Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Carpinteria

Carpinteria is a small oceanside city located in Southeastern Santa Barbara County and known for it's gentle slope with areas good for both calm waves and good surfing swells. We arrived early on a Tuesday and had our pick of many beautiful sites. As this was probably our last beach camping experience of the year, we decided to splurge and get a spot right beside the beach. Being just steps from the ocean made this experience totally worth it! Oh and did I mention it was also 80+ degrees in December???!!!???
Not having much time here, we quickly took advantage of our prime location.


I could describe some amazing adventures and excursions we had but honestly we really just relaxed and enjoyed the views at this ideal setting.
 
 
 
We did meet some friendly neighbors that informed us of the amazing sunsets and it didn't disappoint this night either.


At $50 for the night, it turned out to be the most expensive campsite we have stayed at but there were no regrets considering the priceless views we experienced.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Oak Flat

Our original weekend plans were to visit Lake Piru but we are generally pretty open and decided that we would check out Oak Flat campground instead. The main reason we chose this campground was that it was someplace we haven't visited before. It was also just over an hour drive from home and at $5 per night, I was sold! Here we are all packed and ready to leave.
A little breakfast pit stop on the way.
 I wasn't able to find out much information beforehand about Oak Flat but discovered that it was situated close to Castaic, off the I-5. The elevation was 2,800 feet, 27 campsites, no running water, vault toilets, and again only $5 per night.

It definitely is a bare bones campground but had everything we needed including beautiful views.

There is supposed to be a somewhat strenuous trail that climbs 1000' with some even better views but it was quite cold and windy so we kept our hike a short one. This friendly innocent cat tried to attack Brooke shortly after this picture.
 But she shrugged it off and was all good.
We even encountered some wildlife that allowed me to approach them.
Then I obviously got too close and they all ran away.
With the sun setting shortly after 5pm these days and the fact that it was very windy and cold, we decided to have a cozy evening indoors.

I mistakenly assumed this USDA campground was like others we have visited and there would be a pay station but apparently you needed an US Forest Service Adventure pass to stay here. I'm also not sure how the $5 per night worked but we ended up staying the night "illegally" and didn't pay as we didn't know how. I think I made up for it but picking up some of the garbage that previous campers had left behind. I also wouldn't recommend this site to people that dislike vault toilets as these were some of the worst examples I have seen. We ended up using our Mr. Buddy heater which kept us nice and warm during the night as temperatures hit the low 30's. We then headed home after another short yet enjoyable trip.

Dana Point

It's been a while since I have had the time to post up some camping updates. I blame it on our recent family trips to Hawaii and back home to Canada as my excuse - life certainly can be rough! With summer over and the weather continuing to be it's normal fantastic self in California, we decided to hit the ocean.

Dana Point is one of the most popular ocean camping destinations we know of in California so we arrived before noon in order to participate in their lottery. Here we are trying to entertain ourselves while waiting at the entrance to get in.


This location is almost always booked months in advance but on weekdays there are usually some spots that open up and they instituted a lottery of sorts in order to "win" a spot for the night. After "winning" our spot and handing over $35, we set things up and began some fun in the sun.

You can understand why this area attracts almost 1 million visitors annually as the beaches are beautiful, the waves are great, and the campground is literally steps from the ocean. Here we are checking out the scenery.
My awesome wife of course had to take advantage of the waves.
video

After the beach Brooke spent some time with bubbles followed by fun in the camper with mom (or I should say fun with the iPad)

This was just a quick one night trip but a good time was had for sure. Here is a parting shot of the beautiful sun setting.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Glen Helen

The majority of our camping trips are last minute affairs and deciding where we will go the same day we leave is not uncommon. With that being said, I had heard good reviews about Yucaipa Regional Park. I wasn't able to contact them via telephone but hoped that there would be at least one spot available being a Monday. Of course our previous luck continued and were greeted with a full campground upon arrival. Not thwarted, we journeyed another 40 minutes to Glen Helen campground which had plenty of spots. Arriving at this beautiful lush park we wondered why there were so many campsites available but would soon find out.

The campground itself isn't part of the park but down the street and across the highway in what could best be described as a dirt parking lot with a few trees. As we were already there and it did have water/electricity we decided to make the best of it.

To beat the heat, we all did our thing to cool down.
Brooke played with some water.
Mom hung out in the hammock.
Later, both watched a movie.
We decided it was too hot to start cooking so found this greasy spoon close by where Brooke had her fist quesadilla.
I think she enjoyed it.
Meanwhile, back at the campground, who needs a playground when you have fun rocks to play with/on.
The evening finally brought some cooler weather so we headed off to sleep after the sun went down.

I should admit that the campground was the cleanest we have been to and had a host that literally spent 8 hours in the heat picking up scraps of dirt, leaves, and anything else that looked out of place. Before heading home we passed by the park to enjoy what it had to offer.
Brooke took in a little stroll by the pond.

I was able to hone my disc golf skills

With the help of my caddy.
Although this most likely won't be a campground to revisit, I believe we made the best out of what could have been a disagreeable day off.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

San Clemente/Onofre/Dana Point!

Today's post will probably be written too soon after our trip to give appropriate consideration but not all of our camping excursions are as joyous as others. Almost all of our trips involve some last minute/no planning and we have yet to reserve anything so this one tested our previous luck. We have always been successful in finding ideal camping spots during our weekday weekends so were hopeful this trend continued. Leaving on a Sunday evening we made our way to San Clemente State Park and met up with some great park rangers that congratulated us on getting one of the last few spots available.

Our friendly rangers informed us to check in at the office early in the morning to see what sites would be available for us the next day. At this point it was the highlight of our trip and our luck went successively downhill. After waking early, we headed over to the office only to find a different and unfriendly host tell us that "nothing is available and you have to book 6 months in advance".
We decided to hang around for another hour or so to check out the beach which was nice.


Then we drove off to San Onofre State beach which is only 15 minutes away. None of the available sites were particularly attractive so we decided to try South Carlsbad State beach. We had no luck there as well as San Elijo State Park with completely full campgrounds. After this we tried 2 other campsites that were somewhat nearby with even further bad luck. I also found out that regular civilians are not allowed to camp at any military campgrounds even though I mentioned that we had been driving almost 4 hours with a cranky 1 year old. At this point we decided to either head back to San Onofre or back home and call it a weekend. Luckily there were some sites left so we set up things and made the best of it.

I read some negative reviews on San Onofre and now understand why. Our site (along with most others) had no ocean view, it was actually quite the journey to get to the ocean. It took us 3 of these "Sheep Cliff" signs to finally realize they had been defaced from Sheer in warning us that we shouldn't proceed (but of course we did).
and when we eventually made it, here was our beach.

Although scenic, it was all rocks and I ended up smashing my ankle when the waves threw some boulders my way.
The reviews also mentioned the noise levels of this campsite. The sounds from nearby I-5 were noisy but consistent and not so much of an issue as the hourly passenger and freight trains that were literally 20ft away from us. These trains were obnoxiously loud and impossible to ignore during the night even with a pillow over my head. Despite this, Brooke somehow managed to have a nice sleep.
Having reached the low point of our trip we decided to make the most of our camping pass by hitting the day use section that was much more accessible and enjoyed our spot right on the beach.

California still holds true as an incredibly beautiful, vast and diverse state. Our final beach location at Dana Point certainly made up for the hardships encountered with plenty of sand, water, and waves. Here's my wife doing what she loves.
video
Although this was far from a relaxing camping trip, we believe we made the best of things and were able to enjoy some beautiful sights. Brooke took everything in stride and slept soundly on the way back home.