Last month, I experienced another incredible adventure with the awesome Vintage Surfari Wagons, this time with the whole VW crew! Following our last adventure on a 10 day road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway with Blue Max, we joined a 10 VW caravan on a 5-day road trip through the Anza Borrego desert. We drove a beautiful 1970’s reddish-orange Westfalia named Real Sun. I love these old VW’s. They are so unique, each one so different from one another. Each VW has so much personality, there is nothing else like it!
The road trip started down in Costa Mesa, CA, home base of Vintage Surfari Wagons. People signed up and came from all over the US to join the crew! A couple VW enthusiasts joined us with their own classic wagons as well. VSW took care of all the preparations and everything, including most of the food for the trip. All we had to do was hope in! VSW does these tours a couple times a year and they are so much fun! If you want to know more about signing up for one of their VW trips, or you want to rent one for your own trip, check out their website!
Unlike last time, when it was just Eric and me traveling by ourselves, this time we were with about 20 other people in 10 VW’s, traveling to 3 different campsites over 5 days. Eric was the trip Photographer, and I was in charge of designing and preparing 4 signature cocktails for each night of the trip. It’s a good thing I’m a bartender!
The first stop we made was in Julian, where we got to explore a little. They are famous for their pie and Cider, so we had to get some of that! Such a cute little town. We went into some of the little shops and antique stores, drank Julians Cider, had tacos and pie and traveled on.
The first night we stayed in this cool western ranch style campground in the middle of the desert, Stagecoach Trails horse camp and RV. We took up a whole section with an outdoor grill and space to ourselves. It was awesome, there were bar tops and stools surrounding a real old fashioned bbq pit. We had a feast and I served us a spicy sweet smokey Mezcal cocktail that was a big hit. The wind got pretty bad but it didn’t stop us from having a blast hanging out around the fire until we all retired to our vans for the night.
The next day we loaded up and onto the next campground in Borrego Springs, Palm Canyon Hotel and RV Resort. It was an RV campground with a restaurant and bar, even a pool and jacuzzi! Super nice and fancy, something we are not used to on our camping trips. We are used to roughing it so this place was a pleasant change. We stayed here for 2 nights and during the day we ventured to the town and nearby attractions and hiking areas.
During the trip it just so happened to be my birthday! By the 4th day all of us had gotten to know each other and were having so much fun traveling together. It really was such an amazing group of people. The morning of my birthday I went out to find a banner hanging on the tent saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY. It was the sweetest thing! Diane the owner of the company cooked me breakfast and gave me a present and a card signed by everyone in the group. It was such a special birthday, one that I will remember forever.
Then we traveled onto Salvation Mountain and Slab City. It was so incredibly crowded. It was a cool thing to see but I didn’t need to stay long. I tend to avoid crowded situations if it’s possible. I’d much rather enjoy my nature without all the noise and people! Pretty cool place with a very interesting history though. I’m glad I got to see it.
After Salvation Mountain it was the Salton Sea. THAT was cool! I’ve heard of the Salton Sea but hadn’t gotten the chance to see it yet. It was hot, and the smell was revolting. If you don’t know much about the Salton Sea it’s a pretty fascinating place. It is a giant ocean in the middle of the desert, so desolate and apocalyptic. It was formed in 1905 when engineers accidentally created a runoff of excessive amounts of water from the Colorado River in efforts to increase water flow to the farmlands. The water flowed continuously for two years filling up the Salton Basin, which is below sea level. With nowhere for it to drain and hardly any rainfall yearly the lake became polluted with fertilizers and pesticides from the surrounding farms, and the salinity rose to well over the amount of the Pacific Ocean. All the species of fish and aquatic life started to die off. It is to this day the largest body of water in California but not much can survive here. What was once a thriving resort town is now an apocalyptic scene from a movie. What’s left is a wasteland of rotting fish corpses and abandoned buildings.
The final campsite was at Lake Cahuilla, and the night of my birthday! We ate a delicious meal and drank campfire Old Fashioneds. They set up a projector screen against one of the Vans and played movies while we all sat around the campfire. We played bocce ball and Catch Phrase. Then towards the end of the night I excused myself to go to the restrooms and while I was gone Diane and Bill came out with cupcakes lit with candles and sparklers and started to sing happy birthday! I came back to the fire to find all of them laughing as they quickly tried to light the candles and start to sing again. It was amazing! I can’t remember when I’ve laughed so hard. It was such a great group of people and I had an unforgettable time!
The last day of the trip a few members from the group and I went out by the lake and had a sunrise yoga session. It was exactly what I needed after sleeping in a van all week, and a perfect way to end this incredible trip. We had our final breakfast gathering and loaded up for the journey home. We passed through beautiful Idyllwild and the gorgeous mountains and wildflowers everywhere. It was so green!
It was another unforgettable trip and I can’t wait for the next one!