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. Melinda VanLoneMelinda VanLone

    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˜€

  2. MarciaMarcia

    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!

  3. Angela WallaceAngela Wallace

    I’m glad you got to have such a relaxing and gorgeous drive back. πŸ™‚

  4. Coleen PatrickColeen Patrick

    I love those kinds of detours–beautiful pics! I’ve always wanted to go to Seattle and Alaska–we are hoping to do that this year. πŸ™‚

  5. Rebecca EnzorRebecca Enzor

    Beautiful! Sometimes a hitch in The Plan can be the most marvelous adventure! πŸ™‚

  6. Tracey LivesayTracey Livesay

    It looks absolutely beautiful! As someone who plans obsessively, I’ll remember this post when my plan goes awry. πŸ™‚

  7. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.

    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.

  8. Julie CatherineJulie Catherine

    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

  9. Gayle CarlineGayle Carline

    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.

  10. misguidedwritermisguidedwriter

    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.

  11. Karen McFarlandKaren McFarland

    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™‚

  12. jansenschmidtjansenschmidt

    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

  13. Debra KristiDebra Kristi

    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˜‰

  14. August McLaughlinAugust McLaughlin

    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!

  15. EmmaEmma

    Stunning pictures. Glad you enjoyed your short stay. It’s good to deviate from the plan every now and again.

  16. Kristy K. James...Living, Loving, LaughingKristy K. James...Living, Loving, Laughing

    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™‚

  17. Mr. August Aka Natalie Hartford's Hubby.Mr. August Aka Natalie Hartford's Hubby.

    What a great trip!!! I hope to see it someday soon!

  18. Bridgette BoothBridgette Booth

    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. : )

  19. patriciasandspatriciasands

    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

  20. Chris EdgarChris Edgar

    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.

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