Well we thought about it! But 24 hours before our departure, yep 24h before!
California is a state with contrasting landscapes, you can surf large waves and sunbath at the beach as you can ski on mountains of snow. A mix of cultures, varied activities and territories that I have observed, absorbed and experimented with my dear boyfriend. We were looking for accommodations, activities, rental cars and all other information about California that we realized that the cost of living was quite expensive. So, how to travel without breaking the bank ? We had tired eyes the day before our departure, we were desperate to find the most economical accommodation and rental car. Unsuccessful, this is when my boyfriend finds this wonderful application of RV relocation. He had already heard about this mysterious app that will ultimately make our life a lot better.
Montreal – Los Angeles: the adventure started up in the air, we were both excited of this trip since it was also to celebrate my birthday. The flight attendants had offered us sparkling wine and had written « Happy Birthday », I found this was really attentive. Thank you Air Canada! The trip was off to a good start, but it was only the beginning.
In fact, Imoova is a relocation rental company where from $ 1 / day you have to get the RV / camper in one city to return it to another. Then, you have several options, some rentals may also give you an extra budget for expenses or gas. There were also the options of adding days, taking kitchen accessories, sheets, blankets, pillows, etc. what we actually had taken. We were fine for the days, 4 days to return to Reno, which was perfect to visit the west coast. Feel free to try this application, we will do it again if the opportunity will allow us.
And here we are on the road with our RV happy that everything went well, it was our first time and we did not know anyone who had used this application. We had to watch a video to follow the procedures, then inspect the vehicle with someone in charge to deliver the RV in good condition. I will always remember our laughs and smiles, our gaze, our complicity like Bonnie and Clyde, just happy to be together in this still unknown adventure. Indeed, an adventure that begins with the Hollywood sign before leaving Los Angeles and it was something! My partner and I were motivated to ride one of the viewpoints to take a picture with the Hollywood sign, but what we did not plan for was the narrow streets in the hills. As we continued to ride again and again until we realized that the streets were not really made for RVs, but we could not backtrack since cars were behind us, so we continued to go up like crazy, yes it was probably what people thought of us. The alleys were lined with houses on the sides, we could not make a U-turn, because the RV was gigantic next to the cars in this small hill road. The vehicles coming down from the top could not pass because we were getting in the way, so we were stuck in the middle of the street with our big RV not knowing what to do. The situation was tense and stressful because we had stopped a whole neighborhood, but I still laugh at this absurd and funny situation today. I regret not taking a selfie or video at that time. Tip: do some research before, if you want to see the Hollywood sign with a RV.
The only solution we found was to go back on one of the garages of a house so we could turn back in the opposite direction. Everyone helped us, watched, supported or criticized, but what did you want to do in such a situation? Be patient and … move back slowly. These were the words I said to my boyfriend when he was backing up by guiding him from the back of the RV. I take my hat off to him for beeing a very good driver and always beeing positive in any situation. It’s important to have the perfect partner on a trip.
And here we are « on the road again … » to discover the Californian roads. To sleep we could stop in campsites or national parks, or even parking like we did for some nights. We even stopped for the night at the beach and watched the sunset! A magical moment and an indescribable feeling. Nothing more romantic than candlelight with homemade sandwiches and a bottle of wine in a RV. Unforgettable … We stopped at Emma Wood State Beach in Ventura for our first night, it’s a RV campground at the water’s edge. It was around $ 50 a night, we found it by chance on our way. It was perfect!
Another (almost) perfect day coming up to Hot Spring! After a trip to Santa Barbara, a beautiful, peaceful town with the beach and good restaurants, like the oceanfront Longboard’s Grill, it was very charming. Do not expect high gastronomy but the food was plentiful! We spent less time in this city because it was cloudy that day and we wanted to continue to be on the road. Oh it was hot at the hot springs! What an adventure awaited us. I had never experienced these sources before so it was an opportunity for me, since there was one on our way. I also learned that it is a source where a heated water is coming out of the ground by a geothermal process, like a natural spa.
It was not necessarily the source that was hot but the situation to get there. We stopped at the Gaviota Hot Spring which was at the edge of Highway 101 in the heights with arid fields nearby. Parking is at the bottom of the hill and there is a fee, but if you park before it you will not have to pay and we just had to walk 5-10 minutes more. My boyfriend, adventurous as he is, led and guided the path that sometimes did not have a clear sign on which direction to take. He, therefore, decided to take a « short cut », a path that he thought would be faster. The view was beautiful, we were high up overlooking the vineyards and landscapes. So I took photos like any tourists, I asked him to take a picture of me with one of the landscapes behind me. Right after that picture, I turned around and found myself facing a snake with the tongue out and did not seem to be afraid of us. I had never seen a snake so close before and the idea that it might be able to attack us still gives me shivers. The good part is that I have a memory picture with a snake, I guess it wanted to be on it and take the pose.
As a personal tip, going up the Gaviota Hot Spring follow the main path and do not go into the fields at the risk of meeting snakes.
And now on the way to the vineyards of Los Olivos in the Santa Ynes Valley! Wine lovers that we are, it was essential to visit one of the vineyards of California. It was my first vineyard for me! The roads are very beautiful with vineyards everywhere on our way, it’s hot, very hot!
We decided to visit one of them found on Tripadvisor according to the reviews of other tourists. This is where we discovered Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard which seemed very good with an area of 714 hectares! Just that!
For $15/person you can taste 6 different wines and it goes from red wine to white through a rosé. It was the classic tasting but there could be other tasting options on reservation. Which we did not do too much during our trip, reservations!
A hostess or host gives you the history of each wine with the descriptions of each grape variety, that you could enjoy with snacks, such as biscuits, cheese, olives. You had all the space of the vineyard to walk around enjoying each glass. A true delight! It really dulls the taste buds. Especially if you are in a very good company, with a mild temperature in a relaxing environment. A magical moment that will always remain in our memories!
Finally, I could not finish this article without talking about our charming discovery: the city of Solvang. I say discovery because we stopped in this city by chance to park our RV, we were looking for a place to sleep.
Solvang is famous for being the Denmark of California, since it has kept Danish historic architecture with restaurants, bakeries and goods from Denmark. It was a nice surprise to be in the US but in a Danish village, a change of scenery that we loved and highly recommend!
Our RV adventure ends in Reno, the city where we had to return the vehicle. The return to this rental place was a little less organized than the pick up. The person who handled the returns was completely overwhelmed, but it went well.
All is well that ends well in our adventure in California with a camper as our rental car and accommdation at the same time. I told you at first that this adventure would not be expensive! But what is worth of gold in all this is that it was an absolutely rewarding human experience.