I remembered as we drove from Paso Robles to Lake Casitas how much I really enjoy driving, it was a beautiful day and a fantastic drive through green rolling hills. That drive brought back memories from my childhood/teenager years. In my younger years my dad was in the military and although I don’t remember why, we traveled a lot and it was always him carrying us to the car in the dark while we were asleep and then when we woke up in the car we would be ready to stop for breakfast. Yes, we had the wood paneled station wagon with the seats in the back. My youngest Melissa and I were always in those back seats. When we got older you could find me on the floor of the middle seats with my sister’s feet on me. I got carsick, so they drugged me with dramamine and then rolled me on the floor and used me as a footrest. I had no idea what was going on until we stopped and then I didn’t care because I was able to get out of the car and use the bathroom and get a drink and snack. I never even noticed the hump in the middle of the floor or how hot it really was down there. Later, when we were a little older and it was just Melissa and I at home my mom and Stepdad would take us for drives on Saturday or Sunday afternoons. We were sometimes annoyed we couldn’t stay at home, but for the most part we didn’t want to miss anything so we went along with minimal resistance. We also always got to get a drink and snacks at a convenience store before we left for whatever new place we were driving to explore and that was a bonus. Driving with a drink of soda or water with something to snack on always makes me feel less carsick. You can’t always have a window open, but living in New Mexico it was usually pretty good weather and a fresh breeze was nice. I don’t get carsick when I drive, but was too young at that point to be driving, but sometimes I did get to sit in the front seat. Later, when I was taking trips in the 12 passenger vans for Future Farmer of America or Basktetball trips I would either get to sit in front or just suck it up and dream while looking out the window. I loved those drives. What was I dreaming about? Mostly about how someday I could be driving anywhere I wanted. I recently realized that dream has come true. I wonder how many people can look back at childhood dreams and see that they have become real?
Back to current events. Monday we went ahead and left Anthony Chabot and headed to Paso Robles. We were tired from the weekend and didn’t really want to go at all, but we had used up our days there and it was time. Dumping the tanks took forever at our site, it kept backing up (but not overflowing) and so when we got the hose emptied after I finally got fed up with the back and forth of it all we went to the waste station near the park exit. There were signs telling us to only open the valves half way and it was so true! We almost always never want to leave a good place, but the next campground always holds the possibility of being as good or better. I like to go new places, If I stay too long I get lazy about leaving and we never do all the things we want to in any place we stay. I guess it could be a good reason to go back?
We arrived in Paso Robles on Monday afternoon and it was more beautiful than Napa. It is less touristy and more spread out and really just beautiful with the rolling green hills and the ocean only 30 minutes or so away. We stayed at Tobin James winery just about 6 miles West of downtown using our Harvest Host membership and they put us in the parking lot because of the recent rain instead of the little field they normally use. We were the only ones there the first night. Typically you only get to stay one night, but they had no problem with us being there two nights. We would have never asked to stay more than one night, but on the phone the lady asked how many nights, so I said two. There are no hookups, no water, power or anything, so two nights was enough. The tasting was free and they were super nice. We bought a bottle of Port because we felt that would be cheaper than us paying for a campground and we have been wanting one anyway. The owl who lived in the nearby tree made it seem like we were in the woods again.
Tuesday we had a trip planned to the coast since it was a sunny day and more rain was headed our way. It was only about 30 minutes away and I was really looking forward to some seafood on the beach. We had some good references from the people at the winery, so after a stop at Starbucks to research our next stop off we went. It was a beautiful drive through the wineries covering the hillsides. The coastal drive was amazing too. We were just so happy to see the sun and get out of the rain that it all just made it more amazing. We decided to go a little North to see Hearst Castle because the last time we drove down from San Francisco we didn’t go that far. It was a short drive, but we didn’t go all the way to the top because we just weren’t feeling touristy. Our goal was lunch on a restaurant on the beach. We hit the ultimate jackpot when we went to Morro Bay and had lunch of a shared platter of seafood at Dockside too. Oh man, it was great. We sat outside and shared the fried shrimp, oysters, scallops, fish and calamari. The huge dome was in view along with all the fishing boats and a large seal just floating around. After lunch we walked around and enjoyed the awesome views before heading back to the camper. We saw baby seals with their mothers! The drive back was great and we stopped at a J. Lohr winery before going to our winery for another tasting (both were free). Then a quick stop at Walmart and an easy dinner so we didn’t have to do any dishes. How can you spend a valentines day any better than going to Walmart in the evening?! xxoo We found we had neighbors in the parking lot whose truck had some issues and the owner just told them to feel free and stay until they got everything worked out. See, told you they were nice. Later we found out their truck computer just had a glitch and nothing was really wrong, so they would go pick it up and get on their way back home to Fresno.
