Trip Report: California Coastal Expedition 2016 **PHOTO HEAVY**

richard310

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*** This trip will be broken down by each day's adventures. Here is the premise thread in case any of you are interested: http://americanadventurist.com/forum/threads/california-coastal-expedition-2016.4078/

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With Christmas done and completed, bellies full and families heading home, Deanna and I also headed home to pack up and get some rest for this year’s annual week long adventure that we dubbed: California Coastal Expedition 2016. Last year's trip was a 5 day adventure to Death Valley. This time, we wanted to change it up, and take some time away from the desert. The idea was to head up along the coastline from Los Angeles and make our way up towards the central coast of California, visiting sites and make new adventures for all of us. With the nightly destinations set up, the usual suspects plus a few new members lined up, and a rough yet leisurely schedule decided, this trip was ready to commence.



DAY 1: RV at a Lonely Night in Paradise.

We decided to keep a majority of the packing for the morning of and also do a supply run along the way up north, eventually to the rally point of Middle Santa Ynez Campground up in Santa Barbara. We had been keeping in touch with our trail leader Brett throughout the morning to make sure we link up with each other since we were going to be just a few minutes apart on the highway. With the link up time of about 12:00pm and the location set in Calabasas, Deanna and I Ioaded up, and hit the road after making our supply run at the local Korean H-Mart and local stores.

After a quick and uneventful drive up to Calabasas, we linked up with Brett (@sfsmedic ), his son Jake, and Andy (@Andy ) with Jaxx the dog, at the McDonald’s for a quick lunch and then we continued together up to the first night’s campsite. Along Highway 101 North, we had gotten word that Humberto (@Humberto ), his son Phillip, and Matt (@Matrix ) and his family, who all had left earlier that morning, had arrived at a locked gate leading to the campsite, so we called the first audible of the trip to find a secondary site.

Cris (@BlkWgn ), who was planning on heading up on day three, had also received word and had gotten in contact with Garrett who resides in the area, to assist us with a secondary site. The call was a nicely tucked away site: Paradise Campground, just off Highway 154. With a site named such a way, how bad could it possibly be? It was about just a bit of a drive from our initial point but close enough to arrive before sunset. We made the call, and Humberto and Matt headed to the updated site with us not far behind.

We arrived at Paradise Campground with the sun just starting to set, with Humberto and Matt already set up. The night’s terrible site was a well maintained one with flushing toilets and running water and plenty of flat ground for the group’s tents, roof or ground. We were definitely roughing it hardcore in Paradise. After we arrived, we had gotten word that Jon (@jonburtt ), Brian (@Goose Gear ), and Mitch (@Mitch ) would be arriving on night two, with Stuart (@Stuart ) and Cris arriving on the morning of day three. With the details ironed out, Brett, Andy and I unpacked, setup and settled in with Matt and Humberto for the night around the campfire.

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richard310

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DAY 2: Cozy Lunch and Goose-y BRAAP-y Beaches


The second day started nicely with a somewhat late wake up and leisure pace. It was a brisk morning with clear and sunny skies. We slowly got up to pace, making breakfast, and catching up with each other. We even saved a gopher from getting eaten by a group of crows. At about 11:00am, we finished packing up and headed for our next stop which would be lunch.

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We arrived at a sweet little restaurant tucked away in the hills just a few minutes south from our campground. This cozy little restaurant is called The Cold Springs Tavern. Luckily we had arrived early enough where they were able to accommodate the 11 of us in one of their rooms. The food was great and worth checking out for those interested as they serve some game meats, but I advise heading there early before noon as once we had left the facility, there was a large crowd waiting to be seated. The small area used to a relay station where travelers could rest and/or change their horses. They’ve maintained the old buildings and with the surrounding greenery, made for a beautiful and rustic spot for lunch. We saddled up and were Oscar Mayer after rallying down the street.

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We decided to take Highway 154 and cut across to Highway 1 from Highway 246 for a more scenic drive. Unfortunately, once we hit Lake Cachuma, we ran into some construction traffic and were at a stand-still for quite sometime. We continued through to Solvang and enjoyed the touristy drive-thru, but after reviewing the remaining time of travel and the setting sun, we called it short and decided to hop back onto Highway 101 North to fast track it to our night’s campground of Pismo Beach. We booked it north towards Pismo and after a short supply stop at a shady looking liquor store, which Brett thought was a larger market on Google Maps, we eventually hit the entrance to Pismo Beach.

