January 22-24

As we drove along the coast near Santa Barbra, Jill spotted a humpback whale (most probable culprit) from the 101, we all saw it. It was about then that we realized we really didn’t want to leave the ocean, so we cancelled the desert and pulled into Carpinteria, a spot we had only intended to visit for lunch, and got a campsite.

After we set up, we drove into town for groceries, and what a lovely little town it was! Lots of interesting looking little shops. Not that we stopped at any, instead making a B-line for the Albertsons, but I guess they were nice just to drive by. Also a very nice beach.

We scoped out the whole campsite, and walked to the end of the site where we saw a surfer completely oblivious to the dolphins swimming past him. We debated staying a second night at one of the waterfront sites, but they were all full hook-ups and thus $50/night, so we instead decided to head to Refugio State Beach the following day.

January 23

Ben took the girls to the playground after breakfast while Jill cleaned up and started packing. It was a cool little playground with a view of a brewery across the train tracks. Sadly, that was as close as we got to it, though we did have a bottle of their Scotch ale that we picked up from the Albertsons. Not too bad.

We packed up camp and played on the beach for a bit before heading for Refugio State Beach Campground. We sprang for the extra $10 ($45 total) for the beach front site. Well worth it, the view from the Trillium window was excellent!

The girls made friends in short order, and ran around a lot, the consequence being that everyone was sound asleep by 8:30. Also, Ben got bored while watching the girls, so he stacked some rocks on the beach to entertain himself.

The wind had come up during the day, but died down during the evening, fortunately. The beach was mostly rocks, and it looked like a lot of erosion had occurred recently, the palm trees lining the shores were severely undermined in places, and it looked like one had snapped off.

The campsite was largely empty, despite having half of the site closed already. Clearly not a lot of people visit here in January.

The day ended with what was by far the best sunset of our trip to date with the twinkling lights of the off-shore oil rigs in the distance.

January 24

The dawn was just as spectacular as the sunset, and Jill leapt out of bed, grabbed the camera and took a few pictures. The girls were chomping at the bit to get out and play with their “New Best friends”, so after a breakfast of Trader Joe’s Pancake mix, which actually turned out pretty good, they took off.

This may be a good time to bring up Jill’s obsession with Trader Joe’s. We stop at one just about every chance we get, and the Trillium is now stocked with Trader Joe branded stuff from maple syrup and pancake mix to eggs and beer. We’ve actually had a fair amount of fun with that.

There had been a high surf advisory the whole time we’ve been down here and today was no exception. Today a palm tree died a tragic death and had a beautiful burial at sea. Sometime in the morning, due to high waves, a palm tree finally succumbed to the pounding waves and fell over into the ocean and we were all witness to it demise. Apparently, it was the third palm this season to fall into the ocean and no wonder watching the waves hit the shore. One of the other campers we talked to said that her dad had actually seen the palm go into the water.

Since the girls were spending all their time with the same kids, we introduced ourselves to the parents. We need to thank them for feeding our kids. Ru-chan especially, she always seemed to be stuffing her face from their table. They were very gracious about it, even encouraging her. We’ve actually met quite a few very nice people in the various campgrounds we’ve visited this trip. One other person we met at Refugio stands out in particular, she was camping with her dad, which Ben in particular found sweet, having hopes that his own daughters might do the same as adults.

We talked about living in a tourist destination, and how one marvels that people come from all over the world to visit the place where you just, well, live. We did our bit as Quadra Island’s tourist outreach representatives and also ended up getting some good input on places to visit. Based on the local advice, we ended up stopping at a farm stand on our way to Morro Beach. It was built in a refurbished barn, and had a petting zoo including Kune Kune pigs and Nigerian Dwarf Goats. We also got some more travel advice there, but ended up just filing it away for next year’s trip and just carried on with our plans. Apparently we need to explore the Pismo to Morrow bay area a lot more, it was clearly their favourite part of California, and, admittedly, rapidly becoming ours as well.

We hit Santa Maria around lunch time and planned to get lunch and do a bit of shopping, however, there was no parking! It was crazy, but we went through the parking lot of the In-N-Out burger and the Costco across the street, but they had grassy medians between the aisles of parking, and no pull though parking to accommodate a vehicle and trailer. Super lame. So, we carried on back to the Pismo area, and hit the In-N-Out burger there. Our friend C has always raved about In-N-Out burgers, and we had been passing them a lot, so we had to check it out for ourselves. Not too bad, but still a fast food burger.

Sadly, Ben’s computer had run out of juice on the 22nd, and since we hadn’t stayed at a campground with power for a while, we decided that we needed to get an inverter. Fortunately, there was one at the Walmart in the same mall as the In-N-Out Burger. This was also conveniently close to Trader Joe’s, so we popped in there to get more beer and yogurt.

We finally got to the campsite around 3pm and got a good site close to the beach. After we set up, Jill took the girls to the beach, and Ben installed the inverter. Yay!!! Now he can update the blog, like a good boy.

We then headed to Cayucos, a little town just north of our campsite, in search of playground and food. Instant success on the first score, the playground was on the beach at the foot of the pier, just as the Camp Host had said. However, the mother-daughter run Mexican Deli that had been our target for a dinner of tacos was closed. It looked like just the kind of place we would want to dine at too. We consoled ourselves with fish tacos, caesar salad and clam chowder from a chowder house at the foot of the pier. The fact that the food was excellent definitely helped with the consoling.

After the girls went to bed, Jill and Ben sat around the fire and relaxed for a bit.