Whereabout: A Fresh Way to Experience the California Central Coast
By Erika Fitzgerald
Whereabout combines he feeling of wandering discovery with the comfort of local community, providing travelers an authentic experience. This nomadic resort village, founded by bicycle advocate and long time resident of San Luis Obispo County Vanessa Amerson, is set to launch its first tour this spring, with a mission to connect travelers with local communities in an active and immersive way. Guests on the tour will experience the surreal beauty of San Luis Obispo County as they bike from local wineries to scenic destinations, dine on locally grown food, and connect with local hosts while staying on the land. As the Whereabout vision developed, Amerson saw increasing opportunity to influence the way people travel.
For Amerson, the Whereabout experience began with a bicycle. “The bicycle brought me a sense of resilience and resourcefulness; it allowed me to take care of work, school, and family without depending on a car.” After this initial spark, Amerson became a bike advocate as a way to share her newfound sense of self-empowerment. As the national advocacy movement shifted from the environment to the economy, she realized the opportunity to combine bike advocacy and community. “I can serve my community and Whereabout guests by creating mutually beneficial relationships with local vendors and artisans,” Amerson explains. This vision has led to partnerships and with local farms, tour guides, and winemakers.
Reflective of its origin, the Whereabout journey will allow travellers to shed the stress of their everyday lives and connect with something real. Amerson encourages travelers to opt for the train: “As soon as people step on the train they begin the process of transformation.” Once off the train, travelers are greeted by Whereabout staff to continue their journey. As the journey continues by van and bicycle, guests are immersed in the beautiful Central Coast landscape – from rolling hills and iconic oak trees to rugged coastlines and scenic beaches. After beginning each day with fresh locally roasted coffee and a wholesome breakfast, guests spend their afternoons exploring the scenic open space and local communities at leisure. At the end of each day, guests come together to share a family-style table to farm dinner with local purveyors while trading stories of their day’s adventures. To Amerson, this is a way to not only highlight local producers, but also to encourage genuine interactions between people and place, patron and provider.
As the journey winds down, guests reflect back on their shared experiences and begin to reconnect with their daily lives. All the mementos, bottles of wine, and foodstuffs purchased during the trip are safely stored by the Whereabout team and delivered to guests at the end of the trip, allowing them to keep their load light as they explore the Central Coast. At the end of the trip, “Your body feels great and you feel like you know yourself again,” Amerson explains.
The Whereabout model will continue to develop and evolve, with the ultimate goal of interlinking local communities throughout the entire West Coast, from Canada to Mexico. Within the next 5 years, Amerson plans to share the Whereabout model with communities beyond the reach of San Luis Obispo. “I would like to see other communities benefit from the Whereabout mission,” she says. Before long, car-free travelers will be able to link from one Whereabout tour to the next, knowing that they are experiencing the authenticity of each place, from the locals of that place.
To find out more and participate with the kickstarter campaign visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1031216598/farm-and-winery-camping-for-catered-cycle-tours-in?ref=email