Scenic photo stop at “Dry Lake” on Highway 25
The first thing I must do in this post is acknowledge there are a crazy number of flower photos here. I mean, they’re pretty, and it’s a super bloom year, but I realize the sheer volume is probably unnecessary. You probably get the point that there were lots of flowers out there. Probably would have understood that with a quarter of the pictures. But I just couldn’t delete any. They’re too pretty. I’ll probably max out my WordPress media capacity soon, but it will be worth it.
And another scenic stop along the way
So, we moved on from Pinnacles, cold and unshowered. The propane systems were not operating enough to run the heater or the water heater, but functioned just enough to make coffee before we packed up. With Lola, we are using a small Moka Pot, plus a Bellman stovetop milk steamer, and that worked as long as there was enough propane flowing to light the stove. We packed up, hitched up, and dumped. Richard wants to make sure I express how much he dislikes the dump in Pinnacles. Not only is there a big curb around it, so you have to snake and shake the dump hose to move things over the top, but it also requires you to go into the office and leave ID to get the key. Richard asked why the rigamarole and the guy said, “because people just run off with the key.” He didn’t try to point out that hardly any other places bother with locking their dump, and that would solve the key problem. It seems an unlikely problem to solve, unless people really have been driving that far out of their way to come to a national park to steal the use of the dump site.
Pismo North Beach Campground is very nicely set up
We enjoyed a beautiful drive down highway 25 south. It is a small sparsely traveled road and is stunning right now. I pulled over to take some shots of “Dry Lake,” which was looking not so dry. We basked in the views of blue skies and no rain, pulling into the campground with plenty of time to go out for dinner. We tried a well reviewed place called The Bee House Thai Cuisine. We had curry, and cheese filled won tons, and a noodle dish. I’m remembering it now and want to go back immediately. It was so good.
“Hi, Edwin? How soon can you get out here?”
We had been able to use the heater and water heater in the evenings, but no such luck that night. That was an indication that things were getting worse. We just kept getting error messages on the Truma, so Richard took an uncomfortable shower and I put on all the wool underwear things I had, including my hat. I regretted not taking my wool socks. It was Sunday, and we were fairly confident we wouldn’t freeze to death in the night, even if temperatures hit 50º. Morning came coldly, and Richard had to make coffee outside using our camping stove because he could no longer get enough propane through the burners to ignite. He was on the phone with local RV places while coffee was happening. Luckily, “Edwin” was available later that day, and he makes house calls. And one positive thing I will say about the BFW: since it lets in so much more damn heat through the plexiglass, this became a good thing as we were wanting to warm up. When Edwin came, he probably spent more time chatting than he did replacing the propane regulator. He knew exactly what was wrong, what to do, and had the parts to do it in about ten minutes. I highly recommend him if you are anywhere near the Pismo or Santa Maria area and need an RV repair. Friendly, efficient, reasonably priced. Five stars. And we had heat and hot water and stove flames and all the things! I immediately took a shower and marked us safe from camping.
Lovely Pismo Preserve – with views through the mustard
We then took off to do a hike on the Pismo Preserve trail system. There are miles and miles of trails through the hills surrounding the town, all well signed and color coded. We took the Spring to Spring (blue) trail to earn some calories so that I could continue eating out. The views were great and the flowers impressive. After the hike, we found a great little Mexican restaurant called Morenos Taqueria. It is located in an unassuming spot, but close to the fun of downtown. Parking seemed like it would be tight, so we walked from the campground. The owner is a friendly woman who is happy to tell you about the specialties of the house, and we went with the quesabirrias and asada tacos, with a side of rice and beans. The quesabirrias were cheesy and meaty and came with dipping sauce. Delicious! And even though that was a hard act to follow, we found a new place downtown called Shark Bites that makes fresh mini cinnamon sugar doughnuts, made to order, hot and chewy. So, my weight loss app gives me little badges when I’ve hit milestones, and it likes to tell me I’ve lost the weight of interesting objects, like desk lamps and guitars. The last badge I got told me I’d lost a Corgi! I have a feeling all this eating out might put that Corgi right back on. But those doughnuts… It was freezing cold and extremely windy, but we walked that small dog weight off by briskly strolling up and down the pier. Then it was back to a gloriously heated Lola for sunset and toasty bed.
