Before I leave California, here’s to show the places I’ve been to and seen along the way during my 3 weeks leave of absence.

I gave up the apartment and hit the road. I was practically living in my car.

I did stay in hotels three times – in 1) Amargosa, Nevada, 2) Lemoore, and when I came back to 3) Ventura. I also met with friends in Yosemite National Park in Christmas where we stayed in a cabin for 2 nights. Then I visited my parents in Fremont (30 mins South of San Francisco) came New Year’s and stayed there for about a week. Then I stayed with a friend for 2 nights coming back from my NorCal.

Other than that, some nights I stayed in parking lots sleeping in my car. 😀 For showers, Pilot/Flying J Travel Center (cheap gas here) have it for $12 (expensive shower though). Some days, I just skip it. 😀 😛 I brushed my teeth every day and night.

I was budget traveling too. Any meal I got never reached $5. The best deal was Subway’s Meatball Sub for $2 during that time. 😉 Plus, Subway always have at least one plug where I can charge my cellphone. 😉

Ow, and I didn’t GPS. I only rely heavily on my driving awesomeness, not-so-reliable sense of direction, and a map. I only use the google map on the cellphone when I get completely out of direction, which I did a lot of times. 😀

That’s life on the road for yah. 🙂

It’s a great trade-off for me … just look at my rewards …


Shri Swaminarayan

Metal Sculptures in Anza Borrego

Metal Sculptures in Anza Borrego

Red Rock Canyon State Park (Kern County)

Red Rock Canyon State Park (Kern County)

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park

THE Lowest point in North America: Badwater Basin in Death Valley NP

THE lowest point in North America: Badwater Basin in Death Valley NP

Phoenix-looking cloud in Death Valley NP

Phoenix-looking cloud in Death Valley NP

Clouds over a Mountain in Amargosa, Nevada

Clouds over a Mountain in Amargosa, Nevada

The Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada

The Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada

Pismo Beach Pier

Pismo Beach Pier

I saw some orple look-alikes! And there’s one particular blogger who might be surprised to see this – Marcy, an orplekeeper.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here is her blog – . The Sophomore Slump actually became a part of it –

Mission San Gabriel Arcangel

Mission San Gabriel Arcangel

THE Largest Tree on Earth - Sequoia National Monument

General Sherman, THE Largest Tree on Earth – Sequoia National Park

High Sierra Mountains in Kings Canyon National Park

High Sierra Mountains in Kings Canyon National Park

High Sierra Mountains in Kings Canyon National Park

Before Sunset before entering Kings Canyon National Park

Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

450 Sutter Street. A tower building in San Francisco with Neo-Mayan designs

450 Sutter Street. A tower building in San Francisco with Neo-Mayan designs


San Francisco


Madonna Inn

Seen from Pablo Robles - You can see these closer when you take 41 on the way to Fresno.

Seen from Pablo Robles – You can see these mountains closer when you take 41 on the way to Fresno.

Shell Beach

Shell Beach

All images are taken with Samsung Note 3.

My car actually broke down at the last stretch, which was in Pismo driving back to Ventura. After a night of googling research of what to do to the car, I made it all the way back, safe and sound. 🙂

I will turn Death Valley National Park and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks into posts. By the time I publish my next post, I will be (knock on wood) in Greece.

California has been a blast! I wasn’t supposed to be here. But after 3 years, I am so glad, so so glad, that I get to come back here and explore this most diverse place I’ve ever been.

Starting February, I will have a once-a-month California recap post. Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone who has followed me in my California travels through this blog.


The Sophomore Slump Recommends:

Movie: Garden State – Charming, delighful, and just sweet-natured film.

For those who have seen the movie, I’m sure you remember this famous line, “This song will change your life … ”

… which brings me to ….

Music: Chutes Too Narrow by The Shins– Their lyrics are whoa-deep, eloquent, and witty. And their music is an overall feel-good sound. My bet for the best track is the album opener “Kissing the Lipless”.

P.S. The song on the video is “Caring is Creepy”, off of the album Oh, Inverted World. The Shins gave us three outstanding albums last decade.

I also recommend the entire Garden State Soundtrack album. It actually won both Grammy and Oscar awards.



My hats off to this blogger for visiting all of the 21 Missions scattered all over California. Here is tieshka of Living and Dreaming in the Southbay. <- Cilck here.

Categories: California, Travel

Tagged as: ,

61 replies »

  1. Clearly a wanderlust, you are a nomad of my own heart. Your adventures, as shared with incredible photos are truly appreciated by this blogger. Greece!! Why not? 🙂 Then what? Your travels and journals are always read-worthy, Rommel. Here’s to your safely continuing both. I’m looking forward to soon echoing your gypsy-like journeys. Onward, good man!

