Saturday, April 20, 2013

Welcome to California!

Almost a month has gone by since my last post and what a month it has been. Portland seems like a distant memory and California is already feeling like home, although the near perfect weather and beautiful new home accommodations helped a great deal with the transition.
With all our belongings packed away in the moving truck and the Beetle safely on the first leg of her journey, we made sure we were going to take our time driving down to enjoy both the California coast and obviously some more camping!
Before our journey begins, yet another internal upgrade was completed. I think the new 2-tone velour front door panels (from Sewfine Products) make a huge improvement over the rotted originals
and After, with new (and compact) 4" speakers
With a somewhat early head start after my wife finished her last working day in Portland....we were off! Our goal was to make it to see the in-laws in Mountain View CA as quick as we could so we managed to make it to a simple rest stop near Medford Oregon on the first night. It dipped down into the low 30's at night and we even had a light dusting of snow by sunrise.
We had no desire to hang out at a highway rest stop any longer than needed so we were on our way bright and early. The drive down I5 can get pretty boring and I found myself following a tractor trailer for approx 150 miles. Even though I wasn't following closely at all, we discovered a pleasant surprise at our next gas station. The drafting effect provided from the truck gave me a record 21.2 MPG which far exceeded the 17+- I usually get.
During a great visit with the in-laws we were able to catch a San Francisco Giants game (thanks BIL)
A beautiful ballpark, with perfect weather, great seats and awesome food.
Another great visit with the in-laws in the books, we then ended up driving the Vanagon for almost the entire day down HWY 1. Slow and curvy at times but the views and scenery made it all worthwhile.

Of course my navigator extraordinaire was thoroughly enjoying the (too comfortable) racing seats
We happened to notice an Elephant Seal colony on our drive so stopped to take a look at these amazing creatures. We discovered that this colony was 7,500 strong and the males can weigh up to 5000 lbs!!
I was in awe seeing so many in one relatively small area
We decided to splurge on our first California camping experience as new state residents and stopped at Refugio state park. The few positive reviews we read about the park and beach certainly didn't disappoint.

There were no electric hook-ups and the price was $45 for the night but that was offset by the proximity to the beach and beautiful views right from our site.

After a nice walk along the beach before sunset it was time for the sounds of the ocean to lull us to sleep. You also couldn't ask for much better of a view when waking up in the morning
The Vanagon ran flawlessly for the entire trip and safely brought us to our new home in Woodland Hills. I discovered that the California DMV is a frustrating model of inefficiency but after yet another successful smog test, I think our Westy looks happier with her new California plates
We are looking forward to discovering what new camping opportunities California has to offer in the near future.