We left later than we expected (as usual), and arrived at Avila Hot Springs Campground around 4:00 pm. The place was packed - not with campers but with people playing in the pool and water slides and such. We check in, are told where our site is,and that in order for us to use the pools and such it will be $5.00 each. $10.00 isn't really a big deal, but we're already paying $30.00 for the site and we just assumed that we'd be able to use all the facilities under that fee. The showers are free though and we'd already planned tp go to Sycamore Mineral Springs so we head off to set up camp.
When we get to the site we find a small space in a row filled with 7-10 other full campsites. All the sites are like parking stalls but maybe about twice as long and wide. There's no place near our site to park our car. There's no table at our site. We go back and ask if we can be moved. Our new spot is in a open area with no shade and no level ground. There some fire "pits" but they aren't at all contained. There are just some broken gray bricks here and there kinda around it. We set up our tent on the only semi level patch of ground we can find. It's really bumping ground - not grass lumps, the bumps are made of earth. We decided this is SO not worth $30.00. We call San Simeon Campground to see if we can come early. We are told that our regular campground is full but we can stay at Washburn. We talk about it and decide to get our money back and stay the night in Washburn.
Let me make a note that Washburn is considered "primitive" - no showers, pit toilets, no lights. We're very much into flush toilets and showers when we camp. The fact that we were willing to stay there (plus drive the extra hour to get there) shows how bad Avila Hot Springs Camp Ground was. It smelled of sulfer (which we kinda expected), there were two camper bathrooms (and two non-camper bathrooms) and just walking by with the door shut you could smell the mildew from the showers. Did I mention that the midewy bathrooms were down the hall from the restaurant kitchen? EW! And the non-camper bathrooms were dirty and smelled really bad. Bye Bye Avila Hot Springs!
We decided to first go to Sycamore Springs and unwind in the mineral spring tub. $30.00 much better spent! We had our own private tub for an hour. We had the highest tub on th hill! Starlight. The tubs are all out doors and you feel like the only people in the world. Technically these tubs are filled with the same mineral water as the campground - but there was no smell! One of the neatest things is as soon as you walk through the gift shop back doors you transported to a stress free, serene place. There's even signs that say "Smoke Free and Cell Phone Free area" ! It was just wonderful!
We decided to have dinner at Fat Cat Cafe. Scott had fish and chips and I had a bacon and mushroom omlette. Quite a bit of food, but pricey. We spent $30.00 (huh I just notice that the whole day seems to revolve around $30.00 :-)) and the food was not incredible - just okay. Not as good as we remembered.
I just realized that I didn't mention that we've done Sycamore Springs and Fat Cats before. The day we got engaged we spent time at Sycamore Springs, using the tub and considering having our wedding there (it's gorgeous!). And the same weekend we had breakfast at Fat Cat Cafe.
After dinner we made the hour drive to San Simeon and set up camp at Washburn. It was $15.00 / night (so we SAVED $15.00 for the night!!) and it wasn't that bad. I wouldn't want to do it for more than one night, but it was okay. I think we had a much better night there than we would have at Avilia Hot Springs Campground.
The original plan for this day was to leave Avila and head north to Morro Bay. In Morro Bay we were going to go on the SubSea Tour and then have a picnic lunch before heading North via Hwy 1 to San Simeon. But we were already in San Simeon!
We ate out light breakfast (we were planning on going on a boat and thought lighter would be better for tummies - well at least mine), took down our tent (again- we figured out that we had put up and taken down that tent 3 times in 19 hours!) and went to see if we could check in yet at the other campground (note- San Simeon Park has 2 campgrounds Washburn and San Simeon Creek) where we had already paid for two nights. Not enough people had checked out yet so we decided to head to the shore and our bench and watch the water for a while.
When we got back my favorite campsite was still being "lived in" so we took the site we had last time. We set up camp, and had our picnic lunch at the site. We then took showers and decided to go for a walk.
We walked down the creek trail in the Ranch Trails. It was really pretty. Not really what we expected. We thought we'd be closer to the creek. But it was pretty. There were some fairly steep hills and the trail it self has gravel to mark the path so the steep hills going down were a bit scary for me (after falling down on the last nature hike we did in the area - the story is in our last trip journal from June) but it was still fun. It was hotter than we expected, so we didn't go as far as we would have it the weather had been cooler.
After the walk we went back to the site for a nap and a read. Eragon the movie is coming out in December, so we're rereading the book.
Next we went into town and to Main Street Grill for our pre-sunset onion rings. The Main Street Grill has the most AMAZING onion rings! When we were at Fat Cat Cafe the night before we noticed that their menu listed their onion rings as "the biggest and best on the Central Coast." We didn't try their's but we saw a few people who did. They were huge, but the batter looked like it fell off when you ate it. I can't say if they are good or not since we didn't have them, but we've always LOVED Main Street Grill's onion rings. Eating them before we watch the sunsets in the summer has become a tradition. We eat dinner after the sunset- so we're eating way late and we need something to tie us over between lunch and our late dinner.
