Sunday, April 5
Picking up the rig at the Ford dealer on Saturday went smoothly enough. The only hitch was that during my walk around, I discovered they had not reinstalled the brass trie stems I use. In fact, they only installed stock stems, making it almost impossible to air the tires without special equipment. They told me the bushings had been damaged on mine and there wasn’t time to get any others ordered and delivered. Slightly suspect, but no way for me to know for sure. This means another visit to The Tire in Ridgecrest. Fortunately, this happens to be close to the way we are going. The $2,600 in repairs are all being picked up by Cordelia RV (I’ll believe it when I see it).It being Easter Weekend, we really didn’t know where we should try to camp. Most all our plans included being well situated long before the weekend. Since we had to punt, Mary found a rather close possibility in Lake Nacimiento – a county park and lake resort just 16 miles west of Paso Robles. A call found there was plenty of space in the dry camping area ($22/night).The reservoir is at 28% of normal, so the water was low, but also about a mile from the regular campground. The dry camping area lay all along the bluff just above the waters edge – better view and more open. We could camp anywhere in the large open space. Doubtless this area is underwater during full lake conditions, but now it made for a pretty nifty camp. The low water didn’t seem to stop Spring Breakers and other watercraft enthusiast from enjoying what was there, so we certainly weren’t alone, but we were grateful to have our high perch over the lake, and it turned out to be quite nice.
On Sunday, we actually went back to Pinnacles for the day. Mary called them the previous night to see if anyone had turned in my glasses that I had apparently left sitting on top of the Rav as we left the campground for a short hike earlier in the afternoon. Apparently, they were thrown off – another in a long line of brain farts and bonehead moves I’ve made so far on this trip. We retraced and searched everywhere we’d been just before that, but never found them. I have back-ups, but they are not quite the same prescription. We reported the loss at the ranger station, then took off.But someone had found them! Mind you, this was 3 days after we left. The case was found somewhere in the campground loop road and turned in. They were still inside the beaten and battered case I use. I was amazed that broken down thing didn’t spring open and scatter the glasses all over the road when it hit the ground, but they were undamaged.Since we were there, we decided on another short hike as a leg stretcher before heading back. It was very busy this Easter Sunday, and the day use parking lots were all full. Shuttles were now being required to access the trails. We didn’t want to do the most popular trails anyway, so opted for a portion of the Bench trail that meanders around the valley near the creek. I parked in the tent camping loop where the trail starts – not really allowed. I chose a spot out of the way of the sites, so as to not attract too much attention from rangers. We set out, and not 30 steps from the car, a young ranger in a truck asks us where we parked. I told him and he said all the sites were still occupied even though they seemed empty. When he realized where and how I parked, and that we only planed a 2 hour walk, he said no problem. If you are going to break the rules, break them gently – sometimes it works out.The walk itself was quite nice. We only saw a handful of people along the way, and it was very pleasant and quiet walking among the giant oaks and quickly drying grasses and wildflowers. Even the turkeys seemed at ease. Heading back again to Lake Nacimiento, we took an alternate route and found some very nice mustard pastures with oaks, some lovely rolling hills and a cool area of crop fields. Arriving back at the lake, we found a huge gathering of people and cars and tents all grouped near our rig. They were a lively but well mannered group, and they hung around until 6 pm, but the evening was ours alone.
A Little Time on the Coast
Nothing went wrong today! Well, almost nothing. We left Pinnacles, now camped at Pismo Beach on the coast – a distance of around 60 miles. We pulled in, found our favorite site unoccupied and got set up. After lunch, I decided I should check over the word the Ford service did. I felt a little paranoid thinking I needed to do it this time, but I vowed to be more attentive to the rig, so I did it. All looked well with the dually’s, but on a whim, I thought I’d check the passenger side front wheel. When we were towed, the driver removed one lug from that wheel so he would have 4 for the dually. Five of the lug nuts by then had either popped off or were lost when the entire lug was sheared off.
At Ford, I told my service guy about it and watched him make a special note to check it. At pick up, I asked again to be sure it got done. Yes he said, and in fact they had checked all the wheels, he said. Great, I thought, no need to check it. Back at Pismo, when I removed the wheel cover, one lug nut was missing. I think they never even checked it. I immediately emailed Ford, but to date there has been no reply. I could call, but I feel it is pointless. We were going to write up a great Yelp review, but now it will be somewhat less. I managed to find another Ford dealer who ordered them for me and now I have a few extras. Tomorrow we hike!
Montana de Oro State Park
April 8We had a nice rain here all morning yesterday and used the rest of the day for chores. The rain dried out quickly in the afternoon and we had a nice stroll on the beach. Today we drove out the Montana de Oro State Park, looking for some more hiking. We found the Islay Creek Road Trail and thought it might be nice. It headed inland into a canyon that promised a waterfall and old barn as destinations. It wasn’t a spectacular walk, but did have a good array of wildflowers along the sides of the road. The wide former road/trail was easy to walk, with enough ups and downs to keep up puffing, but the advertised payoffs never really materialized. The waterfall was inaccessible, and the barn farther than we wanted to hike on this now very warm day.
We turned around, hiked back and had lunch at the visitor center before deciding to do another hike, Dunes Trail, along the bluffs above the ocean. Surprisingly, these dunes were covered in grasses and loads of blooming wildflowers. Away from the edge it would get quite warm – even hot, then cool nicely as we approach the edge. Amazing California coastal views pop into view as we round a bend, then disappear and become rolling hills of grass covered dunes once again.
We finished the day with a visit to the campus at Cal Poly. Mary wanted to check out some architectural experiments done by students and placed over a large hilly area in one section of the campus. Unfortunately a parking permit is required anywhere on campus and since it was late and we were tired, we chose not to stay. We plan on being in Pismo a couple more days before heading out to Red Rock State Park, which is nearby to Ridgecrest. We have to be in Ridgecrest on Tuesday to have the tire stems installed.