Hey look! Poppies!
Since we were on a Super Bloom Theme, we hit all the top spots for wildflower viewing. Next on the list was Montana de Oro State Park. Buchon Point is the place to be, but you have to reserve a spot to hike that trail because it is on PG&E land. We settled for the bluff trail and were treated to lots of poppies and nice ocean views. To get there, Richard rode up See Canyon to Prefumo Canyon Road and I followed close behind. There was a big slide that was being cleaned up, and we passed many big trucks carrying dirt away. It was tight passing, but we were able to get through. Not many others brave those roads. Once he got to the top, he was blasted with freezing frigid wind. He decided to bail at that point and we drove the rest of the way down to the trailhead. Dinner that night was a last minute, “Hey, what was that Mexican place we ate at in Los Osos?” This is actually the reason I blog: remembering names of restaurants. Thanks to my previous posts, we found La Palapa and enjoyed enchiladas, pozole soup, and freshly made chips and salsa.
Premium site joy 🙂
The next day we changed sites. We had a backup site reserved in the campground down the road, Oceano, and it even had hookups. I was fully expecting Lola’s battery to fail on this trip since she hasn’t been out much. But it turned out the battery was holding fine as long as we had solar. I was able to grab a cancellation in the North Beach campground and prefer it to Oceano. So we thumbed our noses at hookups and went for the premium site by the dunes. The camp host wanted to give us a hard time about moving sites before 2pm, but the state park rangers were fine with it. We dumped, dropped Lola to charge in the sun, and ventured out for a long drive to Carrizo Plain National Monument. This turned out to be an all time highlight and is responsible for most of the excessive photos.
It is just insane. Crazy time. Unreal.
This remote area lies to the south of Highway 58, a small and winding road that leaves 101 near San Luis Obispo and goes up and over a small range until it eventually descends into McKittrick in the central valley. It is the largest prehistoric grassland in California and a known spot for super blooms. People told us it was a ‘must see’ if we wanted wildflower viewing, and they were right. Just the drive along 58 was incredible. I can’t put words to what this looks like, but maybe some of the fifty thousand pictures I took will give you an idea. It looked like giants with paint buckets went around sloshing huge spills of vibrant yellow, purple, orange, and blue. Entire hillside landscapes are covered in thick blankets of bright yellow flowers, swirling here and there into purple patches. There are twelve varieties of wildflowers blooming in that plain, though we primarily saw about five or six dominant ones. It is really something to see first hand, but you have to get the timing exactly right. After a couple of weeks, the show will be over, and eventually the whole thing will fade to typical California browns. Those few weeks though!
Hooray! Selfie time!
Finally, we come to the highlight of the week where we got to see our BFF Linda! She wasn’t able to camp with us, but was close enough that she made a day trip of it to come visit. It was so great to catch up again. She even brought our goddogs, so we got to say hi to them too. We went on and on about the quesabirria place and all went together. Unfortunately, the woman who had been so welcoming and fast with our orders was not there. Our orders kind of got messed up and were not as fast as the last visit. It was good anyway, but I’m sure Linda was questioning our recommendations. We took her to the doughnut place then though, so our reputations were redeemed. Richard got in one last bike ride through Huasna Valley that morning, so he had pre-earned an ice cream by the pier. Linda eventually had to scoot to get home, but it sure was fun seeing her. For our final hurrah, we got a nice sunset, followed by a nice warm working heater.
Pismo Beach has got it ALL
Pismo Beach was a great way to spend the week. It was a super save, given all of the Plan A campground closures. And actually, if we had followed our original reservations, we would not have seen the super blooms. It was also a very convenient place to need propane regulator repairs. There are endless things to do in that area, whether you want to get outdoors, or just go out to eat and put on Corgi weight. There is a little boardwalk trail out of the campground that goes to the Monarch Butterfly grove, though there weren’t many there this time of year, or you can follow it all the way to the dunes where the cars drive around waving flags. There are huge RV resorts, and these two little state park campgrounds. Something for everyone and a great time was had!
Total miles from Pinnacles: 123.6, 18.4 mpg, 3 hours 20 min. Site 63, then 24. No hookups. Great solar, great cell service, great dump. Camp host was a stickler for not allowing changing of sites before 2pm, but rangers were chill.