It’s been twenty long days now since I drove Big Sur with Dave; I still think about the experience every day and am guaranteed to do so for the foreseeable future. Since I came back from holiday, I’ve been working full time and I’ve been quite nervous about reviewing such an awesome trip whilst trapped in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, for fear of selling it short. But it’s a sunny Sunday morning now and I’ll try my best.
For me, the Big Sur experience began long before I hopped in the car parked up on ‘The Breakfast Club’ car park, Seaside, CA. Full up with the Big Sur nostalgia gathered from great books and great friends, I was quite determined to check it out. Unable to drive, I began to investigate other options and that was when I found Dave’s website. I emailed him and his response was immediate and maintained over a couple of months, right up until the morning of the drive! I cannot express my gratitude for his dedication to fulfilling my dream of driving Big Sur… I was traveling Seattle>San Diego with five other friends and breaking away from them for Big Sur, meaning that pinning down solid plans was nigh on impossible and I’m sure that Dave suffered the ripple effect of this. Nevertheless, plans were hatched for Dave to drive me half way down the Big Sur coast before turning round and depositing me at Salinas Amtrak in time to catch the train to Los Angeles. I was traveling alone on Labour Day, and Dave was very attentive in seeing that my travel arrangements were feasible.
We met around 8am and quickly got on the road, fog lingered over the landscape, struggling to hold back the California sunlight. The landscapes were stunning and the road magical. Sticking to a schedule in order to catch the train Dave gaged the pace of the driving and schooled me in his method of snapping Big Sur (complete with warnings when good photograph compositions were approaching and countdowns to their disappearance)… though I might add that this quick approach was catered to me, and that he personalises each tour to each person. My research is about driving American roads, so this method really appealed to me more than a different style, such as getting out of the car and walking around a bit more.
The road changed constantly and the scenery with it; ever varied, ever breath-taking. From pine-lined and shady forest routes, to driving through holes gauged out of mountains, to taking in Bixby Bridge in the mid-morning fog. Big Sur is an intricate balance of man and nature; Highway 1 dancing through untouched beauty. Every mile brought a new view to see and a new vibe to feel.
About thirty miles into the journey, Dave delivered the great news that instead of doubling back to Salinas Amtrak, he would drive me straight on to San Louis Obispo Amtrak… a great act of kindness, considering the long journey ahead of me and my eagerness to see Big Sur, reinforcing my excitement. Along the route we had many options of places to stop. In particular, we opted to pull over for a caffeine pit stop at ‘The Big Sur Bakery,’ paused at ‘Nepenthe,’ stopped off to say hello to some elephant seals, checked out Harmony and took a walk around Morro Bay… not to mention countless breaks to soak up and photograph the gorgeous scenery.
Upon encountering people at said stops, Dave would heartily strike up conversation and introduce me – whether he knew the people or not (he mostly did). This reflects not only his deep knowledge of Big Sur, its people and its places, but also his extreme willingness to engage. This brings me onto the best and last part of my review; Dave himself.
It’s a real gift in this world to find someone who is passionate about what they do, but it’s no coincidence. To quote AMC’s ‘Mad Men:’ ‘this is America, pick a job and become the person that does it.’ Dave is one of those wonderful people who breaks that mould; he loves to drive and talk about Big Sur and that’s exactly what he’s going to do. He created and job to suit his love. It’s really inspiring to be around that kind of energy.
An engaging and vibrant personality, I couldn’t have asked for a better companion to drive Big Sur with. Perceptive, interesting, and full of good stories – from an encounter with John Lennon to tennis tours around Europe, Dave has lived a lot and his company delivers his excitement for life to you by proxy. From real, deep, philosophical talk, to quoting the dialogue from the old Beatles cartoons (he knows it word-for-word!), to playing the name game, to stretches of comfortable silence, to some excellent radio station and CD DJing from Dave, the atmosphere was solidly marvellous throughout. I felt a real connection with Dave and was so pleased to have met such a great character.
Sad that it was at an end, we pulled up at SLO Amtrak, Dave saw me safely onto the train and we parted ways. I sped along the tracks to San Diego positively brimming with happiness. What a wonderful way to spend Labour Day.
Thank you so, so much Dave. To quote you back at you ‘always remember that you totally soak!’
Dear Dave, Thank you for making my trip so easy and so interesting. Your door to door service greatly helped my 82 year old father get around. Your stories and knowledge about the area greatly added to our enjoyment. Your love of the area is contagious, and I look forward to the next visit. I would always recommend you to a friend!
Nancy Chen | Dallas TX
We had a terrific time and you get an A+ for your selection of wineries. Exactly what we were looking for.
Laurence Field, MN
“Dave provided friendly and professional service. He showed us breath-taking views, highlighted points of historical interest, and shared personal stories that added flavor to our day. Dave made our amazing trip…even better.”
Mike and Mary Chicago, IL
Traveling up the California coast (from L.A. to Hearst Castle and Big Sur) with you as guide, friend, and driver were the two top days of our visit to California. Unbeatable as a way to see the sights without being herded into a big package tour or driving yourself and losing out on all the beauty that surrounds you. A great memory.
Barbara M. Paris France
“Having traveled around the world, I must say the beauty of the coast line and Dave’s experience and knowledge of the area made my experience one of the best ever!”
Michael B. New York
“Looking back the ride from San Luis Obispo to Carmel was the best day of our three week trip. I was a little cautious of your Californian enthusiasm and warnings to get very excited, but looking back it was all completely justified! ”
Andy H. – London
“My husband and I took the Day Tripper with friends visiting from Minnesota. We loved the intimacy and comfort as opposed to what we would have received on a large tour bus. Dave’s humor and personality made the trip special. We plan to tell other locals about this great addition to our community.”
J.B. – Pacific Grove, CA
“My wife Sandy and our son Scott would like to thank you for the wonderful trip from Carmel to Hearst Castle. Your experience in knowing the drive and the small off road scenic places made our trip so special. Having you drive the winding road made my trip more pleasurable.”
Jack T. – Houston, TX
“I’m so glad Jack was not driving.”
Sandy T. – Houston, TX