Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and Mojave National Preserve

Cabrillo National Monument

Our next stop was Cabrillo National Monument.  In our quest to earn certificates from the National Park Travelers Club, we wanted to visit again to get the stamps – and to get the lighthouse stamp.  Cabrillo is a beautiful spot, so it’s not hard to convince us to visit again!  Beautiful views of San Diego Bay always lure us there.  We wandered down to the tide pools, and since it was a weekend, it was very crowded.  We still had fun wandering around on the sand.  Though we love living in the mountains, I do miss the ocean, so it’s nice to spend some time there.  The wind and our friend David needing to get to work finally drove us back to our car.

Dinner that night was at Sipz, a favorite in San Diego.  They serve bowlz and soupz, and my personal favorite, summer rollz.  Staying with friends who have a new baby, though she is a year old now, and two small dogs, we were very amused by the dogs and Amelia throughout our visit.  We were also about to visit with other friends, who have an even younger baby, Aiden.  Our day was filled with catching up and entertaining ourselves with the kids.  We were really excited to be in town for Monday night at Pokez.  When I lived in San Diego, I would go to Pokez every Monday night with MNPK (Monday Night Pokez Krew).  We all even have tattoos with our regular time, 7:15pm, on a clock.  Besides our tradition, Pokez is super good.  They serve both meat and veg options, and nowhere else have I found a tastier vegan chorizo or machaca.  Mike brought cookie cookies – what he calls a new baking creation.  By the time we left Pokez, we were stuffed, but found some room for frozen yogurt at Paradise Yogurt.  They have one or two vegan flavors daily.

Santa Monica Beach

In another show of gluttony, we met friends at Veggie Grill in Irvine.  I can never decide what to get there, so I ordered way too much food.  Crispy Chicken Plate and Macaroni and Cheese.  Veggie Grill is really one of our favorite vegan places, they serve simple comfort food.  Many visitors probably aren’t even aware that it is vegan.  Completely stuffed once we were finished, we made our way farther north to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.  LA traffic was of course terrible, so it took us a while to arrive.  Once we did, we visited their new visitors center and wandered around the museum.  We didn’t have too much time to spend there, but we did drive along through the mountains on Mulholland Highway.  We also stopped at Paramount Ranch to see the old movie and TV sets.  A curving, circuitous drive, ripe with views of idyllic ranches, the scenery kept us entertained until we arrived back on the Pacific Coast Highway with views of oceanside hamlets and people frolicking in the surf.  We took our time driving down the coast and ended up walking around Venice Beach.  Dinner was at Doomie’s, another comfort food vegan restaurant.  I had a cheesy chicken fettuccini and Anthony had chicken fried steak.  Another fantastic meal, it would not be surprising if we both gained several pounds on this vacation!

Mojave National Preserve

Our hotel for the night was right near Hollywood Boulevard, and were able to collect some pressed pennies for my collection.  We spent some time walking up and down the strip with a large number of other tourists, before making our way to Mojave National Preserve.  Obviously very warm this time of year, we spent most of our visit in the car.  We did stop at the Kelso Depot Visitor Center, and spend some time wandering through the exhibits there.  The Mojave is a stunning and harsh climate.  We didn’t see any wildlife while wandering around, we did see lots of Joshua Trees.

To be continued…

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