RVING TO SANTA BARBARA
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen all my RV road trip stories a few weeks back! My boyfriend Jesse and I rented an RV and drove up to Santa Barbara for a weekend of delicious food, yoga, wandering, shopping and…more delicious food.
Let’s back up, though. Have you ever been on a RV trip? Because I don’t think I had ever even been inside of an RV before this trip! I’ve always been super interested in them though. I’ve been infatuated with the Tiny House movement, and only a month or two after meeting Jesse, we started talking about what it would be like to buy, renovate, and cruise the country in an RV or school bus or something of the sort.
Neither of us is handy AT ALL, nor do we have any RV or large bus experience, but we’re both in love with the idea of taking off and exploring while we’re young, wild and free, and still can. I want to retrofit a gorgeous kitchen into a school bus and take off, and while I never thought I’d find someone who shared the sentiment, Jesse’s totally into the idea. But first, we knew we needed to get in an RV and actually have some experience in a giant, liveable vehicle before considered our own adventure. Which is why it seemed like FATE when GoRVing got in touch through CLEVER and wanted to do a RV-themed foodie roadtrip post! I couldn’t say HECK YES fast enough!
We booked the RV through Outdoorsy, which is like AirBNB for RVs, and found the “Leamon Party Bus”, which was cutely decorated and just the right size (24 feet) for first time RVers like ourselves. The morning we left for our trip, Corey, the RV owner, gave us SUCH a thorough walk-through of the RV and showed us how to do everything we needed – drive it around, hook it up, and use the kitchen. Thankfully for me, you have to be 25 to be insured so Jesse had to do all the driving but as soon as we got on the road, he lost his nerves and had a super easy time driving it around.
One of the best parts about RVing was being able to stop anywhere we wanted, and essentially have our hotel room with us. En route to Santa Barbara, we stopped for acai bowls in San Clemente at Juice My Heart, and sat at our kitchen table on the side of a road in air conditioning to eat them. #RVperk, for sure.
I had also been itching to go to Erewhon Market for ages – it’s a healthier grocery store in LA that has tons of unique, delicious products and a prepared foods section that blew my mind. Think: gluten free mac and cheese, vegan “meatballs”, SO many soups, and the best turmeric cauliflower I’ve ever had. I loaded up on tons of healthier products I’d never seen before, or had seen online and never been able to find in stores. It was my food heaven, and since we were in no rush, we spent the better part of an hour meandering the aisles and getting snacks to fuel us for the rest of the drive. We also picked up a bunch of prepared foods and had lunch in the parking lot. The journey is definitely as important as the destination when you’re in an RV.
Jesse managed to back the RV up into it’s spot in the RV park in ONE GO! What a pro 😉 we got everything hooked up with no issues and went off to explore, shop…and find more food. Before the trip, I surveyed you guys on where we should go in SB and you guys HOOKED IT UP. After a long wander around Santa Barbara on Friday evening, we headed off to Mesa Verde for dinner. And OMG. Dreams do come true. Pretty much everything on the menu is gluten-free, and it’s all vegan, with vegan cheese galore. My dairy-free heart was singing.
We started with picadillo empanadas, which were filled with butternut squash cheese, cacao black beans, chimichurri, and pickled carrots and cabbage. Next up was my favorite: the summer vegetable pasta with zucchini noodles, heirloom tomatoes, mushrooms, black kale, macadamia ricotta, and cashew parmesan. The ricotta and parm were out of this world good. Last was the gluten-free vegan pizza with smoked eggplant, marinara, cashew cheese, tempeh bacon, caramelized onion, heirloom tomato, and basil – it was amazing, but we were so full at that point that we had to bring it home. Luckily, we could do that because we had a fridge in our RV 🙂 we rolled back home incredibly full and satisfied and slept like babies in the super comfortable bed.
I woke up bouncing with excitement for Saturday’s activities: the day before we had found Santa Barbara’s himalayan salt cave, which is the biggest of the sort in the US, and signed up for a yoga class IN THE CAVE. There was only four of us in the flowing class, which was in the dimly lit salt cave, surrounded by himalayan pink salt covering the walls, ceiling, and floor. Himalayan salt is known for being incredibly healing, and being surrounded by it provided a sense of calmness and magic in the class. We had gone into the class a little anxious, and left smiling, entirely rejuvenated. You can see a peek of my terrible, unstretched scorpion pose above (also, it’s totally not called a scorpion in yoga, that’s what it’s called in cheer and I never remember it’s yoga name.)