After our snack, we set off for out bench again to watch the sunset. It was still pretty early and Scott wanted to check out some other benches (there were people near our bench and then girl who was smoking took it after we started walking away). We found a new bench! There are many benches on this trail, so this really isn't suprising. This bench was pretty cool. The seat was very wide (when I sat with my back against the ack on the bench I couldn't bend my legs like in a typical seat), which made for nice snuggling and the bench it self was very unique. It was made out of drift wood and big rocks.
While we were sitting we were looking through the binoculors. We looked at the otters (you could hear them hitting their dinners on their bellies "knock, knock, knock") and the pelicans. Since it was still pretty early we decided to walk a bit.
While we were walking we saw a coyote! She was stalking ground squirles (though we didn't see her get one) and was doing it fairly close to the trails. At one point she was walking on the trail across the loop from us and it looked like she was following these people and their dogs! Then she turn down a trail that cut through the loop and looked like she was coming towards us. We didn't stick around to see if she made it all the way to our side of the trail. We're thinking not and that she went about looking for squirles for her dinner.
We watched the beautilful sunset, took pictures and spent some time together. After that we went back to camp, lit our first fire of the trip and made our pork fajita dinner.
We woke up this time and had our typical camp breakfast of breakfast burritos, showered and decided to go down to San Simeon Beach. Scott wanted to look for more big rocks to put around our willow tree and I wanted to read a bit on the beach.
Scott didn't find any rocks and I read a couple chapters. Then we played in the water a bit. For August the water was still SO cold! I realize it's the ocean and it doesn't really warm up much.
We decided to have lunch in Cambria and had mushroom and canadian bacon pizza at Round-Up pizza place. It was pretty good and for a small pizza and LOTS of water it was only $10.00.
After lunch we did our walk-about town and visted some of our favorite stores, people and pets. Our first stop was the Village Wizard. This is Cambria magic shoppe and the Wizard is a great and fun person. Scott wanted a specifc new toy to use at his calls. I can't say what it is in case someone reading this gets their copier fixed by him. The store was on the busy side and plus The Wizard seemed to be in a conversation we didn't want to interupt. So we told him we'd come back.
We went next door to The Yew Tree- one of my favorites. I always wish we had brought more money, cause there's so many things that I'd live to buy there. There was this one necklace that was a knot work of a heart and trinity knot. It was so pretty! I'm still on the look out to a feline celtic knot work something-anything.
When we went back the The Village Wizard Scott finally got his toy! The Wizard took him "behind scenes" to show him how to do his new trick. We also bought me some more Peppermint tea. We told The Wizard how much our cat Teeter likes to eat the tea from my hand. Everytime someone walked around in the store The Wizard "shot" them with the Megazooka. It's like getting hit with an air ball. Scott said later- only The Wizard could get away with doing that.
We then went to the East Village and went to Hearts Ease. I love standing in the the little wind chime gazebo and that day it was windy so I didn't even have to touch the chimes. You stand there surrounded by all these chimes and you can actually feel the vibration. I get migraines and that gazebo doesn't hurt me at all. I don't know if it's the same for other head ache sufferers.
We then got gelato at the little stand next door and then went across the street to eat it. While in East Village we checked to see if 7 Sisters was open (not on most Tuesdays) and visited Abner at The Garden Shed.
Abner was sitting in a box on the counter and I sat there and gave him "luffs and pets" while Scott wandered around. We found out the Abner originally came from HART- the local animal shelter. OH BTW Abner is a gorgeous orange cat. We also found out that he's about 9 years old. He's so sweet. I always need to visit him. The store is really neat too. Lots of eccectic things for the garden and beyond!
We had dinner early this time. I made stew and read while Scott napped. The stew was the perfect thing for dinner because the wind picked up. After dinner we went to our new bench with sweat shirts, jackets AND a blanket. Yes it was THAT windy and cold.
Back to camp after another perfect sunset. Another fire. And another night of chatting and spending time.
The saddest day of all our trips to Cambria/San Simeon is the day we return to Fresno. This was a little different. We always hate to leave - but are lonely for Teeter and Emmie, so it's bittersweet. This time we were not looking forward to going back to the stress of our home but were looking forward to the last day of Scott's time off, and spending the day with "G" seeing Cars, having lunch and going to the Feline Foundation.
After packing up camp, showering and checking out we headed to Scott's favorite restaurant Old Stone Station for lunch. Scott had fish and chips (his usual) and I had Mushroom Swiss Veggie burger. You have the choice between potato salad, green salad, fries and pasta salad. Next time I get this I need to ask for easy on the dressing- which is a balsamic vinegrette, it's not pre-mixed.
After lunch we tried The 7 Sisters again. It was open!! WOO HOO!! Another store I wish we had a bunch of money to spend. When we first got there we didn't see Rusty the Dog, but after a while he showed up and played with Scott and a stick. I forgot to bring dog cookies again.
After the 7 Sisters, Scott picked some flowers and we went to the Cambria Cemetary. I always feel draw to this place. It's a beautiful cemetary. Very unique and personal. I always need to visit this one grave. It's of a child who died over a hundred years ago and was only 2 months old. It just makes me sad and miss the baby that we lost. I realize that this baby died over 100 years ago, but I wonder if anyone besides his parents visited him. I realize too that there's a difference between a baby that lived for 2 months and one that was lost before it's parents even knew it exsisted, but still...
Scott and I left flowers on Willie's grave and talked. Then we headed for the long trip home.