Red Hill, things are getting real

Down one of those roads I don’t go down, pot holes, rough road, mud, dirt and narrow and no way to turn around until your at the end.

Slow and steady I plod along as trucks and sadans pass me right and left.

Then the left hand turn where the other cars and trucks go straight but I’m turning. This would be my out, but wide turn and go back where you came, but no. Curiosity has got me and I’m going.

I’m not sure if this is the end of the beginning of something huge. Dilapidated old ranger truck, tables, life guard chairs, roads and swimming pool, but at the same time surprisingly well maintained camping spots. The boat ramp is now about a mile from the water and the land is being irrigated and farmed.

The hill itself is very interesting, I am even hearing there is an old volcano in the area?!? Some of the rock is black but most is red with salt ash. The whole area felt very unstable.

Bat cave morning

Instructions a couple miles past the state park pull off at the cell tower walk across 111 over two sets of train tracks and a mile straight across the desert. No one else is parked and the cell tower barely had enough room for a car let alone my rv, but there was something a little past that what could be a turn off. Now for the walk off into the desert and totally worth it!! Caves, rocks, cliff edges and of course caves! Tunnels, rooms and holes so much fun to investigate. Feels like a super cool playground only for the cool kids.

Welcome to the desert!!

Wow what a difference a mountain range makes! As I came out of San Diego city into San Diego County we switch to high elevation. The campground was at 2700. To the west the mountains were plush, green and vibrant the mountains to the east are less dense with more jagged rocks and more sand than trees. A storm rolling over the mountains cover the tops with clouds and dense fog.

The morning is quickly becoming afternoon and I decide to run to warmer elevation.

A winding drive through amazing terrain. Coming up on a bunch of cars near a huge pull off we spot a herd of desert big horn sheep. So fun!! I love spotting wild animals.

Near anzo-borrego dessert the trails start popping up one right after another and then the boondocking is on all sides up on the hills off In the distance and right off the road. I need to replenish my supplies before anymore of that, so on to the salton sea.

Final stop for the south west coast

On the road early after a night in Wal-Mart. My first adventure is this trail that goes along the old highway 1 bridge. Found a mimosas trees, one of my favorite!!


Ventura was the last real area to be able to just pull off the highway for access to the coast.

Ater that tons of construction. Many of the parking lots that I used when I used to live here were dilapidated with no entry at all. Areas with out no parking signs are often crowded, super uneven, right on the highway, or a huge drop off to the shoulder. When I lived there I knew exactly where all the spots were and would be able to slow down for them.

The beaches weren’t even all that spectacular and the traffic in the little towns becomes almost unbearable.

I found a rest stop just north of San Diego on the 5. It’s the only rest stop in quite a while on all highways and it was crowded!


he bottom of the country is way different then the top. The closer I get to the end of the 1 and even the 5 the more concerned I get about being able to turn around. I’m not that inclined to go over the border. Most times I have gone into an area in South Cal its been quite the maneuvering experience to navigate back out and often I don’t even try.

Exit 7, 6, 5 how close am I gonna go… Imperial beach. Let’s check it out.

I am immediately met with a no parking vehicles over 6 ft tall on public blah blah blah. I did however find an amazing bird sanctuary that borders San Diego. Easily parked, biked around the sanctuary and really enjoyed the last little bit of the southern western mostest I’m gonna go 😉

Franklin Springs, a place to soak

After my hike in big sur and my most enjoyable time watching the largest rookery of elephant seals during their early spring mating and birthing season. Hundreds of squaking, talking, yelling, hooping and hollering Seals I thought I was walking up on a party and it was a seal party. They wiggle and jiggle across the sand. Napping along the way, nursing pups and wresting males.

Sun has set and I need to quickly find a place for the night and a realize I’m also in hot spring country!!! Franklin Springs about 45 minutes away seemed like just the ticket. Up and over the canyon roads I remember from this area. Through a brand spanking new town to a eccentric old school hippie hot mineral spring!

The second night around the fire is when you learn the real story, or the story told as real.

