down and get queasy.

But the views!

The northern coastline is vastly different to what we have in SoCal. Rocky, mountainous, with cows grazing in pastures right up to the sand in some areas. It was lovely.


So lovely in fact, David and I were dreamily making plans to retire there.


If we’d stayed withΒ The Plan, we would’ve missed the opportunity to see wildlife *THIS CLOSE* to us.

We would’ve missed a rushing river that peeked through the woods.


Sure, there is plenty to see along Interstate 5, but we saw all that the day before. Gorgeous vistas of crops, pastures of sheep, cows, and horses. Orchards of varying sizes and colors.

I fell in love with California in those two days. What a varied state in which I live.

Where you have snow capped mountains a short drive from the surf. Cows lolling about across the street from sea lions (or they could’ve been manatees, I’m really not sure!). Forests lining the highway just a stone’s throw from rocky cliffs.


Taking a detour to Carmel wasn’t a part ofΒ The Plan, but isn’t that what spontaneity and serendipity are all about? David and I are happy that we took the road less traveled. Even though it meant we got into L.A. smack in the middle of rush-hour traffic, we didn’t care. The beauty we saw earlier in the day stayed with us through the clogged freeways and smoggy valleys of Los Angeles.

If you ever have a chance to deviate from the plan, do it! You never know what you’ll find and really, isn’t that what makes life exciting?

So tell us, have you ever altered course and found yourself somewhere fabulous? Where’s one place you’ve always wanted to visit, but keep putting off?

The trip gave us a chance to play around with the panorama feature on my phone. It's goofy, but so fun!

The trip gave us a chance to play around with the panorama feature on my phone. It’s goofy, but so fun!


47 thoughts on “The Serendipitous Road Less Traveled

  1. Gorgeous! I’ve driven that road…well, my dad drove. I rode. But I remember it being absolutely breathtaking. It’s funny, most people don’t play tourist in their own state but they really should. There’s so much out there…shame to waste it! I’m so glad you took the road less traveled. I say you do it again, as soon as possible πŸ˜€

    • Thanks Melinda! Ack! I thought I came by here and answered all the comments, but I didn’t. I hate it when I do that.

      What a cool memory you have of the drive with your family. I agree, we tend to take our state for granted, but we plan to go out on more adventures and learn what California has to offer. You and your hubs should do that too, now that you’re in a new place. It would be fun!

  2. Gorgeous photos, Tameri! I love the coast road and would love to be there again one day. In 1978, my hubs and I drove from LA to Tehatchepi. We took the coast road first to LaJolla to a relative’s home then headed farther north. Absolutely breathtaking views! If I could visit just one place, it would be Monterey, CA.
    I agree with Melinda that there is so much wonderful stuff to see in every state. If I could travel as much as I want, I would visit every single state and see all it has to offer. Might take us several years to do that – all the better!
    So happy for you guys that you had a mini vacay on your way home! Simply Serendipitous!

    • It’s amazing to me how many of you have been on that road. It’s famous! Well, actually it is, but anyway… And you were so close to where I live when you went to La Jolla. So cool! If only we’d known each other then.

      To have an unlimited travel budget ~ that would be heaven. David wants to rent a RV and drive through every state. Some year ~ after I get to see more of Europe. πŸ˜‰

    • Thanks Angela! I’m just sad we missed a visit with you. I was done by the time we drove through your area. By the time we got to Carmel, if we didn’t have that jacuzzi, I would’ve been out cold. Next time, though. We’ll get together again.

    • Me too, Coleen. Alaska! Brrr. I’ve heard it’s gorgeous there ~ my mom’s been twice and she always brings back salmon she caught. Best fish I’ve ever eaten, seriously. Have fun when you go!

    • Yep, totally. We like to quote random movies and memes around here, so I’m always saying, “It’s an adventure, Charrrrrrlie”. This time it really was! That quote is from a really stupid video called, ‘Charlie the Unicorn’. If you have 3 1/2 minutes, check it out. It’s silly, but makes me laugh.

  3. Hi Tameri – The central coast of California is my absolute favorite place in the entire world. Monterey and Carmel were our stomping grounds for 13 wonderful years until my career moved us to DC. Nothing like a little culture shock! We thought we’d retire on the west coast. Silly us. We loved everything about living on the coast. We thought nothing of a Sat or Sun brunch in Big Sur or dinner at Clint’s place at Mission Ranch. Living there was 13 years of heaven on earth and nothing has equaled it since. The entire central coast is meant for leisurely days of unplanned wandering.

    • Hey Sheri! Love the new pic of you.

