Aluminum-clad and gleaming, Airstream trailers are a throwback to a Golden Age of road-tripping that has inspired roadside envy ever since. You could splurge on one of your own, or you can rent one to meander your way along the coast. Lola and I did just that for a trip we took up to California wine country and decided to spend a day exploring the dunes in Oceano, California on the way back.
Oceana is just a few hours north of Los Angeles and for quite some time we’d been hearing about sand dunes that we could run around in and boy, was it super fun once we got there. We met a cute boy dog named Oscar, who was taking his Mom for a walk. Then Lola and I met a couple of kids we couldn’t understand because they only spoke German, so we pretended they were Hansel and Gretel and made up a a whole story about them. Mostly, we ran around in the dunes like we characters from the movie Assassin’s Creed or The Mummy.
Little did we know that in 1923, Cecil. B. DeMille built the largest movie set in history for his epic film, “The Ten Commandments”, in the dunes near here. There’s a pretty fascinating exhibit featuring artifacts left over from the movie at The Dunes Center (http://dunescenter.org) in Guadalupe, CA. It’s worth a visit if you’re interested in traveling around California’s Central Coast and exploring the dunes.
The Oceano dunes are actually only a small part of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dune system which is recognized by scientists and conservationists as the finest, most extensive coastal dunes remaining in California. The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes area is home to a surprisingly wide range of plant and animal life. Those who take the time to explore will see wildflowers, countless small mammals and insects, a variety of small birds at the water’s edge and hawks, owls, pelicans, or gulls flying overhead.
American Indians were the original inhabitants of the area, but during the 1930’s and 40’s, the dunes were home to a group of free thinking people that included mystics, nudists, artists, writers, and hermits. They called themselves “Dunites” and they believed that Oceano Dunes were one of the centers of creative energy in California. Seek out the solitude of the dunes and perhaps you too, will feel the creative forces that the Dunites spoke about.
The prevailing winds blow in from the ocean, pushing sand particles up into wave-like crests. The dunes undulate for 18 miles along the central coasts shoreline, stretching from Pismo State Beach to Point Sal. A steady wind sweeps over them, sculpting sand into towering peaks that stretch 500 feet into the sky. Tall grasses and shrubs with bright yellow flowers that look like daisies, are scattered across the dunes. As the sun sets, sapphire blue waves crash on white sand beaches, under skies splashed with pink, orange and purple.
It’s easy to see why Cecil B. DeMille chose this dramatic windswept setting for his film. Hope you enjoy the one we made, too.
Lil’ Bella and Lola
Bella’s Big Adventure is the story of two Little Golden Retrievers whose travels take them all over the country. They visit places they’ve has always wanted to see and make friends along the way.
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