Changing gears on the trails to Pismo Beach

by Josh Meunier

Changing gears on the trails to Pismo Beach

I was 26 coming off a near death experience when I had an epiphany that my life was lacking something that I couldn’t put my finger on.  I was living in San Francisco working for a Fortune 100 company and making great money.  That should have been all I needed, right?  

Wrong. For me it was the same hustle day in and day out.  My adrenaline rushes came from closing big deals and only lasted 24 hours before I was asked: “What’s the next one coming in?”  Quotas got higher and the stress continued to build.  For many of you reading this, that feeling has been real at some point in your life or is real right now.  

Financial freedom can be fun but it is dependent on how you use it.  Don’t get me wrong if you want a Ferrari and that’s your dream make sure you make it happen.  But most of us are figuring out how to use our money while others are living paycheck-to-paycheck trying to figure out where it all goes.  You’re not alone because everyone starts somewhere.  

I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum and still find myself struggling with it sometimes.  However I was sacrificing my happiness and wanted something more than the 5 o’clock happy hour and a hangover in my life.  That’s when I decided it was time to put my cash toward things that really made a difference in my life. 

Someone very close to me told me “it’s all about the journey not the destination, so make sure you make it worth it while you get where you’re going.”  

My point is that we’ve been trained to want things that leave us unfulfilled.  Your drapes in the living room won’t save your marriage and your Mercedes doesn’t give you freedom, but it can give you a smooth coastal ride.  It is important to have goals in your life that offer rewards but what I’m talking about is searching for that feeling of living! 

If you’re in the same boat then it might be time to take a look at your weekend schedule and clear it.  If you’re an adrenaline seeker like me there is a bit of wonderland located just three hours North of Los Angeles called Pismo Beach.  This can be your perfect weekend getaway.    

When I was looking into Pismo history I stumbled upon some pretty interesting facts.  The town began as an 8,838-acre ranch that was sold in 1840 for 447 head of cattle and $1.  Talk about one hell of a deal.  Since then it has transformed into a great beach town with family friendly activities and some wineries that can have you rolling home. 

If you want to learn more check out Trip Advisor for the details about butterflies dinosaur caves and more.  However, my visit to Pismo was stunned by a different kind of weekend warrior that I would have never guessed made their home there.  

This place gathers the adrenaline junkies that we might associate with the Metal Militia.  It’s like NASCAR meets Baywatch.  With over 1500 acres, the Oceano Dunes Natural Preserve near Pismo Beach is a must do. It doesn’t matter if you’re a newcomer to motocross and four wheeling or if you ride in the X-games.  

We rocked up to Pismo in a Nissan and were quickly greeted by Ford 250 super duties with raised under carriages bearing pirate flags.  It was a bit shocking. Mostly because this was not synonymous with the beach culture I’m used to in Southern California.  This is a hot spot for families, friends, and motorbike clans to come and let loose on their free time. 

I’m not kidding.  I saw a thirty something mom driving her kids, three dirt bikes, and trailer full of off road toys down the beach.  That was an eye opener.  You can save the beach horseback ride for your honeymoon and go set your hair on fire with some off-road toys!  So kick that white horse right in the ass and grab a dune buggy, four-wheeler, or dirt bike and get that heart rate pumping.

Don’t worry if you don’t have your own and want to join in the fun.  We cruised over to BJ’s ATV rentals and we’re able to get some cool 4-wheelers for around $70 for two hours.  We didn’t need the huge power but we wanted enough to have one hell of a time, and two hours was the perfect amount.  

The good news for beginners is that they give you a bit of instruction before you take off on your adventure. Once you’ve mounted your trusty steed you’ll mosey your way on the sandy highway next to the water down to one of the eight entrances that will get you into the dunes.  It was recommended that we use the second entrance because it opens up a bit more for you to let loose.  

You can see Maia doing her best to figure out how to steer left and right.  Once she got the hang of it all bets were off.  She was tearing through the dunes like a bat out of hell.  

We started by cruising the outside boundaries and then hit it hard for the sand bowls.  A word of advice is to be cautious when approaching some of the lips of the bowls because they can get pretty steep.  Once you commit to the ride it can end up being like a roller coaster.  

We had a blast racing each other over the dunes and bouncing in and out of the sand bowls as fast as we could.  When we looked around we could see some very experienced four-wheelers and dirt bike experts performing wheelies and getting air.  It was a great spectacle.  We even saw the dune buggies flooring it up the face of the bowls like the final scene in The Perfect Storm with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.  

Once we had our adrenaline fix it was time to feed the beast.  Being on a motor vehicle like that can work up quite an appetite.  We wanted to get an exclamation point on the end of our trip.  By using our trusty yelp app; Maia was able to find what is now one of my favorite restaurants in all of California.  

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Ember Restaurant is a wood fired grille serving Italian-inspired California cuisine.  It offers a great ambiance in Arroyo Grande and perfect to bring a date or friends and family.  

You can watch the chefs do their work with an open style kitchen and wood fire stove sitting right behind them.  If you plan on making this a stop be aware that they open at 4pm and its first come first serve.  The food was spectacular and the service was on point. 

I can tell you that I will be back to Pismo for another round of the dunes and next time I’ll be bringing my camping gear.  One day just isn’t enough.  If your stuck in a rut and need a mini vacation or you’re simply looking for a great time to enjoy with your friends or significant other then this can be a great option that is just the right distance away.  Until next time Pismo!  




Josh Meunier
Josh Meunier

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