Santa Monica and Malibu: Sweet Sunshine

Leaving San Diego, we headed north up the coast to find a place to camp for the night. We were a little nervous, because we had been told that camping in California was not only expensive, but also booked up months in advance. We decided to pull into San Clemente State Park and see if there were any openings for that night. We were excited when we found out there was! Yay! In fact, there were LOTS of openings. Apparently we were just ahead of the super busy season, and we were also there during the week, which made a big difference. We paid for one night there and got settled (the expensive part still applied…it was $35 a night). We met our lovely neighbor, who happened to be the grandson of the founder of Fleetwood Motorhomes (our RV is a Fleetwood). Crazy. We walked down to the beach, which was just a short walk away.

The next day, we moved up the shoreline to Dockweiler State Beach. Dockweiler is located on the end of a runway. An LAX runway. Literally. So, let’s just say it wasn’t the most remote or quiet of campgrounds! I would call it more like a parking lot with electrical posts. However, I wasn’t complaining because we were able to snag a “front row” spot, which meant that the sand from the beach was touching our front tires. So fun! There was a busy boardwalk bustling (say that 3 times fast!) about 10 ft in front of the RV, which made for really great people watching from the comfort of my living room. That night, we enjoyed an amazing meal at the Terra Bella Cafe in Redondo Beach, a raw restaurant owned by Melissa Davidson. I wrote more about it at Happy Foody…here.

We had a free day and decided to head into Santa Monica to peek around and of course, we had to have supper at Euphoria Loves Rawvolution, owned by Matt Amsden (raw chef and author). Lovely eats. Read the full scoop here. Later on we ended up at REI, where we got Bella a trail-a-bike. It basically turns your bike into a tandem bike for kids! It’s the best thing we have ever purchased! When we got back to Dockweiler, we immediately hooked it up and took off on the boardwalk. It was super, super windy, so we didn’t last for long…but Bella was in heaven!

One of the reasons we chose Dockweiler was because of it’s proximity to LAX. We were picking up my sister, Laura, and her fiance, Dan there on Saturday morning! Yay. We set out from the RV and headed in the airport (which was a bit surreal after seeing it in movies so many times). After a few phone calls, we found Dan and Laura and we all squished into the car and headed back to the RV, still parked at Dockweiler. We got everything and everyone situated and headed up the coast. Destination: Malibu.

The Malibu Beach RV Park was a welcome sight after the traffic on Hwy 1. Whew! We arrived 15 minutes before check-in time, and we were turned away…being told that we needed to “just come back at 1″. Grrrrr. There were plenty of sites available to pull into, but they were being difficult. So we pulled the rig all the way back down the hill and parked it on the PCH (Pacific Coast Hwy) and made lunch. Dan and Laura immediately ran down to the ocean…because Laura had never seen it before. We finally got checked in and settled…it was a very nice park and we had splurged a bit by staying there. But it was in the perfect location and had an amazing view. Wow. Apparently, this is the same RV park that Matthew Mcconaughey stores his beloved Airstream. Fun little fact.

We packed back in the car and headed through the hills over to WorldFest. WorldFest is a large earth-day type gathering, with a heavy emphasis on vegan activism. It was fun to walk around and see all the booths and eat food at the yummy vendors, which included 3 raw food vendors. Heaven! You don’t see that in Iowa :) One of my favorite things there was the “public display of meditation“. Very odd to see all of these people sitting on the ground meditating in the midst of all the hustle and bustle around them.

The Santa Monica Pier was calling our name, and we were off to find it. Dan and Laura are excellent volleyball players and wanted to play in some pick up games on the beach. So we headed there and enjoyed the afternoon watching them beat everyone :) Next on the list, more Rawvolution. Yum. It’s just blocks away from the beach, and we had to take them there to experience the raw goodness. After that, we headed to the grocery store to pick up “Juno” to watch later at the RV (gotta love Redbox!). So funny. Dan fell asleep first. :)

On Mother’s Day, we headed back to the Pier for a day at the beach. Dan and Laura played more volleyball…mostly beating everyone again, but eventually getting schooled by an 80 year old man. Good job guys! :) Bella fell in love with the playground there…tons of monkey bars and rings. Her favorite. If you’ve never been to the pier in Santa Monica, you must go sometime in your life. There is SO MANY things to see and people to watch…there was never a dull moment. For supper, we met up with Dan’s old friend, Nick (who lives in L.A.)…and we walked until we found a Thai restaurant. Ahhhhh….Thai. Afterwards, we headed over to the famous 3rd St. Promenade, where we enjoyed some yummy coffee, lively street musicians, and great conversation. Back at the RV, we watched “August Rush”. Wonderful flick! But Dan fell asleep again :) hee hee.