Third generation still owns the land grand pa bought to try to find oil, he found hot water instead. He was 70. He was old, arthritic, grouchy and miserable till the day he fell in the water.

Next day he stated building a pool to contain the water from the gushing geyser. The pool was built to let the water spill off into what is now a large pond big enough for skis. There is also talk of relation to Ben Franklin and any other Franklin before the fire ends. Before long after the completion of the hot tubs and pool, people come from all around to soak in the magic mineral hot spring that cured cranking old Mr Franklin.

Big Sur hiking willett loop

Up early and ready to do a nice 5 mile hike if I turn around as suggested. There is a campground up there the ranger told me, but that’s about 5 miles in and the last hunters back there had to get emergency services to get out. Armed with binoculars, water and whistle I head on ward.

It starts as a nice wide trail and then there is a fork. The sign points trail to the left a much smaller trail. It’s wedged in some rocks. I’m a little concerned. Was this a joke.. I took the smaller trail.. .. .. Right away met a beautiful waterfall with huge moss covered rocks and was happy with my trail. Another sign, pack it in pack it out. Must be on the trail.

Next section runs across a grassy area where I needed to be a billy goat to stay on the miniscule ledge. I put my arm to feel safe, all reality I’m sliding to the bottom on a misstep.

Back under brush in the woods, I see a bullet casing. Other humans. It’s the trail.

For what must be the next 5 miles I wonder when they stopped maintaining the trail and the way the switch banks happen you come to the dead pines a coupe of times. I am still back and forthing across the face of the mountain. I can barely see the ranger station and slaf now. Back into the woods, over and back over the falls a couple times. I end up at the campground.

Go back or go forward. If this was unmaintained I figure it wasnt that bad and i was fairly easily staying on the trail.

As I come across the falls a final time a few feet of rocks and at the top. Made it!!

I look for the trail out nope, then the trail I came from, nope. It’s gone. As I try to force myself Back up the hill to find the trail my body is going down the hill. There is no stopping it. Just going down, down, down, then I grab a tree. I know I have to get back on that trail. I forge through the thicker brush back to the falls and finally find the trail, but with my little downscursion I cut off a bit of the trail and didn’t see the camp ground coming back. I’m super ok with that. 🙂

The billy goat scrambles were not as intimidating going back. Once on the trail I get my hop and skip back admiring the flowers, mushrooms, sounds, fragrances and sunlight.

I make it back to the fork where this crazy up hill questionable trail started and have to see where the other end goes. Hoping It’s not another 10 miler I decide to go to just the top of the hill at least. Oh my. Wow. Glad I did. A waterfall garden with stone walls and bridges back and forth across the rippling stream, I hung out here and relaxed from my gruesome, exceptional feat of a hike!! I didn’t do the willett loop. But I think I came close enough and No body had to rescue either.

I did end up with a nasty war wound on my shin and three tick hikers. Let’s just say these are no east coast ticks, when they bite they mean it!

First side road all nighter with questionable legality…

Super excited my day ended just before the last 13 miles or so of big sur on a pull off for the handful of national hikes that I luckily happened onto after having just had finally a super enjoyable stretch of the 1.

I just made my dinner, have no service, no radio stations, no tv, no nothing, but the ocean waves crashing down blow the clifs and frogs, crickets and owls bring rhythm to the night.

My day Started in a Wal-Mart at 6 am ready to hit the sunrise at marina beach state park. I guess 6 am was a little early for the gate guy, also ended up being a good thing. With no traffic I U’ed it around to 6 nice parallel parking spots right in front of the park and the on ramp to 1 South. Time to make coffee.

Coffee, phone, and binoculars I stumbled on a cute dune path to the far south side of the beach and all smiles walk back down the beach. I think I was literally singing all day.

Met a Fisher boy right away on the beach and quick hello. Next a longer conversation with another fella, then a quick good morning with another smiling woman just starting her walk and finally for marina beach casual conversation the park employee with great info about what lies ahead.

Still early and I’m on my way to spot two. Pulled off and completely rearranged my house. When the moment strikes and you have such an amazing view.