Pismo Beach is an OHV area where you’re allowed to drive right onto the beach to camp and ride your OHV vehicles on the sand dunes just behind the beach. It’s a beautiful spot when it’s not too crowded, unlike the day we arrived. There was a decent line to enter the park but we eventually paid our dues, aired down, and headed about 10 minutes south of the entrance to our makeshift site. We slowly drove along the beach looking at all the RV’s and toyhaulers littered along the way and gradually made it to our decided area in the dunes, away from the madness that is Pismo Beach. We circled the wagons among the buzzing two stroke bikes and side-by-sides, but nestled next to a cordoned off section to minimize the madness. Whatever the case, we enjoyed what we had. It was a killer sunset with some offshore winds but nothing unbearable.

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With the fire going, food cooking, and children playing, we thoroughly enjoyed our environment as we always do. A little after dinner, we get some chatter on the comms and it ends up being Brian, Jon, and Mitch heading up Highway 101. We attempt to guide them in using a high mounted green-lit whip antenna but apparently they passed it seeing different colors on the other side of the antenna. Of course, right? They double back and we make visual contact with them to bring them into camp. We completed our circle of rigs and enjoyed the rest of the campfire.


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richard310

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DAY 3: Highway 1 and the Windy Ridge Road to Kelly


Our morning started a bit hectic as Deanna wasn’t feeling well. Not well enough that she had to visit the Urgent Care just on the other side of Highway 101. We packed up as quick as we could while the rest of the group was cooking breakfast and getting ready. During that time, Stuart had arrived at our campground to continue with the group. I alerted the group what our plans were and that we’d link up with them at the day’s lunch stop in Morro Bay, or along Highway 1 towards tonight’s campground around Prewitt Ridge since I’d been there before.

We broke off from the group and began our drive to urgent care. We were there for about two hours from wait time to time seen. We then spent the other two hours waiting for her medication at the CVS next door, grabbed lunch at the local MickeyD’s, and then went into Walmart and Orchard to pick up remaining supplies. We figured the convoy would be about an hour ahead of us since they went to eat lunch in Morro Bay at a place called Otter Rocks that Cris had recommended. The lunch site was only 30 minutes north of our location so we figured we had some catching up to do. We gathered ourselves and headed north to rejoin the group. Along the way, just as we were hitting Morro Bay on HIghway 1, we get comm chatter of RV-ing at Albertsons after filling up gas. Low and behold, we had caught up to the group who had still been at Morro Bay and were about to pick up supplies at the local Albertsons. Apparently they had a 2-3 hour long lunch since they had a large group and service was slow. Luckily they weren’t waiting for us.

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We rejoined and reconnoitered around the parking lot after shopping for a bit to load up and reorganize. We circled the parking lot once from miscommunication and then rallied up behind the Albertsons and we’re Oscar Mayer (Mike) on Highway 1. Brett had been in contact with Cris on the drive up towards Prewitt Ridge and they would attempt to meet us in the area or link up in the morning. Along the way, Deanna and I decided to switch seats so that I can take photos while she drives. We break off the group, switcharoo and then haul to catch up. Unfortunately we get stuck behind three slow moving vehicles and with a two-way highway, we get pushed further back from the group. We catch up with the convoy just as we neared our exit of Nacimiento-Fergusseon Road and head up into the mountains together.

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We hit the summit of Nacimiento Road as the sun set and we made our turn onto Coast Ridge Road towards Prewitt Ridge. The drive was a well maintained forest service road that wound its way into the mountains. Views were nonexistant as the sun had set so we pushed carefully along the ridgelines to Prewitt Ridge Campground. We arrive seeing a few vehicles already settled on the windy ridge. Why they were setting up there that windy night we had no idea. The views are nice but there are other ridge campgrounds in the area. We U-turn it out of the crowded site and double back to find a viable site for 10 vehicles.

