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California Road Trip! - Part 2

12/27 - 12/28/10 - Dana Point,  Laguna Beach & Newport Beach, CA

Days 3 & 4: the Beaches of SoCal - enjoying the sound of the surf, the ocean breezes and the sand between our toes

Palm Springs had been kind to us on this trip (as usual - we love that place!) and we were loathe to leave.  But of course we were lured on by the prospect of exciting coastal adventures to come, so on Monday morning we ventured on towards our next destination.  After a couple detours due to the massive flooding they'd had just a week earlier and an ocean-front picnic lunch at Dana Point, we found ourselves at the Pacific Edge Hotel right in the heart of the charming, bustling community of Laguna Beach.  We were confident we would like this hotel, since it was a Joie de Vivre property.  We've enjoyed stays at several JdV properties in the past, so much so that we have a loyalty card for this California boutique hotel chain.  And how lucky for us, because upon checking in we learned that we had been automatically upgraded to a full ocean-front/view room (we had booked a non-view room at the ocean-front property in an attempt to keep costs down) and they threw in a full bottle of California red wine to boot, all because we carried their free loyalty card.  Sometimes, membership does pay!   The room, decorated in a playful and kitschy, retro surf theme, was spacious, bright and airy, with its full wall of ceiling-height sliding glass doors fronting the ocean.  We wasted no time, immediately kicking off our shoes and popping the cork on our complimentary wine.  As we lounged in the fun, yellow Adirondack chairs on our balcony, sipping our wine and staring at the waves as they rolled in, we didn't know if we'd ever be able to leave the room!  In fact, on our first day in Laguna Beach we only made it as far as the sand below our room for a short stroll on the beach.  Well, at least until we ventured out on foot for dinner for fish tacos and then to a popular tapas bar, K'Ya Bistro, where we had a delicious light meal of calamari and lobster risotto small plates as a follow-up to our fish taco appetizer.

As much as we could have happily stayed put on our fabulous view balcony at the Pacific Edge, adventure called!  The next day, after picking up some essential picnic supplies at the local grocery store, we were off to explore Newport Beach, with its quaint wooden piers, seasoned surfers and wide stretches of soft, white sand.  After enjoying a very leisurely stroll on the piers and then on the beach itself, we ate our picnic lunch of tuna-olive salad on a baguette and chips at one of the concrete, utilitarian, ocean-front picnic tables before heading back to Laguna Beach.  Returning to the hotel and our beloved balcony for some further relaxation (and wine), the sun began to dip in the sky, sinking, sinking into yet another beautiful southern California sunset.  The sky grew dusk and the lights of Laguna Beach twinkled on the hillsides.  Before we knew it, it was time to ponder our evening meal...

Being the foodies that we are, we were very curious about the trendy Korean taco trucks that have become so popular in recent years and, being so close to LA, thought we'd see if we could check out this gourmet food truck scene.  So Scott - Caroline's technologically savvy hero! - started following the trucks on Twitter.  As it turned out, we were a bit too far south to try out the true Asian taco trucks up in LA, but we did find a location for dinner on Tuesday evening near Huntington Beach where five or so gourmet food trucks had gathered.  Perusing the various menus, we decided on a sampling from the well-known Lime Truck: a gourmet goat cheese and asparagus quesadilla, an Ultimate Taco and 'Carnitas Fries.' The Ultimate Taco and Carnitas Fries had basically the same filling but one was served over a hefty pile of French fries instead of being stuffed into a corn tortilla.  All were delicious, overstuffed delights and we returned to the Pacific Edge to be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves full and happy, and all for less than $20.

The tranquil view from our room


Free wine and ocean views - living the good life!


Caroline poses in front of the aptly-named Pacific Edge Hotel


Beautiful Laguna Beach


Sunset over Laguna Beach


Picturesque Newport Beach


Scott poses on the Pier, while the surfers wait patiently for a swell


View from our picnic-lunch table at Newport Beach


Caroline kicks off her shoes at Newport Beach


Gourmet food trucks near Huntington Beach


Caroline finishes up the Goat cheese quesadilla while Scott prepares to dig into his Carnitas Fries


Great Blue Heron at Dana Point Harbor


Our room at the Pacific Edge Hotel in Laguna Beach


The large mirror was a cool touch, providing an ocean view from all angles


Checking out the view (left) from our balcony at the Pacific Edge


"Cocktail, anyone?"


Strolling the beach below our hotel room


Scott enjoys a barefoot moment in Laguna Beach


Sunset view at the Pacific Edge


Laguna Beach twinkles at dusk


Hanging out on Newport Pier


Newport Beach


Newport Beach's beautiful, wide stretch of soft, white sand


Surfers at Newport Beach


The Lime Truck


The Lime Truck does a brisk business on a chilly night two days after Christmas