The purpose of this trip was to get away and get energized. What an amazing year 2015 turned out to be, but nonetheless extremely exhausting. And so a road trip was calling our names. 6 days, 15 cities, and 1,530 miles of adventure - yes please.
What Went Down
Our journey began on Saturday, December 26, as we did a straight shot up to Sacramento. By the time of our arrival, we were cold, worn by the travel, and ready to sleep. But the sight of seeing our friends Tyler and Maddie immediately caused those thoughts to dissipate. We were glad they had opened their house to us.
Day two included church, exploring inner-city Sac, and lots of laughter with the friends we just had made. It was quite brisk. But the adventure was oh so worth it. It had been years since we had been there last. So it felt as if we were walking in new territory.
Day three we grabbed coffee at Temple Coffee Roasters and hit the road. This was probably one of our favorite days. We drove through the southern part of San Francisco, made a quick stop in Half-Moon Bay, and picked up food at Trader Joe’s. Then we drove the expanse of Monterey Bay, Carmel, and the top of Big Sur. The famous Bixby Bay Bridge is what we were waiting for. We got there just in time for golden hour. Oh what a beautiful sight it was. We stayed put there for hours to get every shot possible. And before it got too dark, Ben got his guitar out, hiked above the road, and jammed on his guitar to Jon Foreman and worship songs. Perfection! That night, we slept in our car in a parking lot in Carmel. Man was it freezing. But we came prepared with our below freezing sleeping bags and plenty of blankets.
Day four was probably the most driving. We drove the entirety of Big Sur and made plenty of stops. One of the cliffs we hiked out to had fresh fruit at the end of it. Someone had to have been there literally minutes before us. Or God had a hand in it. So we left it for the next travelers. We hit the road again to Moro Bay and all the way to Ventura where we met our next friend Scott. He showed us his office space for Clover. We were blown away by the incredible interior design aspects. Let’s just say it had a few hidden features. Ben wished he could work in an environment like that. Then we got shawarma, caught up with Scott, met his friends, and played on the old upright piano at his house. Even his house was decked out with very masculine elements. We have always loved Scott’s authenticity and generosity. We look up to him not just creatively, but in regards to his maturity, confidence, and spiritual walk. God is definitely doing great things in Scott's life right now (congrats on the engagement!). We slept at his house that night.
Day five took us to Costa Mesa. We got coffee at Milk & Honey and then cruised over to Black Box Merch and sat down with our friend Brian to begin discussing expansions to our products. That guy’s heart and willingness to help us is so highly respected. We look forward to future business with him. Then we went to The Camp shopping center and got inspired by all the creativity and hand-crafted goods that we discovered. Sometimes those little hole-in-the wall places are the best surprises. Next, we hit the road again to Santa Monica. We went shopping at a popular spot and saw a Stanford pep-rally. They went all out! Then we visited the Alternative Apparel store in Venice, one of our wholesale providers. It was great seeing and feeling potential clothes beyond online pictures. Literally across the street was a TOMS flagship store. So of course we checked it out. Levi is a huge fan of their brand. And they had their roasting company too. So Ben was sold on that. Then we treated ourselves to Rubio’s and headed over to the Griffith Observatory. Levi had been there before. But Ben went crazy as the whole city of Hollywood was in sight and it was all free to access (free is always good). The day wasn’t ready to end yet. We took a wrong turn and ended up in Universal City. Turns out we were heading right for Universal Studios. We parked, got out, and saw a strip full of lights and King Kong. That was confirmation we were indeed in Universal Studios. Levi wasn’t even born yet when the family last took a trip there! And so, because the randomness of the trip just sky-rocketed by this point, we decided to watch Stars Wars. Like why not? Oh it was so epic. No regrets on that. Once the movie ended, we drove out to Malibu and slept in the car along the side of the road.
Day six, the final day. We woke up sore and tired. Our desire to take pictures of everything had lessened. Plus we weren’t out in nature like the first half of the trip. We trekked to California Donuts in LA and started the day right, full of sugar. Of course we balanced that with Jamba Juice, Ben’s old job of three years. We made our way over to The Grove shopping mall. I see why now that basically every celebrity and resident of Beverly Hills shops there. Next in the line-up was Sam Ash music store. We were impressed by their incredible selection of instruments. Road trips can be weary on musicians at times. So it was good playing with instruments again. Then we agreed that our grand finale of the Cali Coast Collective was going to be Downtown Disney. Once again to all good things free, we took advantage of the free parking within two hours. That’s all the time that we needed. We were exhausted by six days on the road anyways. And so we walked around and soaked in our last stop. Finally, we were homeward bound and made it back safely by 7 pm.
First thing is first. God is good. Oh so good! Just getting this opportunity as two busy people was a gift in itself. But the access of adventure out our front door was truly a blessing. We as creatives should take every chance to discover God’s beauty. And so the Cali Coast Collective was long overdue. We had new gear from Christmas to try out and a Honda Fit ideal for travel. And so nothing was telling us not to go.
On a deeper level, we needed rest. Rest from school, work, restlessness. But also rest from a long year of accomplishments. We needed an excuse to be elsewhere to reflect on this new journey of our’s. We only started 777 Collective on April 15 of 2015. So everything since the launch date has occurred within a few short months. However, God has blessed us with much. From the constant learning, to personal refinement, to collaborations with The Simply Beloved and Kaffee Meister, doors have opened for us. Do we deserve the spotlight? No. Are we perfect business owners, entrepreneurs, and creatives? Definitely not. See, we are two broken brothers with plenty of flaws. This is a dream we thought was years out of reach. But we know that God uses our weaknesses and insufficiencies to tell stories - His stories written for us to tell. We lean on Him when our understanding is so limited. And so although we don’t understand why He gave us this chance of a lifetime, we choose to step up to the challenge.
This road trip allowed us to breathe and take away further growth in our faith. We drew much inspiration from the beautiful sights and beautiful people. We may be young and unexperienced. But something about being called "to go" leaves us feeling older and wiser. And so, we hope that you fellow storyteller get a chance like this. Hopefully you enjoyed seeing our posts on Instagram along the way. Check out these and others we will post later.
Stories need content. Stories need wrong turns and right moves. Stories are true when you have lived them. So your takeaway is this: go live it and live it truthfully.
Based on a true story.
~Ben & Levi Dulay, Storytellers