Post-yoga was lunch at Green Table – another gluten-free, mostly vegan lunch spot that had out of this world matcha drinks. I got a salted caramel matcha latte and the vegan veggie parmesan, which was a quinoa burger topped with sunflower almond dressing (that baked up similar to a delicious ricotta), tomato, basil, spinach, nutritional yeast, and Italian herbs. Jesse opted for a matcha green juice and the Green Table burger: a quinoa veggie burger, with house dressing, cauliflower bread (!!!), avocado, Dijon, lettuce, tomato, and goat gouda cheese. You guys, I’d happily be vegan if I could eat that meal every day.
A trip to the local farmer’s market followed, and I marveled in the beautiful sights: plump and firm heirloom tomatoes, a gorgeous array of greens, the first of the year’s apples, and plants galore. There were vendors selling house plants (we bought a new fiddle leaf fig tree for $20 – her name is Barb) and every type of herb you could imagine. I couldn’t resist picking up some of the farmer’s most beautiful produce to bring home with me.
Anyone ever had a jujube?! I had never seen these before!
We dropped off our goodies at the RV (in the photo just above, you can see Barb all wrapped up in paper in the messy RV) and went back into town to wander some more and do a little shopping. Jesse ended up feeling a little sick, so we grabbed a quick dinner at The Natural Cafe (I forgot to take photos ) – a lettuce-wrapped turkey burger for me, and enchiladas for him. He ended up having no appetite once the food was on the table, so Jesse’s dinner ended up getting gifted to a homeless man we saw outside and we had a quiet, low-key night in, just hanging out.
Sunday morning was supposed to be hiking day, but sadly, Jesse still wasn’t feeling up to it. I took a walk to the local grocery store to get some olive oil and came back to make us a little salad with our farmer’s market finds from the day before. Tragically, I had the refrigerator set to be too cold and the lettuce froze but I ended up skipping the lettuce and tossing together sliced peaches, halved baby heirloom tomatoes, and GIANT blackberries with some salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon. Soooo easy and sooo delicious – I’ve left the quick and easy recipe at the bottom of the post. You can see some photos of me styling below (yes, I brought my own bowls…), as well as the final product. 🙂
As we would later find out, he was having a minor bout with strep, but he was a champ and we went to Backyard Bowls for acai bowls anyways, before packing up. I couldn’t not go to Backyard Bowls, since pretty much every. single. message. that I got with Santa Barbara recommendations insisted I go. You guys were not wrong – my green bowl was BOMB. It had ginger and lime juice in it, which added such a nice kick of spiciness and tartness to the usually sweet bowl.
After our bowls, we got packed up, unhooked the RV, and got back on the road! We made another stop at Erewhon for some more lunch goodies (and promptly devoured a whole container of the most amazing herb-y potatoes EVER) and delivered the RV back to Corey in surprisingly, pretty pristine condition.
So, the conclusion? I’m an RVing convert – I would totally do it again, and taking off in a converted bus or RV is just as appealing as ever. It’s a super affordable way to travel, especially if you own your own RV, and it’s so convenient having all the comforts of home at your fingertips. No dealing with lugging bags around, or not being able to keep your delicious leftovers because your hotel room doesn’t have a fridge or way to heat them back up. It also let us be more spontaneous with where we could go and what we could do – we never had to worry about catching a flight or not fitting something into our bags. Freedom is something I’m always after on a trip, and RVing provides the best of it. You can bet this won’t be my last RV trip!
Simple Peach Tomato Salad
– 1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes halved
– 1 large peach pitted and cubed
– 1/2 cup fresh berries of choice I used blackberries
– 1/4 cup toasted pecans chopped
– 1/2 fresh lemon
– 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
– Salt & pepper to taste
1) In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, cubes of peach, berries, and pecans. Squeeze the lemon over the top and drizzle with olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss together and serve immediately.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.