So Long Siri, Hello Big Sir (and a sunny cocktail recipe!)

While driving south along Pacific Coast highway, our seatmate and my guy’s other woman, Siri, sounded off with one of her many inane commands. “Turn right at the next stop, make a U-turn in five hundred feet… put your right foot in, put your right foot out, do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around.” Siri had been erratic all day and the universe (me) had, had enough. About the time I was revving for my regular rant, titled “why don’t we use Triple A trip ticks anymore” Siri went silent. I thought she was rerouting (pouting) because I’d used my left foot but not so, we had entered a no cell zone – Whoot Whoot!! Buh-bye little Siri, hello Big Sur!

Big Sur might be more aptly named “Big Sir” when it comes to making the rules. No cell service, no sign to Julia Pfeiffer State Beach (we’ll help you with this), and no firewood for under ten dollars. This Big Sir says, “Come on in but put your big kid pants on, use your brain, and earn your place”. Obviously the using of the brain involves bringing in firewood and we did, however, we are sprinters – not long distance. Our stash was blown out in a single glorious bonfire to the finish line. So out came the big kid pants as I was whimpering about the possible thirty-dollar outlay for night two’s fire. I pulled those pants up and refused to budge (by 6pm, I would’ve folded). Thankfully free wood darn near dropped out of the sky and we were on it like a politician on special interest money. Took it right back to the campsite, did not declare it as income, and had a par-tay.

Our On A Dime party-licious domicile in the redwoods was gorgeous though I’m fairly certain that I overheard a skunk, who wandered through our setup, guffawing at my souvenir tumbleweed. Odd, as the rangers had earlier admired said tumbleweed while directing us to an “out of the way” campsite. My guy insisted that the laughing skunk  probably was amused by the battery powered Christmas lights I had strung up in the tent. He swore that skunks do indeed laugh and to look it up on Wiki if I doubted him. Uhm right, no cell service in Big Sir and even if there was, Wiki (like Siri) would just back him up.

Big Sir is a tapestry of funky finds coexisting peacefully with the higher end art crowd. We visited The Big Sur Coast Gallery And Cafe and not only loved the art, the mochas, and the friendly folks staffing the place but also the mascot dog named Max who catches a bone in mid air. Betcha’ Siri can’t do that.

The blend of sculptures and nature in the outdoor exhibit was truly both refreshing and Zen. We went from this butterfly laden experience to the earthy, rough around the edges, Henry Miller Library and then to the, oh so casual, Big Sur Bakery with a plethora of hummingbirds buzzing about the lush garden.

Wrapping up our Big Sir sojourn was a farewell stop off and drink at the famed Nepenthe. This fantastic gift shop and restaurant (actually 2 restaurants) is not cheap so we consider it our splurge. That said, we were strategic with our cash flow and ate breakfast at our campsite, hitting Nepenthe after their 11am opening for a burger for my guy and a new discovery for me, an APPLES & PEARS cocktail. Our devotion to both burger and cocktail had us considering a fan club as well as a move to Big Sir.

*Check out the full article on Big Sur with tons of amazing photos!

Like most treasures in Big Sir, the APPLES & PEARS cocktail is simple once the secret is shared so here ya go.



~ 1 part* pear infused vodka (if this proves too expensive, just add regular vodka to the recipe below).

~ 2 parts sparkling apple cider

~ 2 parts Kerns pear nectar (substitute this for the vodka if you want to make a non-alcoholic drink)

~ squeeze of lime.

~ lots of  ICE

*As for ratios, taste test and make it your way. Cheers.

The photos below are all of the elusive Julia Pfeiffer State Beach. No sign on Pacific Coast Highway so check our article posting March 1st for directions.

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Underwater Fairyland

Life is in session at the California tide pools when the ocean rolls back and reveals a magical underwater fairyland that beckons all barefoot adventurers into its midst.

The easiest and most accessible pools are located at Leo Carrillo State Beach, north of Malibu.

Fellow On A Dime adventurers, you can park on Pacific Coast Highway (ocean side) for free rather than pay the $12 lot fee. Yep, you are right there, walk about 100 feet and start tide pooling.

The peak season is February and March but make sure to check high/low tide times and enjoy!

No tide pools in your area? No problem. Spring is in the air and upcoming posts will feature flora, fauna, elixirs, and spirited possibilities for a number of locales.

Subscribe to the blog via email to receive this weekend’s BIG SUR HAPPY HOUR recipe!

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Sunsets and Sand Dollars

Though sand dollars are unique to the beach and ocean, sunsets are happening everywhere, every evening, and they cannot be bought or sold.

To all you sunset (or sunrise) lovers, grab your camera and enjoy an art show that you can’t put a price tag on.

If you have questions about photography, check out our article at On A Dime Adventure.

Moss Landing Parking $0

Scott sunset

Teri Moss Landing

Sunset Moss Landing


One Man’s Tumbleweed

One man’s tumbleweed is another man’s treasure. While driving through Nevada as 100mph wind gusts practically sailed the kayaks and car into a field, the treasure hunt of a lifetime appeared. You see, this adventurer has for some time coveted the very elusive, almost endangered, tumbleweed. Yes tumbleweed – don’t question it.

