There are two major routes available to travelers attempting to traverse the length of California. I-5 is a straight shot from Oregon all the way south, fast, and unless you are skilled at paying attention to fine details, incredibly boring. Highway 101 on the other hand, is gorgeous, a winding road that narrows to two lanes fairly often, and skirts the edge of the Pacific at least part of the way.
When we left Trinidad in the morning, the skies were clear and the predicted rain nowhere in sight. We caught the early morning light gilding the waves and meandered through coastal forests intermingled with dunes, beaches, and hills shrouded in intermittent fog. It was my turn to drive, and with light traffic and beautiful scenery, I exclaimed over and over again, “I’m so glad we aren’t driving down the five again!”
The stretch I drove (hence no photos) all the way from Trinidad, through Eureka into Willits was paradise, and then things started to shift. The traffic got heavier, the drivers more aggressive, and we realized that we were no longer in heaven, we were in “the Bay Area”. Stopping on the side of the road near San Rafael, we switched drivers. Having lived south of San Francisco in Monterra for 25 years, bay area roads are familiar territory for Mo. She negotiated the lanes and the cars over the Golden Gate Bridge while I shot photos from crazy angles and navigated our route with a combination of the iPhone, the NUVI GPS, and the internet. Yes….the internet.
A week or so before we left, I decided to purchase a nifty little gadget called MiFi from Verizon. Last fall Laurie and Odel had theirs with them when visiting Rocky Point and it worked just fine. For a long time, high speed internet was an impossible dream out there in the forest, but lately a new tower has given us the delights of cell phone service. We still don’t have cable TV and my only option other than dial-up for the internet so far is HughesNet satellite, an expensive and fairly cumbersome system. Amazingly, the MiFi works great and I can actually do my work with it. And! it travels!! Yes!!
So far, it travels quite well and I have been having all sorts of fun doing internet stuff on the computer while Mo drives down the road. As we passed through San Francisco, I spent a bit of time searching out places to get cheap gas, found a restaurant to get some supper, and did some internet searches of possible boondock locations for Wednesday night in the desert. Thanks to Laurie for testing the Rocky Point Verizon bars, and to Randy for sending me a great email detailing how well the MiFi has worked for him while on the road.
For some reason, when planning the trip with Streets and Trips, I decided that we could make it to San Miguel in a day. I don’t remember seeing that it was nearly 500 miles, only that we could stay at the Camp Roberts Military Family Camp for ten bucks with full hookups. As the day progressed, we thought a few times about stopping earlier, but once we hit the bay area there really wasn’t a reasonable stopping point.
Mo did great, much better than I can do driving in the dark, and we pulled into the camp around 8pm. Now describing what it is like to drive into Camp Roberts in the dark is almost impossible. It is about two miles from the gate to the campground, and there is no light at all, and the road meanders around a portion of the camp that has been abandoned. Once we arrived, our reserved site was waiting, and setting up went smoothly, even with the tiny flashlight. No TV, and of course no internet, except I am now armed with Verizon and I had five bars of rip roaring speed. Amazing!
There are 22 sites in this camp, and there are absolutely no frills, but who cares?! I think we have paid ten bucks just to dump, much less camp. The highway runs parallel to the campground and is a bit noisy, but on a mid week dark night this time of year it wasn’t much of a problem. I read a scary post recently from Janna and Mike where someone attempted to hijack their toad while they were sleeping in the rig! Sure made me appreciate a reasonably safe place to park! We slept great and woke up early to 27 degrees showing on the thermometer and before the sun was all the way up it had dropped to 24. That is F, not C by the way. UhOh. Even though our little electric heater kept us cozy for the night, the outside water hose was frozen solid.
We still had plenty of water in the fresh tank and within a short time the sun brought the temperatures up dramatically. Mo thawed out the hose with the hair dryer, we cooked a good breakfast, and took our time getting back on the road since the day ahead was to be a short one.
San Miguel and Camp Roberts are just a few miles north of Paso Robles and our route east toward I-5 on highway 46. It was a fine stop for one night, but I surely wouldn’t want to actually camp there for any length of time. As we left the camp, I took photos of the abandoned buildings, and only in the distance did we see some nice buildings in good repair that were still in use. Mo did training at this camp back in the 80’s when she was in the Army Reserve, but she didn’t recognize much of what was left.