2014 EPIC Summer Road Trip Part II – The Adventure Begins

In this segment:
Omni La Costa Resort & Spa
Los Angeles | Hollywood
San Luis Obispo
Pismo Beach
Avila Beach
First I’d like to make an important acknowledgement: Do you remember back in April I won the Switchfly Dream Destination Contest (click here to read about it)? I asked Switchfly if I may use it for two trips instead of one and they agreed. We used a portion of the winnings for the 2014 EPIC Summer Road Trip. For personal purchases, meals and souvenirs we did not use the winnings. For accommodations, gas and some excursions we did. A big thanks to them for allowing me to share it with my husband and bonus daughters!
To see our intended course click here
To start at Part I click here
And now PART II:
I have organized the stop-by-stop recap of our 2014 EPIC Summer Road Trip in my head so many times! These are the days I think implementing some ‘vlog’ onto the blog would be great! So many photos, so many memories. How do I possibly condense it into “short and sweet”?!
I will be posting a new segment each week along with some of our costs and where we stayed. When I conclude the series, I’ll share total fuel costs (we’re adding them up now). I hope you enjoy our adventure!
And now, the beginning
After some pool time at home…
Hanging out at home – yes, those are my feet LOL
We kicked off our adventure right here in beautiful San Diego County at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa. Disclosure: The Omni hosted our room.
I’ve been here before and this resort truly has some of the best customer service across the board and they are extremely family-friendly. There is even a kids VIP check-in!  Not to mention water slides, an arcade, a pizza place and movie night at the pool area. You can guess where the girls spent most of their time:
I think if you allow kids and teens to stay on this 24-7, they’d do it. Seriously. It must have hypnotic powers!
After we dragged them out of the pool, we were greeted by this in our room. There was a note to the girls, too. I love those special touches. We indulged a bit then showered up.
There may be some cookies missing from this photo…
K (8-year old bonus daughter) and I went to the kid’s VIP check in so she could have her face painted and get some balloon animals. Somehow, it was decided I would wear the hat:
New fashion statement?
We had dinner then took in a movie under the stars:
Later, 8 year old bonus daughter went swimming during the movie. Hey, when in Rome!
Everyone was worn out and we hit the sack! After breakfast and reptiles (there was a reptile show), it was off for a pit stop which included a surprise for 8-year old bonus daughter!

Los Angeles and area:

This place is an institution. You’ve probably seen it in the movies. And a buck for a donut? Definitely a win. I think we got five donuts and four bottles of water for eight dollars.
Since 1953!
We went just a few miles up the road to The Grove and took in the Hollywood sign as we approached the mall. I had been really excited about surprising K with an American Girl doll. In fact, I think I may have been more excited than she was! Splurge alert: This was a splurge during the trip. We had a surprise for each of the girls in store.
We made the poor child wear a blindfold through the entire mall. She got a kick out of it & was definitely surprised!
Next stop was the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The girls weren’t entirely impressed, but they did get a kick out of some of the stars.
Some of our favorites
It was so crowded we could barely walk on the sidewalks, but we did take a few shots in front of the The TLC Chinese Theater:
Of course, the hubs and I made a pit stop. What is up with my hair?
We grabbed some (pizza) slices, then hit the road! L.A. took a little longer than anticipated and somehow the GPS led us 18 miles astray, so we got to our campsite a bit later than anticipated.  Still, because of it, we actually drove through the mountains and witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets we’d ever seen. This photo is from so far away and couldn’t begin to do it justice. The hubs said, “See, if we wouldn’t have gone the wrong way we wouldn’t have seen this.” So true.
We camped at Camp San Luis Obispo. Army bases are not known for being ‘pretty’ and this one was definitely lacking in the aesthetics arena, but the campground was nice and the facilities were extremely clean. The downside was there were no grills and only RV sites had fire-pits. That meant no grilling for us. Boo!
We set up in the dark, washed up and were out like lights! In the morning, it looked like this:
Home for two nights
The campground area
The campground is on a military installation, so you must have a pass or military ID. It was $20.00 for two nights since we had two tents.

We started our morning getting dressed then driving off for a meal at the Breakfast Buzz which we would rate a B-. It was then off to Arnie’s ATV Rentals in Pismo Beach. Connie helped us plan and she was such a character!

The dunes are pretty cool. You have to be careful because there are drops when you least expect them. It was my first time ATVing in sand and while the hubs – who used to race ATVs – was popping wheelies and doing jumps (have to admit that was sexy), I got stuck trying to go up a hill and thought I’d roll backwards. I was screaming for help in an area no one could hear me and finally a stranger took pity on me and asked if I needed help. I must have looked pathetic having this guy roll me backwards on a sand dune. Yes I did the safety course. All left my mind as I was stranded at a 45-degree incline hoping I would not roll backwards to my death. It is not for the faint of heart even if it seems easy – you cannot be tentative up there! ATVing in sand is very different than through mud, forests or fields. The girls rocked it. Me? Not so much, but I did have fun trying. I just kept looking around because it was really beautiful:

M (14 year old bonus daughter) looking out at the ocean and all around the Dunes

Oh – and you may spot coyotes. They won’t bother you. Just to be safe, do not approach them. They’re looking for food in the area.

Coyotes making their way through the dunes
Getting started
K had enough after about an hour (I wasn’t disappointed 😉 ) so she and I stopped for a little bit and spent time on the beach finding sand dollars – we found A LOT of them. After awhile, we did hop back on our ATV’s. Truth be told, that girl LOVES the water and I think she just couldn’t stand not playing in it haha! I mean who could blame her, right?
A girl and the water

At the end of our rides:

Family photo

A note: If you are going to rent an ATV in California, by law it does require a certificate. We got ours online and as of the date of this post, it’s free through ATV Safety Institute. You will need to take the certificates with you. Kids cannot ATV without adults who are not certified. Teenagers also have to have a certificate. Splurge alert: We spent about $250 for two hours of ATVing. This includes a discount for military.

After we turned in our ATV’s and bid adieu to everyone at Arnie’s we headed into downtown San Luis Obispo for lunch and a stop at the disgusting, yet entertaining Bubble Gum Alley. Of course when we stopped for gas I had the hubs buy some bubble gum. There are some, ummm, adult themed shapes made out of gum, so just be on the lookout so you don’t get questions from the little ones. Tip: We had lunch at The Habit Burger Grill and I wasn’t feeling very hungry, so I got the kid’s size meal. Go figure, it was the same size as an adult meal and much cheaper. Everyone else got regular sized meals and we got out of there for just over twenty bucks.

Downtown San Luis Obispo
The disgusting yet entertaining Bubble Gum Alley

To finish out our day we headed toward Avila Beach. It was gorgeous and probably my most favorite part of the area. Seals everywhere!

This was just up Harford Pier:

It was so pretty. I have so many photos I don’t know how to possibly narrow them all down!

We hung out awhile at Olde Port Beach and I think K met every dog in town!

As the sun made its way down, we headed off for groceries so we would have breakfast and food for our next campsite, at the girls’ suggestion grabbed some sandwiches, chips and drinks for dinner and headed back to camp. I did laundry, no kidding. It was actually a bit cathartic as we prepared to break down the following morning and head north toward our AMAZING next stop…

Join us for Part III of our 2014 EPIC Summer Road Trip – Big Sur, Monterey & Carmel by clicking here.
This blog post is part of the Sunday Traveler line-up. For more great stories visit PackMeTo by clicking here.