      Wow, you lived up there? Going from Monterey to DC would be a huge shock for me, too! I love this line, ‘We thought nothing of a Sat or Sun brunch in Big Sur or dinner at Clint’s place at Mission Ranch.’ Of course, you’re talking about Clint Eastwood, right? As in, you actually knew him? Crazy!

      When we retire there, you can come visit and we’ll have some leisurely days of unplanned wandering. I love that line, too.

      • Yes, we lived in Carmel Valley for 13 wonderful years. I still call it heaven on earth. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many nights Tom and I spent in Carmel (with just the 2 of us we had dinner out almost every night and then would go to one of the outdoor bars and listen to music or just hang out. Often we’d stay after dinner at The Mission Ranch. And, yes – Clint is Clint Eastwood. He owns The Mission Ranch and sometimes you can catch him at the piano. He wrote much of the music for The Bridges of Madison County at that particular piano. We loved everything about living and even everything about working there. Tom’s work was in several studios and we’d been in one place long enough to have really good friends. Life was indeed good. However – now that I’ve retired from the government and being bounced around, and finally finding a place where we have great medical care and great friends – we are home and it feels good again. We still have a lot of friends in Monterey/Carmel so there’s always that slight chance – – – never is a long way off!

  4. Beautiful photos, Tameri! I’m so glad you enjoyed your time on the less travelled road – years ago I remember visiting friends who drove us up the Monterey coast, and it was absolutely, incredibly breathtaking; I loved it! I even walked through the water along the beach … sigh, what a lovely memory, thank you! πŸ™‚ xoxox

    • Thank you so much, Darling! That water is c-c-c-cold. That’s why the otters love it so much. Me? Not so much.

      I’m so glad you were able to enjoy the coast road. It truly is breathtaking. And quite amazing how different the coast is in Northern California as opposed to Southern California. I loved the cliffs and mountains dipping right down to the water.

      Thanks for sharing your memory with us, too!

  5. Where did you stay in Carmel? Dale and I used to go there every year for our anniversary. Then Marcus’ schedule got too hectic and we stopped, but we started up again last year. Wine tasting, horseback riding, a visit to Monterey to the tres fab aquarium, then a brewery ten minutes away… It. Was. Glorious.

    • We stayed at the Candlelight Inn. I forget what street it’s on, but it’s between 4th and 5th streets. Wow, we didn’t see any of those things. We really do need to go back and stay longer.

      Will you be returning now that Marcus is a bit older and you have more time with Dale? That jacuzzi tub was mighty nice! πŸ˜‰

  6. Yes, great photos Tameri! It brought it all back, the time I drove up Route One on my own for a ‘tryst’ with an estranged boyfriend. I think I took three days, staying in Monterey and San Luis Obispo, taking photos of my sporty little yellow hire car against the scenery. The ‘tyst’ turned out to be ‘triste’, but I’ll never forget that trip. 1980.

  7. Okay, I promise to behave myself on your blog today. LOL!

    Yes, yes, yes, I love it when plans change! Congrats to you and hubby Tameri for deviating from “The Plan!” That drive down interstate 1 along the northern coast is the most breathtaking drives in California. And, what’s not to love about Carmel? Monterey and Carmel is our favorite go to place to get away. I don’t know how many times we’ve been there for an anniversary. It’s just beautiful. And then when you get to San Simeon, wow! So glad you squeezed in a mini vaca with the hubby Tameri. Those are special memories. πŸ™‚

    • You are far too funny. You never have to behave yourself here! Be as kooky as you’d like, we love it.

      I love that Carmel and Monterey are your go-to get away places! We hopped over to the 101 at Half Moon Bay, but next time I think we’ll stay on 1 the entire way. It’s just too pretty on the coast. Although, I did love the pastures and scenery a bit more inland. It was like being in another world even though we were still in our home state. Wild!

      I hope you and your husband are able to get away sometime in the near future. You could use a good vacation right about now!

  8. Highway 1 is the best road to travel if you want to see California. It runs the ful gammit of what California has to offer. I love that drive.

    I’ve always wanted to visit Alaska. It’s on my bucket list. I am going to visit very soon.

    I’m so glad you got to enjoy this fabulous trip. I think those might have been elephant seals. I’m pretty sure California has no manatees.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Alaska for you, too?! I like watching documentaries about Alaska, but seeing the bluish white ice always makes me happy to be in a warm house. Too cold for me, I’m afraid. I hope you get there very soon ~ I’d love to see your pictures. πŸ™‚

      I’m pretty sure they were elephant seals, too. David and I just liked saying, ‘Oh, the huge-manatee!’. You know, like, ‘Oh, the humanity!’ but different. We’re nerds that way.

