Private School Directory

A Road Trip to Remember

Abby Cowan
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Rental car

The boys packed up their rental car when they landed in San Francisco to prepare for the road trip ahead of them. Pictured are (from left) Eli Cowan, Max Melamed, David Bournat, and Eli Costa. 

I arrived home after my second day interning at The Buzz to find my brother and his three best friends in the kitchen. I didn’t think anything of it, as the three of them practically live at my house, specifically in our kitchen. However, this time, they were all focused on their computer screens, scrolling and typing intensely. I asked what was going on, and they replied enthusiastically, “We want to plan a trip to California.”

Ghirardelli Square

The chocolate-loving friend group visited the Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco. From left: David, Max, Elijah, Eli. 

As 2021 graduates of Bellaire High School, they are each heading to different colleges this fall. Elijah Costa will be playing football at Claremont McKenna College, and Eli Cowan, Max Melamed, and David Bournat will be attending the University of Wisconsin, Austin Community College, and Stanford University, respectively.


This beach with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge was a highlight of the trip. From left: Eli, Max, David, Elijah. 

I asked for further clarification on the ambitious exclamation they just made, and my brother, Eli, explained that they wanted to spend quality time together before going to college. Apparently, they decided that California, on a graduation trip, would be the best place to do so.

As his little sister, I knew Eli and his friends might need some help coordinating a weeklong vacation. With my love for travel and planning adventurous vacations, I took it upon myself to step in. They had plenty of vague ideas of things they wanted to do and see in the Sunshine State, but no concrete plans had been laid. Additionally, with their busy summer schedules, the boys wanted to leave ASAP. I had my work cut out for me.

Muir woods

Redwood trees towered over the boys as they hiked through the Muir Woods. From left: David, Max, Eli, Elijah.

I spent the next 36 hours researching and planning a 7-day, California Coast Road Trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The itinerary included these 18- and 19-year-old boys’ favorite things: baseball games, scenic drives, rugged hikes, city exploration, and most importantly - delicious food.

Six days later, they woke up at the crack of dawn (and shockingly made their flight) to travel to their first stop, San Francisco. During their time there, they cheered on the San Francisco Giants from the stands of the famous Oracle Park and explored unique San Francisco architecture. Gazing up at the towering redwood trees of the Muir Woods, the boys took in all the sights before heading down the coast.

Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach along the 17 Mile Drive was one of their favorite stops. From left: Max, Eli, David, Elijah.

“As soon as we landed in San Francisco and found an outlook overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge in Golden Gate Park, I knew this trip would be one to remember,” David recalled. San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge were just a small chunk of the breathtaking scenery the friends would see together.

As they drove down the infamous Pacific Coast Highway, Max remembers stopping to “spend two hours at this one spot watching the sunset, talking, and laughing. That is a memory that I’ll cherish forever.” He added that “not only was this trip about seeing the scenery, but it was about seeing the scenery with people you love.”

The scenery they saw was not lacking, though, as their stops included Monterey, Carmel by the Sea, San Luis Obispo, and many iconic viewpoints along the Big Sur Coast such as Bixby Bridge and McWay Falls. The trip came to a close in Los Angeles, where David describes: “We jumped in the Pacific Ocean together at Santa Monica Pier and rode the waves to celebrate a successful trip.”


The boys smile for a selfie in front of the crystal California waters. From left: Max, David, Elijah, Eli Cowan

The trip was not only fun and beneficial to the group but, after reflecting, each shared that it was a growth experience. “Traveling alone forced me to focus on and be responsible for all the details that would normally be left up to the parents, like booking hotels and renting a car,” said Eli.

David was also impacted by the grown-up nature of the trip. His mom, Carolina Jorgez, shared that her son “looked different and acted much more mature after just one week.” Each one took on responsibilities during the trip such as driving, making reservations, and planning last-minute details, and she added that “they all learned to look out for and accommodate each other in terms of their health restrictions and comfort zones.”

The views of dramatic cliffs above the ocean kept getting better along the Big Sur Coast.

After spending 24 hours, 7 days a week with each other, this group of friends arrived home to Houston closer than ever.

Eli said, “Even though we’re all going to different parts of the country, having taken this trip, I know the four of us will remain close throughout college.”

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