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Day 1: Phoenix, AZ to Joshua Tree National Park, CA

Made the hot trek to Joshua Tree, this year opting for the southern campground to avoid the bug infestation on the north side.  (Sorry, failed to take photos this year.)

Day 2: Joshua Tree National Park to Thornhill State Beach

Left Joshua Tree in time to make it to Bob's Big Boy in Calimesa for brunch.  Every trip to southern California requires a stop for a Big Boy, since none exist in Arizona any more.

This year, we opted for the longer route, mileage-wise, but the more saner route traffic-wise, no burning up the brakes going over the mountains.  We drove to the coast highway via I-10, 210, 118, 23, 101, and Las Posas Road.

Once at Thornhill, we were assigned the site next to a tent village: annual two-week family reunion!

Day 3: Thornhill State Beach to Morro Strand State Beach

After paraphernalia dried out, we packed up and headed north to a new place, Morro Strand, where Dad and I collected dried up sand dollars and looked for that ever-elusive starfish in the tide pools (still not found).  A fellow Westy pulled in just a few sites down; owner came over to chat for a bit.


Day 4: Morro Strand to Lime Kiln State Park

Head 'em up, move 'em out!  This year, sites could be chosen by visitors when making their reservations; lucked out getting the primo spot at Lime Kiln: #4!  A fellow Westy was up the road, camped along the creek (no one around, so couldn't say, "Hi!")


Day 5: Lime Kiln to Laguna Seca Raceway

This year was quite the opposite of last year's trip.  It was foggy a good portion of the drive, compounded by smoke and ash from the Big Sur inferno that was still burning, albeit back in the wilderness area by this time.  As a result of fire-related closures, traffic through Carmel was somewhat light this time around.  We stopped at Safeway for weekend provisions, then headed to the track, where my uncle would be joining us for the first time… and camping out for the first time!

Day 6-8: Laguna Seca Raceway

This year's marque: BMW (unlike last year, not a chance in Hades of getting a track ride).  Despite BMW being the honored manufacturer, there were lots of Porsches around, a few of which I wanted to haul home…Oh, the racing was good too.

Day 8: Laguna Seca Raceway to Kirk Creek Campground

Smoke and ash led to a unique skyline down the coast this year.  We arrived at Kirk Creek just before dusk, this time getting a cliff-side site (#21).  Squirrels were still abundant, but no whales to watch.

Day 9: Kirk Creek to Montaña de Oro State Park

Arrived at Montaña de Oro early in the afternoon.  After a sandwich lunch, Dad and I walked down to the tide pools in search of, you guessed it, a starfish.  It took some looking, but I finally found one!  Also saw some beautiful sea urchins.

Day 10: Montaña de Oro to Carpinteria State Beach

Since we had to drive through Los Osos when leaving Montaña de Oro, it was only fitting to make an obligatory stop at GoWesty, where Old Blue has actually visited before with Dave & Vickie (second owners), way back when GoWesty worked on customer vans. The store/shop was closed, so it was only a brief visit before we set off for Carpinteria.

Carpinteria State Beach is nice, but the campground is ginormous and was, of course, filled to capacity.  The site I had reserved looked fantastic on paper and in a photo, but upon arrival, not so much, mainly because we were surrounded by groups.  And no ocean view.  And Amtrack trains ran every 20 minutes.  And the parking pad was covered in sand. And it costs a small fortune (which makes no sense; the largest, busiest campground has the highest cost and it's even higher for 2017… CA price gouging to help pay down the state's debt, or help pay for the idiotic train?).  If - big if - I were stay at this place again, it would be in the RV section way down at the end, ocean side… wide spot, quiet, ocean view.

Day 11: Carpinteria State Beach to Joshua Tree National Park

We got a relatively early start for a change, didn't bother with a full breakfast, so that we make could decent ground, having to make a stop in Monrovia on the way to check on rental property.  After a last Big Boy in Calimesa, we made the shortish trek to Joshua Tree, where a Eurovan Camper was also staying.  We all took turns washing our hair and faces with the spigots (for shame, but we were desperate… and it felt so good and refreshing in the heat!).


Day 12: Joshua Tree to home

For the second year in a row, pulled in front of the house, shut the engine off, smelled coolant, and jumped out to the sidewalk to see a trail and pool on the pavement. Once back in the garage, we did some investigating.  Culprit: The plastic straight fittings I installed after the rear heater removal went bust thanks to craptacular factory quality control (they've been replaced with metal versions).  Oh, and shutting the sliding door once the van was back in the garage resulted in a metal <clank!>.  The sliding door bump-stop disintegrated (since replaced with new).  Could this be Old Blue's way of saying, "Stop taking me back to California!"?


Total miles: 1,591

Avg. MPG: 17.23

Adventure 25: Laguna Seca Historic Races; Monterey, CA                                        August 10-25, 2016