That was my plan for seeing the spectacular Big Sur, a stretch of beautiful landscapes just south of Carmel. Deep down I wasn’t made of the stuff to make that work. I searched for a long time for a big bus tour, but very few places do it. One of the two tours that did it was Dave’s Big Sur Tours. The reviews praised and praised the man himself, so I sent him a quick email half expecting to not hear back or be told he was booked until 2019.
Within hours, I got a chirpy and friendly response letting me know he was free on the very day I wanted to explore, the prices and payment method. I put down my deposit, and a part of me was more excited about meeting Dave than going to most of the cities on my travels! I reminded myself that if I felt lonely on this trip, at least there was Dave! In the intermediate time, he was prompt with responses and kept me updated with the plan.
At 9AM of the day of the tour, there he was.
“I thought that might be you!”
If I seemed like the girl behind the email, he certainly seemed like the guy behind the email. Enthusiastic about life, happy, and just so Californian. That beautiful positive and laid back attitude I just kept encountering. It would be a great day.
I climbed into his car and we mapped out the day – Big Sur, Pebble Beach and then a drop off in Monterey. I trusted his knowledge to take me to see the places I liked, and his listening skills and people skills attuned him immediately to the stories I might like, scenery I might like – and yes, the fact I would LOVE photos of me for the Social Media.
He took me to a small and pretty grove where Betty White lives, and with every building or structure he knew the story behind it. He had an anecdote for so many situations, and we gave names to the pedestrians we passed. Roxanne was a recurrent character. Not only that, but we visited a glorious little ranch.
The road ahead as we drove was just like the movies, unfolding with grandeur and the undeniable sense of a day trip on the roads of America. He blasted the music of the Beatles and I learned more from his encyclopaedic knowledge of the Beatles than I could ever have done from a day of Wikipedia. Each song he made me laugh with his impressions of John and Paul in the Beatles movie Eight Days a Week.
At Bixby Bridge he told me about the history and how it came to be. The prisoners would trek from San Quentin to build the bridge, and upon its completion it knocked an hour off the journey. Any questions I had, I knew he could answer and I would happily have stopped the car to just hear him talk about local history.
We drove all the way to the Big Sur River Inn motel lodges in the woods, and they were absolutely dreamy. The guests lazed with their feet soaking in the river, or tubing down using the current. In huge decanters they served sangria and whiskey. The air was so pungent with the scent of Redwoods and thick forest. It was such a wonderful place I took a flyer for when I return.
Our next walk took us down by the river, where we chatted a little about the nature of life and love, and how some people pass into our lives and they are wonderful, but the way of the world means they weren’t meant to stay. In many ways, our outlooks on life converged.
The drive back was just as wonderful, this time with some of Dave’s favourite radio stations and hosts and singing our favourite Weird Al Yankovic songs. We drove along the 17 mile drive, where the pretty golf courses and coastline is, and then through America’s Last Hometown, Pacific Grove. This pretty little small town greeted us to a yard sale, victorian houses and the epitome of small town quintessence. When I was telling Dave I love these places because they are so different to what I’m used to in London, what was in front of me but a red London telephone box?
In Monterey the tour ended, but not before a visit to the Spindrift Inn to meet the lovely staff. It’s a pretty pretty little hotel which I earmarked for last time. I said goodbye to Dave with a hug I’d give a long time friend, knowing it wouldn’t be the last I’d see or hear of this amazing guy.
After a day in Monterey I was texting a friend in my room, snacking on Trader Joe’s Pane Rustica to the sound of my room neighbours having underwhelming sex when my room telephone rang. I thought it was a noise complaint, because maybe someone thought it was ME having that noisy sex (I wish). In fact the call was to say “there’s a guy downstairs with a lens cap for you, shall I send him up?”
My only response was “are you kidding me?! Oh my goodness!”
I threw on my coat and there he was, with my lens cap in my hand. He had found it, and not only that, come all this way to deliver it.
I think I won’t be the first or last person to say this: the scenery was something special but what really made this tour memorable and worth the money and more was the man himself. I think there really are some truly wonderful people in life and Dave is one of them. He is so full of character and full of positivity, so enthusiastic about life that it’s infectious. He knows what it means to deliver a tour and really get to the heart of each individual and that makes it something special. Something you would never get on a scripted big bus tour.
To finish, he sent me a recap of the whole tour. I don’t know how he did it, but he had recalled the details of what we discussed, listened to, the radio shows at each point in the tour so perfectly that when I read it my jaw dropped and filled with that infectious warmth once again.
I cannot recommend this tour enough. For four hours, it was $400 + $30 fuel surcharge. I booked by sending an email through his website here – and he will also offer advice on good places to stay nearby if you need it. It’s a wonderful experience led by one of the most amazing people I’ve had the privilege of meeting, so thank you Dave. Thank you so much.