My time in Big Sur!

by Tanya on February 17, 2012

So, I’m 40! I’m not too surprised that I’m embracing it with love, I have been working towards this acceptance after all. I wanted to ring in this next decade in a BIG way, so off to Northern Cali I went. My first three days were spent alone in the Redwoods between Carmel and Big Sur California, one of my favorite places. Landing in San Francisco around 12:30 my first stop was Baja Fresh for lunch. I can’t help it, ever since PFMan and I lived in Vegas, years ago, I have loved BF and don’t miss a chance to eat the veggie burrito. Then down the coast I go. HWY 17 is spectacular, a curvy, tree-lined drive, just breathtaking. I arrive in Carmel to do some shopping for my stay. I’m determined to go veggie while I’m here so I stock my cart with organic produce, strawberries, asparagus, & pistachios. I’ve brought my herbal teas from home as well, oh and chocolate with sea salt:-). I turn down Palo Colorado Rd. to head to Don Loui’s. This image above is the point where Palo Colorado Rd. meets the Pacific Coast Hwy. Turning off down Palo Colorado was magical. See I’m a dreamer in the sense that I love environments that transport me, and when you turn onto this road you are placed immediately into towering redwoods, like a land of fairies. You twist and wind amongst the quiet giants, houses placed into the sides of the mountains like they’ve been there forever, all blending in with the trees, completely part of the forest.

Here I have my bag of goodies, camera & backpack (which was packed in my luggage and now used to haul only the few items I’d need for this portion of my trip), and up the mountain I go. Not too bad, about five steep switchbacks, with little treasures at every corner. Then the Dragon House appears, unbelievable! I’m through the Dragon house tunnel and onto the Rainbow House where I’m staying. Don, the innkeeper, is an eccentric. He’s been on this property since 1983. Then it was him, the land and a tent. The Rainbow house he built first. Yes, him and his son. Previously he was a contractor and landscaper by trade and it shows. Today there are 4 buildings, The Rainbow & Dragon House (rentals), his own home and an octagon above the rest with windows looking out over the mountain and Pacific Ocean, used for yoga and/or meditation. Beautiful, peaceful! He’s created many trails all around the property as well.

Though I highly recommend staying here alone, as a couple or small family, this is not for everyone. Forget a warm shower and none at all in the Rainbow House. Luckily I like going rough and dirty, ha. There is no oven and only a propane burner for stove top, and it’s QUIET (aside from the very loud frogs and owls at night:-). I like to think of the house like a tree house on crack, seriously! And since I like being transported, it was perfect for me, like a kid again.

So what’s a girl to do all alone in the mountains? Hike, hike, eat at her favorite restaurant in Big Sur, play words with friends, ha, take lots of pictures and hike some more. To my chagrin there was no big AHA moment or anything, just time with myself which in itself is a BIG deal for me. In my past being along has been very difficult. A good friend of mine text-ed me while there questioning how I was doing alone. He said he talks to himself a lot when alone, lol. Me too:-). And I did, much of it in my head, some out loud. But I was comfortable with it, the oneness, and that’s a BIG deal!

Please enjoy some of the many photos I took while on this part of my trip and look for a post on me joining the girls in Wine Country soon:-)!


Previous trip to Big Sur with my honey:-)!

Please share the LOVE:-)!

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan Lawing February 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Omg! This place is beautiful! I WILL go there one day! Lucky you!!!


Tanya February 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Thank you! Yes you should:-)!


Tanya Lewis February 18, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Tanya your pictures are so stunning.Happy 40th …I just turned 40 in November and I’ m okay with it.I can’t wait to here about your trip to wine country with the girls.i enjoyed the last one.


Tanya February 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Thank you Tanya:-)


Laine Griffin February 20, 2012 at 6:39 am

Awesome! I love the pics. I can’t wait to hear about the rest of the trip!
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Tanya February 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Thanks Laine!!


