W[r]ite Noise blogger Maeve O’Lynn ditched the pop-up tent and waterproof this summer for a chic, eco-friendly yurt overlooking the wild coast in Big Sur, California…
As tickets for Glastonbury and Bestival go on sale for next year, we who embrace the Cherie City lifestyle have to make some very serious decisions. Can we sacrifice basic hygiene in order to see heaps of bands in just a few days? How will we ever keep our clothes dry and avoid contracting festival trench foot when you have to spend all day in wet wellies? Does the fun on offer make up for the high likelihood of having your head trod upon by a cider swilling festival zombie careering into your tent at 4am?
We’re seriously over the camping thing. Unless it’s the kind of camping you do in Treebones Resort, Big Sur, California. The whole concept of Big Sur is wonderful. We’re talking miles and miles and miles of wilderness, so remote that you can’t get radio reception in the car, your phone goes off the grid and the only public internet access for literally miles around is located at the Henry Miller Library. And it will probably be broken. This long stretch of California wilderness is full of unspoiled acres of gorgeous trees, dramatic cliffs, crashing waves, uninterrupted panoramic views of the pacific ocean, star spangled velvety blue skies unobscured by streetlights and beautiful sandy beaches.
There are a number of options of places to stay. You can try Plaskett Creek State Campsite. I seriously would not recommend this should you value your life – it is the only place I have been to where a scary man standing guard over a fleet of massive motorbikes told us we’d better ‘turn back round’ and I had to perform the most frightening three point turn on a narrow dirt road with trees on one side and aforementioned bikes on the other. You can check yourself in (and check your mind out) at the Esalen Institute where wealthy new agers partake in a bewildering variety of workshops on such topics as gender studies, shamanism and somatic studies before getting naked and piling into the hot springs together. There are also a number of other highly priced hotels, motels and cabins for hire because one thing is for certain – with the area’s building restrictions and national park status accommodation options are sparse and much in demand with visitors from San Francisco to the north and Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and LA to the south.
So back to Treebones. The concept? Yurts. Beautiful, roomy, airy yurts. Resplendent with huge double beds, your own personal gas fire place that operates on a timer so you can leave it on when you go to sleep, luxuriantly comfortable sofa, wash basin and mirror and glass dome through which you can look at the stars as you fall asleep. If you splash a little more cash you can upgrade your stay to an ocean view yurt which offers unparalleled views from your private terrace of the sea below, which stretches on for miles and miles into the horizon and all the way to Japan.
Breakfast is granola and waffles and fruit and coffee served up in the lodge, where you can also have delicious dinners, play board games, read novels and research hiking trails you might want to go on during the day. Bathrooms are beside the lodge and are immaculately clean and fully stocked with eco-friendly Method hand soaps and air freshener. The incredibly friendly owners will happily throw your bags on the back of a golf cart and whizz them round to your yurt for you from the carpark down below and then all you have to do is relax and then relax some more. When you get sick of the lodge there is a small but perfectly formed outdoor swimming pool, an organic flower and vegetable garden to explore, a teepee to hang out in and a treehouse/nest perched on the edge of a cliff you can kick back in.
Sure Big Sur with its lack of street lights, perilously windy roads with no safety guard to stop you plummeting to your doom on the rocks below might not be the best place for clubs and people watching. But after you gorge on chipotle chicken, a huge homemade slice on chocolate fudge cake, drink a bottle of merlot and watch the stars for a while all you want to do is fall asleep in front of the fire listening to the gentle sounds of the seals barking on the rocks below. Bliss. Now this is the way to do festival camping – they even have bands! Check out the events listing at the Henry Miller Library, Big Sur.
Maeve O’Lynn is a Belfast-based journalist, academic and Creative Director of W[r]ite Noise.