The convoy decided to split into two groups: one to continue back towards the entrance, and the secondary to push past Prewitt Ridge, towards Kelly and Plaskett Ridge Campgrounds. As part of the second group, we push south towards Kelly Campground to attempt to find a large and flat enough spot for all of us, We end up at the McKern Road junction and had the primary group rally up at our location, since they were unable to find a decent spot. Reconvening and looking over the maps, we decide to stay on Coast Ridge Road and continue to Kelly and Plaskett Campgrounds instead of McKern Road, as there were no viable options down that route. Half the group hit Kelly Campground while a few rigs continued towards Plaskett, which was maybe a half mile down the road, to see which site was larger. The recon group hit a locked gate so they turned around and headed back to Kelly where we settled in for the night.

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The site was fairly large and flat but was quite tight for 9 vehicles. It was definitely cozy for all of us, but not unpleasant. Unfortunately for all of us, fires were not allowed in that section of Los Padres National Park so we were out of luck for warmth and lounging. Along with that bit of bad news, we cut the night early as it was getting windy and cold. The winds continued throughout the night and by about 2:00am, had died down for a calm and beautiful morning.

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richard310

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DAY 4: Black Wagon and the Mission Goal.

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The group woke up to a nice and windless sunrise that morning. While some of us were just rising out of our sleeping bags, the others were just getting breakfast started. After breakfast, we had our usual driver meeting to decide what the group wants to do as far as the next destination is concerned. We either head back towards Highway 1 and go towards Big Sur/Carmel, or we continue our easterly drive along Nacimiento to the first Mission ever built in California located in Fort Hunter-Liggett. We end up deciding for the Mission as there was a potential campsite in the area as well on the Reservation. As we’re lolly-gagging around buttoning up our rigs, Cris raises us on comms and we tell him to meet us on Nacimiento Road heading into Fort Hunter-Liggett. Where, we have not yet decided but we will eventually cross paths on that single road. Apparently Cris had stayed at Prewitt Ridge that night so we were just within a stone’s throw from each other. He had left earlier than us and was already en route to the main road.

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We pack up and begin our journey with us at point, since I had a detailed map of the area. With Deanna at the helm, and I as navigator, we decided to take McKern Road to Nacimiento Road considering the amount of time double backing towards the entrance we took in the night before. Mitch had opted to head home early so he continued onwards and we said our farewells. We make our way onto McKern Road and begin the beautiful drive that it is. As we continue on, we make multiple stops to take photos and take in the scenery as we were literally on a ridgeline with amazing views to the left and right. As we set up for the next photo opportunity just a few miles to our exit, the lead rig ends up finding another locked gate. From my map, it had shown a road branching off the left before the gate, but apparently it was the reverse way around. We had to double back to Coast Ridge Road and take that back to Nacimiento. A bit of an ordeal, but a beautiful ordeal. The drive along that road was spectacular in both directions, but we eventually made it back to the main road into Fort Hunter-Liggett.

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richard310

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Day 4 CONTINUED

What a beautiful drive along Nacimiento Road as the ground was still moist and the moss was growing along the road’s edge and tree trunks. Along the windy road, we finally get Cris up on comms and he tells us that he’s at the Mission already and we’ll RV there.

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The mission for today’s Mission is called the Mission San Antonio de Padua. This Mission of the Sierra’s is located in the Santa Lucia mountains and was founded in 1771. It was named after Saint Anthony of Padua, a thirteenth century Franciscan, the finder of lost possessions. We arrived there just in time for lunch and with Cris and family waiting. So before we set about the site, we had a quick tailgate lunch in the parking lot taking in the wonderful weather. We peruse the site taking in the centuries of history that this mission held. It’s just amazing how it’s stood the test of time. Renovations were currently in progress with an expected due date in 2017 so a few areas were blocked off. We then made the call to hit the campsite a little early so we proceeded down Mission Road to Primitive Campground Road. Yes, the Army has a very elaborate naming system for their roads.

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It was a very nice and secluded campground, minus the creepy trailers setup towards the back of the site. We had nestled ourselves also towards the back but finding that spot was a Charlie Foxtrot. We had all literally spread out in different directions upon entering the site to find a nice option for all of us. As fun as it was, the mass dispersion gradually centered the rigs to a corner site with a community fire pit. We unpacked our tents, cooked up dinner, lit the fire, and then turned in for the night. It was a clear enough sky with an ever so slight breeze. What we woke up to find out at 0445 in the morning was the pitter patter of rain on our tent.


