Yesterday our plan was to drive south along the coast and nestle ourselves into a quiet dispersed site located in the foothills about 40 miles of Big Sur. We left HMB early in the morning with hopes of avoiding holiday traffic, but also in order to arrive to our campsite with ample time to celebrate America’s birthday.
What should have been a simple 3 hours or so of driving proved to be just the opposite. Who knew that on arguably the largest outdoor holiday of the year, hundreds of people flock the beautiful HW1 in rented convertible Mustangs and other ‘touring’ coupes appropriate to perfect sunny conditions. Add to mix, minivans filled to maximum capacity with camera-totting families and other tourists keen to stop at every scenic vista, and just for fun toss in lots of touring bicyclists* … our plans quickly went to hell.
But that was the good part of our day.
A few hours later than anticipated, we finally arrived to the Los Padres National Forest, and begin ascending towards the campsite. Unfortunately, the campsite was a bit too remote. In addition to a series of steep switchbacks, the road quickly narrowed, often single-land in size. More, I was increasingly concerned about our ability to actually clear the roads. Don’t forget, we were pulling our home – there is no room for error. Finally, I was increasingly concerned with the quickly rising transmission temperatures accompanying the very steep road.
At one point I actually pulled onto a turnout, unhitched the trailer and continued driving towards the campsite. While a major pain in the ass, this decision proved to be a good one as we would not have made it much further with the trailer as the roads were simply too windy to accommodate a truck/trailer combo of our length. Further, we would not have had any place to safely attempt a turn-around.
What a cluster-fuck.
After a bit of arguing about what to do next, Kelly and I devised a game-plan. We decided to visit s few of the state parks which litter the coastline in hopes that maybe – just maybe – one of them had a cancellation we could use. If so, perhaps we could salvage the weekend.
We are so naive – no way that was happening. This is the 4th of July – every yahoo and their dog is visiting a state park this weekend, no less the highly coveted parks literally a stones throw from the ocean. We would have had better odds finding an atheist attending church.
Inconveniently, about this same time we were running low on gas and fortunately for us we happened to be about 7 miles from the only gas station for nearly the next 60 miles. At $6.79 per gallon (for regular) they were happily selling to anyone buying. What’s not to love about capitalism and the laws of supply and demand?
Never again will we allow ourselves to be without a secured location on a major summer holiday. Recognizing failure, we accepted defeat with our heads low and decided to return home. Unfortunately, as captured within the pictures below, the traffic was horrific.
But at least the views were nice.
So to recap the day – we didn’t find any super awesome serene campsite, paid exorbitant prices for gas, and drove 320 miles to nowhere, only to return to our RV park full which is packed with knuckleheads burning campfires spewing more smoke than fire.
* While I am absolutely a huge advocate of cycling and one day hope to complete a major bike tour of myself, I felt many of these cyclists simply didn’t mix well with the added traffic to the already overcrowded HW1.