Again, we hated to leave the area, but the weather wasn’t looking good on Thursday and we wanted to get moving away from the rain and closer to Phoenix. We had spent the morning at Starbucks, but came to no conclusions about where to stay because a lot of the places we wanted to go were first come first serve. Other places were showing full for the weekend and we figured it was because it was a long weekend for some with it being Presidents day on Monday. We pulled the trigger late that night for a reservation which showed as the last available spot at Lake Casitas just above Ventura, CA. That is a good spot for us because it does get us closer South to Phoenix and it is not far from the beach if the weather turns out nice. I have a lot of good memories of Ventura from days spent working close by in Thousand Oaks, so I am feeling good about the area. There seem to be good reviews of biking and hiking trails too.
I love this campground so far. When we first arrived I was a bit skeptical because of the size (400 sites) and when we first arrived it seemed pretty impersonal with the huge check in gate. It may get crazy with locals camping this weekend, but it is pretty quiet tonight and I don’t really think it will because it is supposed to rain like crazy starting Thursday all the way thru Saturday night. The frogs are super loud, but there is no traffic to be heard, no airplanes, nothing but nature. We went for a walk after dinner and it is really dark which means the stars are really bright. I am feeling happy after my bike ride through the campground and looking forward to another one tomorrow before the rain. Kat went with me for a bike ride in the evening too, so I got in two rides! I was also still a bit thrilled with myself that I had backed the camper into our site with no issues. I went right in on the first try! It always bothers me that I am not very good at it, so I really want to feel confident and the only way is just to keep trying and getting it done.
We got in another bike ride on Thursday before the rain started and i was hoping it would help my mood, but nope. I was blah all day, but luckily (for Kat) not grumpy. I don’t know why, maybe I was starting to get down about the upcoming rain. I really need some sunshine. I know I keep mentioning rain, but it is surrounding us constantly! Friday we went down to Ventura for some sushi at lunch and then to the Starbucks so we could figure out our next stops. We could have done that at home, but it rained all night and was supposed to all day- (which it did!), so we thought it might be good to get out for awhile. The sushi was good, but Starbucks was like being in a homeless shelter. I have nothing against homeless people and they need to get out of the rain too, but I didn’t expect that. One couple had all their stuff piled on the table and their dog sleeping underneath. That was a new one for me. They all had computers and phones and stuff too. Hey, we use Starbucks for the free wifi and power too, so whatever.
Friday was rain all day so we went down to Ventura for a Sushi lunch and to run a few errands. We didn’t run any errands, we just came home. But, on the way home we wanted to see what damage had been done in the area and what the town up the hill , Ojai, CA looked like. We never made it because after getting through one mudslide the road was blocked with down trees. Oh well. Saturday it wasn’t too bad, the rain stopped in the morning so we went for a walk and checked out the creek, which had definitely overflowed. We hung out around the camper and made a plan to go out on Sunday to Ojai and check out the farmers market and a great looking little outdoor bookstore (Bart’s books). The campground was getting much more full.
The farmers market was almost exclusively organic and I don’t really care about that from a buying perspective, I am not into that. It was also expensive. I like cheap farmers markets or fairly priced items that help farmers sell their produce. It was fun anyway. The bookstore was awesome! It is really pretty much all outdoors. The bookshelves are covered, but there are nice little open air outdoor spaces. The books are all mostly used books and priced ok. Most were 3-6$. A huge variety of subjects too and so we spent quite a bit of time browsing, but didn’t buy anything. We don’t have the storage space and we read mostly Ebooks that we borrow from our library or get from various sites online. We could read all day everyday if there weren’t other things to see and do. I only wish I could read faster to get through all the amazing books out there to learn more and experience more. For now, I will just read and enjoy it and travel to experience everything I can in real life. I hope the rain stops soon, but whatever. We move on tomorrow and are one step forward in our trek to Phoenix. I hope the new campground hasn’t washed away, no one here in the offices seems to know. We will just go see what’s up and there is a KOA down the road if it is unavailable. Once again we are winging it…fingers crossed.