Big Sur will never get old. It was the first real vacation that Dan and I (Toni) ever took together a few years back. I think that’s why it holds such a big part of my heart. We were overwhelmingly happy on that trip. We couldn’t believe a place like Big Sur existed in our own country. The feeling did not falter this time around. Driving down that coast makes me feel like I’m in a movie every dang time. It’s the perfect combination of everything beautiful that this world has to offer. Mountains, ocean, trees, weird landscape, perfect weather, genuine people.
We stayed at Fernwood RV Resort and parked under the redwoods next to a river. I woke up every morning thinking it was raining but always smiled when I realized it was just the river. Matt and Sarah were just a few campsites down from us. They had never been to Big Sur before. We couldn’t wait for them to experience it.
We spent our two weeks hanging by the river, lounging at the beach, watching Matt catch waves, going on hikes, grilling almost every meal, and taking in all that Big Sur has to offer. We ditched our rigs for a night and packed up our tents, sleeping bags, and all the dry goods we could find in our cabinets. We set up at Andrew Molera State Park in a lush green meadow with far too many groundhogs. We read our books, listened to music, drank some whiskey, ate lots of food to cure our boredom, and slept on yoga mats that did not make the ground feel any better. Rookie mistake. Next time: bring an air mattress. Our backs were sore the next day after hiking in with far too much stuff and sleeping on the ground, but we all had a blast. It was fun to ditch our houses and rough it for the night. We finally got to put our new camping set to use…we’d had it for three months!
We all volunteered at the Esalen Institute for two days and loved every bit of it. Esalen is essentially a retreat for people who want to free their mind and de-stress. Our way into that awesomeness was through volunteering. We worked 7AM-1PM in the farm and garden in exchange for an efternoon and evening utilizing everything they had to offer. The work days at Esalen were interesting, everyone’s mindset was so relaxed and at peace and after running through a full day, we understood why. Morning meeting, meditation, work for a few hours, eat breakfast, group check-in, work for a few more hours, eat lunch, done with work. The first day we picked lettuce, chard, kale, arugula, anything that was in season before breakfast. After breakfast, we washed everything we picked in 3 stage washing sinks. The second day, we cleared beds of weeds that were going to be used for a new harvest. After lunch, Matt and Sarah continued to do the dirty work while we moved onto washing. Back to the 3 stage sinks for us. Sorry, guys! We were fed all 3 meals of the day while at Esalen and a good amount of the veggies were things we collected and washed! We loved that. After lunch, we were free to explore their beautiful grounds. We did yoga on the grass, lounged in the hot springs, conversed with the visitors and workers, danced in a late night tribal workshop, and ate lots of gluten free toast. Volunteering at Esalen is definitely one of the strongest memories from the trip so far. What a crazy place. We keep talking about parking the Toaster there after the trip. We’ll clean some lettuce in exchange for a place to park!
Please take our word about Big Sur. We’re not exaggerating.
Go there this summer!
We ended up staying in Malibu longer than our friends, Matt and Sarah. On check out day, we got in touch with them and they let us know they were hanging out at Morro Bay by the ocean. We packed up the Toaster, said our goodbyes to Malibu, and drove to meet them. When we got there our friend Greg was also there and we all got to brave the crazy winds of Morro Bay together. We ducked into the Toaster for lunch and once we were all bundled up, headed outside to watch Matt surf. We spent that night at a state park down the road. We all complained over how cold the showers were over dinner and then hit the hay early. We spent the following afternoon in Ventura by the beach. We parked our rigs in the day use area and rode our bicycles along the bike path. When the sun started to get low, the boys grabbed the fishing poles and headed towards the ocean. Zero fish were caught, but one seal friend was made. We got back in our RVs and started the night drive to the Rincon Parkway. Our new home for the next couple nights.
The Rincon Parkway is a stretch of parking along route one that is set aside for RV camping. There are no hookups and the train running parallel to the sites can get noisy, but when you open up your front door, all you can see is the ocean for miles and miles. Matt and Sarah parked in front of us in their motorhome, Betty, and Greg was parked in front of them in his van. We all shared tables, chairs, food, stories, and a fire pit. In the morning Sarah and Toni would walk down the rocks to the beach and do some yoga and reading. Dan, Matt, and Greg would throw on their wetsuits and head into the water for some surfing. The rest of the day was lazy. Our second afternoon just the two of us headed into downtown Ventura to see what it was all about. We grabbed a slice of pizza, checked out some antiques, scoped the Buffalo Exchange, and just walked around until the sun set. The night ended with a bonfire and smores. Are you surprised? We only stayed at the Rincon for two nights on our way up North but as soon as we left, we all felt like we should have stayed longer.
-Photo by Sarah Griffin (@BettyInTheUSA)
Our campground was perfection. As soon as we pulled in I (Toni) knew we had to spend at least a week. It wasn’t just because I read online that Matthew McConaughey has his Airstream parked in the same park, I swear! Our bedroom window opened up to the ocean! Are you kidding me?
We spent every day with friends. Matt and Sarah were parked in the site across from us and the Los Angeles area, as we mentioned before, is booming with friends. Our friend Martin came to see us for dinner at the seafood restaurant by the RV park. There’s a path down the side of the cliff that leads you right to it! Perfect marketing strategy. We also ventured to Martin’s house in West Hollywood a few times to do our laundry and hang out. One night was pizza and a movie, the other was a ramen spot where you order on an iPad.
A couple years ago Dan made a film called “Nomad” based on the art compound in East Los Angeles. Damon, one of the coolest dudes we know, owns the place. It’s got a tattoo shop, art gallery, barber shop, screen printing studio, paint studio, apartments for artists, and more. What more could you want? We brought Willow, Matt, and Sarah, all who have never been before, and hung out for awhile. Damon played us his newest song on his acoustic guitar as we all sat around him in a circle in his front parking area gushing over how perfect it was. This dude is too cool.
Cards Against Humanity has been our go to game lately. So when I invited my friends Allison and Nick over for dinner, along with Matt and Sarah who are our every night dinner dates, we had to play. Big groups make it unbelievably fun. My friend Zach also came to Malibu to spend the day with us. LA people never want to drive! But we just kept lucking out! We got some acai bowls at Sunlife (the best acai spot in LA in my opinion,) and ventured down route one looking for the perfect beach. We ended up at El Matador. Willow ran in and out of the caves along the sand and swam like she just drank three red bulls. The perfect conclusion to our Malibu experience.