Our final mini-trip before the Big Day. I thought it would be nice to get away from the packing, house renting and general stress of gearing up for the big Aventura for a few days. Turns out, I ended up with more items on my to-do list. They are good items though - items we should take care of before we are forever mobile. And important items like new camp chairs. (Important to buy these before the New Austerity begins -- that's Alan's name for us having to live on a budget.)
We set off Friday at 2:20pm, Alan having just flown in from Atlanta and driven from LAX (never an enjoyable experience.) I have to say though, he was in great spirits. I had spent the morning fetching Salt from the Spice Rack (alone!) and bringing her home. Thankfully, there wasn't anyone parked in front of our house that day, so I could just pull right up without any problem (albeit parking on the wrong side of the street.)
Before leaving, we had the "do we fill up the water tank" discussion as usual. Now, if you have read through, you know I was the one who was intent upon getting fresh water whenever possible. However, after watching our gas tank empty as we pull Salt along, I have changed my tune. Now I only want it at the last possible moment--preferably waiting until the campground itself. But the universe was put back in balance by Alan stating that now he wanted to fill up before heading up the mountain. But remember what a good mood he was in? So good that he let me have my way and we set off with very little fresh water. (Queue the Music of Doom . . .)
The drive up took the usual hour longer than the Garmin says it should have. Had some traffic getting out of Orange County and then again getting into San Diego County. Three stops along the way: At a fruit stand off of Highway 76 for some farm fresh avocados, oranges and apples; A stop in Santa Ysabel for fresh bread at Dudley's Bakery (the bakery itself was closed by the time we got there, but with a nice sign posted that their bread was available at the general store next door, where we also purchased campfire wood); And, gas in Julian. We pulled into the Laguna campground around 5:30 p.m. Here's where some research came in handy.
We had attempted to stay here last April (I was scared off by the lack of electricity, the snow on the ground and the approaching snow storm) so we knew that there were two pull-through spots. Research on the Recreation.gov website showed that they were available on a walk-in basis only, so I reserved a back-in site, #45, in a claustrophobic loop--the only site available. Upon arrival, I asked the hosts if one of the pull-through spots was open and, since they didn't know, we proceeded to drive to their location -- not even taking the time to check out #45. Lo and behold, they were both open! So we selected #87, the furthest away from everyone (naturally) although that is not saying much. The campground was full.
We pulled in then remembered that we needed water. So we each hop out with a walkie-talkie to scope the nearest spigot. We both find one in opposite locations, Alan opts to go back to the one he had found. I thought I should stay at the site to block and tackle any other walk-ins. So off he goes. At this point, he was looking tired (and who wouldn't? He had been up since 3:00 a.m. PST.) So I offered to fetch the water but he said he would do it.
Here's how I imagine the situation played out in Alan's head: "I knew we should have filled up the fresh water at home. Now it's getting late, I am tired, and I have to go off and fill the tank. Oh well, should just take a second. Wow! Look at me take that sharp curve -- almost a u-turn -- to get back to the water spigot. So far so good! Oh geez, now there is someone behind me and I am blocking their way. No water yet, but I need to unhook the hose and get out of their way. (Expletive!) Just broke the handle off Pepper's parking brake release -- perfectly symbolic, there is no stopping now. Pulling on that wire to release the brake is going to be a real drag. Drove by the site and told Kit I was going to try the other spigot. Longest hose doesn't reach the second spigot, have to go back to the first spigot. Hmm, the hose reaches from the spigot to Salt, but I can't hold the output into Salt while simultaneously holding the faucet on -- crafty California water retention, doesn't appear to just let you turn on the spigot and walk away. Clearly this is a two-person job. I try Kit on the walkie-talkie. No response. Try her again, still no response. (Expletive!) Where is she?!? Walking to the top of the road, I wave her down and give her my best, frustrated "get over here" motion, almost throwing my shoulder out of its socket. She shows up with the dogs and we manage to fill the water tank. Next time we are doing it at home. I don't care what she says."
(Back to me now.) Actually, we decided the best thing was to pull half a tank of fresh. That way we have enough for a couple of nights and don't have to haul the entire weight. And, by the way, when Alan had returned to the site the first time, he was putting up the windows so I figured the water trip was done and had put my walkie-talkie back into Pepper's side panel. Not that I am above a well-timed disappearance.
The site was ok - the hiking around Mt. Laguna and the Laguna Meadows was gorgeous -- the meadow just goes on forever and ever, but the fields are filled with fox-tails so the dogs were having a terrible time. Rosco could hardly walk with all the flicking of his feet (he is very sensitive to having foreign objects in his fur.) And River was dragging in the heat (mid-80's.) The Big Laguna and Little Laguna lakes had some water (which was a surprise) and the dogs took full advantage: Rosco swimming around and ducking his nose under to his eyeballs and River getting in up to her belly. Now they were wet and muddy and full of fox-tails. We found a nice large shady rock for a lunch break and I even sat in the fox-tails for a quick sketch of some wild flowers. We ended up with an 8.5 mile hike!
On Sunday we hiked up Garnet Ridge, intersecting a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. A short hike, only 2.3 miles, but it was all River would do. She was limping like crazy and we thought her pads were sore from the 8.5 the previous day. However, that night, after staring at River's long face (she wouldn't even walk around the campsite), we did a deep dive in-between her pads and found more nasty fox-tails. (Alan had been diligently removing the fox tails every night, but had never flipped her over--another two-person job.) Monday morning we had our bouncing Roo back. (Those of you who have met River, know that she makes an incredible "roo" noise when she is happy, hence the nickname.)
Monday was just a leisurely morning of list making and packing up. Due to our campground not having a dump station, we located one in Ramona, on our way down the mountain. Thirty dollars to dump! (Expletive!) But Revelation! We should stay at campgrounds that have a dumping station (even if there is no direct hook up from the individual sites) so we can dump for free upon leaving. We also stopped at Camping World in San Marcos--leaving with my new best friend the RV Road Atlas. (There is no better item for a control freak in a car like a printed road atlas.) We made it back to Laguna Beach by 3:00 p.m. We'll be keeping Salt here for a few days so Alan can install the TV and a shelf in the bedroom, and I can give her a thorough cleaning before the Big Day.
Our meal plan can be found here - it will be the last one as we aren't planning on planning that much once we start the Aventura; pictures can be seen by right-mouse clicking on the post title above, and, as usual, I have updated the Campsite listing (see the Campground tab at the top of the blog.)
Next stop - full timers! Don't forget to keep an eye on our calendar (left side of the blog) - and meet up with us if you can!