No Reservations

It’s July. In California. It’s probably a good idea to make reservations. But that’s just a level of commitment I’m not ready for. I stopped in San Luis Obispo for a work meeting and then headed down the coast towards Los Angeles. But where to stay the night?

Here’s what you end up with when you don’t plan ahead.

Lake Camping


I drove up the mountain road towards the lake and pulled up to the entrance. The guy in the booth said I should just drive around and pick a spot I liked then drive back and tell them the number. I asked what he recommended that would be pretty and relaxing. He got out a map and studied it. And then he got a red pen and circled the spaces he liked. “Don’t get this one. It has problems.”

Map in hand, I drove around. And ended up here.

Lake Camping

The only problem with parking on a cliff is that no matter how many times you check the emergency brake, you’re pretty sure you’re about to roll right off into the water. (I did not roll off the cliff into the water.)

I had heard (er, read on the internet) that Carpinteria Beach had great RV camping, so the next day on a whim, I drove on over. I had also heard that the reservation window opens six months in advance, and all the spots are snapped up within ten minutes.

I drove up to the window. “Today is your lucky day!” said the woman at the booth. “We just had a cancellation not more than 5 minutes ago!” The way it works (other than driving up at 2pm right when someone cancels) is that at 9am, you put your name into a lottery. They process the cancellations and then call out names. I guess I should have played the real lottery because I stayed three nights (I didn’t try my luck for a fourth).

Carpenteria Beach

In the morning, I looked out my window to these guys:

Carpenteria Seals

The second and third nights, I had spots without hookups, so I was really roughing it. I had to have dinner here:


Can you imagine?

I found this little coffee shop downtown and camped out there for a while to work.

Coffee and wifi

Totally coincidentally, some friends of mine were in Carpinteria on vacation so we met up for brunch. In case you all thought I was becoming a recluse and shunning people and forgetting how to use speech and stuff.

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