Friday 28th October – The Art of Camping in the Rain

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I’d left the side door window open for air and had minor water intrusion, but the roof rack straps had let water in during the night, creating four separate pools of water. Will have to fix that, but it wasn’t raining heavily enough to justify immediate action. I heated water for a shower and managed to have a wash with the shower bag hanging off the side door. This is something else that needs improvement, but at least the water was warm enough. It was good to wash off the sweat from yesterday’s run.

I didn’t want to hang around in the rain making breakfast so I left camp in the hopes that I would find a dry patch somewhere down the road. I got my wish a half hour later at a turn-out that overlooked the coast and the fog rolling in and out, but there was blue sky above me. Oats for brekky and I inspired a couple to stop and do the same thing, but they were in a rental car with a camping stove. Amateurs.

Lots of driving down the coast that I’d been along a few times now, but I didn’t mind, it seems more spectacular every time, and I’d never seen it in the rain. I stopped off to see some elephant seals on the beach lying around and carrying on fighting and making noise. I swear they must all be close friends considering they’re lying completely on top of each other.

I made one more stop to correct the water intrusion through the roof rack straps (water had been dripping onto my shoulder). The solution? Snap lock bags and clips. Functional? Absolutely. It looks very temporary, but let’s be honest, that will probably be the permanent solution.

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I got to San Luis Obispo and was on for lunch and some shopping. I drove through Cal Poly University and found it was a huge campus. I was interested to see it because I’d met a couple that went there last year. I drove through the town of San Luis which has a historic feel to it but it very busy. I found a Grocery Outlet and made a mental list. I figured I’d check out the 99c store next to it beforehand and what a goldmine did I find! I walked out with two full bags of groceries for $27!!!! That amount would have cost me twice as much anywhere else. And the brilliant thing about it is because everything has to be 99c often the packaging is smaller, which is perfect for me! I stocked up big on veggies, cereal, bagels, wraps, lunch stuff, everything! I only went into Grocery Outlet for a few extra things and I was set. Very chuffed at that find, I’ll be using that from now on! You just have to ignore the clientele that frequent the 99c store. I got asked for spare change more than once.

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I went to Laguna Lake to have lunch, which was a grilled ham, cheese and tomato wrap, finished off with mandarins. I got the atlas out but didn’t really get a chance to look at it because I got talking to the park maintenance guy who was a local and commented on my bike which got us going. He told me a bit about the area and once he found out I’d worked at Tesla, we talked renewable energy and the way for the future. I need to be careful not to let Tesla define me. I pretty much drove the rest of the day, turning off Highway 1 and heading east on Highway 166 that went through the San Rafael Mountains then onto Highway 33 into Los Padres National Forest. The mountains looked dramatic with the rain clouds hovering over them and even more so when patches of light shone through. Luckily I was heading in a direction where the weather was clear. I drove through farmland and small towns until around 5:30pm when I started the camp search. I turned off at Apache Canyon road which was dirt but looked promising. Sure enough, a mile in, I found a choice spot right under a tree next to a dry river. Again, I checked the sandy ground before heading in, but had no trouble. I went for a short walk up the driver river bed as the sun set and watched a few cars go past before heading back to the van. It was a popular spot for off-roading, about a car an hour rolled in looking for camps similar to mine.

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I did some tarp improvements before cooking dinner (better to do them in the dry than in the wet). Dinner was refried beans with potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, onion and garlic. I was careful to only make one serving because I had no room in my fridge for left-overs! I also had a beer with dinner, mostly to make more room in the fridge, but also because it was a Friday night. Refreshing! I’ll have to get used to this way of food shopping and cooking. Also very high on the agenda is a comfy chair. I can’t spend every night sitting in the van, so I’ll be on the look out for a purchase in the next few days.

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