Monday was a wonderfully lazy day. When we woke up, we pulled back the curtains in the bedroom and were thrilled to see tons of dolphins swimming and jumping within view. They continued to jump for us throughout our breakfast of raw coconut pancakes. We headed to the beach shortly after that and set up for a few hours of fun in the sun. We had a passerby tell us that there were sharks in the water and that he was “SURE” he saw them a little ways down the beach. Turns out they were just dolphins :) But we did proceed with caution… :) Dan and Laura cooked scallops and asparagus that night and stunk up the RV :) We had a lovely dinner and went to bed relaxed and ready for another day.

Dan left early the next morning to go golfing at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades and we all slept in. Dan is a golf pro back in Minneapolis, so he couldn’t come to L.A. without golfing!! :) After making some especially delicious green smoothies, we brought them outside and watched more dolphin action. Later on that morning, a new friend came to visit us and have a raw food coaching session. Carrie-Anne found my blog through Emily Falconbridge’s (they knew each other in real life from when Em lived in L.A.)…and she wanted to come see the RV and talk raw food.You all probably know Carrie-Anne as Trinity from the Matrix movie series…of course, it’s hard to imagine her as a latex-clad and gun-toting girl after you get to know her :) We share a lot of the same passions and had a great time. We met up again later at a park near their home before we left town…to hang out and let the kids run free. She brought me the bestest of all gifts…a bag full of fresh avocados from their tree. OH MY WORD. They were fabulous.

Later that day, we caught up with Tami…a friend of Becky’s who we had met in Florence, SC back in December. She was living in Carpinteria and working as a traveling nurse…and she had friends in Malibu. We all met up at Dan and Lauren’s house, which was within walking distance to Paradise Cove. We really wanted to surf (well, Matt did!) but couldn’t track down a wet suit for him and didn’t want to rent one. So we just hung out on the sand and enjoyed their company. Dan and Lauren are super sweet people…so laid back and welcoming. We had a lot in common with them as well…I knew I would like them right away because as soon as I walked in the door they were handing me a green smoothie :) Now that’s my kind of people.

On the last day that Dan and Laura were in town, we headed to Santa Monica again for a demo at the New Roads School. We had a great time talking with the staff and students there about our journey and other environmental issues. It’s so encouraging to see the youth of our nation so concerned and excited about helping the earth. The students were very enthusiastic and fun to talk with. A big thanks to Jessica for bringing us in!

We headed to the airport to drop Dan and Laura off for their flight…and with hugs and sad goodbyes, we were off to another adventure. L.A. was amazing. Nothing like we imagined…but everything we needed. We loved it and will definitely go back!


  1. I would definately agree! I’d love to go back…but to San Diego : ) We had such a great time with you guys! Thanks for the great memories!

    Comment by Laura O — July 31, 2008 @ 7:52 am

  2. Wow Sara, you really make L.A. sound so nice! Growing up there, I became really jaded and grew to hate everything about it. I suppose re-visiting as a tourist, instead of my annual family visits, might shine a different perspective on it. Thanks for pointing out the positives about LaLa Land.

    Comment by Rene — July 31, 2008 @ 9:21 am

  3. Sounds like you guys have been having very full, rewarding times. Haven’t been to Cali in a while…have to go back. Keep this up!


    Comment by jack — July 31, 2008 @ 9:41 am

  4. Isn’t Southern California wonderful?! I know it has its differences from the midwest (being from Michigan), but it is such an awesome place. I know we probably won’t live here forever, but to know that we were privilledged enough to spend a few years here is just amazing to me. There is so much to do, so much to see, and so much to be! I love it and it looks like you guys did too!!!

    Comment by Carlee — July 31, 2008 @ 11:10 am

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