By Lisa McElroy
Every once in a while, a woman just has to hit the road. You know, like in a teeny weeny trailer. Except that when the teeny weeny trailer is on the East Coast and the inveterate female traveler is on the West, she’s gotta come up with another plan.
Last month, I boarded a 6:00 a.m. flight to San Francisco, and for four magical days I completely unplugged. I didn’t turn on the radio, I didn’t log-in to Facebook, I didn’t go near a TV, and I didn’t even (gasp!) read the news.
I didn’t even interact with another person, not even my sweet Louis dog. I just gloried in my solitude.
My plan? To drive along the Central Coast of California, a 350-mile stretch that bills itself as the “Original Road Trip.” Life had been pretty darn stressful for the last several weeks. I needed quiet time, and pretty scenery, and good food, and adventure, and even a great glass of wine.
Good sleeps in a bunch of cool places.
That was the “shake it off” plan.
And that was where my JUCY adventure came in.
I usually travel with my teeny weeny trailer, but since I was on the opposite coast, that was impossible. Instead, I used JUCY, which might be even better because you don’t have to tow anything and deal with all of the backing up and popping the hitch and jackknifing problems we all know I’m all too familiar with.
JUCY is a mini-camper that’s like a Dodge Caravan made a million times better. Think mom-mobile, but make the two back rows collapse into a bed. Then add curtains on the windows and a full kitchen in the back, where the trunk should be. Finish with a pop-up top that makes into another bed, accessed by a fold-down ladder. What you’re left with is a mini camper extraordinaire, one you can drive around bends along the ocean on US 1 without being terrified that your teeny weeny trailer is going to turn into a boat – one that sinks.
The key, I found, is going with the flow.
So I ate with abandon and a total disregard for the diet that, face it, every 40-something woman at least thinks about (sticking to it? That’s a different story). I chowed down on corned beef hash at Katy’s Place in Carmel, early in the morning before the sleepy town was stirring. I relaxed over charcuterie at the winery, looking out over the valley. I moaned over homemade coffee cake at the European-styled Hotel Cheval in Paso Robles. I scarfed down some of the best fennel sausage pizza on the planet at Industrial Eats in Buellton, where locals line up for pizza pies and garlicky shrimp and liquor-infused ice cream. And I inhaled fish and chips at Brophy Bros. in Ventura. I’m telling you, if you stand up on paddleboard for an hour and only fall once and even in your forty-something glory have cute guys whistle at you as they pass by in a motorboat (and, yes, make you fall in), you’re going to need sustenance. You can just wear a board shirt over your swim suit. I did. You can diet when you get home. I didn’t.
Not me, but another brave soul ziplining with Margarita Adventures. (Photo: Margarita Adventures)
Next, I ziplined over a vineyard in Santa Margarita with the folks Margarita Adventures, before coloring like a kid in an evening class at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles (talk about the cutest town you’ve ever seen – think Gilmore Girls.)
I learned about making the best pinot noir ever at the Presqu'ile winery in Santa Maria (Sideways fans! This is the place!), and I hiked in the hills above San Luis Obispo. Then, completely out of character, I paddleboarded in Ventura Harbor and only fell off once and ended up with just two giant bruises and a bunch of sore muscles but the biggest smile on my face ever.
Then I slept, a sleep we all dream about.
I slept in my JUCY. It was cozy and comfy and cute. I rolled up in the purple and green comforter and listened to the birds at the campground and dreamed of elephant seals. They’re big. They’re not scary. They’re kind of smelly. They’re all up and down the Monterey coast. I was excited to see them.
I slept in a vintage Airstream at Flying Flags RV Park and Campground in Buellton. This Airstream, you had to see to believe. It was almost 70 years old on the outside, but brand new and charming on the inside. It was vintage and romantic, even though I was alone. (That night I dreamed of George Clooney – sorry to his wife Amal and my husband Steve).
In Ojai I slept at a bed and breakfast called Lavender Inn, where a fountain trickled just outside my window. I dreamed of peace.
On my next trip to the Central Coast, I’m checking out the yurts I missed this time – sold out at the last minute – and the safari tents under construction at Flying Flags and the luxurious rooms at Hotel Cheval.
But for this trip, my JUCY, my Airstream, and my teeny weeny Ojai inn were a dream come true.
Shake it off on the California Central Coast, people. You’ll be glad you did.