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When I lived in San Francisco I used to go camping in Big Sur every summer with a group of girlfriends. With its rugged coastline, signature pine trees and aqua blue ocean, it’s one of my all-time top places to unwind.

As Mountaineering Man is a huge fan of the outdoors, I knew he’d love Big Sur as much as I do. And since he was about to meet my parents, sister, brother-in-law and a half-dozen of my friends for the first time, I thought one more stop before the big LA debut couldn’t hurt. We rented a car in San Francisco and drove along Highway 1, the beautiful but notoriously dangerous windy road that goes along the coast of California.

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I did the driving because it’s a lot cheaper for me to be the only driver of a rental car (they charge more for foreign drivers!), a decision I regretted as soon as we passed Monterey and started down the main highway. It was a four-hour, white-knuckled drive, but we finally made it to Treebones, an eco resort where guests stay in yurts instead of a standard hotel room. The yurts are fully furnished with a bed, couch, table and chairs, gas fireplace and sink with running water and feature the most breathtaking ocean view you’ve ever seen. The resort is completely off the grid, meaning they produce their own energy and waste nothing. The main lodge has 24-hour showers, a sushi bar and a restaurant that cooks up organic produce grown in the resort’s own garden. There’s also a heated pool and hot tub and a little gift shop that sells some of the California coast’s best wines.

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After running around San Francisco for four days, this was exactly the break we needed. The yurts were spacious and comfortable and we lucked out again with the weather. The days were warm and sunny and the evenings were mild. At night we could hear the local sea lions yelping in the distance and see a million stars in the ink-black sky through the skylight in our yurt.

Sushi View Big Sur Cormac Big Sur

One of the highlights of our whole California adventure was the first night at Treebones. We were both quite tired from the drive and arrived in the early evening. Within a half-hour of checking in, we managed to get the last two seats at the sushi bar. We ate gorgeous sushi and sipped chilled white wine while watching the sun dip beneath the misty marine layer that had formed over the ocean; it was a magnificent scene I’ll not soon forget.

We had to catch a mid-day flight, so we left Treebones under a cover of darkness at 5:30 am. As we wound our way back up Highway 1, we watched the sun rise over the water and braced ourselves for the next big step: Meeting the Kleinedlers! Coming up next…