I live in Venice Beach and have to admit life here is pretty great. You can’t beat the weather. Even when it’s cold it’s not a polar vortex. As great as it is living in Venice, having a short Getaway every few months keeps me happy as well as creative. You might call me a travel junkie and even short adventures are good ones.
It had been three plus years since I’d seen my buddy Andy from Brisbane. When I was in Australia he took me on a few epic adventures climbing Mt. Warning to see the sun rise and trekking 18 miles in two days barefoot on Bribie Island. So, I had to repay the adventure and take Andy aka The Ambassador of Adventure aka Odd Shades on a Cali road trip to blow his mind and challenge his out door skills.
My friends at Jucy Rentals hooked me up with one of their awesome camper vans to take on a road trip in Cali. Jucy’s are currently on the West Coast in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas. These camper vans are great for families, couples and friends to explore. My good buddy Andy happened to be visiting from Australia so I chose the bro trip getaway experience. He’s a very outdoors type of guy, think Crocodile Dundee meets Bear Grylls. I figured a Jucy adventure up the coast would be perfect. We threw our surfboards, wetsuits and backpacks in the van and headed north.
We filled up the van with necessary food rations at Whole Foods in Oxnard. We spent a reasonable $35 a person. Thinking of where to stay our first night we got lucky that friends of mine we’re staying at the Rincon Points Estates. This is an exclusive gated community with a world class surf break right in front. They let us park the Jucy in there driveway. Score!
We decided that Andy would have the Penthouse and I’d crash downstairs in the Jucy. The seats fold down making a double bed and even with two good sized surf boards in the van I was surprising cozy and comfy. I only wish I brought a DVD with me to help me dose off that night. Packing fail on my part. None the less I put down the window shades to black out any outside light and slept like a baby.
I woke up early to have my first look at Rincon in the day light and check out the massive swell that had been gracing the coast for the past few days.
Andy choose to sleep in and not paddle out. I jumped in the water on my own, but not alone. Rincon was packed with surfers from the top of the point back to the beach enjoying tasty and sizable waves. I got a few waves and was beyond stoked when I got out of the water. It was time to wake Andy and continue our adventure north to check out the magic of the Central Coast.
We stopped off to check out the Elephant Seal viewing just outside of San Simeno. Wow! I remember stopping here once when I was a little kid with my parents, but these things were enormous…and ugly in a cute sorta way. Along with all of the other tourists we watched the females take care of the babies and the males battle for territory.
We didn’t have any campsites picked out or a real destination before we left Venice. What we did have was a picture of a sunset from a secret spot in Big Sur my friend told me I had to find as it would change my life. How could we not go seeking this magical spot. My friend’s directions were a little vague and the picture was taken at a different time of the year but I was going to find it. We closely studdied the image of the sunset on my iPhone and went up and down a hillside until we were confident we found the spot. We sat and enjoyed what was unfortunately a foggy sunset.
Our open road adventure was shaping up to be an epic one. As we knew there was more to come
We camped the first night in Big Sur at Plaskett Creek Campground north of the secret spot. Which for the price of $22 for the night was reasonable and also made me feel better camping near a bathroom/showers and not pulled off the side of the road. Setting camp up in a Jucy was super easy. You just push a button and the penthouse raises up. No need to set up a tent, which makes camping so much more fun & easy! We made soup for dinner and had a few beers while playing cards next to the fire looking up at the stars.
Rolling out of Plasket creek early the next day we went for a hike along the bluff above Sand Dollar Beach. Welcoming in the sun for the day and mesmerized by the beauty of the coastline and size of the waves this was an awesome morning.
I had been told no trip to Big Sur is complete without stopping at the Big Sur Bakery for coffee and bake goods. Great call! The delicious pasteries and good, but pricy coffee was just what we needed to keep the adventure going.
We pulled into Pfeiffer Beach paying the $5 parking fee and walked along the beach to get a better look at the coast. The incredible coastline in Big Sur is filled with giant rugged rock formations creating an amazing back drop of the landscape. We both agreed that the stunning coast drive along California highway 1 is much like the famous Great Ocean Drive along the coast outside of Melbourne.
If there’s a rock, Andy must climb it.
Continuing the journey north we stopped at Andrew Molera state park to go for a hike and check the surf. Doing the mile walk from the parking lot to the beach we walked through open fields, saw a deer, and could taste the salty ocean air from the approaching beach. When we got the gorgeous horse shoe shaped bay the waves were pumping. They were easily ten foot and probably a little bigger. There were a few guys out, but it was a little too big for us. We climbed up the side of the cliff next to the point to get a better look at the waves and follow a trail that wrapped around from the headland. Overlooking the ocean watching massive waves roll in with the sun shinning on the bay had me incredibly stoked for the guys ripping it in the water.
