One of the amazing drives in America is between Los Angeles and San Francisco along Route 1, otherwise known as the Pacific Coast Highway.
We picked up our RV for a 3 day journey from El Monte RV Center, LA, courtesy of transfercar and headed out towards Venice Beach in the late afternoon Los Angeles traffic. It’s a litigious country, so adding the daily insurance adds to the overall cost, but still works out cheaper than accommodation and buses or flights and the RV hire coming in at a whopping $2,17 put a smile on our faces, yes that is no typo, $2,17 including tax. My only concern being how I would cope driving such a large vehicle when I have not been driving much, especially on the wrong side of the road.
Driving along the highway in our RV it is kind of daunting for the less experienced RV driver, with cars flying past on either side, with sharki3 navigating us through the ‘gates of hell’ LA traffic into Venice Beach and me checking all of the mirrors, I lost count how many, oh and the road ahead. From Venice, we headed north towards Santa Barbara as dusk fell and the windy roads became quieter along the coast until we found a decent RV park, with a $30 fee by the beach.
It was here that whilst filling out the registration card, I got talking to our camp neighbour, Sandra, who told me that she would vouch for us as her friend and we could stay the night for free, so long as we were gone by 06:30. No problem, technically Couchsurfing at an RV Park! Chilling out evening in our RV which sleeps 5, complete with bathroom, shower, kitchen, everything except portable wifi, but the campsite had this, how cool is this RV.
Up and at them by 06:00, Sandra told me that there was no need to leave early and we could take our time, while the ocean wind blew our ‘box on wheels’ we could now clearly see the beauty of where we were, alongside other RV’s parked only a few steps from the beach. WOW.
From Santa Barbara, we continued along the windy coastal road, with cliff-face drops right next to us and a long line of traffic behind me. I drove like ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ admiring the views and navigating the turns and climbs with all this beauty around us, just like Danny Glover in that famed movie. With every chance I got to pull over and let the traffic pass, I was only too happy to watch them speed off, whilst we admired the ocean views, cliff faces and the gigantic elephant sea lion communities, tanning their hides on the beach.
We passed through the picturesque holiday town of Pismo Beach, stopping off at the pier to admire the views before heading to Big Sur our planned night stop. As usual, we changed our minds when we arrived in Big Sur and carried on pushing north for another 1,5 hours until passing through Carmel and finding the Veterans Campsite in Monterey for our night stop.
There are very few spots on Route 1 where you easily can pull over for free with an RV and spend time, it’s much easier and designed for you to pay entry to parks and beaches and campsites and stopping anywhere else you incur hefty fines or excessive beach fees, which, when you are on any kind of tight budget a $431 fine is a killer. Don’t ask me how the figures like $431, $163, $381 are calculated but these are real penalties, coupled with the $1000 no littering penalty on most roads, we shall behave in line with the state and federal laws.
Arriving in San Francisco for the drop off in Dublin one hour early, we said a fond farewell to our RV, only to be instantly greeted by Shiara and Shaun, our old friends from South Africa who we were staying with for our SF leg.