Worth it anyway. That’s our decree and we’re sticking to it.
So whose idea was it to reserve a place smack dab in the Central Valley in the height of summer heat with no hookups? Before you judge me, let me explain. All of my reservations got cancelled in the spring and so I gave up reserving anything for many months. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago, when we decided camping was a reasonable thing to do during Covid times that I started trying to fill up our weekend calendar again. And by that time, all of the sane places you can go were booked. But I even accounted for the likeliness of it being really hot by checking weather for the area about a week and a half ago. At that time? The forecast said high of 86. No problem. Plus there’s a reservoir, so we could cool off in the water. See? Totally rational.
Shockingly, the weather report changed drastically as the weekend approached and we were looking at temps near the 3 digit threshold that separates “hot” from “ugh.” Still we camp.
Patterson Pass Road
The drive out indicated some kind of hold up on 580 over the Altamont Pass, like a big one. Google suggested an alternate route which it swore would save us an hour. Well, now we know that Patterson Pass Road is kind of an adventure. It is super narrow at its best, and single lane (for two directions of traffic) for several miles. This was a classic Google situation too, with tons of cars on this silly road, far more than I’m sure it’s ever seen, because Google decided to route everyone this way. To anyone who got stuck behind me, I think what you’re trying to say is: “Thank you for pacing us safely over that craziness so no one crashed.” You’re welcome.
Not too bad in the shade. It’s FINE.
Before we headed to our reserved site at Basalt Campground, we drove over to check out San Luis Creek campground, with hookups, down at O’Neil Forebay. Thank you to the guy at the kiosk for not directly laughing at me when I asked if there were free sites. We made a plan for me to go boating in the day use area there the next day and continued to Basalt. And really, the campground is lovely, it’s just that I liked it a lot more when we stayed there in December.
What are you trying to say, Bruce?
The next day, Richard got ready to go for a shortish ride and I got ready to go boating. The alert on the Acura let us know it was rather hot, like we didn’t already know that. And no sooner had we parted than I get a series of texts from Richard using naughty words and the information that he had flatted. So, I drove out to where he was, noting that the road conditions were seriously awful. It was jarring enough in a car to go over so many potholes, so it is no wonder he flatted. Plan B involved throwing his bike in the car and going over to the day use area together where I could assemble my boat and he could change his tire and regroup. We found a shady spot, past the campground loops, and away from other people. I thought this was all a really good plan. Then I rolled my boat over to where I thought the water was like right there by the path, only to find a steep, rocky bank, running all up and down the shore, between me and cooling happiness.
Road conditions in that area are really terrible.
I stood there and assessed the situation for several minutes, finally landing on “Nope. Screw it,” and adding “Always check the launch first” to my list of lessons learned. I wasn’t going to roll my kayak up and down the shore looking for a safe launching point. I wasn’t going to heave my kayak over the ledge, hoping it landed in the water, and scramble down after it. And if I was going to have to disassemble it to move over to the other day use area, the one Richard said to go to, that definitely has a boat launch, I was going to be far too grumpy to put it back together. Plus there were way too many people having maskless, non distanced Covid parties over there. So we decided our collective plans were a bust and instead drove (AC full blast) to the local gas station where we could purchase extra drinking water because there was a sign in the campground indicating all the formerly potable water from the spigots needed boiling because there was bacteria. I realize I’m not doing a good job selling this campground.
So, FINE. We went back to the campground in a state of semi defeat. But we did see a big beautiful Elk on the way, so that was cool. And I pulled out the grill to make a Blue Apron. One of our background conversations has been how to better arrange the back of Bruce to make that grill more accessible, and this gave us the chance. Winning. Then, like immediately after we’d finished eating dinner, I got an email from Blue Apron saying not to eat that yellow onion due to the possibility it was full of salmonella. How quickly things can turn. But it’s been 24 hours now and we’re not barfing, so… winning!
There. Now we’ve got it.
Heading home Sunday, we carefully re-arranged everything in the back with least used items in the least accessible locations and less to move to get the grill out. I took a picture so we’d remember the perfect packing scenario. Then, when we got home and parked on the slanty driveway, everything fell out the back. Take 2. Now we’ve got it, new picture. This will work for sure.
I’m sure it was below 100º at this point.
So we are going with: “It’s worth it!!” in a yelling kind of way. No matter what, we get to enjoy our morning coffee and we get to watch our nighttime shows, and rock in our Nemo chairs in the evening breeze when it finally cooled off. Kicking us out of the house is an unanimously supported idea in our family. Stupid hot and no hookups? Still we camp. Biking and boating fails? Still we camp. Bacteria water and salmonella on the grill? Sure. And guess what. I have a reservation in September for one of those hookup sites in the other campground. We’ll see if we can have a more successful do over.
Oh, P.S. I can’t remember who gifted me this little car door organizer, but it is awesome. I also got little pockets that go in between the seats and the center console to catch dropped iPhones.
Total miles (the direct and non-adventure way): 105.0, 17.4 mpg, 3 hour 10 min there, 2 hours 17 min home. Site 32 Basalt, no hookups. Normally potable water in spigots, but come (better) prepared. Nicely spaced site with room between neighbors.