As you may have seen from previous posts we did a 3 week road trip in the USA about a month ago with JUCY. We visited Yellowstone, Grand Teton and a lot of the national parks in Utah. It was awesome! Resultantly we wanted to get back in the van again, ASAP.
The JUCY vans come complete with 2 double beds (one inside, and one in a "penthouse" on top of the car) and a kitchen, complete with 2 gas burners, a fridge and a sink! It is absolutely perfect for 2 - 4 people who want the convenience of an RV, without having to attempt to manoeuvre those huge things around and fork out lots of cash for the crazy amount of fuel they consume! So you can see why we wanted to get back in one, especially considering the price of dorm beds in California start at around $45 USD per person, per night!
Resultantly we flew to the states a little earlier than planned, hit up JUCY to see what they had available. And hit the road.
Here's how it went down.
Day 1 - Thursday 29th: LA to Placerville (close to South Lake Tahoe)
Our day begun at 5am in Samesun Hostel, Venice Beach. Sean's body was still used to Havana time, and I'm a light sleeper. So we got up and tried to work out what the hell we were going to do and where we were going to go. It was the 29th of October and we weren't meant to be picking up out JUCY van until Nov 11.
We decided we'd try our luck, give them a call and see if we could pick it up some time earlier. Like maybe today.
SUCCESS! We were to pick our van up in 5 hours at the Jucy LA branch. For the next few hours we got busy on google working out where we wanted to go, packed our bags had some breakfast and headed to the office.
From LA we headed 400 miles north to Placerville KOA. A campground on the way to Lake Tahoe. The drive wasn't too bad, it was cool to see all the fruit and vegetable farms along the way.
FUN FACT: when you rent a van with JUCY in the USA you get 10% off at all of KOA's campsites (and there are 100's all over the country!) It's nice to have friends with hook ups!
Day 2 - Friday 30th: South Lake Tahoe
Both exhausted after our multiple airport days and a full day of driving we slept in until 8am! We then grabbed a bowl of raisin bran before hitting the road to Lake Tahoe.
Along the way we stopped at a cute roadside coffee/general store and got a couple of coffees and a cinnamon roll. The owner was an absolute legend and told us what to do, where to stay and where to go with only one day on the lake!
If you see this combo van (pictured below) pull on in for a few handy hints!
With his info ripe in our minds we headed off for a day of exploring the lake.
I'll save you the boring "and then we drove here, and then we drove there" and just give you a couple cheeky photos along with the names of where we went.
- Emerald Bay
- Falling Leaf Lake
- Eagle Falls hike (super short, but beautiful view)
- Cave Rock for sunset (after a tasty dinner and beer at Coldwater Brewery)
That night we set up camp in Sugar Pine Point state park and we slept like babies.
Day 3 - Saturday 31st: Lake Tahoe to Oakland to Benbow
We woke up bright and early to drive from Lake Tahoe to Oakland to swap over our Jucy van. Unfortunately the MIL (malfunction indicator light) had come on the day before in the van. We spoke to the guys at Jucy over the phone and they were super helpful. They said we could take it to a mechanic, they'd find one locally for us that they would bill directly, or we could swap it straight over if we were going to be close to one of their offices. Luckily we were headed back towards San Fran before continuing up to the Redwoods. We decided that since we were going to have the van for another 4 weeks, getting a fresh one would be best.
We arrived at 9am swapped over our van and headed off, but not before Sean could "borrow" the Jucy office's wifi to stream the rugby World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia.. We won't talk about that though.
We headed up the coast hoping to reach the Redwoods that evening. Alas we wouldn't make it to our destination as low and behold along the way we passed a large sign advertising a corn maze AND a pumpkin patch. Having never done a corn maze or picked out our own Halloween pumpkin (being from Australia neither of us have actually had a Halloween pumpkin) we excitedly pulled off the highway, paid our maze entrance fees and went exploring.
The maze was a lot of fun and there were loads of people dressed in their full Halloween gear. We waddled around the pumpkin patch, checked out the dregs (all the good ones were taken) and headed back to the highway to continue our drive north.
After one more stop at a cute cafe in Hopland we cruised north for a little while more before calling it quits at Benbow KOA. That night we had a spa (they had a jacuzzi!!) before cooking a tasty chilli and hitting the hay.
