Pancho needed a little work and since we live in the RV and would have to get a hotel room while the work was being performed why not go on a road trip?!?! So off to the Gold country we went. We stayed in a 150 year old hotel in Jamestown, Visited the town of Columbia which is an Historical state park (really more of a living museum), and spent a day with Giant Sequoia trees in Calaveras State park. Three days of fun and exploration! Once we returned and moved back on board our land yacht it was time to cobble together a little adventure. And a trip south seemed like just the ticket.
Road trippn’ isn’t quite the same as cruising on the boat, but it has its similarities. We travel slow, get to see wildlife, visit with friends, and just take in the beauty of life and the world around us. Our first road trip in the RV “Pancho” had us traveling from Felton California in the Santa Cruz mountains to Los Angeles and back to Santa Cruz county again. Along the way we stopped in the lovely county park of Lopez Lake, the beachside community of Pismo Beach, and situated ourselves in Dockweiler RV park in Los Angeles, which was perfect for visiting both Venice and Long beach.
Stop number one, Lopez Lake in San louis Obispo county. This little gem of a park has a lake, a water slide park, an adventure park, boating, fishing and is overrun with wildlife. From the moment we arrived we were greeted by Deer, wild turkeys, quail, and these crazy acorn woodpeckers. While we did take two rather long and ambitious hikes, most of our wildlife sitings were from the comfort of our own campsite. Each day on multiple occasions we would have a small herd of deer walk through the area where we were set up. The morning wakeup call was that of male wild turkeys gobbling (yes, they actually do gobble) in an attempt to win the attention of the ladies. It was nothing to see a posse of 30 turkeys wandering through the surrounding fields. We spent endless amounts of time being entertained by ground squirrels and quail. But my absolute favorite by far were the Acorn Woodpeckers. These brightly marked birds work in communities of up to 30 birds and gather as many as 50,000 acorns per season. Everything wood; every tree, fence post, roof beam…. I mean everything wood had acorns crammed into little holes. These little guys were busy, melodious, and beautiful. They were a constant source of entertainment.
During our short five day visit one of our hikes took us from an elevation of 250′ to 950′ within just a mile of constant switchbacks. While it was named Turkey Ridge trail we saw no turkeys, however the views were amazing once we reached the top. Our second hike had us following the the rim of what was the edge of the lake. As the water levels in the lake have dropped to 25%, we were actually walking on the floor of the lake in some areas. The previous day had brought some rain so the air was fresh and sand was soft. Which might have been the reason we could so easily spot bear tracks along our path. I laughingly went over the “what to do if you see a bear” drill out loud. I mean crap, I’m not exactly sure that my flight instinct wouldn’t take over if I came nose to nose with a black bear. Luckily we did not have to find out. I did however step into a mud bog while trying to get photos of birds and sunk up to my knees. After calling Steve for help I quickly passed him my camera and bag and luckily got myself out with my shoes still attached to my feet. Something I was not sure was going to be possible as the mud was sucking them off each time I tried to pull a leg out. All is well, I still have shoes, although they won’t really come clean and I have learned to spot people-eating mud.
Vowing to return one day, hopefully with some friends and family, we left Lopez Lake and took a short drive to Pismo Beach. Actually, the neighboring town of Oceano where our good friends Mark and Susan live. We met these lovely people in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. They, like us, did the Baja Haha which brought them down the West coast of the Mexican Baja peninsula and into the warm tropical waters of Mexico. Unlike us, they returned to California, but our friendship has stretched across the miles and we revel in the chance to visit with them whenever possible. We found ourselves laughing, sharing stories and dreams, eating yummy foods, and filling the days and evenings with love and friendship. It was just as if we had seen them last week, what a wonderful blessing.
After only three days we packed up and stowed the RV for our trek further south. Dockwieler RV park. I have to say that word park is a funny thing. When I think of park I imagine trees and fields. When the word park was applied to this place they meant park your vehicle in a parking space. Because the place is actually a parking lot with RV hookups at each site. To be fair, it was clean and the “Park” is located directly on the beach. And really, we didn’t pick it because we wanted a fabulous RV “Park” experience. What we wanted was to visit Steve’s brother Jeff in Venice Beach and our good friend Holly in Long Beach. Dockweiler RV park was almost exactly in the middle of each of those places. That right there made it the perfect “Park” for us!
We met up with Jeff at an incredible Asian food resturant on Friday evening and then again on Saturday for the required walk on the Venice boardwalk to look at the wild life. It is always so wonderful to spend time with family. We had not seen Jeff since our maiden voyage down the coast of California a year ago. And even though we talk, email and text regularly, there is nothing quite like a good hug and idle time spent just catching up and being together. The visit was short, but it was fulfilling. We hope to stop in again on our way back to Mexico.
Sunday afternoon was spent in Long beach, lounging around on the sailboat of our dear friend Holly. This is another bond that was formed during our adventures in sailing. I first met Holly on an all chick charter a few years ago and we connected instantly. She has been a mentor, a cheerleader, and a friend. I haven’t known her long and we haven’t spent all that much time together, but we talk regularly and never ever miss an opportunity to hang out. Even if it means driving 45 minutes in the opposite direction just to sit and eat sandwiches together in the rain. She’s real people and that’s not all that easy to find. And just to make everything perfect in my little world, she and Steve hit it off as famously.
To round out our little adventure we decided to make a stop in Buellton, CA on our way back to Santa Cruz. This little known town has one thing that makes Mr. Steve Brenner very very happy. A resturant called the Hitching Post. There is a long story behind all this and our friend Lars is a big part of it. It involves a movie called “Sideways”, wine tasting, staying in cheap lousy hotels and friendship. We couldn’t miss the opportunity to stop in for a few nights so we could eat, purchase a few bottles which we will carry back to Pablo and send a neener, neener text to our Buddy Lars in Germany. All in good fun of course.
As of now I am writing this blog post from the comfort of my camping chair parked in the Moss Landing RV park. The funny thing about that is the fact that only one year ago we had Pablo in the harbor just on the other side of the fence. I can actually see the masts of sailboats from where I currently sit. We will stay in the Santa Cruz area for a few more months before heading back to Pablo who currently sits at dock on Marina de La Paz, Mexico. While I am certainly enjoying all of these visits and the exploits of land yacht living, I miss my boat and the water and I really, really miss the warm temperatures.
Needless to say; Life is good and we are grateful!