Baseball, the Beach and Butterflies
The Los Angeles Dodgers interrupted my travel plans.
I had planned on heading east but my team decided to make a run at the World Championship.
I grew up just south of LA in a small suburb and in the 1960's few things occupied my thoughts and affection like my beloved Dodgers. I've been a Dodger fan literally since I can remember. I was born in 1957 and the Dodgers came west in 1958. I don't remember the Dodgers winning the Series in 1959 against the "Go Go Sox" in the Coliseum but I have vague memories of our glorious sweep of the Yankees in 1963 and I remember every out of the 1965 Series when the Dodgers beat the Twins. The first time the Dodgers broke my heart was 1966 and not simply because they were swept in the World Series by the Baltimore Orioles. Sandy Koufax retired at the end of that season.
My sports hero of the 1960's is still my hero at age 60. My words will fail, tremendously, at trying to describe my adoration, appreciation, and respect for the great Sandy Koufax. In my childhood, Sandy was the most dominant force in major league baseball. He was the classiest, most humble, courageous, kindest, smartest, player in the game. He remains simply coolest athlete in my lifetime. In fact, no one else comes close.
Sandy was forced to retire in 1966 due to an arthritic elbow. I still remember hearing the news on the radio and I was in a state of disbelief for a long time. I grieved his loss to the Dodgers and to the game...still do.
Anyway enough about baseball...perhaps I'll save my discussion of Jackie Robinson, Maury Wills, Lou Johnson, Claude Osteen, Don Drysdale, Ron Cey, John Roseboro, Davey Lopes, Orel Hershiser, Roy Campanella and Corey Seager for another post strictly devoted to my favorite sport in the coming months or so... Just know...I love the Los Angeles/Brooklyn Dodgers.
Suffice it to say, the Dodgers did make it to the Series this year and lost in the seventh game. I stayed home and watched and don't regret that decision. It was a marvelous post season (wait 'til next year!).
I was, however, itchy to get back on the road. I had reserved last May a few days at North Beach campground in Pismo Beach (planning months ahead is required these days). Although rather "urban" by my standards, it's still a long time favorite. I used to take my boys there when they were young and Lupe said she could join me thanks to the Veterans Day holiday. I arrived a day early to set up camp and realized that the Monarch Butterflies were just arriving for their yearly migration to Pismo. I spoke to a docent who shared that the numbers of butterflies has decreased dramatically in the last few years due to climate change.
Nevertheless, those butterflies are a sight to behold. If you get a chance...
The weather in Pismo was spectacular. I awoke the first morning to the sound of rain on the roof of the little trailer. I turned on the tiny furnace, warmed the trailer to about 70 degrees and made a pot of coffee. I spent the next few hours reading, drinking coffee and staring out the window at the steady rain. It was, in other words, a perfect morning. At about 11:00 AM the sun burst through the clouds and it became warm and clear and utterly delightful. Lupe arrived and I did make a few photos of the campground and nearby dunes. The sea water meanders through, behind, and around the dunes which are typically fairly crowded. I did manage to get few photos without people.
The central coast of California draws me back, again and again. Less crowded and commercialized than Southern California it captures some nostalgic, old California charm for me. In reviewing these pages you may find my deep affection for the place...in the meantime I'll keep returning. I've already scheduled a trip for the Rincon, Gaviota, Point Mugu and Morro Bay for the spring. Thanks for coming along...maybe we'll run into each other on some lonely dune near Cayucos one of these days...
We sadly decided to trade in our failing Nissan Frontier Pro-4X in favor of a new Toyota Tacoma 4x4 Off Road TRD. Unfortunately, Toyota recommends a 500 mile break in period before towing anything. We had scheduled a camping trip to Joshua Tree (like everyone else apparently-record breaking crowds out there) and canceled that trip too. Since I'm headed to Death Valley next week I needed to put some quick miles on the new truck. We all love Pismo and thought a drive up there would do the trick. It's a four hour drive.
Wait? Did I say a four hour drive? In reality was a SIX hour drive sitting in traffic on the way to LA, in LA, in Carpenteria, and in Santa Barbara. If you're old enough you can remember when a trip up the coast was seldom "trafficky". California gets worse and worse...
We arrived at about 4:00 PM. We immediately stopped at Pancho's Surf Shop where Lilly had her eye on a cool sweatshirt. It was as busy as I've seen Pismo even during summer.
