Categories
RV Travel

Pigeon Point

When we left Santa Cruz we thought we’d head up to Half Moon Bay for a couple of days before going on to San Francisco for Mitch’s kayak symposium.  But about 40 minutes outside of Santa Cruz we stumbled upon a private campground, a KOA actually, that was kind of in the middle of nowhere, relatively speaking, and decided to stay.  It turned out to be a great spot.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse, about 3 miles north of our campground.

The camping sites were fairly well spaced for a private campground and again, we could see the ocean from our site (if the campground hadn’t been mostly empty, we wouldn’t have had that luxury).  The bathroom/laundry facilities each had saunas and outdoor fireplaces.  The campground shared the property with a small lodge and so they also had a restaurant that served great local beer.

After unhooking we decided to explore up the coast and check out Half Moon Bay.  We really both wanted to see Mavericks.  A person would never just stumble upon Mavericks.  It isn’t signed.  Even when you get there, you are not really sure you are there.  You have to know when to turn off of the highway and then you drive through a very industrial-looking area and then make a couple of other unnatural turns.  Finally you see parking for a trailhead.  You walk close to a mile on a trail out to a beach and a headland with big doppler radar on top of it.  We saw a jetty that resembled the one showed over and over in the news clips and we saw a big sign that said the waves could be very dangerous.

Looking out over where the Mavericks surf competition is held.

Finally, we saw a rock with “Foo” carved into it (the name of the professional surfer killed here) and figured that it must be the spot.  The swell wasn’t big enough the day we went to have any organized waves so it was hard to envision what it must look like when it is working.  It looked like an extremely unforgiving piece of real estate, though.

Riding our bikes along Pacific Coast Highway.

The next day we biked from our campground up Pacific Coast Highway for about 10 miles and then turned inland 2 miles to a little town called Pescadero.  It was so cute!  We had a great lunch at the local market, bought some garlic/artichoke bread, and then went to a goat milk dairy just on the outskirts of town.  They had a dairy store open for sampling.  I absolutely love goat’s milk cheese.  Mitch hates it.  So I had a great time.  There were so many choices but I ended up getting a cranberry/walnut variety.

I’m standing in the doorway of the Harley Farms Goat Cheese tasting room trying to decide where to start.
This was a funky dining room above the tasting room. The dairy hosts “Farm Dinners” about once a month – $150 per person! That’s a lot of goat cheese!

We took a different road back to our campground which was a little bit of a risk since we forgot to bring a map with us.  But it worked out.  The road climbed and dipped and skirted a state park and then followed a creek through a beautiful forest until it ended about a mile north of our destination.

After our bike ride we went to the beach for sunset.  Can a day be more perfect?

Waves crashing over rocks at Gazo Beach.
Categories
RV Travel

Grasshopper Defined

In the RVing world, Mitch and I are grasshoppers.  Grasshoppers are the type of travelers who hop around constantly, stopping for just a day or two here and then a few days there.  We land, explore, eat and drink at local establishments, and then we take off to see what else there is down the road.  We rarely make reservations and, many times, we don’t even have a destination.

As with everything in life, there are pluses and minuses to this type of traveling.  Constantly hooking and unhooking the trailer, setting up and then dismantling, never knowing what to do with mail – all can get a little old.  Also, I’m sure we miss out on really soaking up the “vibe” of an area and meeting other travelers (we don’t usually spend any time in the campground).  Yet, for me, I can’t stand the thought that I might be missing out on something better.  It is kind of a sickness.  Not discontent yet never content, I’m always curious about what is around the next corner.  And we have stumbled upon a lot of great spots that we never would have found if we had mapped out our route ahead of time.

This trip, however, has been one of our less “grasshoppery” trips.  We stayed in New Orleans for five days, San Diego for an entire week, and finally, we just left Santa Cruz where we’d been for four whole days.  Four days is about perfect.  The week in San Diego got a little long for me.

We stayed in a campground just south of Santa Cruz called New Brighton State Beach.  The location was great – our spot was on a cliff that overlooked the beach.  We could hear the surf at night.

The view from our campsite at New Brighton State Beach.
This photo is from the cliffs above an area in Santa Crus called “Steamers”. It is directly across from the wharf. The day we were there the waves were lined up like lines of civil war infantry and the surfers were practically jumping off the cliffs to get to them.

Santa Cruz is much bigger than I thought it would be.  I was picturing a quaint beach town, but it is a full-fledged city.  The wharf area has an amusement park (why do people need amusement parks at beaches?  Aren’t the sand and waves enough?  Mission Beach in San Diego actually had a wave pool right beside the beach!!) and a casino.  People could pay to drive out on the pier where there were jewelry shops, and restaurants, and t-shirt shops.  It was just as easy to walk out, which we did.  The shops didn’t interest us but it was a great vantage point to watch the surfers.  I’ve never been able to actually watch a surfer catch a wave from above.

A local told us about a great paddling spot just a little south of Santa Cruz called Moss Landing that had something for everyone.  It is an inlet which is perfect for Mitch and me because I like flat water and he likes the waves and current.  We launched and then parted ways.  I went east, up Elkhorn Slough, and saw sea lions, mother and baby seals cuddled together,

sea otters floating on their backs while cracking shellfish over a rock placed on their stomachs, grebes, loons, ducks…  Mitch went west, out the inlet.  He caught a couple of waves, and then a huge wave caught him.  It tossed him like a javelin.  The nose of his boat jammed into the sand and he crashed hard.  He survived but his heavy-duty NDK Explorer didn’t.

This crack in the hull goes all the way around the boat, unfortunately. It also seems that the top and bottom of the boat have separated.

The day before we left we went on a great bike ride through Fort Ord Dunes State Park near Monterey.  It had been a military base and, similar to Cape Henlopen State Park near us in Delaware, had old ammunition bunkers built into the sand dunes.  The dunes were amazing.  Instead of sea oats like we are used to on the east coast, they are completely covered with ice plants blooming with hot pink and purple flowers.  From the top of the dunes we watched as paragliders floated past on the onshore breeze.  The trail from the park met up with another bike trail that went all the way into Monterey with more great views of the bay.  This coastline is simply incredible.