Camping At The Ponderosa Campground, June 2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010, Ponderosa Campground, Big Sur, CA, about 1930 PDT

My wife's family set up a family camping trip for a week in the mountains above Big Sur, California. This campground was picked because it was the only one where Joan could find reservations for two adjoining campsites for a week. It is about 280 miles north of Los Angeles and 150 miles south of Vallejo, where the majority of the out-laws live.

My son Charlie rode up with us. Another son, Zack and his girlfriend, Jordan, will drive up in Sandy's car tomorrow. Charlie and Zack will then take turns using the car, Charlie will be visiting his girlfriend, Sara, near Santa Rosa for a day or two. On Friday, Zack needs to deliver Jordan back to LAX for her flight home. My other son, Richard, will be driving down from Cupertino with his fiancee, Cara, tomorrow to camp here for a few days.

This particular place has NO cell phone coverage or internet access at all. There are no hookups in the campground so we'll be "roughing" it, such as it is.

100612_ponderosa_campground_yukon_and_trailer_8651.jpgBy roughing it, I mean dry camping in my trailer which hadn't been used in 6 years. We got here with little difficulty except that my trailer brake controller is not detecting when I applied the brakes so I had to apply the trailer brakes manually with the controller. The brakes themselves work fine, it's just the coordination with the tow brakes that doesn't work. Everything else seemed to be working.

100612_ponderosa_campground_site_13_8652.jpgThe site itself is large but not really very shady. I parked the trailer as best I could to get some afternoon shade.

There are lots of bugs here, mostly non-biting flies. However, SOME of them do bite, and with a vengeance. Several have already paid for their sins. About sundown, the mosquitos came out and they drove us into the trailer.

100612_ponderosa_campground_sandy_8657.jpgThe rest of the family is camped in an adjacent site with considerably more shade. Sandy is on her way back there in this photo with an apple for dessert after a sumptuous dinner of a polish sausage cooked on a propane grill.

There are three of us here now, myself, Sandy and Charlie, and ten more in the other site. Grandpa Charlie, Sandy's sisters Betty, Becky and Joan are here along with their collective children, AJ, JJ, Rachael and Brianna and a family friend, Anya. Becky's husband Terry is also here. By the time that Zack and Richard get here with their friends, there will 17 total camped in the two sites.

100612_ponderosa_campground_sandy_and_stream_8655.jpgThere is a stream along one edge of the campground, it has not been stocked this year and probably will not be stocked. There might be some fish left over from last year, but it wasn't looking real good for fishing.

We don't have specific plans of what or where we are going to do or go, that will be played by ear as the week goes by.

Sunday, June 13, 2010, Ponderosa Campground, Big Sur, CA, about 2030 PDT

100613_ponderosa_campground_campsite_16_8658.jpgBecky, Terry and Brianna left this morning as Brianna is still in school so we were back to 10 people.

A little after noon, everybody was trying to find spots in the shade, they were few and far between. However, the group in campsite 16 left and ALL of us quickly dragged our chairs over there because that site has deep shade until late in the afternoon. Eventually, the group elected to rent the site for 5 days just for the shade and parking. Nobody wanted to set up a tent on the site because there is an active bee hive in a cavity in an old oak tree on the site, but while we were sitting there, nobody was bothered by a bee.

In the late afternoon, when the shade disappeared in that site too, virtually everybody retired to Charlie's RV. He fired up the generator and AC so almost every piece of battery powered electronics was plugged in and charging too. After about a half hour, Richard, my son, and Cara showed up with their dogs.

100613_ponderosa_campground_mini_me_8659.jpgTheir new puppy, as yet unnamed, was the highlight of the party. She is an Australian Shepherd and in this picture, she is just 9 weeks old.

100613_ponderosa_campground_murphy_8660.jpgRichard's other Australian Shepherd is Murphy, about 5 years old. The puppy and Murphy get along very well together.

About 1900, Zack and Jordan finally showed up. They got lost at least once and got stuck in traffic once but they made it just as dinner was wrapping up. We had a tent, air mattress and sleeping bags for them. With the new additions to the group, we are back to 14.

Monday, June 14, 2010, Ponderosa Campground, Big Sur, CA, about 1430 PDT

Charlie took Sandy's car and left to visit his girlfriend this morning so we are back to 13. He'll return tomorrow evening.

