Saturday, March 11, 2017

Crystal Lake 2017

One of the many things I love about our Vanagon is that it is one of the original air-cooled versions. Admittedly, it is underpowered for such a heavy vehicle but it gets us where we want to go and stays true to the original flat four boxer engine that made VW famous. The air-cooled engine was produced from 1980 - 1983½ when it was "upgraded" to a water-cooled version. While many people prefer the more modern water-cooled version, I have always preferred the look, sound, and simplicity of our little gem.

Although Vanagons are becoming rarer with each passing year, the older air-cooled versions are even more scarce and unique. When my friend Eric and his family informed me they would be camping near our home, I of course jumped at the opportunity to join up with another air-cooled beauty. Here we are just before heading up almost 6,000ft to our beautiful spot in the San Gabriel mountains.
I always believe that the drive should be just as important as the destination and the leisurely pace of our Vanagons allowed us to enjoy the beautiful views on the way up.

We truly are blessed to not only live where we do but to be able to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. Here we are set up at our home for the evening at Crystal Lake Campground.

Brooke got to play with her friend River....and play they did!

Followed by playing in the camper - thanks Eric and Kelly for being such gracious van hosts.

We had an early dinner and a special treat of s'mores by the campfire but of course I forgot to take any pictures - rest assured it looked just like this.
I neglected to bring any warm clothes but thankfully Brooke was able to borrow a jacket and hat from her buddy River.

The night was cool, however, we were super warm with the help of our Mr. Buddy heater (windows cracked open of course) and woke up to another beautiful morning in the mountains. We visited the Crystal Lake CafĂ© across the road for some morning beverages, and yes that is snow!
Here is a shot of our group just before packing up.
We had to visit Crystal Lake prior to leaving and I was surprised to see that there really wasn't much difference from a picture I had 3 years earlier despite all our recent rainfall. The picture on the right was from 2014.
With another great trip in the books, here are a few videos of our drive back home, love that air-cooled sound!
Thanks again to Eric and family for including us in yet another great camping adventure.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

O'Neill Regional Park

Having lived in California for nearly 4 years now, we have gotten used to the constant drought reminders and experiencing near desert conditions everywhere we go. The recent rains we have encountered this year has brought new hope of restoring the immense and natural beauty of California so our most recent camping trip was an illuminating experience. Wanting to explore yet another campground in close proximity, we chose O'Neill Regional Park.

With over 4,500 acres of beautiful wooded hills, we were surprised at not only the size but also the stunning scenery. Here we are setting up camp and Brooke showing off the van.

This was just a quick overnight stay but we still managed to take in some of the nearby attractions.

Trabuco creek ran right behind our campsite which provided pleasant sounds throughout the night.
And here is Brooke preparing to show off her mad scooter skills

The night turned out to be a bit chilly but we all were warm in the van and woke up to beautiful sunshine.
Followed by some quality breakfast with mom.

With our short camping trip complete we decided to do a quick drive around the park and of course had to cross this amazing creek.
Once again we were amazed at the dramatic difference a few weeks of substantial precipitation can do and appreciated the greenery on our drive back home.

Also beautiful to see the stark contrast of the snow on mountains along the way.