  2. Amazing pics Rommel and I love that tree, its just breathtaking! I went to Greece in 2011 and it was beautiful, the Greeks are so welcoming and kind. I hope you have a great time, I look forward to seeing and hearing about your travels. 🙂 Happy New Year

  3. Hey Rommel- Thanks so much for featuring me on your post today! I feel honored. 🙂 Glad you figured a way out of Pismo safely WITH your car! We did not fare so well from Big Bear- blog post on that story to come. California really is a beautiful state…and from what I remember Greece is a beautiful country. Safe travels.

  4. Wonderful pics…though I live far far away..and your travelling directions went total bouncer 😛 the pics were a treat..have a great journey.. 🙂

  5. Awesome adventure! Driving awesomeness! haha! Let’s try that here in Edsa. Full packed adventure Rommel. Ang galing, that’s what I call living life to the fullest. Will miss Rommel’s California but looking forward to Greece with you. They say Greek men are just ahem. I guess I’ll find out through you. Take care!

  6. What a contrast you’ll be in for Rommel ! Brilliant pictures to add to your collection will follow I have no doubt 😉 Good luck with the adventures ahead this year … fixing a car by googling .. don’t you just LOVE it 🙂

  7. I smiled through this post Rommel to see how many places you had recently visited in CA, particularly the national parks. Although our paths didn’t cross this time, I hope one day again that they will. I look forward to your NP posts and your new adventures in Greece. I wish you a year of abundance my friend. Take care and wander on! 🙂 BTW, can you remind me where that image of Shri Swaminarayan was taken?

    • Ow, I made a mistake. It’s along 71. And it’s Chino Hills to be exact. Sorry Lu, if not for that darn car, I totally would had gone. I was actually planning to take my car with me to Greece, but now didn’t because I can’t ship it broken. Oh well. Will post NP posts in no time. Just blows that I only have my cellphone as camera.

      • Rommel, although I am disappointed to not be able to visit with you again and go hiking, I do understand. So sorry to hear about not being able to bring your car to Greece. Do you know how long you will be there and will you be returning to CA? What has happened to your Canon camera?

  8. What a great post. I myself am planning a cross country road trip for the summer and seeing your photos inspired me even more. Can’t wait to read more of your next adventure and safe travels, my kindred spirt Sophomore 🙂

  9. I suspect in the years to come, you’ll be glad you choose to actually live your dreams, Rommel. I wish I were so brave as to just take off and cast my fate to the wind. Youth is such a wonderful thing. Thank you for sharing your wonderful photographs with the rest of us. You have taken some phenomenal shots once again. 🙂

      • I saw where you did a pingback (which is greatly appreciated). I’m not sure why people are still following my OLD blog. I am still trying to figure out how to re-link everyone to my NEW blog ( ). I create a post everyday, but I don’t think all of my followers are being notified.

        I’ll get it straight one day. In the meantime, thank you for your continued support, Rommel.

  10. That General Sherman tree is awesome. Def wanna see that one day too. Lol… subway meatball subs, eh? I think you’ll enjoy the Greek alternative more – gyros pitas for just 1 or 2 euros… yum yum yum 😀

  11. I really enjoyed the recap photos here – and the once a month posts sound good – you are right – CA is diverse and just great. and rommel – your trip really sounds fun and if you ever get to visit the east coast – make plans to drop on by richmond, va – and I will order meatball subs and lost of good tea. 🙂
    and I am really looking forward to seeing how Greece turns out – 🙂

  12. I’d have given anything to have come on that trip with you Rommel! Could you squeeze me into your suitcase next time pleeeeese! Magical shots and so many of them. I especially love the metal sculptures of Anza Borrego, sand dunes in Death Valley, Badwater Basin, and Red Rock Canyon. A wonderful banquet of pics! And very glad to hear that you brushed those teeth every night. 🙂

  13. Fantastic!. Good for you – living your dreams. Madonna Inn is a kick. Did you know there is a Giant Sequoia in England ? I came upon one this Christmas while visiting there. Lucky you. You are beating me to Greece 🙂 safe journey

  14. Oh, but all that sacrifice is all so worth it!!! It’s an experience of a lifetime and something that money can’t buy :D. I’m glad you got to explore California like you said you would before heading to Greece! Seeing all the photos makes me feel like I was on the road exploring too! 😀 Can’t wait to see your Grecian adventures! 🙂

  15. Great rewards indeed! What an adventure. Just the story alone is perfect (nothing like just going out and doing it ~ that in itself is inspirational), and then to have compiled such a list of memories and then sharing them with us… Incredible, and it has just set yourself up for an even bigger adventure down the road 🙂 Beautiful stuff Rommel and keep it up!

  16. What a wonderful set of gorgeous photos! My favorite among them is:

    General Sherman, THE Largest Tree on Earth – Sequoia National Park.

    Thank You for this interesting post!

  17. Your “living in your car” somewhat reminded me of the movie “Into the Wild” directed by Sean Penn. Have you seen that movie before? 🙂

    Enjoy your travels, and keep safe!

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