Today, we took 2 cars and 11 of us down to the Big Sur coast. Betty took her kids in Grandpa Charlie's tow car, a Honda known as "Toad." Sandy, Richard, Cara, Zack and Jordan, along with Richard's dogs, Murphy and "TBD" for the 14 mile drive over a 3000' ridge and down to the coast on a steep and twisty, 1.5 lane road. There were no guardrails and steep drops most of the way. When we got there, we found it was fogged in and cool. There was a campground right at the bottom of the road, but it was full on a Monday. There would be no chance of finding spaces there.

100614_ponderosa_campground_trip_lucia_coast_8664.jpgAbout 5 miles north of the junction, we found the little "town" of Lucia. This was the only named place between Monterey and the Hearst Castle. It was just a restaurant, cabin rental, gift shop and small grocery store. Prices were pretty high there but it was a nice place. This view overlooks their patio and the coast beyond.

100614_ponderosa_campground_trip_lucia_group_photo_8663.jpgI managed to catch the group in one photo. From left to right they are Jordan, Zack, Rachael, Sandy, JohnJohn, AJ, Richard (with Murphy) and Cara (with the puppy). Betty and Anya aren't in the photo. Just as we were leaving, the sun was starting to poke through the fog.

Betty and her kids took Toad and went to find someplace where the kids could wade. We left maybe 10 minutes later and didn't see where she went. We took a loop through the campground but didn't see the car so we drove back. She wasn't here either so she might have found somewhere to let the kids cool off.

When we got back, I checked my barometric altimeter and found that our campground is at about 1600' elevation. It was in the mid 80's and the sun was very hot. In the shade of campsite 16, it was breezy and cooler, but the bugs were intense and drove us indoors. They weren't biting, but I was getting buzzed on both ears almost constantly so I retreated into Grandpa Charlie's RV (where the AC was running) to cool off and escape the bugs. Since his generator was running to power the AC, I could charge my computer also.

Update 1740 PDT

Betty has returned. Apparently, they went for an afternoon adventure. They drove back right by the campground and went east and north to King City, hung around there for a bit and returned. We hung around during the heat of the afternoon in the RV with the AC running.

100614_ponderosa_campground_trip_richard_and_cara_and_puppy_0096.jpg Now that it is approaching evening, it has become much cooler and being inside the trailer or even outside is much more tolerable. Richard, Cara and the puppy have escaped the bugs by taking refuge in the trailer.

100614_ponderosa_campground_trip_zack__jordan_and_jenga_tower_0104.jpg Zack and Jordan have been playing Jenga blocks. This is the highest Jenga block tower that I have ever seen. Zack blew it on the next round.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010, Ponderosa Campground, Big Sur, CA, about 1249 PDT

It's become real quiet around here. The campground is nearly empty and Betty took here brood home this morning. The bugs and heat were too much for her. Richard, Cara, Zack, Jordan and the dogs piled into Cara's truck for a trip to King City to find some ice, cell phone coverage and more anti bug stuff. It's just Grandpa Charlie, Joan, Sandy and I in this part of the campground. Charlie is due back this evening.

The four of us are just lounging in the shade doing pretty much nothing except reading and napping. Life is good.

The afternoon drill is that when it gets too warm or the bugs get too bothersome, Grandpa Charlie retreats to the motor home and fires up the generator and the AC. The rest of us drag our toys over there to charge up when AC power is available. By dinner time, the heat has subsided and we venture outside to make dinner. The mosquito coils that Cara bought yesterday, along with the 98% DEET bug repellant seemed to have kept the insects at bay during the dinner time last night so that Cara is going to scout for more anti bug stuff on their trip to King City, about 40 miles away.

Update 1930 PDT

We had a surprise when Charlie came back from Santa Rosa. He brought Sara with him. They left her car in Vallejo so that she will go back with Grandpa Charlie. Zack and Jordan will be leaving tomorrow or so to go back south, but not to LAX. Instead, she will be getting a ride back north to her home in Rocklin, CA.

Charlie and Sara set up a tent in campsite 16 so we are actually using it as a full up campsite.

Cara cooked some tri-tips for dinner, it was excellent. Then Sandy and I retired to the trailer for the evening to get away from the bugs. We were burning mosquito coils and candles and the bugs were not as bothersome as they had been.

With this last change in campground population, we are back to 10.

