Thar be whales!! This was our first repeat visit to a campground and though we left on Friday the 13th, and got site #13, it turned out to be one of our luckiest excursions. I honestly had no idea this was whale migration season, but we saw more whales by accident than we ever would have if we’d planned a dedicated whale watching weekend.
We repeated the experience of dropping Richard off in Pacifica so he could bike Highway 1 while I drove down the coast and stopped in Pescadero to grab dinner and snacks. I went with marinated Tri Tip steak, red peppers, some nice pasta and potato salads, and sandwiches for Saturday. Oh, and a couple cinnamon twist donuts and fresh French bread.
I was really happy to have gotten the site I did because this is, despite its very swank appearance, still a KOA. The sites are close together and it is fairly packed with big rigs. However, the sites around the ends of the loops are quite nice and offer some privacy and views on the ocean side. Last time I was here, I had no clue how to back Dory, so I didn’t even try. I just unhooked in front of the site and used the Caravan Mover to get her in. This time, I had far more confidence and slid her in nicely on the first try, even without Richard standing behind me on walkie talkie (but I did totally use the rear view camera). When I got out to scope out the site however, I noticed right away that the scenery out the door side was kind of crap. It would have looked directly at our neighbors. Plus our picnic table and sitting area was on the driver’s side (which is not usually the case). So…. out came the Caravan Mover remote control! I spun Dory a full half turn so she could face a nice grassy area, and so I could set up the awning next to the picnic table. That feature seriously rocks.
Richard rolled in after I’d gotten all set up and settled, and he was more than a little giddy being able to pull in from a long bike ride to a happily waiting Dory. I had a margarita, stared at the ocean, and did nothing much in particular.
This campground has the nicest bathrooms I’ve ever seen (in a campground). I’m still thrilled to be taking showers in our own space, don’t get me wrong, but if I were a campground shower person, I think I’d be pretty happy here. There is a restaurant and store here, plus all kinds of fun things for kids to do. I think I’ve recommended it before, but it bears repeating that this is a nice place to chill along Highway 1. Plus, the sites have full hookups, so no worries about battery or water or anything.
Saturday was an action packed day. First, we biked over to Pigeon Point Lighthouse, about four easy miles each way. I said we should head over to see a whale, but I wasn’t really serious about that. It turned out to be whale central! The state park person came out to the viewing deck to alert all the tourists that there was a whale approaching close by and sure enough! Not only did we see the telltale spouts of water, but we also got to see a couple of very big Grey Whales break the surface of the water over and over as they slowly made their way around the point. That was cool! And it was only the beginning! We saw several more like that, coming pretty close to the lookout point. They seemed to be traveling in pairs and the state park person explained that mothers and their calves migrate last so they have lots of time to nurse the babies before heading North to Alaska. She also said the Grey Whales are the ones who tend to hug the shore with their babies in order to keep them away from Orcas. So cool.
After lunching and watching this for a while, we headed back toward the campground and stopped at Ano Nuevo Beach on our way. Even from there, we could see spouting and breaching out in the water. We decided to head back to Dory and hike the trail to the beach and Franklin Point Lookout. It was a gorgeous day for beach going, but Richard was primarily motivated by the fact that he has this mapping app now,specifically because we’d gotten “lost” the last time we took that trail. Suffice to say, we did not get even close to lost this time around. Down a sandy trail and out at Franklin Point, there is a viewing bench where you can take in the glorious views of the coast. And yet again, we saw seriously dozens of whales. I lost count of how many we saw in all. The place was lousy with ‘em! Spouts were going off somewhere out on the horizon nearly any time you looked, and several more passed by very close. Talk about fortuitous timing!
On our way back, we suddenly came upon a seal on the beach! I was worried about him/her at first, but I think he/she was ok, just taking a break from swimming. It was about ten feet from us as we came around a rocky corner, but I didn’t take a picture because I was startled and he/she gave me this unmistakable look that said, “OMG, I am so tired. Please go away.” So we did, and it would have seemed overtly rude to have photographed the poor thing in that moment. Richard looked it up later and this appears to be a very common occurrence on this beach, as the seals go there to molt. Who knew?
An exhausted, beached seal was exactly what I was when we got back to Dory. That was a lot for me in one day, so we both napped before dinner. Tri tip sandwiches with roasted red peppers on French bread, all heated on the grill, went perfectly with ice cold beer.
Sunday verged on drizzly and we packed up slowly. One thing to keep in mind about Costanoa: they require you to use special end fittings on your sewer hoses or risk a $350 fine. Last time we were here, I figured, “Oh. Well, I’m sure that will come in handy all the time.” So I bought one. Haven’t used it since. Know what I forgot for this trip? That is correct. Luckily, they had a few to spare so we didn’t need to purchase one again.
We drove back toward home, but stopped for leftover sandwiches at Pomponio State Beach on our way. A very nice state park person was there and we watched her patiently engage in long conversations with the couple of cars in front of us. When we got up to the kiosk, Richard asked, “Do people not like to pay?” She said, “Oh boy. I have heard it all.” Apparently people complain to her about it all the time and go on about paying taxes and blah blah blah. We thanked her for taking care of our state parks, happily paid the $8 day pass for the privilege of conveniently parking at a well kept, spectacular beach, and offered her an espresso. Richard came out a few minutes later with a Cafe Dory special espresso on a little saucer, with tiny spoon, and a packet of sugar. She seemed very happy and took a picture of it. I appreciate state park employees very much and we toyed briefly with the idea of selling everything and going up and down the coast, bringing espresso to the people in the kiosks.
Could not have been a nicer weekend!
Total miles: 79.7, 16.3 mpg, 2 hours, 27 minutes.
Site: 13 – awesome! Also 11 or 15 would have been great. We had 9 last time and it wasn’t as great. But also, beach, so stop your whining. Wifi sucked. Cell service spotty. You gotta even out the sweet life with first world problems though, right?