After our adventures in Utah we were headed toward Southern California. Our plans had included some more camping and exploring in the deserts of Utah, but we decided to re-route and head towards the ocean after looking at the weather forecast. We have already spent enough time in hot weather in our bus without AC, so we told ourselves that we would just have to come back in the spring.
Leaving from Park City, it took twelve long hours for us to reach Riverside, where Lindsey’s Uncle and Aunt live. We rolled into their neighborhood and parked the bus on the curb a little after 11PM, exhausted and fried after driving through the desert all day. Coming into the house for a shower and air-conditioned guest room was a welcome relief.
We spent the weekend enjoying the company of family, and visiting some great breweries and restaurants in the area. It felt so nice to be back on the West Coast! Clair and Heidi were amazing hosts, and we had a great time playing with their dogs and checking out the tortoises they have in the backyard. When we told them about our plans to head down to San Diego to visit friends they quickly offered us the use of their spare car, so we wouldn’t have to find a place to park our bus in the city. We were happy to take them up on the offer! Clair had been using a repair shop close by for many years and had become friends with the owner, so we told him our story and he agreed to let us park the bus in his back lot for a couple nights while we went south.
Cruising down the highway in the old Buick we marveled at how fast we could go up hills and how easy it was to get around traffic! When you drive a giant bus everywhere you forget what driving a car is like. In no time we had reached Escondido, where we met up with Lindsey’s friend Krista. It had been a while since they had seen each other so there was a lot to catch up on. Krista took us over to the Lost Abbey, where we enjoyed a few samples of their delicious beer while we hung out in their brewery/warehouse. After getting some pizza down the street it was time to head further south, where we would meet up with Krista’s boyfriend in San Diego and spend the evening exploring the area.
While we were in the area I also wanted to visit my friend from school that is in the Navy now, and stationed at North Island out on Coronado. I called Cody up and let him know our plans to go out and visit breweries and get food and he was excited to come join in the fun. We all piled in the car and went out to Ballast Point, a popular local spot, to have a couple pints. Their most popular beer is Sculpin, a tasty IPA that isn’t too hop forward. They also do two variations on Sculpin; one with grapefruit and one with habanero. We tried the grapefruit and it’s a nice fruity addition to the already citrusy flavor. Ballast Point also offers many other great beers, as well as some nicely designed merchandise. We had to use a lot of self-restraint to keep from buying up several shirts and hats in the store. Our next stop was Urge, a trendy Gastropub with a large beer selection and fried cheese curds to die for.
The next morning while Krista and Paul were at work we wanted to meet up with another friend of ours from back home who just happened to be in San Diego on a work trip the same time we were there. We haven’t seen Ruben for a long time, and we were excited to spend the day hanging out at the beach. We picked Cody up at the base in the morning and drove up to Del Mar, where we met Ruben at his hotel. It was so nice to spend the whole day with friends from back home, relaxing on the beach and playing in the ocean. We found an interesting little bar in a lush garden area and enjoyed a slew of happy hour drinks and fresh tacos.
Sadly our time in San Diego came to an end, and we made our way back to Riverside where we picked up the bus and spent one more evening visiting with Heidi and Clair. The next morning we continued our drive north, around LA and along highway 101 up the coast. Once we got out of the city traffic the drive along the coast was so enjoyable, it is amazing to be back on our familiar Pacific ocean. We stopped in Santa Barbara for lunch at an awesome authentic taco joint, with a line down the block. We had just finished our lunch and were starting to walk through town toward the beach when I got a call from a strange phone number, with an LA area code. It turned out to be the Santa Barbra police, they had been getting complaints about where our bus was parked and asked us to move it. We were parked legally along the curb so they didn’t give us a ticket, but we were taking up a large section of the street so we were happy to move out of the way. I am just curious about how they got my phone number, as it isn’t anywhere on the bus, and it is licensed and registered in Lindsey’s name. Feels a little weird, but I guess that is what the police do. It would be a lot easier to get around in these small towns in a little VW Westfalia!
We pressed on up the coast, our stopping goal for the night was Pismo Beach. Arriving in the early evening, we drove down to the beach access road in Oceano looking for a place to camp. Of course all the state parks where filled up, and the only area available for camping was out on the sand. I really wanted to drive out on the beach, but after standing at the top of the hill and watching several other trucks with campers and RV’s get tuck in the soft sand I decided it wasn’t worth the risk. Instead we found a quiet street a few blocks from the beach to park along for the evening.
A strange coincidence occurred that night; just after we drove up and parked at the beach we got an instagram message from a guy I knew in Portland, he said he had just happened to open his curtains and look out the window as we drove by his house. He said his jaw dropped in disbelief, and he immediately sent us a message. Jay and I exchanged a couple quick messages and he came out to check out the bus. It was so awesome to see another familiar face, and none of us could believe the random chance that we decided last minute to go to Pismo and he just happened to look out the window at the right time. Jay invited us back to his house to have dinner with his family, so instead of eating leaftovers for dinner we enjoyed delicious local beer and pizza with friends. Funny how the world works sometimes.
That night we slept soundly in our big cozy bed, with the cool ocean breeze drifting in the windows. This is what bus life is all about; having the freedom to park most anywhere and have your own little home with you is a very liberating feeling.