The puppy has acclimated to Murphy, a much bigger dog. They were rough housing this evening and the puppy was holding her own. However, she is no longer white. She'll need a bath when she gets home, maybe sooner.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010, Ponderosa Campground, Big Sur, CA, about 1930 PDT

I found a bottle of beer bread mix under the trailer seat and some beer. Both were the "Moose Drool" brand that we probably picked up in Montana in 2004. I made up the mix and baked it this morning. It was good and was promptly consumed.

100616_ponderosa_campground_trip_lizard_8670.jpgThere are lots of small animals running around, mostly lizards like this one and ground squirrels. This lizard was rooting through the leaf litter in search of bugs, he found a lot of them.

100616_ponderosa_campground_trip_zack_and_jordan_0116.jpgZack and Jordan have taken off in the Escape to head to our home. Jordan will be on her way to her home from there by the time we get back to our home.

100616_ponderosa_campground_trip_charlie_and_sara.jpgCharlie and Sara have taken refuge from the midday heat along with the rest of us in campsite 16. The breeze felt nice. The beehive in that site has not been a problem, the bees have not bothered anybody.

100616_ponderosa_campground_trip_richard_and_cara_8679.jpgRichard and Cara brought a solar shower. This is a black plastic bag that holds about a gallon of water. When left in the sun for several hours, the water can get really hot. Hang it from a tree, and you have an instant hot shower, at least for as long as you conserve water. Richard is getting his hair washed. Cara got her's done next with hot water left over.

Since Zack and Jordan left this morning, our population is down to 8 which is where it will probably stay until we break camp on Saturday morning.

I ran a battery charge test this evening. I directly connected the partially discharged trailer battery to the truck with conventional jumper cables. I used my clip on ammeter to monitor the charge current. Initially, with the truck at idle, the charge current was 25 amps but it rapidly decreased as the battery voltage picked back up. After a half an hour, it was down to 7 amps or so. It appears that a few minutes of recharge to a dead or nearly dead battery can pump a day or two worth of usage back into a dead trailer battery. This is good to know.

I made a pork roast, baked potatoes, peas, and hamburger helper for dinner. It virtually all got consumed. Sandy and I retired to the trailer early to avoid the bugs.

Thursday, June 17, 2010, Ponderosa Campground, Big Sur, CA, about 2030 PDT

I made a batch of biscuits this morning, they came out well. At lunch, I made Sara a "mexican" salad, she liked it. The rest of the crowd filled up on hot dogs of various kinds.

Then Richard, Cara, Charlie, Sara, the two dogs, Sandy and I piled into my truck and went to King City, about 40 miles away, for a variety of errands. I contacted Zack on my cell phone and he made it home in good order. Richard got the results of the appraisal on the house he is trying to buy and since the appraisal came in lower than the offer price, he submitted a lower bid via FAX at the UPS Store in King City. I raided the Dollar Tree store for trailer goodies and the Radio Shack for a 10 amp 3AG fuse for my inverter. We blew the fuse as we were leaving the campground as we were trying to charge too many things at once. It can't handle two laptops with dead batteries. On the way back, the inverter worked and we were able to finish off the charge of two iPads, an iPhone, a Palm PDA, a Nintendo DS and put some charge into one computer.

Back at the campground, the deer flies were getting bothersome so we retreated into the trailer while things calmed down.

Grandpa Charlie is not feeling particularly well so he is going home tomorrow morning. He'll be taking Sara up north with him so that the major draw keeping us here will be gone. We'll leave sometime in mid morning for the trip home.

The rest of the excitement this evening was about dinner. I cooked another batch of Hamburger Helper (Mongolian Beef, marginal by itself, good with enough hot sauce) and yet more hot dogs. After dinner but before dark, we did a general campsite cleanup and packed away what we could in preparation for our departure in the morning.

Friday, June 18, 2010, Ponderosa Campground, Big Sur, CA, about 1930 PDT

We got on the road about 0900 and drove pretty much straight home with only a stop for gas, In-N-Out burgers and a pee break. We got here about 1700 after the slow drive and heavy traffic from about 10 miles before our turn on the 405 from the 101 then on the 405 all the way home. It was during rush hour. We got 10 mpg hauling the trailer.

I parked the trailer on the street because I am going to haul it over to an RV shop to get the brake controller fixed sometime this week. Sandy and Charlie unloaded it while I ran out on some errands.

Overall, it was a good trip. Except for the bugs, it would have been a great trip.

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© 2010 George Schreyer
Created June 12, 2010
Last Updated June 18 2010