On the road again, I got a bunch of the California sweet only to encounter her sour which is the condition of route 1. Can’t blame anyone the sea wants the sand back and it’s under the road.

I caught what I will now refer to as my road eddie. A pull off just before the cute town that up till now I have only gotten to drive through after missing some parking and then there not being anymore and the town is in rearview.

Adorable!!! Big sir bus cafe. An old stop back in the day, but it has had a fire, a flood, a road wash out and now new owners. All the old artists are gone but the guys painting the old bus, a published illustrator, and the gallery artist. Chatted it up with the illustrator, and the gallery artist, both amazing and we traded art for trinket. Enjoyed an ice cream with another happy musician artist and also finally said hi to the Canadian guys who rented two mustangs in L.A. to drive the 1. I ran into them on my pull off once before then passed them two or three times videoing each other. Fun. Everyone today was just so fun.

As I grip through the last half of the 1 through big sir I see another pull off and again working out today for a ravine climb and hike to cliff top for the sunset. Halfway over to the cliff I meet the national parks worker who told me of the hike on the other side of the road. 13 miles total, but only 2.5 to the dead pine trees is maintained. I asked if its worth it to do it. He said absolutely. On his word he wouldn’t say anything I can stay in the pull off for the night, he can’t speak for the cpd but I’m taking my chances.

Third times a charm… Golden gate Bridge.

Not exactly a charm, but unforgettable for me and maybe for some folks paying attention.

We love Google maps, but when you make a mistake there isn’t exactly anything your gonna do with a 26 foot long 12 and half foot tall vehicle when you realize your doing it wrong… .. ..

After the wonders of the end of the first segment of the 1 South bound prior to San Francisco I had directions to an over nighter rest stop with a view of the good ole golden gate Bridge. Big, huge, ginormous mistake. It was the north bound rest stop. And probably one of the biggest tourist attractions in the US on a Saturday morning about 11 am with an apparent bike a thon I tried not to slaughter during various segments with me down the 1 and across the bridge. At least the bridge had a bike lane.

Get off on ext 4.. Something, basically the next exit off the bridge after the toll and right past $5 parking to the left back on 1 over the bridge north bound.. Wait… No…. Fine. Enjoy it. It’s the golden gate Bridge. Now it says take exit. No number just exit. Somehow there was a space. Actually 4 at the end of the parking just before you leave across from the bus parking/no rv parking and I could even leave room to get out. It was free parking. And the connection point to walk across the bridge. You go on the south bound side for bikes. Im almost an expert on it now. ;).

Getting back around was thankfully easy. Don’t even have to merge just follow right off and on the exit under the tunnel? I know I there are tunnels everywhere too. Back over bridge and through toll. You don’t stop, so the bill I guess is coming. I’m a little scared. At least parking was free. Sniker.

Sad thing is the bridge is not gold or particularly petty and the view from this direction was terrible. It’s bouncy going over, too. Biking over might have been fun, but not on a Saturday.

Found gas for a reasonable price down the road, so that’s plugged in the map and ready. Take exit 4… What, no, Damn.. I’m not going back over that bridge again, so in a panic against my maps wishes I went straight. Mistake number 3… 4 lost track. I’m barely hanging on as I navigate Lombard, I think, along the bay past tons of go right, go right, no truck, stay out, finally make a right navigate an even tighter road with cars parking angled out to fit more cars, but car butts at varying lengths, yeah.

Finally 1 south straight head, don’t do anything just straight, yes!!

Next 12 miles to the gas station on Kelly rd and the 1. Tiny place on a corner with a light. I had to go around the block the come in from the other direction and hope the two filling were leaving and no one else had turned in, took way longer to turn around with a school and more cars parked at angles and no truck signs, back to Kelly, finally. And my luck again holds out on this at least, I slid right in. We are talking between 60 cents to a full dollar difference and I was putting at least 150 in. I apologized and smoothly got out and headed back south. Next stop a beach…

Montara beach to be exact. Beautiful, clean and more sand drawings!