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Deanna and I knew our tent wasn’t waterproof, but resistant up to a certain point though. We woke up hearing the sound and I checked the lining of the tent. Yep, it was getting moist and began collecting droplets from the rain permeating through the material. We both made the decision that we didn’t want to wake up soaked in water so we started scrambling to pack up whatever was inside and shift it over to the ground tent that I would put up together in the rain. The nutty part was that it wasn’t even a hard rain, but a consistent light to medium rain. While Deanna packed up everything inside the roof mounted cot tent, I deployed the awning and then constructed the ground tent underneath. Deanna then switched to ground tent organization as I jumped on the Xterra to close up the roof tent and cover it with the waterproof cover. The process worked pretty well but I was pretty darn soaked. It was a good thing I’d brought my waterproof gear. As I was putting together the ground tent, I notice Jon was up and about as well, and he had closed up his Flippac. We later find out that he didn’t have his rain fly up and didn’t want to deploy it in the rain so he closed up and attempted to sleep in the back. All three of us got little to no sleep that night, well except for Deanna who decided to sleep in until about 10:30am.
 
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richard310

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DAY 5: The Detour of the Locked Gated Pinnacles.

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The group arose to a damp ground with wet tents and vehicles, but partly cloudy skies with breaks of sunlight. The weather this morning was a lot more brisk than the previous nights so the ones who were up early got the fire started to keep warm and dry off the chairs left outside in the rain. It was definitely a slower morning than the previous nights as well since we had to get the tents dry enough to stow away. We all got breakfast and coffee underway while we stood around the fire to eat and warm up. Once things were dry enough to pack, we were underway at almost noon time. Matt and the family decided to pack up and head home early so we all said our goodbyes and hit the road.

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We decided to do another supply run since we were running short on firewood and others were short on food and other items. We took Jolon Road up to Highway 101 at King City and resupplied at Safeway Market. We then headed north to our next site at Pinnacles National Park via Highway 101 and cut across the north side of the park utilizing La Gloria Road. We were hoping to find some plotted BLM land to camp in so we plowed on the miles to find it off La Gloria Road somewhere.

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We split off a little early as Brett turned off onto Highway 146 and we all followed suit. There was a marked road that we could split off from and cut over to La Gloria Road. We entered the park visitor center to gather some data of the area and also pick up some souvenirs.

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As we were leaving, Brett reconned the area ahead to make sure the road was passable, but he radioed us to say it was another locked gate. The only way to that area was back the way we came, so we double backed to Highway 101 and exited Camphora Gloria Road to La Gloria Road. We zig-zagged up the road hoping the road would lead us to the BLM lands, but we kept running into locked gate after locked gate. We continued to push towards Highway 25 hoping to find an open trail to camp-able land but it was all private lands with more locked gates.

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After a surprisingly beautiful drive along La Gloria Rd, the convoy ended up stopping at Highway 25 intersection and debated what the next course of action would be since we were running out of daylight and people were getting tired. Our options would be to give Pinnacles NP a shot, head back to Ft. Hunter-Liggett to the same campground from the night before, or head to Clear Creek Campground in BLM territory further down the road. We opted to check out Pinnacles NP since we were short on time and that would be the first stop anyways along the highway.

The group saddled up and began the short trek to Pinnacles Visitor Center to get some intel on the camp availability and/or the immediate vicinity. Good news was had and the group was told that there was a vast area of open campgrounds tucked away in the furthest corner of the site. We were also ecstatic to hear that they would also be able to fit the 9 rigs, and some. We took that option. Humberto fanned us out and we all picked the corner site as our community area. Deanna and I deployed our ground tent, while Jon set up his rain fly on the Flippac for that just-in-case rain. We all then got the dinner cooking, fire going, and finally were able to relax for the night. With hot showers, running water, flushing toilets, heck and even a pool (although closed), this place was heaven after a mileage pounding day.

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It was a beautiful night, partly cloudy but the stars were visible in the clearings so we were optimistic for no rain. I had tired out quickly and fell asleep at the fire. Thankfully I'm among mature adults so luckily nothing happened. I hit the sack early. The guys who stayed up were disrupted by two raccoons who stalked them all night from the next morning's report. The two trash pandas made their way up a tree and watched them from above until we all went to sleep.
 
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richard310

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#7
DAY 6: Two Leave For Home While the Rest Carry-On.


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Again, the light pitter patter of rain had awoken us and we were thankful we set up the ground tent and rain fly, even putting the chairs under the awning to keep them dry. Deanna decided to sleep in so I did my usual camera sniper task around the camp.

