Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, CA

by Gabrielle Antonette

Anna, Chelsea, and I were driving down the coast enjoying some car-aoke, each jumping in at our favorite Jagged Little Pill moments. We had spent the weekend in San Luis Obispo and were on our way home when we realized we didn’t want to let the magic go so quickly. We did some quick passenger seat research about nearby attractions. We discovered a place we had never heard of, the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes. I was in charge of navigation, and somehow directed us to a trailer park of a similar name. After a few minutes of overwhelming embarrassment, I had us on our way for real. We made it to our destination and were met with a breathtaking view—redemption! 

The dunes cover a huge area. (It’s the second largest dune system in California!) We went specifically to the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, where there’s beach access and, supposedly, 120 species of animals and plants. This proved to be a perfect way to delay the impending workweek. We spent an hour or two walking through the dunes, letting the ocean waves wash over our feet, and commenting endlessly on the beauty all around us.

The only downside to this section of the dune system is that you’re really not supposed to touch anything except the sand, as you may disturb the ecosystem. Other areas are privately owned and used for camping or romping around in off-road vehicles. Plan ahead for meals, as we didn’t find much in the area. Luckily we had plenty of leftover cake from the Madonna Inn to keep us comfortable until we hit Santa Barbara. Drive times generally look like this: the reserve is about 45 minutes south of San Luis Obispo, an hour and a half northwest of Santa Barbara, and three hours northwest of Los Angeles.

Posted on December 7, 2015 .

Low to Moderate Risk Trespassing: Lake Dolores Waterpark

by Gabrielle Antonette

While we still don't have Halloween costumes or even plans to have Halloween costumes, we've been getting into the spirit by visiting creepy and/or haunted places all October. We discovered the abandoned Lake Dolores Waterpark by accident. We were driving home from Las Vegas on the 15 freeway, in the Mojave Desert about 2 hours from LA, and spotted a collection of little pastel-colored buildings off in the distance. We immediately turned around, anxiously hoping that this dreamy wonderland wasn't completely fenced in. Surprisingly, it wasn't. We walked right in, and we didn't see any cop cars pass by while we were there. Easy. But! The reason why this borders on moderate risk trespassing is that it might be overrun by blood-thirsty meth zombies. Everything seemed fine at first, but then, ominous messages tagged on the walls. Then, a hole in the ground (large enough for at least one human body) covered by a piece of wood that said, "DO NOT MOVE." Then,  a door that was once ajar, on second glance, closed! We were ready to flee at this point but stuck it out, blaming everything on the wind, and ultimately nothing bad happened.

This place is cool. We later learned of its name, and that it was built in the 1950s and functioned as a waterpark on and off until the early 2000s. It's slogan was "The Fun Spot of The Desert!" We're sure that it was, and still is, at least a fun spot in a desert.

The OC

by Gabrielle Antonette

If you're a true fan, you know that we haven't spent much time in the OC. The stigma is real. We've decided that if you go in assuming inauthenticity, rampant consumerism, and a lack of diversity in every way, then you might be pleasantly surprised. There's a lot of wandering to be done. We're sort of overwhelmed by how many more beaches and doughnut flavors we have yet to try.   

The best way to get around the OC is by riding a motorcycle up and down the coast. Driving, biking, or taking public transportation also work if you want to feel less cool. We recommend taking it easy and focusing in on lounging, dessert, and beer. Our three stops are along a 24-mile stretch of PCH. Moss Cove (called Moss Point Beach on Yelp but we don't know why) is a private, very tiny, sort of secret beach. The water is much more clear/blue than LA waters tend to be. It's probably a lovely place to swim when the current is calm, unlike this weekend (there's a hurricane somewhere). This surely varies, but it wasn't crowded at all. After climbing around on rocks and lying down on a towel for a bit, it's time for Sidecar Doughnuts. They're famous for their butter and salt flavor cake doughnut, which lives up to the hype. They have doughnuts that are gluten-free and some that are decorated with flower petals, but they can do classic just as well as they do fancy (as proven by a totally legitimate glazed twist). Mother's Tavern boasts "the coldest beer in town," and we don't think they're lying despite our limited experience. This place is rough around the edges and possibly offensive to women (there are bras and undies hanging everywhere), but it's also just a quintessential biker bar that should be experienced at least once. A decent beer selection and a live country band make for a good ending. 

Posted on September 8, 2014 .

Ojai, hi.

by Gabrielle Antonette

Sometimes your friends pick you up for a day trip to one of their favorite places, and then you realize you have food poisoning. And sometimes they manage to make it one of your favorite places, too, regardless. Marisa and Jorge have been retreating to Ojai for many years, and they've got it down. They know that the best fancy breakfast (and not-breakfast) sandwiches are at Knead. Some of the very best citrus is at the farmers market. Stops at Bart's Books and Old Creek Ranch Winery keep the vibe mellow, and Los Padres National Forest is the prettiest place to vomit.

Posted on January 27, 2014 .