Andi February 26, 2012 at 9:02 am

That looks absolutely serene. I am already planning my 40th getaway – what an awesome idea :)


Andi February 26, 2012 at 9:04 am

BTW – you should send your photos of the Rainbow House to the owner – your photos are far better (obviously) than those he’s using on his website :) (Maybe trade for your next stay!) …


Linda June 7, 2013 at 9:02 pm


Girl to girl, can you tell me about your stay at the Rainbow House. Last year my son and I squeezed in three days in the Carmel by the Sea area staying at a couple of places and then drove to Sausalito, where we stayed on a houseboat for three nights. I loved the funkiness of the houseboat and people. I also loved the feel of Carmel. This year I booked 5 nights at the Rainbow House and am trying to plan around that. I want the make the most out of my time on vacation as I only get to do this once a year. I am second guessing my decision to do 5 nights at the Rainbow House. I am wondering how I will like having to be home before dark. From your blog, you travel a lot. I like to get away during the hot August weather here in Austin, Texas. Can you recommend other places to get away from it all?



Tanya June 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

Hi LInda, I personally loved the Rainbow House, but I was looking for time with myself, for quiet. I was there for 3 nights and loved it, it’s a moderate hike up to from the main road, so very peaceful. Don also has the Dragon House up there and his own, which is a few steps away from the Rainbow House if you need him. He’s wonderful. The house itself is adorable, homey and well stocked. There was wifi, no tv’s:-). There is a propane hot plate of sorts and a sink in the kitchen. I ate mostly salads, fresh fruit and hot tea mostly. Sauteed some asparagus once. Love the restaurant The Bakery, so ate there twice. I would hike until almost dark and head back. If you had a flash light you could get back later. I think staying here depends on your purpose for travel, but Big Sur or other N. CA destinations are a perfect choice. Have you looked into the Santa Rosa Area, wine country? There’s Sebastapol which I love! Heading out to Bodega Bay on the coast is nice! Anywhere is N. CA is an escape from the heat, closer to the coast of course. Let me know what you decide:-).


Linda July 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I just saw this saw this reply after doing a search on Rainbow House. Thanks for getting back to me. Actually I am super excited about staying at the Rainbow House. I don’t like hotels at all, so I look for anything similar to what I would do at home, and that is to be in nature. That said, it becomes impossible in Texas unless you are swimming in Barton Springs. The drought here is so bad that lakes are drying up and the levels so low, that records are being broken. I was so sad when we had to leave Sausalito/Carmel last year and come back home. I felt like I needed oxygen when walking out of the airport once home, and sadly, I had set my AC at 90 degrees before I left. It was so hot that we had to stay with friends when we got home the first night. The person I hired to take care of my plants only watered a few of them, everything else was dead….lost a lot of my plants.

I was only able to get 5 night at the Rainbow House, so I reserved our first two nights at the Fernwood Resort in Big Sur. I figured it is on a river, has a tavern with music on the weekends, and a restaurant/store, so it can’t be too bad for the first two days (weekend) of exploring before heading up to the Rainbow House. I would like to find some hot springs, but it seems pricey and the night visit to Esalen might not be appropriate with my 31 year old son. But it would be nice to splurge one day and get some kind of spa treatment.

I would love to check out North Carolina some time….thanks for the info.

Linda July 6, 2013 at 11:03 pm


I just looked up where Santa Rosa is. We (my son and I) land in San Francisco, 10ish a.m. on a Friday and don’t need to be at the Rainbow House until Sunday check-in. My son doesn’t drive so it is just me driving. With five nights at the Rainbow House on the back end of my trip, do you think it would be nice to break up my trip by going up to the Santa Rosa wine country area Friday and Saturday and then drive back Saturday afternoon or evening and staying somewhere (?) before heading down to the Rainbow House Sunday? I have a very late flight home 11:33 p.m on Friday, so after I check out of the Rainbow House on that Friday, we will have that whole day to try to find something to do before heading to the SFO airport at about 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. Everyone says to avoid driving in San Francisco on a Friday, plus I don’t see well at night, so perhaps hanging out someplace cool near the airport Friday night before dropping off rental car and heading to airport…..any thoughts?


Linda July 7, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Hello again Tanya,

I just reread your blog. Even though I live in hot ass Texas, I am lucky to live in a protected bird habitat. I know exactly what you mean about how loud the bird can get because I have 13 large oak trees surrounding my home that are homes to several species and they are loud especially at night and yes, it feels like I am living in a jungle sometimes. I do have to wear ear plugs sometimes to get any sleep, but I would rather have nature than city sounds any day.



Jeff July 28, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Hi, I just read your post about visiting Big Sur and the Rainbow house. Could you tell me if this place still exists? I am curious. I tried doing a few searches but all the links came up broken.

Any help would be great. Love your blog!


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