Driving A Dream {California Coast in a C-MAX Hybrid}

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Sometimes when I’m feeling stuck or overwhelmed the only cure is to get outside and clear my head and soak up inspiration.  And oh boy, did I ever get a chance to do that last weekend!  I had an incredible opportunity to fly out to California and drive the coast from San Francisco to Big Sur (and back) with my friend Karah from The Space Between in the Ford C-Max hybrid— my very first time driving a hybrid car, actually!  And my first solo trip west too.  😉

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

Needless to say, when I got the email inviting me I may have cried.  I was holding it together until I got to the part about a behind the scenes tour of the Monterey Aquarium and that’s when the verklemp started creeping in.  Leaving my kids for the weekend and taking such a quick trip across the country (including the red-eye back, arriving at 6AM in Philly on a Monday) isn’t easy.  But knowing I’d get to do something I have quite literally dreamed about since I first visited California in second grade was PRICELESS, and I’d be a better person, mom, and blogger for going.

Ford C-MAX hybrid trip to California

We began our drive in south San Francisco and got a tour of the car.  Thank goodness I packed really lightly, but my friend Karah had a massive suitcase and two other bags because she wanted to perfectly coordinate.  {okay.  that was me.  shhhhhh.}  Thankfully the car has seating for 5 passengers so Karah had room for her luggage. {snicker}

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

CONFESSSION: please don’t tell Ford this or I may get fired.  We loved the hands-free trunk opening in the back, but I thought there was a latch you had to kick under the bumper to open it.  For 3/4 of the trip I WAS KICKING THE CAR.  Turns out it detects motion, so you need to have your key fob on your body somewhere and kick UNDER the bumper for it to open.  Demonstration, after I figured it out (hey, I’m blonde, I’m allowed?):

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

We decided to take the road less traveled (love Karah, we think alike!) and drove to Half-Moon Bay.  Not 5 minutes into the trip was when the ‘WOW’s started.

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

Oh, you know.  Just a PIANO by the SEA. (with a note asking people to cover it up with a provided plastic tarp at night. gosh I love California.)

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

I’m an eco-friendly gal, and know the ins and outs of leaving a smaller carbon footprint and recycling and reusing, yada yada yada.  However, I’d never driven a hybrid car nor thought they were a good fit for me– I grew up in Boston so I drive fast and brake a lot (turns out, braking is good!), and I tend to need lots of space (ahem, Karah, I needed all 5 pairs of shoes thankyouverymuch).  Truthfully, I thought all hybrids needed to be plugged in.  Then I actually drove the C-MAX and realized that yes, indeed, I’m a hybrid kinda person!  And it doesn’t need to be plugged in, that’s the Ford’s C-MAX Energi if you’re interested.  It sounds like an amazing car as well.

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

Ready to have your mind blown?  The C-MAX (Ford’s first hybrid-only line in North America) harnesses your breaking power and uses it to create energy.  So the more braking you do, the more energy you store up.  BOO-YAH!  It even has a driving coach if you wish, which tells you how to drive more efficiently and gives you scores on your breaking.  I may or may not have started at 73% efficiency and moved up to 100% by the end of the drive.  These pretty leaves appear on your ‘tree’ when you are being efficient, and float away when you aren’t.  Not that I know ANYTHING about not driving efficiently.  😉  HINT: slow, easy braking is way more efficient than braking fast and hard. Hm.

Ford C-Max Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

 When you take the road less traveled, you tend to find ways to do a lot of braking.  Our C-MAX took us along the coast where we made the most fun discoveries.

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

Ford C-Max Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

We continued south, stopping in various spots along the way including a behind the scenes tour of the Monterey aquarium. Did you know I love aquariums?  And kelp.  Possibly also sardines or whatever those massive schools of silver fish might be…

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

Perhaps it’s because Ford is an American company so it was on our mind, or maybe it was the brilliant blue sky– but we saw American flags dotting the scenery everywhere.

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

Since we indulged in lots of quick stops to view the scenery, we were lucky the C-MAX was super easy to park (even has a back-up camera) so we had no trouble finding spots (even when parking spots were few and far between).  The very first thing I noticed about this car was how quiet it is because it’s usually in electric mode.  We talked non-stop the entire trip and the car ran so quietly we never had to speak up.  In fact, we *may* have almost forgotten to turn it off at one point since it’s hard to tell when it’s running!

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

It also has cool side mirrors to help avoid blind spots.

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

You would not believe where we stayed.  Casa Palmero in Pebble Beach has only 24 room and looks like this:


Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

Ford C-Max Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

Perfect place to pose with our car, right? #dork

Ford C-Max Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

Yes, I indulged in both gluten and dairy on this trip and have the bloat to prove it.  But who could resist this BREAD BALLOON?

Ford C-Max Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

Karah and I continued our adventure through Monterey, Pebble Beach, 17 Mile Drive, Carmel, and down to Big Sur.

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}


Ford CMAX Hybrid

I touched the Pacific ocean.  I had to.  It was COLD.  There were whales spouting in front of us.  I felt like a three year old trying to find her words– there simply weren’t any.  This entire experience was surreal.  I think I said something like: “I IS HAPPY.”

Ford CMAX Hybrid and California Coast Vacation Ideas

I stupidly ran right into the ocean and got soaked to my knees.  I didn’t even care.  Soon after, we had a leisurely lunch at Rocky Point overlooking the pacific.  I’ve been a lot of places, and I have to say– this was my favorite lunch ever, soaking in the sunshine and chatting with friends.

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

We stopped just short of Bixby Bridge.  There was a dirt road there that goes along the coast that I’m already scheming to drive, hopefully in this car.  😉  The C-MAX gets an incredible 43 MPG, and can go up to 85 MPH in all-electric mode.  We didn’t test that.  YET.

