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For many, Christmas elicits images of frolicking in the snow and sitting by a fireplace sipping eggnog. Since Susan and I are not fond of being cold, we headed to Malibu, in Southern California, with its Mediterranean climate, ocean views, beaches, palm trees, surfers, and convertibles. This was a bit surreal, even for Northern Californians like us. Our new puppy Mocha thought nothing of it on her first-ever RV trip and first-ever Christmas!
Our first stop in our Unity Murphy Bed from Northern California was a San Miguel winery, part of the Pleasant Valley Wine Trail just north of Paso Robles. Locatelli Winery, a Harvest Hosts destination unaffected by the San Luis Obispo County mandate to cease overnight RV stays, which we had been doing in the Paso Robles wine country since 2010. This mandate drew much criticism, but I want to think my letter to the SLO County Supervisors had something to do with the eventual positive outcome. For context, I also think I’m a rock star and Formula One driver.
We had an excellent indoor wine tasting with our two dogs, although they abstained. A few other people were tasting, and another dog also not imbibing. One couple in a Sprinter class B van finished tasting and only purchased one bottle of wine, proving another advantage of the Unity and Wonder motorhomes–we have more wine storage! The next morning, parked next to the vineyards, revealed a beautiful winter low fog with the rising sun trying to break through.
We left early and headed to a nearby truck stop for fuel. Like many truck stops, they only had biodiesel. Another Unity arrived for fuel while we were there. It turns out the automotive pumps had B5, while the truck and RV pumps were B20. When towing our Jeep Wrangler, I prefer the easy maneuvering of the truck/RV pumps, but not if it’s a B20 biodiesel. I put seven gallons of B5 in, mixed with the existing petroleum-based diesel #2. Many California name-brand fueling stations have gone to 95-99% biomass diesel. Biomass diesel can have more than 20% biodiesel, and my Mercedes mechanic says to avoid B20 and biomass diesel blends. We found ourselves going from station to station in search of 100% petroleum-based diesel, which turned out to be easier to find at the off-brand fueling stations.
We arrived at Malibu Beach RV Park, which is on a bluff, but close enough. The ocean-view sites have million-dollar views, and the beach is just across the highway. Thankfully, the RV rates cost much less than the views but are still pricey. We wouldn’t be able to afford even a quaint house in Malibu. The 21-mile-long, narrow enclave is situated along Highway 1, or as the locals call it, “the PCH” for Pacific Coast Highway. It is about 30 miles west of downtown Los Angeles with a population of 10,000 or so.
The upscale town features ultra-expensive beachfront homes, Pepperdine University, fancy restaurants, and several beautiful California State Beaches. Of course, Malibu is home to many Hollywood movie stars, including my good friends Barbara Streisand and Pierce Brosnan (I’m kidding). The last night, another Unity pulled in a couple of sites away, and there was also a Triple E Empress Elite diesel pusher, which was an impressive (and big) coach in mint condition.
We had lunch at one of my favorite Santa Monica spots, Wally’s, which happens to have an incredible wine selection from around the world, including Paso Robles. The first time we went there, we ate outside on the sidewalk. It wasn’t until I ventured inside to use the restroom that I stumbled into Mecca! Did I mention they had a great selection of wines?
The Malibu mornings produced amazing sunrises viewed from our patio window while barely awake on our Murphy Bed! There were a couple of good sunsets, too, that made me leave the RV park, camera in hand, to get up close and personal with the beach surf. It was beginning to feel like Christmas…well, I guess if you’re not into the snow.
After Christmas, it was time to depart Southern California and head north for home with an overnight in Oceano, just south of Pismo Beach. We like to stay at Pacific Dunes Ranch Campground due to a trailhead leading to the dramatic sand dunes of Oceano Dunes State Park. When I say we, I mean me. Something about the wind, sand in your eyes, and trudging uphill through the soft dunes that do not have the same allure for my wife, oddly enough. Or is it because she only wears sandals?!
This visit was a bit unusual–it rained all day and finally stopped briefly by sunset, albeit being gray with flat light. What was different was that the sand was compacted and hard, making it super easy to walk up and down the dunes, and, miraculously, there was no wind. Footprints stayed for hours when normally they would be filled in by shifting sand within minutes. As a landscape photographer, I like revisiting the same spots but experiencing different conditions.
The sunrise on the dunes was lovely and a fitting last day to a fun RV trip. Though we missed a white Christmas in December, February saw unprecedented snow in California, even on the beach!