Team name: Splendor
Team Splendor is taking their giant blue bus on a summer surf road trip down the California coast from the familiar home breaks of the Bay Area down to San Diego.
Gear that got them through
At it’s heart Splendor is a tour machine. We built out our 36ft baby blue school bus into a traveling war-rig five summers ago as a way to give small audiences up and down the west coast access to tiny shows of psychedelic rock-and-roll music and to chase down some fleeting diesel-fueled version of the American dream. The shows are intimate folk experience celebrating abundance and community. Splendor began life as a 1986 International S1700 School Bus, and has been an ongoing experiment in community building, music making, and metallurgy. To answer a common question: No, the Splendor bus does not in fact go to that thing in the desert.
It was last winter when Wiley and I took a small road trip to Ventura to surf Rincon that we started scheming up the idea of a Splendor Surf Tour. What if we could fuse our loves of music and surfing and bring the organic mayhem of the shows to the wild California coast?
When a friend told us about the Endless Adventure contest we saw the perfect opportunity to make an otherwise unwieldy and prohibitively expensive trip happen. On one particularly whimsical week we got our application together and began charting our route with crossed fingers. So here we are, all our gear neatly packed in Thule bags, steaks and zucchinis staying cold in Yeti coolers, and a freshly built 13-slot surfboard rack keeping our quiver secure inside. We installed a Tepui Kukenam 3 on our rear sun-deck and have been loving it. We can pop up the 3-person sleeping berth in strange locations at the last minute as the improvisational nature of our trip demands. After so much luck and effort, our diesel hungry Splendor rig is fired up and on the road again!
West Marin was the logical starting point to get our road trip legs. With few residents and lots of glassy, peeling rights it gave us a chance to test out the longboards and improve the organization on the bus. Turns out, keeping seven people’s things reasonably organized requires some work!
Pacifica is famously crowded on the weekends so on Day 3 we closed up the Tepui by headlamp, snuck over the Golden Gate Bridge in the chilly hours before dawn and snagged a big enough parking spot for our massive surf rig. We caught waves between lazy snoozes and barbecue stints, chatting with all friendly folks curious about what we were up to. The bus draws a crowd wherever we go and the Tepui tent only adds to the glory!
Next, we cruised to Santa Cruz for two nights and scored amazing surf at Davenport, Steamers Lane and Pleasure Point. One night we slept on a bluff overlooking the ocean and the next we were hosted at a cute little farm where we serenaded the locals late into the evening under a full, yellow moon.
Pismo beach, our destination for Day 6, was a long trek south and we drove the bus onto the beach with a mixture of hesitation and delight. We piloted the bus down the beach under the skeptical attentive gaze of the 4x4 & ATV crowd camping in RVs under American flags . Though we eventually got stuck in the soft sand some friendly locals pulled us out in exchange for a few beers and we were on our way in no time. A lovely parking spot seemed to find us and we nested between the dunes just in time for sunset singalongs and a bonfire as the tide came in all around our semi-truck tires.
As we think ahead to the next leg of our trip, LA’s expansiveness looms heavy on the horizon. The concrete desert is anxiety provoking and steeped in uncertainty. The bus navigators and drivers are rightly terrified of rush hour traffic and parking a 35 foot bus in already crowded neighborhoods. Today, though, we table those concerns and head to Santa Barbara. As we move down the coast our passengers ramble through light slumber, dreaming of the sweet sun and warm water we’ll be immersed in soon enough.