So once again I found myself with some time and finally was able to fulfill a family goal of taking my own family to Lopez Lake in San Luis Obispo County. I have numerous fond memories of Lopez Lake with various family members over the years including girlfriends of years past and beloved family members who have since passed on. I even mentioned it on my radio show recently when one of my old friends called the show to reminsice. My wife is probably tired of hearing the stories so it was with great pleasure to finally be able to take her and my sons to the lake.
We had planned to leave at 9am but being since I had to load the van, still make a couple of grocery stops and other assorted to do we finally hit the road at 10:30. Traffic.com said both the 405 and 5 were wide open so we flipped a coin and took the 5. Was a bad choice as we hit traffic almost immediately with the only bright side being it was at least moving along at about 30 MPH as opposed to stop and go. Up through the 5 we saw some of the seedier sides of LA as I pointed out a dilapidated house that was covered with graffiti and had burglar bars that was a mere 10 yards from the freeway and I joked with Tomoko how cute and quaint it was and we should think of exploring the options of living in this wonderfully diverse LA community.
We made it through thousand oaks and stopped at In N Out for lunch.
Later we decided it would be fun to stop by Solvang to see the city, buy some pastries and let the kids stretch their legs. Was a nice little town and sadly the legendary ablescivers shop closed for the afternoon so I rolled my dice with an almond scone taking it to go figuring it would be wonderful in the AM. Walking through the town and saying NO to my son Alex, who at 8 years old had to ask “Can we get Ice Cream?” everytime we passed an ice cream shop and wouldnt you know it Solvang had roughly 1000. Im pretty sure there were Ice Cream shops inside of the Ice Cream shops and probably another inside the restroom. I managed to overhear a local talking about some of the wine shops who was kind enough to point me in the right direction for the Locals pick of choice for Wine shops with their being about 1/2 as many wine shops as Ice Cream shops. Soon enough I was in the tasting room for Lucas and Lewellen winery. I went to the wine bar and asked for a good red with soft tannins, a hint of oak, with bright cherry overtones that would pair with hot dogs and then bought a bottle of the Lucas and Lewellen merlot that was wonderful and a step above the Shiraz. I would never on the spur buy a 20 buck bottle but I was on vacation so what the hell.
|Tomoko w/the friendly euro guy working the info station in Solvang.|
|Megan was nice enough to pose with a rasberry danish. She was not a euro...but|
a nice gal and a heckuva good cook.
|Huell Hauser once did a segment on this shoe...figured we had to take a pic.|
We finally hit Grand Avenue and stopped at the first minimart to get ice and firewood. Ice was fine at a couple of bucks for a 7lb bag but firewood for 8bucks a bundle made the jaw drop. Proceeding through town all of the memories flooded back to me. The mexican food place we watched the Stanley Cup at, the country bar we took a couple of hours respite from camping for cold beers and enjoying the flowing creek then ran by the back patio outside, and the grocery store we used to pick up anything we had forgotten to bring or ran out of. Sadly the grocery store was closed with a huge For Lease sign on the front. Sign o' the times I guess.
We made it to the ranger station to check in and I was a bit surprised to see bear warning signs posted. Upon inquiry the ranger said that indeed some bears were sported rummaging through the trash bins on the parks perimeter not a couple of days previous but on thr bright side no bears had yet to enter a campsite. This followed a myriad of questions from Alex who was surprised to hear that bears can, will, and have attacked and killed people. I guess from watching the recent Yogi Bear movie he had a few misconceptions about bears.
We got back into the van to hit the campsite when we spotted our first couple of deer. Funny thing was I hadnt even started the van and left the check in parking....gotta love Lopez Lake.
Got to the campsite and was bit miffed to see trash strung out along the ravine neighboring our site. I tried to roll with it but after getting our site set up it just did not sit well with me at all. Donning gloves and a plastic grocery bag down I went to clean up the beer cans, plastic water bottles, newspapers and napkins that littered the area. Problem solved.
We took a quick walk to the lake just in time to see the last bit of sun dissapear over the horizon but not before Alex found a fossil of a shell. Quite please he was promising this would be the newest edition to his treasure box and asking me to write about it in my blog. Done and done.
Back at the campsite to prepare dinner, we realized our fire pit didnt have the typical pit grate that you use to cook and heat food as the normal pit has 10 or or so rungs that cover about 1/4 of the pit and our had 2 badly bent rung remaining. We then realized that while we did bring fajita meat and tortillas we didnt bring cheese, tomatoes, or anything else to put in the burrito. We then made a mgmt decision and went with roasted hot dogs. I had mine with packaged mayo and Del Scorcho. Classy and upscale.
After a few obligatory marshmallows and getting the kids to bed it was our time. Was a beautiful moonless night and much like cuyamaca the later it got the more stars introduced themselves to us and once again seeing the milky way meant another camping plus that of no light pollution. I had a canned sapporo or two, brushed my teeth, and went to bed.
PT 2 continues here....
PT 2 continues here....
|Our campsite complete with family truckster.|