2012 July 8 - I recently went camping along the coast of California at Phieffer Big Sur State Park to get out of the San Francisco Bay Area and breathe some smoke. The neighbors at our next door site were friendly enough when we arrived, but there seemed to be some differences in how we communed with nature. The first sign was their Coke Zero, the giant red bag of Fritos chips, and the two cushioned, raised chairs their designer Scotties (dogs) sat on. The clincher was when they used a remote control to close the door of their VW SUV from 60 feet away...
We brought our own wood with us, and it was a good thing because after paying $35 a night for the dusty dirt patch we slept on, they were charging $10 a bag for wood, a bit higher than I had ever seen it sold for at any other campground. The fire pits were steel pipes and sat at least 30" high so when you made a fire it had to be a really hugh blazer to see the flames or get heat from it, unless you stand over it like a group of homeless men standing around an old oil drum under a bridge.
Another neighbor visited to buy some wood and I gave them some of ours for free. This helped with public relations later when they had a loud radio and I had to visit them to let them know "I HAD NOT COME TO THE WOODS TO LISTEN TO HIGH-PITCHED, LOUD OBNOXIOUS RAP MUSIC." They turned it down temporarily, but I had to tell them two more times. The third time I learned that drunk kids have little respect for anything if they are set in their ways.
A bottle of Merlot was my personal choice for the evening, with Brie cheese and French baggettes thinly sliced. I also had fresh cherries. My partner ate a chocolate bar, some Fig Newtons, and half a box of mixed parmesan and cheddar Cheeze-Its. I suggested she put the Brie on the Cheese-Its and add a little salt and a flourescent orange cheese ball, to make a three-cheese sandwich. What’s so funny is that she is the "salad and fruit rabbit" who refuses to let us buy hot dogs. She has just beat me into mentioning that the gallon tub of cheese balls were mine, and I did eat a fair share of them. We both had cold, awful fried chicken from Safeway, too. Compared to Costco, Safeway chicken is like "an outhouse vs. a domestic bathroom."
The park does have hot water showers, if you bring quarters with you to keep it running. But why they can’t put a fence or wall around the propane tanks instead of ugly cyclone fencing, I just can’t figure.
The blue jays were little raiders, loud and obnoxious, but they sure were pretty. There are hundreds of little squirrels living in holes in the ground and under the trees—cute, but little scavengers in their own right.
So now we are low on firewood and I will have to buy more, or procure some illegally. I find the sign “No Wood Gathering” to be an offense to the consitutional rights of the wood, but I am in no position to fight for their rights out here because the rangers outnumber the campers.
There is definitely no quiet out here in the woods at this commercial camping site. Animals, children, birds, squirrels, cars driving by, the crackle of firewood from the neighbor’s pit.
This park was originally built in 1931–1933, I assume as part of the CCC project that President Roosevelt operated. It is under a major renovation, with strong bridges being built across the river (which is pretty pristine, I must say—the river, not the bridges), and they will be redoing a lot of the campsites, it appears. Why there isn’t another CCC project going on in this nation, I have no clue.
I hope to see you on the road... maybe in a campground. Next trip is to Montana to do the Lewis and Clark County Fair in Helena, MT then the Park County Fair in Livingston, MT. I then take a week to explore the nation as I drive back to the Bay Area again.