Leaving Pinnacles National Park, we had visions of sun, sand, and surf (I recall a Beach Boys song even started playing in my head) as we drove to Grover Beach, CA the second week of February to spend some time with my Aunt Virgie and other family. Grover Beach is along the central California coast, between Pismo Beach and Arroyo Grande and not far from San Luis Obispo (verbally abbreviated and pronounced like “slow” by locals) and the wine areas of Paso Robles (“Paso” to the locals) and Atascadero.
Aunt Virgie, and my cousin Stacy and her husband Marty and their three kids, share a large property that, conveniently for us, includes an RV parking spot with full hookups. It worked so well for us that our original intention of staying for a week or so turned into three weeks as we enjoyed family activities, toured the area, and worked on some motorhome projects. We were so busy that I, unfortunately, left my camera behind far too much and so didn’t get many good images.
To summarize, here’s what we did while enjoying our stay along the Central Coast:
– Numerous wonderful family meals and conversation, including with my cousin Dawn that also lives nearby.
– Spent time with Nancy, a family member from Bend, OR that was staying at a lovely apartment in nearby (and very beautiful) Shell Beach. The image at the top of this post is a Shell Beach sunset.
– Checked out my cousin Chuckie’s work on a 60’s fastback Mustang that he and his dad Chuck are restoring in Santa Maria. I also enjoyed seeing and learning about Chuck’s restored/hot-rod Oldsmobile and other vehicles. Thanks for the great Mexican restaurant meal, Chuck and Dottie.
– Went on a wonderful wine tasting excursion to the Justin and Opolo wineries in Paso Robles and the lunch at the Firestone Walker brewery. Thanks to Chuckie’s daughter Kendall for setting that up and using her inside connections (she works at Justin) to make it special. I was glad that Chuckie and his wife Lisa were driving and navigating!
– Took multiple long walks on the beach and into Pismo and explored some of the nearby RV parks. We saw clusters of Monarch butterflies that were still wintering in their usual Pismo eucalyptus tree grove. Unfortunately, it was late in their season and overall the butterfly numbers were way down this year, so we didn’t see as many of them as we’d hoped.
– Explored nearby Avila Beach after a walk along the Bob Jones Trail through a beautiful, verdant landscape.
– Marty helped me fix a clearance problem on the sliding tray in one of our pass-through storage bays. He had just the right tool for the job (actually, he has just about every tool for any job) and I really appreciated his help in fixing this problem that had been vexing me for awhile.
– Marty and I replaced Aunt Virgie’s leaking water heater. Like most jobs of that type, we had to make multiple trips to the nearby hardware store in order to end up with just the right plumbing connections, but it was still a fun job for me.
– Kathy replaced a piece of tile in our motorhome that was rubbing on an adjoining cabinet and creating an awful noise when we drove over rough roads. Our RV’s tile is no longer available, so we found a close match at Lowes and I found a shop in Pismo that would cut the tile to the exact size we needed for only $10. Kathy did a terrific job of making the repair look like an original part of our motorhome. Best of all, the noise is gone!
– We enjoyed attending New Life Pismo church along with family for three Sundays. Great teaching and music, wonderful people.
During this stay two issues cropped up with our motorhome roof that distressed us a bit at the time but they turned out to be a blessing in disguise and led us to one of our subsequent extended stops. More about that in another post.
So, yes, we did get to experience sun, sand, and surf, and a lot more, and it was with some sadness that we left Grover Beach for our next stop. And, darn, that Beach Boys song is playing in my head again!
We were excited about seeing our dear, long-time friends Lloyd and Karen and their two kids, and Lloyd’s Mom, in Camarillo (Ventura County). The drive down the coast and through Santa Barbara—passing by my alma mater, UCSB—had great views and was fortunately free of traffic congestion. We settled in for a five-night stay at Steckel Park in nearby Santa Paula, checking out the interesting aviary the county operates there for no additional charge.
We hiked around Corriganville Park, a “ghost town” site that used to be a movie set for western films and was once a popular tourist attraction, and saw the results of the fire that swept through the area last fall. Fortunately, most of the park was spared. We also enjoyed an afternoon with Lloyd and Karen in nearby Ojai, a cool “artsy” community in a beautiful foothills setting. Lloyd was driving a new Porsche Panamera loaner car while his Boxster was in for service, so it was fun to experience a car of that high caliber. We attended church with Lloyd and Karen, went beer tasting at Institution Ale, and enjoyed a wonderful home-cooked meal prepared by Karen. Thanks, you two!
Tips for camping at Steckel Park: Most of the sites in the RV loop are very close together, but sites 6 and 7 have good separation and have good views of the surrounding hills and trees. Site 7 is probably the best, but it has a trail that comes out in the back of it. We stayed in site 6, which was just long enough for our motorhome after we hung our back end over the dirt behind the paved pad; our car fit alongside the pad. Site 6 was easy to back into and get level on and there isn’t another site on the driver side.
Next: Getting younger at the Fountain of Youth