Thursday, November 17, 2016

Lake Piru x3

The term "supermoon" is used to describe a full moon at its perigee — the point in the moon's orbit when it is closest to Earth, causing it to appear up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter in the sky. November's full moon is also called the Beaver Moon because it arrives at the time of year (in the Northern Hemisphere) when hunters would set traps before the waters froze over, to ensure they had enough warm furs for the winter. November 14th marks the closest and largest the moon has been in over 68 years and that meant we had to witness it in person with some camping.

Although I brought my camera, I forgot to charge the batteries and unfortunately had to rely on the iPhone which didn't do it proper justice.
Our previous visits to Lake Piru have been brimming with wildlife and this trip was no exception. After a cool night's sleep while listening to coyote packs howling, we awoke to witness several deer.

We were told they enjoyed the olives that had fallen from the surrounding trees. My wife found out that raw olives are extremely bitter.

One of the many benefits of owning our VW is that it is small enough to share a campsite and were fortunate that our friends were able to join us. This white Westfalia is one of the cleanest examples I have ever seen and looks like it just rolled off the showroom floor. Of course Brooke was super happy and wanted to help with the set-up when her new friends arrived.
This camping excursion was a pleasantly mellow experience with good snacks, food, and conversation.
Our evening consisted of burgers, bean salad, homebrew, and marshmallows toasted over the campfire followed by a little movie time. The pristine white paint made for an excellent screen.

With three of us in our camper, I generally sleep in the upper bunk and admittedly usually enjoy about thirty of my forty winks. I must have arranged the pillows properly this night as I ended up sleeping quite well. The howling coyotes didn't seem to bother me too much during the night and we again woke to yet more foraging deer.
As with anything new Brooke was fascinated with our neighbour's super clean van and it was a challenge to limit her exploration of every nook and cranny.
Before packing up for home we had to do the obligatory "pictures with our vans".

Last but certainly not least, there is a beautiful lake to enjoy at this campground.

With reasonable off-season rates, bountiful wildlife, and beautiful scenery, I'm sure we will be visiting Lake Piru again in the future.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Jackson Lake

The local news was informing me that our upcoming weather forecast was to be unseasonably hot, so on our days off we decided to cool off with some mountain camping. I believe we have done a pretty good job of visiting all the nearby campgrounds so this trip it was time to go to higher elevations. Angeles Crest Highway is 66 miles long and passes through the San Gabriel Mountains. The highest point reaches over 7,900 feet at the Dawson Saddle making this road one of the highest in Southern California.

This also marks a new altitude record for our beloved air-cooled 81 Westy. Although the climb is steep, it's not too steep and we were able to make it in 3rd gear for most of the trip averaging 35-40mph. With the hot temperatures of the valley behind us, we arrived at Lake Campground which was located right beside Jackson Lake.
After setting up camp we explored some of the many hiking trails close by.
Followed by some play time in the campground (which we had all to ourselves)

Of course one of the main reasons we chose this campground was to enjoy the lake. Jackson Lake was formed by earthquake movements along the San Andreas Fault that cut a jagged path through the area. Mostly fed by snow runoff from the mountains, it was once a source of summer fun with swimming, boating, and fishing. Today it is still a hub for scenic campgrounds and picnic areas but with the California drought, the lake is now a much smaller example of it's former self. I found some old photos of the lake in all it's glory which is another sad example of the drought California has suffered for so many years.
Here is a shot from the 1960's with Table Mountain in the background.
And our shot with Table Mountain in the background.
Another vintage picture showing how abundant the water once was.
A similar perspective today.
Although sad, it didn't stop us from appreciating what water there was left to enjoy.

The night was chilly but we were nice and warm in the camper.
In the morning we packed everything up and headed back home while enjoying even more stunning views including a scenic drive through Wrightwood.

After discovering there are several campgrounds in the area, we will definitely be returning to this beautiful slice of California.

Monday, October 17, 2016


I must admit that I do miss experiencing the distinct seasonal changes living in Southern California but I can't complain too much when you can head to the beach in October and still enjoy beautiful sunny and warm weather. With my wife off work during the weekday, we were able to secure some beach camping at Sycamore Cove campground.
I'm happy we decided to bring our bikes because in addition to the 5 miles of shoreline, there was over 70 miles of hiking/biking trails.
This doesn't look like much of a hill but I was pretty spent after climbing it with the trailer.
Sandwich break.

After biking we were able to take a short walk to the beach to cool off.
The campground is part of Point Mugu park which features the distinctive Mugu Rock.
Meanwhile, back at camp..
 We cooked up some dinner.
Then got things ready for star gazing followed by bed.
After packing up, we took our time getting back home so we could view the beautiful coastline.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Lake Hemet

When we arrived in California back in 2013, I started doing some research on places to camp near bodies of water. I guess I subscribed to some type of e-mail list from Lake Hemet because I have been receiving fish re-stocking updates for the past 3 years. At 4,340ft in the San Jacinto Mountains lies Lake Hemet, an artificial lake created in 1895 with the construction of the Hemet Dam. In addition to fishing, there is a large campground offering boating, swimming and hiking.

Having arrived during the off-season allowed us the pick of virtually any site. We chose one close to the water and with some trees to hang our hammock.

I was told the campground fills up on weekends during the summer but we had the whole lake to ourselves.

It was yet another stunning SoCal day to soak up the sun and enjoy the views - especially from the back of the camper.

Although we like extended trips in the Vanagon, this was just a short overnighter which makes it easier to pack and only I have to prepare one day's worth of food. Either way, it's always a pleasure cooking in this kitchen.
We finished the day with dinner on the picnic table and then were able to watch the moon rise.

The night turned out to be quite cold and in hindsight, we should have brought our heater but we survived and woke up to another beautiful day. We couldn't resist a shot by the lake before leaving for home.