Day 4 - Sunday 1st November: Benbow to Redwood National & State Parks
Unfortunately when we woke up Sunday morning it was raining, and rain is never fun whilst camping. None the less, we cooked breaky, packed up our things and headed up to the Redwoods.
We arrived at the entry to the park, hit up the visitors centre for the relevant maps and hiking guides, watched the informational video they offered and then headed into the park to find our campground for the night, Elk Prairie, and yes we saw plenty of elk there.
We found the campground and our campsite and it was all beautiful. Like I'm talking the most beautiful campground I've ever seen, maybe because it was completely magical and felt like we were on the set of fern gulley.
We shotgunned our spot, had lunch and headed out for an explore. The afternoon was spent walking around a few short trails close to the campground and just staring at the size and beauty of these trees, some of which are over 1000 years old!
That night we headed back to camp, had some dinner and a drink before getting ready for an early night. As we say by the van finishing our drinks we heard a really, really loud crack. Not sure what had caused it we looked in the direction of the sound and right in front of our eyes a HUGE tree started falling (away from us thank god). In the late dusk light it was hard to see or work out what the hell was going on. It hit the ground with a huge thud and we could hear everyone from the various campsites around us "oh shit", "what was that", "where did it fall". Luckily amongst all the murmurings there was a loud yell stating "we're okay!". We walked over to where we thought we'd seen the tree fall. It had missed all the campers thank god, but only narrowly. One couple and their pooch had been sitting by their fire and the tree fell only a few metres from them. You've got to see it to believe it, check out the photos below!
Being the sook that I am, I suggested to Sean that we move out to the open field on the other side of the campground. That day had been very wet, and there was still a lot of rain forecast for the night to come, which helped us make our decision.
We packed up camp and changed spots. Due to the move I slept a lot better. Thanks Seany!
Day 5 - Monday 2nd: Redwood National Park and back to Benbow
Monday we woke up, walked back to the site of the fallen tree to check it out in day light, and have a chinwag with our fellow campers. It was incredible! Such a huge tree right in the middle of the campground and nobody was hit! We took a couple more photos, seeing is believing, and headed back to camp before setting off on a large hike for the day.
We started our hike from the Elk Prairie visitors centre. We took the James Irvine trail to Fern Valley and back. The trek ended up being about 12 miles long and incredibly beautiful.
After not much hiking or activity for a while we were both pretty pooped and sore by the end of it. It took us around 5 hours with lots of photo stops and with a nice long lunch and bathroom break to rest the legs in the middle.
After our hike we piled back into the car and headed back south to Benbow KOA to spend the night again before heading further south.
Day 6 - Tuesday 3rd: Benbow to Santa Cruz
From Benbow we headed southwards to the coast. We arrived in Santa Cruz in the afternoon and headed to New Brighton State Beach to set up camp for the night with some wicked views of the west coast and its magical sunsets.
Day 7 - Wednesday 4th: New Brighton State Beach to Pismo State Beach
We woke up Wednesday morning and headed off for a little run before breakfast. Now I mean seriously little. I'm hoping to run the half marathon, whilst Sean does the full, in Sydney in September but I need some serious training to get there.
After our run/jog (walk for Sean) we ate breaky and headed south along the famously beautiful Highway 1.
As we're coming back to do Highway 1 properly in about 2 weeks time when my twin brother gets here (I CANT WAIT, IT'S BEEN A YEAR SINCE IVE SEEN MY FAMILY!!) we didn't stop for too many photos and made this just a quick scoot down it for a change of scenery (we were both craving some ocean views).
The road is stunning and we can't wait to get back on it with Sambo! Here are a couple cheeky shots!
We pulled off highway 1 in San Luis Obispo, hit up a book store and then headed for Pismo State Beach campground, another west coast gem with the beach right at your fingertips. We ate curry for dinner around a little fire and hit the sack early as usual.
Next week we're heading inland to Joshua Tree National Park and down to coast to San Diego with a couple of cheeky stops along the way.
See you soon!
G'day I'm Bec
I'm an Aussie who loves travelling, hiking, trail running and pretty much any activity you can do outdoors.
This blog may contain several affiliate links to products and services that I use and love. By clicking on these links, I might get a teeny tiny contribution towards my travel fund, at no extra cost to you!
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