We walked back along the headlands trail to the parking lot. This was a much longer trail and it was getting cold. I made one mistake when we walked to the beach, for some reason I thought we would check the surf and then return to the car. I didn’t have anything with me or a bag with survival items (food, flashlight, jacket) Andy on the other hand was fully prepared. Fail on my part.
We got back to the Jucy hungry and cold or maybe that was just me. Either way we pulled our portable Jucy stove out and made an awesome picnic lunch. We were full and refreshed and back to the adventure ahead.
We were given one more secret spot to check out the sunset from a guy Andy met in LA. Always up for the adventure we ventured slighlty up the coast and found this epic sunset spot off a trail. We set up chairs, cracked a beer and watched the sun fade away through the clouds.
We rolled back into town to get a few supplies for the night and stumbled on $2 taco night at theTap House tavern. $2 tacos and beers were a no brainer and so delicious! Pulling the Jucy into Pfeiffer State Park we made a fire, had some tea and scanned the sky for shooting stars. The camp site was reasonable priced at $25 with bathrooms and showers near by.
Leaving Pfeiffer early Tuesday morning we were not sure if we were headed back to LA that day or wait to see where the day took us. After stopping at a vista over looking the ocean to have breakfast I knew there was no way we were making it back to LA this day. Dinnig on a breakfast of fruit, eggs and tea we enjoyed the view of the fog coming off the coastline. I could not think of a better view to start the day.
Heading south we stopped to check out Mccovey Waterfall and then continued along to seek out some manageable surf. We opted not to surf in Cayucos and wondered around the main street. I had to get cookies at the Brown Butter Cookie Company. I recommend the chocolate chip! We checked out a few antique shops and the Cayucus saloon that’s been there since 1906. Super rad!
Continuing south we pulled into Morro Bay next to the rock to check the surf. The north side of the rock was huge and closing out, but the harbor side was perfect. Andy and I suited up, grabbed our boards, and paddled out. Andy is Australian, but doesn’t surf that often and had never wore a wet suit before. The old wet suit I had for him to use might not have been ideal for the cold water, but none the less it kept him some what warm and we charged the surf. I did feel bad that I didn’t have extra booties for him. I think it took several hours for the feeling to come back to his feet. The surf at Morro Bay harbor was good and we both got a few fun ones.
The only thing to do after a fun surf is grub. I was so excited to hit up the Lil Hut Fish N Chips for chowder and a crab cake sandwich. I had eaten here when I was in Morro Bay late Spring and couldn’t wait for to get some warm chowder in my belly. We were in a food coma after feasting at the Lil Hut and chilled out for the sunset.
Making the call to get some distance south behind us we decided not to camp in Morro Bay. I reached out to a friend of mine in Santa Barbara who suggested we camp at Refugio State beach. Rolling into the camp ground just after 8pm we could already feel a big difference in the warmth in temperature. The camping fees were higher than anywhere else we’d stayed at $35, but since we were literally next to the ocean and there were hot showers and bathrooms we gladly paid the fee’s which turned out to be very well worth it. This was by far my favorite camp ground we stayed in. Not only could we hear the waves crashing at night and see stars from our camp site, but the grounds were well kept and bathrooms/ showers clean. I woke up early the next morning, as you usually do to check the surf. Siting on a bench looking out at a beautiful beach while the sun rose over the coast I reflected on how spectacular this road trip had been without having a road map to begin. The tide began to drop and the surf was picking up. I walked back to camp to wake Andy and make the remaining food rations we had for breakfast.
The moment we suited up and started to paddle out the fog began to move in. Fast. Within ten minutes of being in the water we couldn’t see twenty feet in front of us. We could hear the waves crashing outside on the rocks and caught a few fun ones inside when the wave reformed on the second reef. After about an hour we were both of need of a hot shower and some food. One of the locals at the beach suggested we try the Mesa Cafe in Santa Barbara. I love getting the locals advice when I travel, it’s another true sign your on an adventure.
We filled up on hearty meals at the Mesa Cafe and caught up with my Allison, who met Andy when she was in Australia three years ago. Sitting at lunch talking with friends about past adventures and future expeditions had me very present to one of my favorite sayings. It’s not where you go, but who you meet along the way. Meeting people, expanding communities and having life changing experiences with others is what My Grateful Journey represents.
Andy and I said good bye to Allison and made the final push south back to Venice. We rolled into Venice just after sunset with the Jucy in one piece and my Girlfriend Nicole making a home cooked meal. Always good to come home.
I’m so grateful to have had a few days to step out of my day to day life and have an open road adventure. So good for the soul. I’m committing to doing one adventure a month.
I’m also beyond grateful to have had the road trip experience and another epic adventure with Andy. Safe travels, mate. Looking forward to seeing where the open road takes us next.