Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lake Casitas

We have been trying our best to get in as much camping we can and experience all the different landscapes that California has to offer which brings us to our latest excursion at Lake Casitas! Originally created in 1958 as a water reservoir for residents and farmers in Ventura County, it also makes a great destination for recreation and camping.

We arrived just after sunset and took whatever campsite was available so we could set-up before it got too dark. We decided to get up early the next day to scope out a better campsite by the lake and after a lengthy bike ride we found our ideal spot
As you can see we also took advantage of the trees to set up our hammock which was a welcome place to relax in the heat. I read that the lake was at 65% elevation so many sites that would normally be next to the water were dry and we were fortunate to have a view of the lake.

We found it odd that although boating and fishing was permitted on the lake, swimming (or any bodily contact) was not allowed as it is a drinking water supply. I guess gasoline and oil is healthier to drink than human fluids?? Here are some close-ups of the lake as we went exploring

The campground itself was huge with over 400 sites ranging from simple tent areas to executive full hook-up RV sites. There were also nice facilities such as: an area for flying model airplanes with a paved landing strip, a large and challenging disc golf course, and a fully stocked camp store. The other interesting feature of this campground was the Water Adventure Park featuring tube slides and waterfalls for kids as well as a lazy river for everyone. I guess too many people complained about not being able to swim in the lake.....It had a $12 admission fee so we decided it wasn't hot enough to pay that price. Back at our campsite it was time to get dinner ready:

We were able to use our first tomato that was grown in our little garden at home. Supposed to be a beefsteak tomato...maybe the next ones will grow a bit bigger, still delicious though.
And of course we enjoyed some marshmallow action

As this was a tent site we performed a better test of the solar panel. I purposefully had the radio on for almost the entire day (at a low volume) as well as charging the laptop/phones/iPad with the inverter. The 80 watt panel easily kept our battery at full charge all day long even with the nearby trees causing partial shade. Still amazed and impressed with the idea of "free" power actually working and look forward to more primitive camping in the future.

Overall another relaxing and fun trip, we look forward to new adventures yet to come

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lake Elsinore

Lake Elsinore is the largest natural freshwater lake in Southern California and with a beautiful weather forecast scheduled for the weekend, we decided to check it out. We arrived late Saturday evening to an almost packed La Laguna Resort and took a convenient site near the restrooms.
This lakeside campground features fairly well maintained facilities with showers as well as electrical hook-up for $30 per night. After a quick dinner it was off to bed in anticipation of exploring our new surroundings. We were initially worried about the amount of surrounding campers and ensuing noise but everyone seemed to respect the quiet time hours and all was good once 10pm came. Cool overnight temperatures left us with a quality sleep on the top bunk and after the sun was shining, the existing weekend campers departed in droves leaving the campsite relatively empty. This allowed us to choose a perfect site right by the lakefront as well as having some additional shade from a few palm trees.

VW of America had a weekend challenge on their Instagram site asking people to submit photos of what they were doing on the weekend with their VW so I asked my talented wife to "Instagram" one of my photos. We were happy to find out on Monday that the picture we submitted won the challenge, here's the winning shot: 
As this campsite had electrical hook-up, I was unable to really test out our new solar panel but I can report that the auxiliary battery was maintained at 100% charge. The only other upgrade I performed was a new coat of semi-gloss black spray paint for the front grill. What a rewarding update some fresh paint makes when compared to the old faded grill.
Temperatures peaked in the 90's so we decided to take advantage of what the lake had to offer. Although swimming was not allowed, there was a wading area that had depths of approx 5 feet. I must admit that the lake wasn't the cleanest by far and the algae was quite thick to the point where you couldn't see beyond 6" of water. We also wanted to shower after swimming but it was a refreshing break from the heat of the day. Here is a morning shot of the lake which was teaming with life of all sorts.
I don't know if it's me but I feel food always tastes better when eaten outside. Steak, onions, pasta, and a delicious beverage did the trick to finish off another great camping day.

The camper ran as flawless as a 32 year old vehicle can and we thanked her with a new oil change. After our last somewhat disappointing camping experience, Lake Elsinore reminded us why we have enjoyed our journeys so much and we're looking forward to our next trip