After the obligatory shopping we walked out to the Pier and I was able to make a few photos. The temperature was cool and the sunset mesmerizing.
My travel companions...
We woke up early the next morning and it only took four hours to get home! It felt like a miracle. This has been a joyous week having Lilly and her friend Kennedy with us. Since the truck is "broken in" next up is Death Valley with Marty and Steve.
One last photo of my enchanting daughter.
Happy New Year to all.
The Camping Life
I returned a few days ago from Great Basin National Park (see Trip Reviews). It was awesome and I have decided to return there, in August with my daughter, Lilly. One of the major reasons it was so fantastic is because it is uncrowded. I can remember camping as a child and feeling like I was getting away from it all. Now, a visit to Yosemite makes you feel like you've been at Disneyland all damn day with the hordes of humanity who descend on the place.
More people than ever are camping. This is great except that there are no new campgrounds opening and, in fact, because of budget cuts (for everything except war), there are fewer campgrounds. The last trip to the local San Jacintos brought home this glaring reality as, after an 8 mile trip on a fairly rough dirt road, the campground was full. Moreover, the neighbors in the adjacent campsite were astonishingly loud and drunk and obnoxious. I had to give them my old principal's voice and say, "Please turn the music down! Thank you!".
This is a huge problem for those of us who look to nature as our solace and comfort.
I've decided, in the next few years, to do what I can to get the appropriate agencies to develop more campgrounds. In order to do this, of course, we must protect more public land. Further, I am working on a book about camping in the new era of crowds- emphasizing camping etiquette. A perfect project for a grumpy old man.
This next month takes Lupe and Lilly and I to crowded Point Mugu, crowded Pismo Beach and crowded Morro Bay. While I'm looking forward to these trips I also look forward to the off season when the calm returns.
Notes From Home- It's June!
It's that time of year when an old Cactus Man's fancy turns from the desert to the mountains and sea.
I have been trip planning for the last week while homebound. Lupe and I have had some domestic issues like painting and appliance repair to deal with (I swear it feels like these damn things are never done). As a result, I have nearly finished my trip plans for the next few months. In addition, Lupe and I are looking at the possible purchase of a very small, affordable, versatile, high ground clearance travel trailer. I need something that is homey enough for Lupe but I can take on my beloved dirt roads. While I love my current setup with just the camper shell I must admit it would be nice to have a place to hole up in bad weather. Anyway, we're not looking for something that resembles our home in any manner (why not just stay at home or in a motel then?). We want a tiny hideaway to take us away to private and secluded spots as well as the National Parks. The research continues...
In June- next week in fact, my son Kevin and I are headed to Boulder Basin in the San Jacinto mountains for a couple of days. I've been trying to get him to go camping with me for a few years now and I'm really looking forward to it. From there he'll go back to work (poor bastard) and I'll head to Nevada and Great Basin National Park. It's my first visit there and it is one of the lesser known National Parks- which is right up my misanthropic alley.
Then it's time for Lupe and Lilly! At the beginning of July Lupe and I are going to Point Mugu and camp right on the beach. Then, at the end of July she and Lilly and I are going to Jalama Beach and Pismo Beach. We'll spend a night in a motel in Morro Bay to wrap up (love that sleepy little town).
In August I'm headed back to the Southwest for a trip to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. I've been to the south rim probably 10 times but I don't usually head there in summer when the north rim is free of snow and open. I will probably camp a night or two at nearby Jacob Lake and look for future boondocking spots. At the end of the month and just before Lilly starts high school (Good God!) I'm taking her to one of my favorite spots in this lifetime - Lassen Volcanic National Park. I know it so well I can show her around! As she grows older these chances will be come fewer and fewer (see Jordan and Kevin) and I will cherish this time together. It will be an unforgettable trip.
My next BIG trip is in my favorite month to travel - September. I'll be heading to Devil's Tower National Monument in Wyoming and the Little Big Horn Battlefield in Montana. You've probably figured out my appreciation of and fascination with the indigenous people of our continent and this trip will focus heavily on Native American history and culture.
In October I'm heading back to Big Sur area to stay at Kirk Creek Campground and boondock in the mountains that overlook the sea, I'm gonna squeeze in a weekend back at Pinnacles National Park with my dear Bay Area family.
November brings me back to the desert...
I'll look forward to showing my pictures and narrating the trips as I return from each one.
This will mostly be a journal of my travels. I may include other items that interest me. Feel free to join in.