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

I’ll admit that before I drove the car, I wondered why it was named the C-MAX.  It only took me a few minutes to find out.

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

There was too much inspiration to pack into one post, so in the coming days I’ll share some 15 minute decorating ideas I discovered, our exact route (in case you’re planning to visit the California coast), and some really fun details.  There was so much inspiration, I came home ready to change my entire way of living.  And also, I came home tired because of that red-eye flight and jet lag.

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}


PS- Dear Ford, I’m so sorry about the sand I left on the passenger side floor.  If you want me to come back out there and vacuum it up, I’ll totally do that ASAP.  Signed, Me.


Have you visited the California coast, or totally fallen in love with a vacation area?  How about driving a hybrid, have you tried it?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on hybrids, and suggestions for the next time I visit California.  Because there MUST be a next time!

A big huge thank you to Ford and the C-MAX team for being an incredible sponsor of this experience and first-rate company to work with.  This is a sponsored post and all opinions are 100% my own.

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Car {California Vacation Ideas}

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, however all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

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  1. Ahhhh! this is the best post ever. now I want to go back STAT. so glad we got to have the experience together!! and wicked sorry about all of my luggage, i just wanted to be sure I had enough shoes! 😉

  2. What a SUPER FUN experience! Every car brand should do this. What an awesome way to test out new wheels AND get a memorable experience to share with your audience. Kudos to Ford for an inventive campaign, and yay for YOU to get to experience it!!!

    1. Jo-Lynne, I agree! It’s amazing to be able to actually experience the car and tell a story to make it come alive for anyone considering buying one. And the team from Ford was TOP-NOTCH, could NOT have had a better experience. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. A #PSMM trip to California, perhaps? 😉

  3. (I should have added Clever Girls with my kudos!! They rock. )

    1. So funny, I also sent an email to Clever Girls to let them know they rock too. Fingers crossed more campaigns like this one come our way!

  4. What a great time you had!! I am amazed when I hear a hybrid – or don’t hear it. I just can not believe the quiet! I am interested in exploring them further for either our next car or for when our oldest (12) gets his first car – which is down the road a bit but closer than I want to admit!

  5. WOW, so much fun! I love the California coast. So pretty!
    Looks like a great car. You are one lucky lady!

  6. Wow, what a fun trip!! I was gaping in awe at those photos too. Must get out to Cali! Maybe a fun hybrid C-Max will magically appear if I go there too?

  7. I can’t believe you got to do this! How awesome!! Do you sort of wonder why anyone would choose not to live in California? Like, what is seriously wrong with all of us??

    We have been driving our Civic hybrid since 2002. It’s a trooper and continues to run beautifully with 120,000 miles on it. Also averages about 43 mpg. Could probably get closer to 50 if we did more highway driving. Alex is bent on making it last until they install charging stations in the city so we can go electric for the next one.

  8. Wow! Beautiful scenery, amazing experience and awesome car! I bet this is one adventure you’ll never forget.

  9. that was a great adventure. The photos are great! I am glad you had fun. It is hard to leave home, but always great to get a break and come back feeling fresh!
    We have had several Ford Vans and trucks over the years and always have been very happy with them. This new car looks pretty neat. I have not heard of the C Max yet, and glad to know of Ford’s new car.

  10. Neato car! Go Ford. Looks like an amazing trip and LOVE the piano by the sea. Just love it.

  11. Carrie, this is beautiful! What a fun trip!! I love the photography…that piano on the beach must have been fabulous!

  12. What an amazing opportunity!! I LOVE your pictures! Sooo…. I always wonder about hybrids and their pick up power as you accelerate. What did you think?? {typical Jersey girl question. I need to know if I can GET AROUND THE SLOW PEOPLE!!!!!}

    My fave part of this post was your awesome “I Is Happy” moment….

    Ford pretty much rocks for working with bloggers and I loved reading about their car!

    1. Darlene, I’m a super speedy driver (Boston girl through and through) and I was impressed with the acceleration. There were no problems there at all. I do know that if you approach 80 MPH the car gets a little shaky… don’t ask me how I know… 😉 but at normal speeds and up to 80 the acceleration and speed was great. You seriously won’t believe how QUIET it is, too!

  13. I have never been to the coast of California. Great photos! It sure looks like you had an awesome adventure!

  14. Carrie!! How wonderful! your pictures are stunning and I’m so glad you got to experience this! I thought all hybrids had to be plugged in too! Looks like I need to do a little research, because we’re planning on getting a new car sometime next year!

  15. We have two hybrid cars and love them. I like the hands free trunk option! Looks like you had a beautiful trip!

  16. Stop it right this second! What a fun weekend. What a great car. I am so happy for you : ). I am glad you had this once in a lifetime experience.

    You are the coolest girl around.

    Love, Becky

  17. I heart California and my next car will be a hybrid! Glad you girls had fun – next time, pack me into that cute little car (you’ll just have to take less luggage)!

  18. OH yay! I’ve been waiting to hear about this fun trip! I’m so jealous you girls got to take this FUN trip! Loving all the photos and that cute car!

  19. Aren’t the C-Max hybrids wonderful?! I love, love mine!

    Gorgeous pictures, by the way! I enjoyed them and felt like I was on the trip with you! Thanks for this post!

    1. So glad you enjoyed the photos! I’m SO impressed with the C-MAX. I had no idea hybrids could have that much ‘ooomph’, if you know what I mean. I can’t wait to go back to California, that trip was such a dream come true. And for my next car I’m seriously going to consider a hybrid!

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