  9. Love that last picture. It’s been years, but Scott and I have driven along there. So glad you changed the plan and got to see all that. Some times you just need to slow down and enjoy. Life goes by too quickly as it is. I was waving as you were driving by. πŸ˜‰

  10. Beautiful post, Tameri! The photos are almost as lovely as your sentiment.

    My husband and I ended up at Point Dume after dropping my mom off at LAX last fall. By attempting a side streets route home to dodge traffic, we landed at one of the most gorgeous lookouts and hiking spots we’ve experienced. Serendipitous diversions rock!

    • What a fun side trip! See? Taking a detour can bring about really cool things. Now I want to see Point Dume and hike around. I could have another serendipitous meeting with one of my favorite authors there, maybe! (in case you didn’t get it, that would be you)

  11. Not following the plan can be full of great surprises. I’m with you on checking out our home states (though I’ve always wanted to visit Maine, Colorado and Montana). We were checking Michigan out a few years ago, planning to spend the day at Lake Michigan.

    Lake Michigan is a BIG lake…but there wasn’t any easily accessible public access in Holland, so we wound up getting lost in the country, where we saw cows that looked like someone painted the front half black and the back half white…it was weird.

    Finally, fearing that we might wind up in Ireland or something, I started following a pickup truck. Freaked the kids out. They’re like, “You don’t know where they’re going!” My response, “I don’t know where we’re going either!”

    Amazingly enough, after a good hour of not knowing where in the heck we were, they pulled in at a camp ground…on Lake Michigan. Just a quarter mile walk on a path through the woods…and we found the lake. πŸ™‚

    • What a great story! I love it ~ you followed some random truck and they led you to where you needed to go. I’ve heard Lake Michigan looks like the ocean, it’s so big. Someday I need to see it for myself and visit with you, that would be awesome!

      • It was pretty cool how it turned out. Now I pretty much avoid Holland when I want to get to the lake and head for Grand Haven or Muskegon.

        And Lake Michigan is HUGE. We even have surfers here. Obviously the waves aren’t like they’d get on an ocean, but we’ve had some 25 footers. Here’s a link for what it looked like during Hurricane Sandy…and some IDIOT even tried surfing…right near a pier. I hope he wasn’t killed.

        That would be great if you came to see our lake. Maybe we could surf… πŸ˜‰

      • Wow, that video is intense! That guy is a total idiot. Good thing nothing happened to him. I wouldn’t attempt those waves ever.

        I’m putting Michigan on my bucket list of places to visit. Even if we don’t surf, we can still enjoy the lake and each other’s company! Just ~ not in the winter. Brrr.

  12. You have shocked me Tameri. A Californian who hasn’t made that drive? Hasn’t gone to Carmel? I’m gasping. Every business trip I had out that way I tried to do all or part of that drive. It’s just too lovely not to experience.

    You are one smart cookie for deviating from The Plan. And, for figuring out how to use that panoramic shot. : )

    • I know, right! I made the drive about 25 years ago, but I was young and stupid and didn’t fully enjoy the beauty of the landscape. I’m so glad Dave and I finally did it. Now we need to go back and fully explore. The panoramic feature is fun ~ Dave will use it any chance he gets. He’s such a kook!

  13. Love the pics AND your decision to have a small adventure! That’s always a good idea! So even your north of the border pal has driven that fabulous route – from San Fran to San Diego with a couple of days in Carmel and other spots along with route. Loved it! I’m a bit late dropping in here but SO glad I did! xo

    • Wow, even you? But then, you’re one well-traveled lady, so I’m not at all surprised. Too bad we didn’t know each other then, or we could’ve met when you stopped in San Diego. I still say we need to make a trip to France together. I so wish I could go on your writing adventure this year!

  14. Yes, California is an inexhaustible treasure trove, isn’t it? I lived here for more than five years before I realized there was this big agricultural area in the middle of the state with roads that cut through hundreds of miles of cows and fields. I got to drive through it for three hours recently and it was quite the experience.

    • Hey Chris, thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      It is so wild how the whole middle of the state is this huge agricultural center. As we drove up the 5, we saw orange groves, avocados, sheep, cows, horses, grapes, and a bunch of other crops that we couldn’t figure out what was planted. Then, if you go even further north, you have the grandeur of Tahoe. it’s an amazing state, to be sure.

      I’m so glad you got to drive through it and enjoy the scenery.

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