 So while my guy slapped on some chaps, entered a gale force storm, and roped two kayaks, I donned spurs and wrestled a rogue tumbleweed to the ground. It now rides in the back seat, giving off what one of us deemed an “odor” and the other lovingly called herbal.

 The reattachment of the kayaks, now referred to as sails for White Lightning (a big britches Hyundai), and the addition of the thorny souvenir had my guy smiling and shaking his head sweetly. Sweetly is the perfect descriptive according to a dear friend whose mischievous auto correct inquired how “sweet pie” and I were faring. My guy instantly acquired a new and very deserved, nickname.

 On A Dime strives to save money whether we’re talking accommodations or souvenirs but one thing to note for you fellow travelers, having a “sweet pie” who makes room for a prickly, back seat addition and grins all the way, is key to the success of any adventure.

 Photos below are of Virginia City, an unexpected jewel. This Wild West destination is an upcoming On A Dime Adventure article.

Saint Mary Catholic Church in the mountains. Nevada’s oldest Catholic church, built in 1860.
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Silver Queen. Dress made up of 3,261 silver dollars.
One man’s tumbleweed is another man’s treasure



Let’s Get It Started

Happy Valentine’s Day after and thanks so much for stopping in on the first blog post for On A Dime Life and On A Dime Adventure. This initial post is aimed at the beautiful lovers, the joyfully wedded, and the rest of us, the “we’re sexy and we know it so let’s get Taco Bell” crowd.

The goal of this blog is to share some fun, inexpensive, and mostly legal secrets for good times that can be had by all. However, should anyone think the crazy gorgeous (rumor has it, edited) photos and scintillating (rumor has it, rewritten) commentary represent a life in its entirety, please know that we’re not denying the rough times, we’re just ignoring them. Simply put, this site is only ambitious enough to seek out some things that might make our day a little happier without any over the limit fees or chocolate orgy. In other words, when speeding tickets, the stomach flu, and the “I’m not getting out of bed until someone brings me coffee” days happen, we most likely won’t be going there. We’ll stick to the “I’ve had my coffee and life is in session” moments.

We all know those moments–the “life is in session” ones. The times when we are fully present, like the birth of a child (especially sans anesthesia, “fully present!” remembers this mommy) or when we are falling head over heels in love or on an amazing vacation. It’s these often one of a kind and very finite moments–the ones that grow our soul and are so cherished–which we’d love to magnify and multiply.

For this first post, we wanted to go big, to pass along something perceived as out of the box and potentially a bit challenging or (according to my guy) very wacky and most likely downright miserable. We’re talking full moon kayaking in freezing water, to see limestone tufas on Mono Lake. I know, right? It was the obvious choice! “A no-brainer”, says my guy with a sweet smile. Ok, maybe it could be referred to as a bit masochistic. “Sadistic”, my guy corrects–he’s such a kidder. After all, he did choose kayaking over plan B which was an evening watching an all time favorite, HELLO DOLLY. He decided hypothermia, like inserting a paperclip into a light socket, might be sort of a rite of passage.

As a traveler, one rite of passage is the ability to go with the flow and this can be a challenge for someone who plans ahead and runs a tight ship. So Friday morning my guy flew in, I kayaked into the airport with the car attached beneath the boats, brought him on board where he promptly directed me to an adjacent parking lot and reattached said boats to the car properly. From this point on, it had to be smooth sailing, right? I had everything in line and operating efficiently–except the weather (ruh roh!!).

Mono 2
View of incoming storm
Mono 1
Stunning Mono Lake trail on deserted Navy Beach

That’s right, we arrived at Mono Lake to rough water, stormy skies, and then absolutely stunning beauty. Adventurers, when you visit this 2 million year old wonder, pull a fast one. Skip the main viewing area and head up the gravel road to Navy Beach. If you are lucky, like we were, you will be the only one to do this and have the most mystical beach walk and sunset viewing to ever unfold. The shifts in the plan and the unexpected moments often make for the most glorious “life is in session” moments. The fee for Navy Beach? $0. On A Dime Adventure loves it when they won’t even take our dime!

This blog will be sharing future moments in which life is in session and flourishing on a dime. Some moments will be teeny, tiny, unscripted and imperfect and others will have involved advance planning and cunning execution as in avoiding hypothermia and HELLO DOLLY. All will have one thing in common; they will be moments when time seems to stand still, even briefly.  It’s our hope that you will also share your cherished moments because the best life has to offer is offered when life is in session.

“Life is in session” is a quote credited to the late Kevin Cordasco and used with gratitude and love to the Cordasco family. Kevin, thank you for rocking a village, transforming many of its villagers, and making us all laugh so very hard.

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Photos were not color enhanced–this is exactly what we were seeing. Magic.

Sunset 4
View toward Mammoth from Navy Beach
Mono 3
Tufas at sunset
Mono 5
Photo worthy cloud formation
Navy Beach right before sunset