Aside from testing out working on the road and being out of the house during painting, we did have a motivation for heading so far south. Pahaque Wilderness is the company that makes the awning for the Alto. I had some modifications I wanted to have them take a look at, and since they had never had the opportunity to see an Alto in person, we made the environs of San Diego our mid week destination. All I had to go on was an app called All Stays to see if I could get a place close to their offices and Santee Lakes got really good reviews.
The drive down was a slog. We stuck on I-5 the whole way to make sure service was strong. There’s not much to say about going through Los Angeles. I did spot the Matterhorn from the freeway as we passed Disneyland and I still get a little thrill out of that. I wasn’t the least bit tempted to stop, but I mentally reviewed many fond memories of that place, especially with my mom when I was a kid. Same with Legoland when we passed that further south. The highlight of the day was stopping at a vista point in San Onofre to have lunch and allow Richard to be on a call for an hour or so. That worked super well. I got to stare at helicopters engaged in some kind of military type activity, taking metal rectangles from a ship out in the water over to the shore. I’m very curious what the heck they were doing because four of them were just going around, taking turns depositing rectangles, the whole time we were there. I also got to entertain myself by watching maybe twenty ground squirrels being illegally fed by other vista watchers. Right about the time I was getting bored with vistas, Richard’s call was done and we moved on.
As we approached Santee Lakes, it was looking more and more like this was not going to be a “roughing it” camping experience. In fact, even the level of “camping” we do looks downright John-Muir-in-the-wilderness compared to this place. The resort is located pretty much in the middle of a small suburban town. Yes, there are lakes, seven of them. And each one is meticulously landscaped and manicured and watered, with little bubbling fountains here and there. I saw a beautiful Heron standing at the lakeside, but I can’t be 100% sure it was not animatronic. In short, this place is big rig heaven and it was packed. We spotted some very expensive looking RVs, but very few people, I think because most of them were inside with air conditioning watching TV. Fair enough. We stayed inside with our air conditioning too, so I can’t be too judgey. And honestly, if we’d gotten a waterfront site, I could have been quite content there. Of course, you’re not allowed to put your own boats in the water, but you can rent theirs.
Wednesday, we headed over to Pahaque and met the people I’d conversed with through email many times. They are nice guys. They took a look at our awning and retrofitted it with a center support pole, which, by user reports, helps to prevent water pooling during rain. I could already tell it will help with wind because we had it up without any of the guy lines staked and it looked pretty solid. I described what I wanted in terms of bug netting and we all agreed there would not be any easy solution that would be 100% bug proof. However, they will give it a go adding some panels and we’ll see what we can do. I also showed them a visor from a fellow Altoiste and they saw how the “keder rail” is installed on an Alto. This turns out to be a crucial factor in how their products attach to the trailer. They were duly impressed by the fact that there are no screws inside the railing, like there are in other trailers. They also gave us a helpful hack by suggesting using window locks at the ends of the rail, to prevent the awning from sliding. After a while of chatting, we headed back and Richard worked while I napped.
We took a nice little walk around the lakes before heading to evening routines. One very nice thing about this place was that the site was so level, we didn’t even need to unhitch. That, plus a sewer hookup on site, made heading out the next morning very easy. I think this place would be awesome for families. There are lots of activities and something called “Teen Camp” which looks like a good bet for entertaining children. There are bike rentals, boat rentals. And San Diego is nearby for day trips to the zoo or whatnot. And all the sites are full hookup and very flat. It’s like a Super KOA (in fact, a big sign in front declares it to be “Award Winning”). If you think of it that way, you won’t be disappointed.
Total miles from Lake Santee: 180.4, 17.8 mpg, 5 hours, 6 minutes. Good LTE for ATT and in some parts of the campground also for Verizon. A waterfront site would be nice, but I didn’t write down any numbers.