LIVIN’ ON STILTS
Well, after that long three week description last post, this one should be short and sweet. On Monday, after backtracking up PCH from Big Sur and spending another couple of hours in Monterey, we headed south on the 101 toward Paso Robles. Matt found a free campground about an hour and a half from San Simeon. We drove around five miles up a nicely groomed and sometimes steep dirt road past seemingly deserted farms before arriving at Williams Hill Campground. We were both pleasantly surprised to see how nice the campground was. Not only was it on top of the perfect hill with gorgeous views, each spot had its own fire ring and covered picnic table. The campground also had a very clean pit toilet on site. We were both expecting to be in a big dirt area without order and a few vagabonds. We were completely alone up there and the sunset views blew our minds.
Matt and I picked a nice level spot exposed to the sun most of the day. Perfect for keeping us warm and powering up the camper with our solar panel. I wouldn’t enjoy being up there in summer. As it was, I wore a tank top most of the day, although there was a gorgeously cool breeze wafting to temper the warm sun. Fred and I explored some of the trails around the area. It was pretty dusty, but so much fun. While on the trails, I could see some radio towers in the distance. From what I could tell online, the towers looked to be just under five miles away. I started planning for the next day.
The next day, Matt had other ideas, so we decided to bike our way to the towers rather than walk it. Well, Matt, that was a terrible idea. The roads were so steep. If you weren’t flying down a hill, you were trudging up one. Neither of our bikes are in very good shape. Most of the time, I’m lucky if I can shift at all, making it feel like biking uphill through sand. At around the two mile marker, we were both just dead. Normally, I would happily “die” rather than not make it to my destination. This was just too much. I was ready to ditch my bike and start walking, but Matt convinced me otherwise. We turned around and went back to camp. It took us just under an hour to ride four miles, which is a testament to how difficult the hills were. I need a spin class, stat! I’m looking at you, Andie.
That night, we had a couple more campers come by. I’ve learned its easy to tell who camps often and who’s just on a small vacation. A vacationer will pick the spot right next to you. Maybe they feel safer that way. We just feel annoyed. These campers were seasoned and stayed at either end of the campground, pretty far away from us.
On Thursday, we packed up and headed to San Simeon SP. The park has two campgrounds, one totally primitive and the other with pretty trees, flushing toilets and showers. After our primitive stay at Williams Hill, we opted for the nicer accommodations. I think there was only three other campers there when we arrived. The beautiful beach was just a short walk away. The little rebel, Fred, not allowed on the beach, decided to go any way and had a great time running hot laps around the seagulls.
We stayed two nights in San Simeon. By Friday night, the campground had really filled up for the weekend. We packed up Saturday morning and headed to Morro Bay. The state park is closed while they install some underground plumbing, but we did have luck at the Morro Strand State Beach campground. The campground is built on the beach, but its a really weird layout, and I don’t think I’d want to use my vacation time here if I was in a normal situation. We stayed in a dry spot Saturday night at $35/night. We found ourselves pretty low on power and needing to dump and fill, so we moved to a hook-up spot Sunday at $50/night. A pretty hefty bill, and if we didn’t have a couple weeks worth of free nights coming up while we mooch off of our parents for the holidays, I don’t think we would have paid it.
Saturday’s weather was just gorgeous. In the 70s, sunny, with a steady breeze. Matt went surfing, while Fred and I relaxed on the beach. In a turn, it was violently windy that night. At 2:30am, our solar panel was ripped off of our roof, landing with a hard crash below. It shocked us both awake. I was more worried about the tent campers around us. My sleep induced imagination went wild with thoughts of the panel landing on one of them. Thankfully, no one got hurt and the solar panel actually still works fine.
Sunday morning, we woke up to a sinister sky. It was almost completely filled with smoke. It was actually quite beautiful in a post-apocalyptic and devastating way, but so sad to think about how many people and animals have been negatively effected by yet another round of wildfires. I’m hoping since we’re seeing the smoke up here, my friends and family finally have blue skies. This has been a really bad year when it comes to fires. Matt and I have been witness to so many on our way up to Canada and now on our way back down.
By Monday morning, the smoke seemed to have been blown out to sea. We have sun and blue skies once again. I’m actually in shorts! To think back to September, where I was bundled beyond recognition, hiking through snow, and now it’s December and I’m in shorts. Traveling with weather is weird, guys.
Even with the odd layout, I actually like this campground. It’s not too busy and the beach is beautiful. The rangers are so incredibly nice and helpful. I absolutely would not want to tent camp here, but its fine in an RV. I think we might stay another night so that we can explore the small town today.
We’ll be home in under a week! That’s all for now.
Ariel + Matt