Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Lake Nacimiento, Artichokes, and GoWesty

Owning a Vanagon generally means travelling at a slower pace and enjoying the drive as much as the destination. We purposefully avoid major highways when we can and this portion of our trip brought us through vast areas of California farmland. One such place was Castroville which is known for it's artichoke crop and the annual Artichoke Festival, leading to it's nickname as the "Artichoke Center of the World"
Seeing all this produce also had us stopping to pick up some fresh fruits and veggies.

The next stop on our journey back home took us to beautiful Lake Nacimiento. An 18 mile long lake along the Nacimiento river and due to the many arms, it is sometimes referred to as Dragon Lake.
Although the lake is a very popular spot for watersport activities, I discovered that it has high levels of mercury due to runoff from two closed mercury mines and is the reason for it having a low fish population. Lake Nacimiento Resort had several campgrounds to choose from but only a few are first come first serve. We chose the campground closest to the water which was convenient and scenic but very busy and a little noisy. After setting up camp, Brooke promptly made a new friend.
We arrived late in the afternoon so after playing for a bit, we only had time to cook some dinner and get ready for bed.

A fun part of this Lake was that you were allowed to drive right on the beach, so of course we did (along with several Humvees!)

This campground had running water with bathrooms and showers but was very busy and sometimes noisy. There was minimal shade and all the sites were basically on dirt but if you're looking for great water activities, this is a fun place to be!

After packing everything up we decided to continue driving along the coast and made a quick stop at GoWesty. I have purchased many parts from them over the years so it was nice to see the establishment in person.

For our next camping experience we thought it would be nice to camp along the coast before we arrived home but every ocean-front campground was fully booked and it turned out to be an extra long day driving all the way back home.

Overall this was a great way to break in and test the new engine. Although it needs some further fine tuning, it ran strong and smooth. We travelled almost 1,100 miles over 7 days and averaged 16.9MPG which just makes me more excited about where our next adventure will take us!