Sexy Adventures, Mercedes Driving, and Farm Dudes: Camping 2.0


By Diane Anderson-Minshall

How one weekend trip to an emerging California wine district reinvented camping for me forever.

Clairmont Lavender Farm


At the end of what was a relaxing yet expedient weekend trip, as we drove south back to L.A. in that perfect little Mercedes-powered Roadtrek RV I was reluctantly having to give back to the dealer the next morning, we pondered over the trip, about how something so decidedly common and middle-class (like camping) could turn into a pretty sophisticated adventure that spans from zip lining to wine and tapas rooms, made all the better by driving a drool-worthy vehicle and landing in a couple of great campgrounds. Sure, you could call it "glamping" (which magazine writers use to mean upscale camping; it combines “glamour” and “camping” but really sounds like it could be “gay” and “lamping” too). But I think this trip was more than just glamping.

We got a glimpse at contemporary Americana, a type of travel as old as the auto but so thoroughly remade for the modern era that even chi-chi LGBT folks (and their families) are diving in, no longer searching for safety and belonging on the sidelines, but manning the wheel at the forefront of this travel reinvention.  And their spouses, along for the ride, busily mapping the wine tours.

Some Important Details if You Go can help you find local RV dealers, RV rentals, and any of the 16,000 campgrounds. offers info on visiting this little Danish town.

The Danish escaped those Midwest winters for Solvang, Calif., a reminder that the best times to go to Santa Barbara County is basically anytime you have a weekend or more to go. The weather is always good. But do know that December is a great time to visit the region. Winterfest happens all month in Solvang with Nativity pageants, carolers, tree-lighting ceremony, ice skating, and a holiday wine walk among other festivities. Los Alamos has a Holiday Stroll December 14, when revelers walk the seven-block-long Bell Street main thoroughfare, where there are art galleries, antique shops, and wine-tasting rooms, and the streets are lined with Mexican luminarias and a bonfire. And December 7 Los Olivos hosts its small-town-feeling Old Fashioned Christmas, where the streets are filled with luminarias and the smell of popcorn and roasted walnuts.
There’s an Antique and Retro Shopper’s Map to Santa Barbara and Ventura County that highlights some of the great spots for pop-ins like Buellton’s femmetastic Pink Trash & Treasure. You can download the map at

The only thing we missed that we may need to head back for soon is the Lake Cachuma Eagle Cruises, two-hour water treks with a naturalist aboard a 45-passenger pontoon boat, the Osprey, in search of the elusive bald eagle and other migratory birds. The tours go November through February and are accessible enough for my wheelchair-using friends and anyone over 4. (For reservations, call 805-686-5050),