Little Adventures to Big Sur with Cori Rose


There’s something truly life-altering about travel. Striking out from the bustle and routines to find some peace of mind or a new perspective. The thing is though, travel doesn’t need to mean plane tickets and exotic destinations. It doesn’t need months of planning or bank-account-draining budgets. Sometimes a creative adventure in your backyard can be just as compelling. Just as eye opening. 

OTIS Ambassador Corina Rose proved this recently when she struck out to explore somewhere close to home. Big Sur, between LA and San Francisco, is iconic in its own right. A wide open space of stunning natural beauty separating two mega cities. We asked Cori to document the adventure through her own unique perspective – a mix of local knowledge meets artist’s curiosity. 

Here a look at what she found and some insight into the mindset she packed to get the most from it. Hopefully it inspires your own backyard escape.

Here’s Little Adventures to Big Sur with Cori Rose…


You've travelled a lot. What inspires you to go on adventures like this?

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to some really beautiful places over the years but having been raised in California, home isn’t so bad either. I grew up an hour south of Big Sur so, in addition to the mystique the place holds, it also feels like home in a way. The deep peace of those coastal redwoods and tawny hills is incredibly grounding. I don’t think I’ll ever come close to discovering all of the mysteries that the region holds and it keeps me coming back year after year.


What was the motivation behind this particular trip? 

I was excited to partner with OTIS on this trip because I wanted to attempt to share my perspective of a place that’s special to me. I spent childhood summers playing hide-and-seek in the overgrown grass and Monterey pines of the South Coast. When I got older, my parents moved to the Big Sur Valley, which allowed me to view the area from an honorary local’s outlook. There is nothing like waking up to a world enveloped in fog and filled with silence apart from the soft whoosh of waves far away, or staring up into a night sky so clear that you can feel the light of the stars on your face. My hope for this piece is to inspire people to visit Big Sur -– or any wild place – and take in the intense beauty to be found there.

Big Sur isn't far from where you live. What's different about going on a 'mini adventure' like this, as opposed to jetting off somewhere exotic?

Something I love about the Golden State is how vastly different the vibe is within just a few hours’ drive. In Southern California, things are fast-paced and full of hustle but just a two, four, or six hours up the highway, the energy is completely different. Just like hopping on a plane, things seem to change more the further you go. But due to the vast geological and biological diversity of the state, each region attracts a different type of person and lends itself to a different lifestyle – a different kind of life. I enjoy being able to access that different energy – one more intentional and slow-paced – no sky miles necessary. 

Are there still hidden gems to find along this iconic route between LA and San Fran? What are your favourite things to do and see?

I believe the beauty of a ‘gem’ is in the eye of the beholder. One person’s restaurant or hike recommendation may fall flat in your own experience, and vice versa. My favorite things to do and see are often the ones I stumble across without meaning to, whether it’s a hole in the wall diner or a hike with a hard-to-find trailhead. I recommend following your nose and your proclivities, and be willing to stray off the beaten path and wander around a bit.

However, I would surely be remiss if I didn’t urge folks to spend some time in San Luis Obispo on their way north or south. Splitting the distance between two of California’s most populous places, it really is a gem in and of itself. Field Day coffee in downtown SLO has the best avocado toast, hands down, as well as an excellent cuppa. Len Collective is another downtown must-visit where you’ll find handmade goods, jewelry, and gorgeous gifts to beautify your life. No trip to SLO is complete without stopping into High Street Deli, whose sandwiches (on Dutch Crunch always) are literally life-giving post-surf or hike. Finally, if you have no place in particular to be, I highly recommend going for a long – and, better yet, aimless – drive. The whole area is a scenic route. 

What was the most surprising moment of this trip that was totally unexpected?

Maybe it was the inclement weather but I’ve never seen Big Sur so empty. In a place known for its peaceful allure, we were struck by just how quiet life felt, tucked into that green valley. Also, Big Surians don’t mess around at trivia night.


What was the biggest challenge of the trip and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was working with some unpredictable weather patterns, which were a mix of heavy rain and high clouds. Personally, I love wet weather but gray days don’t always make for the most compelling photos! We made the best of the conditions though, and ended up getting lucky with timing and scored some sunshine and playful waves within a short window. 

What was the most memorable/breathtaking part of this trip?

It may sound simple but watching the waves extinguish themselves violently on the rocks of Partington Cove was breathtaking. The sheer power of the ocean is both mesmerizing and deeply humbling.


What are some of the essentials you take with you for travels and how do they make your trip easier/better?

Anytime I go out of town, I bring my camera and at least a couple of rolls of film; a board or two, depending on the type of waves in the area and the forecast; some good reading material and a journal; and a pair of OTIS frames. On longer trips, I pack two pairs – a black frame and a neutral-colored frame – to pair with different outfits. All of this, a good SPF, and some snacks, and I’m set!

What got you into capturing your travels on film and what have you learned along the way?

One of my first international travels was to Nicaragua and, although my 23-year-old self had no idea what to expect, I knew the experience would be worth documenting. Unfortunately, while navigating Customs on my return, I accidentally discarded almost everything I had shot, having stored my film in a bag with some snacks. The only roll that made it home was the partially spent one still in my camera. Now when traveling, I designate a much safer place to store all of my film and guard it like Smeegol and his precious ring.

I’ve also learned that what may seem mundane in the moment can prove to be a goldmine of information or special memories down the road. If something catches my eye, I take the photo without questioning it too much. And finally, to always pack more film than I need.


When you're filming, what are you looking for? A frame, a moment, a feeling? All of the above?

When I go to a place with an idea in mind and try to force a moment, it rarely works out as I hope. Being open and present to what presents itself is my modus operandi. More often than not, it’s the surprises and the happy accidents – the moments that I wasn’t looking for – that end up being my favorites.

What's the next adventure you're planning and why?

I hope to return to two places soon: Imsouane and Scorpion Bay – both lengthy, dreamy right point waves. Currently, beach breaks are my daily bread, which are surely fun enough and keep me sated. But if I were to analogize the latter and the former (an average beachie vs. a peeling point), one is like eating vegetables while the other is like a decadent dessert. It’s difficult to compare the two in terms of pleasure potential, and everyone should eat a little dessert now and then!

To follow the pleasurable life desserts of Corina Rose, seek her out on Instagram.

Corina wore the Audrey, Pursuit and Reputation OTIS styles during her escape to Big Sur.