The genesis of this spontaneous vacation came from …. COSTCO. Yes, Costco! Well, it was actually from a book that I saw in Costco when I was perusing their book aisle and found Frommer’s, “Californina Day by Day” guidebook. As I was flipping through the pages, an entry caught my attention: Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex: 18 miles of pristine coastline, near Pismo Beach. At the northern end lies the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. Oceano was described as the only state park that allows vehicles onto the beach, with 1500 acres of dunes that are open to motorcycles, dune buggies and all terrain vehicles (ATV’s). I’ve lived in California most of my life. How had I never heard of this?
We decided to head in that direction to check it out. We checked into the Best Western in Pismo Beach, exploring the Danish town of Solvang along the way. We also drove through Los Olivos (must go back!), and stopped for lunch in Los Alamos at the 1880 Union Hotel, a restored version of the original hotel which was also served as a Wells Fargo stagecoach stop.
The highlight of the trip by far, though was Oceano Dunes Park. We drove up to the beach and then were waved through to drive on the beach. WHAT? It was a little strange a first, but fun! Then, against my better judgement, we rented ATV’s.
The helmet was the only safety gear provided, and the precautions and instructions were few. At the outset I was intimidated, but within a minute we were all having a blast! How much faster could these things go?
Pretty hard to top that activity in the COOL MOM Department!
We rounded out the trip with a drive up the Pacific Coastline for the beautiful views. And although there were other details I could include, I think overall we learned that spontaneous vacations can be just as much fun as those that are heavily planned. That you don’t have to go very far to discover new and wonderful things. That we live in one of the most beautiful and diverse places in the world.