The Lalu Yurt

Trip Start Sep 07, 2009
Trip End Nov 17, 2009

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Where I stayed
Bjorklund Ranch

Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, November 12, 2009

10/11/2009 - We left Cambria and headed south, back on the Pacific Coast Highway. We stopped off along the way at Pismo beach, a well known surfing spot. We walked along the beach and then up the pier, where we discovered a little fishing hut that rented out rods by the hour. Jim didn't hesitate! He hired a rod and bought some clams as bait. It was so nice to be fishing again and we had a great time casting the rod and watching the surfers do their thing. Until...the god squad decided to give me an ear-bashing. A guy approached with a flyer, and asked me what the UK thought of Noah. I told him I had no idea and wasn't interested, thank you. He then started to shout that I was going to listen to him whether I liked it or not, and if I didn't then I would go to hell. Thankfully, I was feeling quite calm that day and managed to ignore him until he eventually went away!

We left the pier and grabbed some lunch at the Honeymoon Cafe, before driving on to Goleta and into the Santa Barbara mountains to our next destination. The scenery through the foothills was lush and green, with dramatic views.

We arrived at Bjorklund Ranch (to a rowdy greeting from three rough old dogs) and immediately fell in love with its location, high on the hillside over looking Santa Barbara, the ocean and the Channel Islands beyond. We drove along the gravel path to our home for the next few days, 'Lalu Yurt' - it was so beautiful! The 24ft round space contained a fully working kitchen with handmade worktops made from wood from the ranch, a double bed (with a memory foam mattress topper!), a big comfy sofa, rocking chair, radio and a tv with a collection of old videos. The deck surrounding the yurt was huge and had loads of places to sit and eat. There was a bbq in one corner and a double hammock in another. Just off the deck was a walkway that led to the outside toilet and a bit further down was a paved walkway over a footbridge to the 'al fresco' bathroom that was completely open to the elements. There was also a shared hot-tub a short walk from the yurt and a 30 minute hike away was a natural waterfall and creek for fresh water swimming...we were in heaven! We were only about 100 miles from LA, but it felt more like a million miles.

Back inside the yurt, we watched a welcome video that had been left for us by the owners (Rob and Rozanne). It gave us a full history of the ranch and the construction of the yurts. Most of the wood, furniture, fixtures and fittings used are reclaimed - turns out the hardwood floor of the Lalu yurt is from reclaimed bowling alley lanes. During the video we also got to meet 'Wilderness Bob' a white-bearded hippie who lives in an old caravan on the ranch (see video).

After watching the video, we left the yurt and drove to a local grocery store to stock up on some grub. We drove back up the mountain to our retreat in the dark, which I thought was bit hairy, but Jim wasn't bothered at all! After dinner, Jim ran me a bath and lit the candles in the outside bathhouse. It was a bit scary bathing in the open air at night, but liberating as well and so, so peaceful. Back in the yurt, we discovered the tv wasn't actually connected to an aerial, so it didn't have any channels and could only show videos! To be honest, it was a relief to be away from all the crap US reality TV shows (which over the course of the last ten weeks I had somehow, slowly become addicted to, but Jim hated with a vengeance). So we settled down and watched a video from the collection - Four Weddings and a Funeral, which reminded us of a home a long, long way away.

11/11/2209 - After a bit of a sleepless night being too scared to go the loo in the dark, we woke up and ate breakfast on the deck overlooking the foothills. After eating, we ventured off the mountain and drove a few miles along the highway to Santa Barbara. It was quite a warm day and we strolled along the beach and up to the pier. There were loads of local kids at the end of the pier fishing and Jim couldn't resist joining in again. He hired a rod and some bait and got stuck in. The kids around us were catching little sardines in quick succession and it wasn't long before Jim had a bite. He reeled in quite a big Mackerel (bigger than the kid's sardines anyway), then another, then another. The local kids soon took an interest and asked Jim what he was using for bait and where he was casting. Occasionally, we would look out to sea and catch a glimpse of a seal or two. We could have sat there all day, it was beautiful.

We returned back to the yurt (after getting a bit lost on the way) and chilled out for a while on the hammock, just listening to the birds and crickets in the trees. We had planned to have a bbq, but the evening had turned quite cold, so we cooked our burgers in a pan instead! After eating, we started the log fire (eventually) and settled down again to watch a movie. There wasn't much choice, but we chose a brilliantly tacky film called Alaska, staring Face from the A-Team. (The plot was legendary - a man crashes his light-airplane into the Alaskan mountains and his two teenage kids set off to find him with little more than a packed lunch and the aid of a friendly polar bear). After the film, we went to bed and fell asleep under the glow of the fire, looking up at the stars through the central glass dome of the yurt ...

12/11/2009 - In the morning, we decided to explore the creek, a short hike away down the mountain. The walk took us along a windy dirty road through the beautiful foothills for a couple of miles, down to a valley at the bottom. Randomly placed along the road were old cars, bits of junk and rock sculptures (the welcome video we had watched encouraged us to add to these sculptures as part of our 'spiritual journey'!). When we reached the creek, we couldn't quite see how to get to it, until we spotted a strategically placed log crossing the stream a bit further up. We crossed over the log, and discovered a huge tee-pee in front of us through the trees. As we got closer, we could make out a clearing with seating and a cooking area. I whispered to Jim that someone must live down here. At that moment, Jim was creeping past the tee-pee when he suddenly spun around and tiptoed back to me. He had looked inside the tent and someone was fast asleep in there! We then spotted a couple of other tents and realised that it was some type of hippie commune! What a great place to live! Although, they mustn't have any electricity, gas or running water other than the water from the creek, but they had.the simple things and nature in abundance. We walked slowly back up the steep climb to our yurt, wondering what it must be like to live in such a cut-off spot.  

After a quick lunch, we headed into Goleta, the local small town, and had a drink at a cafe with wireless internet access. We spent a couple of hours on their painfully slow connection trying to book our final accommodation for our last there nights America. After the wonderful peacefulness of the yurt, we couldn't think of anything worse than staying in busy downtown LA, so we opted to stay in Santa Monica, just up from Venice Beach, on the outskirts of the city.

When we returned to the yurt that night, we noticed it was getting a bit windy. Over the next few hours, the wind gradually got stronger and stronger. With every gust the yurt would rattle and shake and I was convinced we were going to be wrenched from the side of the mountain! It must have been a lot worse for the hippies down at the creek though....

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