12/30/2013 Orange Grove RV Park Bakersfield CA 65 degrees F as the sun sets
Transiting California reminds me of all the reasons why I really don’t want to ever live here again. Yes, I am a California girl, was born here, as were each of my children. But I left for good reasons, all of which come to mind as we travel south on I-5.
California has so many areas that I love, that I wouldn’t want to have missed in my lifetime. If you are from the east and haven’t seen Big Sur, or Yosemite, or the Mother Lode in springtime, or Lake Tahoe, or the Lost Coast, or Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Monterey, the Central Coast ……I could go on and on. San Diego is rich with culture and has perfect weather. The Bay Area is vibrant and fabulous, with so much to see and do. Parts of California have wonderful places to live for lots of people who love it. Mo lived happily on the coast north of Half Moon Bay for 35 years.
Trouble is, we have been to all those places many times, and now are just trying to get THROUGH California so we can get on to the southwest deserts. This time of year 395 isn’t smart, and the coast highway 101 is waaay out of our way. We are moving fast so that we have as much time as possible when we get to the Gulf Coast and Florida. That leaves us with the one choice in California that is the least lovely.
Down I-5 we go, passing what I consider one of the creepiest cities ever, Stockton. The freeway through Stockton is like something in a third world country. Once beyond the Highway 120 ramp toward Sonora, the traffic thinned a bit and the road got a bit smoother. The foggy smog cleared enough that we could see a bit of the landscape around us. Just a bit, although at this time of year it was brown and barren and not so pretty Thought I would put in a pretty photo from our 2011 trip south to remind me of how beautifully seductive the state of California can be at times.
We did get through it. Mo and I taking turns driving, and by the time we got to our exit toward Bakersfield, I was tired of all those cars, just so many cars, all going fast and trying to pass each other and the trucks. I plunked along at 60mph, and decided to avoid the fray, but the lines of cars passing me in the fast lane were often bumper to bumper, moving fast, but rarely a car length between them.
Turning off toward Bakersfield, we negotiated our way around some back side streets trying to find Costco. Google Maps and the GPS don’t seem to understand fences and we ended up right by the gasoline bays, with a fence between us and them where the road ended. Hmmm….did manage to wind around to another highway and found the entrance, but it sure did seem silly. No such thing as a simple off-ramp by the Costco. According to my trusty Gas Buddy, it was the cheapest gas around at 3.37 per gallon, considerably less than on previous trips through this part of California
It really was a short easy day, driving only 275 miles or so to our afternoon destination at Orange Grove RV Park. We ambled in to a nearly empty park, planning to relax after washing the rig, only to find that the park was booked solid and we were led into overflow. Water and electric only, no sewer no cable. I didn’t have reservations, but tonight the park is completely booked. The owner said that this is their busiest week of the year. oops. good thing they have an overflow! In fact, after the overflow fills up they have a big space for dry camping as well. Nice that we didn’t have to do that.
Instead, tonight we are packed in like little sardines, lined up row by row with a lot of very friendly campers. Most of them are from California with another big contingent from British Columbia. A smattering of Washingtonians and Oregonians rounds out the mix. Everyone wants to talk, everyone is just so nice. We are out of practice. We live out in the woods and like to boondock. I love nice friendly people, but in small doses! It is just a different way of camping, of enjoying the RV lifestyle, and I know lots of people really love it. Others are famous for NOT loving it, and wouldn’t dream of staying in a crowded RV park
We could have just continued on to Joshua Tree, but it would have been a long day and I wanted oranges. We also will be boondocking a bit and we wanted to fill up with water and be sure the tanks were clean before we wander out into the desert. I have no clue if the campgrounds (dry camps) in Joshua Tree will be full. In years past we have traveled there this time of year and everything was empty, but with this park packed in and overflowing, I am a bit skeptical. Whatever happens, we will be ready for it. There are lots of boondocking sites nearby if things are filled up in the park.
In a few days we will be back with full hookups enjoying the pools at Catalina Spa in Desert Hot Springs.