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We had both decided to cut this trip a little short since we wanted to be home for New Year’s Day, so after breakfast, Deanna and I said our farewells to everyone who were continuing on to the planned site of Carrizo Plains. Andy, who also needed to be back this weekend, left as well so we hit the road together. Our route home was Highway 101 via Highway 25 South to Highway 198 West.

We stopped in Paso Robles for lunch. Deanna had chosen a pizza place called Rustic Fire just off the Hwy 101 and Hwy 46. The food was pretty good, along with the beer selection, but a tad pricey. Not bad, so after a coffee break, we hit the road for about 4 hours all the way home into Los Angeles. Once on I-405, we went our separate ways and arrived home safely in times for New Year’s.
 
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Yuman Desert Rat

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#9
DAY 2: Cozy Lunch and Goose-y BRAAP-y Beaches


The second day started nicely with a somewhat late wake up and leisure pace. It was a brisk morning with clear and sunny skies. We slowly got up to pace, making breakfast, and catching up with each other. We even saved a gopher from getting eaten by a group of crows. At about 11:00am, we finished packing up and headed for our next stop which would be lunch.

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We arrived at a sweet little restaurant tucked away in the hills just a few minutes south from our campground. This cozy little restaurant is called The Cold Springs Tavern. Luckily we had arrived early enough where they were able to accommodate the 11 of us in one of their rooms. The food was great and worth checking out for those interested as they serve some game meats, but I advise heading there early before noon as once we had left the facility, there was a large crowd waiting to be seated. The small area used to a relay station where travelers could rest and/or change their horses. They’ve maintained the old buildings and with the surrounding greenery, made for a beautiful and rustic spot for lunch. We saddled up and were Oscar Mayer after rallying down the street.

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We decided to take Highway 154 and cut across to Highway 1 from Highway 246 for a more scenic drive. Unfortunately, once we hit Lake Cachuma, we ran into some construction traffic and were at a stand-still for quite sometime. We continued through to Solvang and enjoyed the touristy drive-thru, but after reviewing the remaining time of travel and the setting sun, we called it short and decided to hop back onto Highway 101 North to fast track it to our night’s campground of Pismo Beach. We booked it north towards Pismo and after a short supply stop at a shady looking liquor store, which Brett thought was a larger market on Google Maps, we eventually hit the entrance to Pismo Beach.

Pismo Beach is an OHV area where you’re allowed to drive right onto the beach to camp and ride your OHV vehicles on the sand dunes just behind the beach. It’s a beautiful spot when it’s not too crowded, unlike the day we arrived. There was a decent line to enter the park but we eventually paid our dues, aired down, and headed about 10 minutes south of the entrance to our makeshift site. We slowly drove along the beach looking at all the RV’s and toyhaulers littered along the way and gradually made it to our decided area in the dunes, away from the madness that is Pismo Beach. We circled the wagons among the buzzing two stroke bikes and side-by-sides, but nestled next to a cordoned off section to minimize the madness. Whatever the case, we enjoyed what we had. It was a killer sunset with some offshore winds but nothing unbearable.

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With the fire going, food cooking, and children playing, we thoroughly enjoyed our environment as we always do. A little after dinner, we get some chatter on the comms and it ends up being Brian, Jon, and Mitch heading up Highway 101. We attempt to guide them in using a high mounted green-lit whip antenna but apparently they passed it seeing different colors on the other side of the antenna. Of course, right? They double back and we make visual contact with them to bring them into camp. We completed our circle of rigs and enjoyed the rest of the campfire.


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Awesome trip report... looking forward to the rest of it. :)
 

richard310

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#12
Awesome trip report... looking forward to the rest of it. :)
Indeed. Great stuff here, really bummed I missed this. Thanks for sharing the story here for the rest of us!

:popcorn :popcorn
It's slowly making its way day by day. Over 2,000 photos to rummage through and edit takes a toll! :zombie

Day 3 is up!

Day 4 will be VERY photo heavy. Lots of great photos of everyone's rig and adventures!
 
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richard310

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#19
Working on it! Still editing.. time is hard to come by these days. I'm just about nearing the end of photo edits for Day4. Just starting on the campsite photos, and hope to have it up by this weekend!
 
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