As I sit here at my desk in Rocky Point, it is hard to believe that less than a week ago I was ambling along the coast highway in brilliant sunshine. The sun is brilliant out my window today, but it is reflecting brightly off the first significant snowfall we have had since October. I say significant, but I think it is hardly more than an inch or two out there, nothing to worry about, but also nothing to help with the local scanty snowpack.
Our time in Desert Hot Springs was perfectly incredible, with sunny skies and warm temperatures the entire time we were there. Our trip home up the coast was equally as brilliant, with a bit of morning fog here and there but not a drop of rain and not even the typical coastal overcast to mar the warm days. We only needed a jacket now and then to ward off the slight chill of ocean air and breezes.
We left the desert on a sunny morning, late enough to miss the worst of the LA traffic and yet early enough to spend a couple of hours on a sweet little side trip without compromising our planned nightfall at Vandenberg Air Force Base. I was born just north of Pasadena and raised in the adjacent mountain town of Sierra Madre. LA smog and traffic, and the crush of people drove me out as a young person, but there are some sweet memories of the area as well. One of those memories include the solid coziness of the modest bungalow homes on the shady oak lined streets.
I always dreamed of having one of these Craftsman bungalows, with trapezoid pillars, wide porches and big oak doors. I remember the sunlight playing on my gramma’s hardwood floors and the smell of baking cookies. Something about a Craftsman bungalow really takes me back to a life with different values than what we have today. No McMansion for me, please, just a perfect little bungalow. Ah well, so far that dream is one I have had to set aside, but I still love to cruise old towns looking for the perfect dream Craftsman.
Bungalow Heaven was a place on my want to visit list for a long time, and on this bright sunny California morning we parked the rig at a shopping center and took the time to drive to the approximately 12 square block area in Pasadena that has been set aside as a “Landmark District” I wasn’t disappointed, although I had forgotten how dark some of these houses can be with their overhanging roofs and wide covered porches. I guess sunlight isn’t in short supply in Southern California and the shade of the huge old live oaks and dark porches are a welcome relief.
The rest of the day was uneventful, with amazingly light traffic on the freeways, from the 210, to the Pasadena Freeway, to the Ventura Freeway, across the Golden State, and all the way to the 101. Piece of cake!! We thought about staying at one of the California State Parks along the beach, but they are expensive ($35 per night with no hookups) and crowded. Instead we just kept driving north to Vandenberg Air Force Base and the Military Family Camp we knew was waiting.
By the time we got there, most spots with electric were full, and it was a bit confusing to figure out where to go since the camp host was nowhere to be found. We opted instead for the $8. per night overflow camping where we could be away from the main part of camp and sleep peacefully. It was a bit like boondocking but with the extra safety factor of being on the base.
“On Base” however, had it’s own story! We read on the website that we should be prepared for a rig inspection and that we needed to go to the Lompoc gate rather than the main gate since they wouldn’t do inspections at the main gate. We arrived at the gate around 4, and after a bit of waving and gesturing, we followed the instructions of the officer and moved through the inspection area. I guess we didn’t need an inspection after all. Ambling slowly through the base, we were trying to find the campground when the dreaded blue lights started flashing behind us. Mo couldn’t figure out what she had done, since she is especially careful on any kind of military base, but sure enough he pulled us over.
We were informed that we had driven through the inspection station against the orders of the officer in charge and were to be escorted back to do it properly. The officer and his cohort led us through the base, to a proper turn around and then all the way back to the Lompoc gate. That was a bit embarrassing! It seems that a wave through didn’t mean what we thought it did! The inspection itself was strange. Several security folks told us to undo all the rig compartments (on the outside) and then they ran mirrors all under the bottom of the rig. They told Mo she had to stand in the holding room, and that I had to get out of the rig. When I told them not to lose the cat, they relented and said, “Oh fine, you can stay in there”. Funny part of the whole thing is that they never once looked INSIDE the rig at all!
We passed the inspection and drove once more through the base to find the Family Camp. It turned out to be a decent place to spend one night, but I don’t think I would want to stay here for any length of time. The only good part is that it is conveniently located to the coast, just 41 miles to Pismo Beach, and about the same to Solvang. It is cheap in a part of the state where there isn’t much available, even with our Passport America pass.
After reviewing Streets and Trips and doing some internet surfing (I LOVE the MiFi) we settled in to a nice supper and an early evening of reading and sleeping as the fog rolled in and muted the waxing moon. Instead of traveling fast, we decided to go just another 200 miles the next day to another family camp in Monterey.
Next: Monterey Pines RV and Golf and don’t depend on what you see on the internet!
Miles driven: 267