And a breathtaking "historic" bridge built in 1932 (California has an interesting sense of what constitutes "historic"):
We stopped for coffee and a strawberry-banana smoothie at a cafe perched high in the cliffs of Big Sur. See those tiny white umbrellas in the distance?
Some pretty wildflowers nearby:
We ended the drive with some elephant-seal watching. Seals are strange creatures. You'd think they'd feel sorry for themselves, forced to undulate awkwardly across the rocky beach, but they seemed to be doing just fine. This photo severely underrepresents their massive size (the males weigh about 5000 pounds):
We arrived in San Luis Obispo in time for the "farmers' market," though my personal opinion is that anything involving funnel cake and a bouncy castle is a street fair, not a farmers' market. The street signs in SLO are printed in an eye-catching, if not immediately legible, quasi-Celtic font that's supposed to recall the city's Spanish colonial heritage. For me, alas, it recalled Tolkien's original illustrations for The Hobbit. Google revealed that the font, called Bitstream Libra, was recommended by a Cal Poly professor for public signs. He protests that he never intended it for street signs like these:
Central California is very sunny and very dry; if I lived there, I'd probably devote one day a week solely to moisturizing. You'd think that a coastal town like San Luis Obispo would be humid, but by the time we got to our motel room, my face felt desiccated. Luckily I'd brought relief, in the form of a mask I'd picked up at Sephora for $6 the day before. The Sephora house brand makes several of these face masks, each for a different purpose; this one promised "ultra moisturizing and brightening" properties.
It was the first time I'd used a fabric face mask, but the directions were simple: unfold, press onto face, leave on for 15 minutes, remove, and massage excess product into skin. The mask was made of a thin white cloth soaked with a clear, mucus-like, rose-scented substance. The fragrance was mild, natural, and very pleasant. Pressing the cool, clammy sheet onto my face made me a little squeamish, but I wanted to get my $6 worth, damn it. The mask seemed to be made for someone with a bit more face, especially around the forehead. Admittedly, I have a small forehead (my boyfriend calls it a "threehead"):
Post-mask, my skin looked luminous and poreless, even under the fluorescent lights of a Best Western motel room. $6 well spent, I'd say.
The next day, we visited the wine country outside Santa Barbara. Despite serving as the backdrop for the film Sideways, this area gets less tourism than the Napa/Sonoma region, which means that wine tastings are much cheaper--and the views are just as spectacular.
We arrived in LA in time for drinks at a rooftop bar with extraordinary views of downtown. I might have to hand in my Northern Californian credentials, because I kind of want to live here. It's my first time in LA since the age of eight, and the city is exactly as overwhelming and surreal as I imagined it would be. This was my view while I sipped a grapefruit-and-vodka cocktail called, I kid you not, the "Lolita":
Oh, right: this is a beauty blog. The effects of my mask had lingered throughout the day, leaving my skin nice and soft. I was glad I'd dressed up and put on some lipstick before heading downtown, because the female Angelenos at the bar knew how to apply a cat eye and a matte pink lip. Everything was expert and precise. I felt like an amateur--which I am, really. Albeit an enthusiastic one.
(Eyes: NARS Lhasa eyeshadow over Maybelline Color Tattoo in Tough as Taupe; Maybelline One by One mascara. Cheeks: much-faded Illamasqua Zygomatic. Lips: Maybelline Vibrant Mandarin.)