University of Southern California

Student Life Blog

Reason 101 Why You Need a Road Trip

Maddy Keavy

By Maddy Keavy Friday, August 9, 2013


We’ve finally taken off, not by plane, not by train, but by automobile. As Californians know, we live in a state that is not only large, but also diverse in its people, food and geography. This week’s road trip was spontaneous, worth the four-hour drive, and especially well worth the fish and chips that greeted me.

Yes, I went to the beach but not to the South Bay or San Diego; I took off to the Central Coast of California. Along the 101, I drove the coastline of California from my job in Beverly Hills to the small beach town of Morro Bay, 20 minutes from San Luis Obispo.

Southern Californians and visitors alike probably question my sanity — why did I decide to go elsewhere to experience what Katy Perry calls the “Golden Coast” when there are beaches, piers and seafood within minutes of Los Angeles?

Here's a shot at a little past the halfway point near Nipomo, California.

Here’s a shot at a little past the halfway point near Nipomo, California.

My dear readers, I went because there’s nothing more relaxing, for me, than a car-ride with an untouched view of the Pacific and my iPod. That, and because my family was vacationing at our family’s home in Morro Bay, so free food and lodging was a draw.

Morro Bay and the entire Central Coast differentiates itself from your favorite Southern California beaches because with the ocean on one side, there’s farm land on the other as well as fields with horses, cows and naturally growing California poppies.

My family’s condo looks out on the bay, specifically on the famous Morro Rock that my grandmother and her sister climbed in their youths.

Morro Rock can be seen on clear days up the coast. It currently stands at 581 feet tall and is a California Historic Landmark.

Morro Rock can be seen on clear days up the coast. It currently stands at 581 feet tall and is a California Historic Landmark.

Along the main street sits one of my favorite foodie-finds, Lil Hut, which does in fact resemble a small hut. You can’t go wrong with the fish and chips (also available in a family-sized bucket) or a side of clam chowder. Foodie dreams are made of these.

Aside from the food, Morro Bay would be considered by Angeleno standards a “hipster’s paradise” for “homemade” and “organic” are words found in much of the local advertising. Farmer’s markets are weekly and the best treat of all is the numerous candy shops along the main thoroughfare — fudge, readers, delicious fudge. On a sunny day, to walk along the shops with the bay to your right — away from the Southern California rush — is the vacation we all need.

Though the purpose of the trip was to be with family, I found myself enjoying the freedoms that come with having no responsibilities, work or communication that accompany the lifestyle I’ve become accustomed to in Los Angeles. Days in bed are always nice, but to leave the place that I associate with schedule to one in which my only responsibility is to enjoy my time, offered clarity that I didn’t realize I was missing. Although I’m from an area of California where farmland is frequent and traffic is nonexistent I didn’t realize how much I missed such simple victories, like getting from one place to another in 10 minutes.

If you’re ever looking for an escape, or a place to road trip with a car full of friends, hop on the 101 and drive until you reach Morro Bay — perhaps it’s somewhere you’ve never been before. The food is great, the people are friendly and the view is unbeatable. Don’t forget to keep me in the loop if you do; share your stories with me here (https://twitter.com/maddykeavy).

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