Urbanisation does have it benefits, more grocery stores, water availability and biking paths (with own detours and protection)!
Wilderness Lakes (rip off)
We spend a night between very expensive RV’s, where we pay the same for our 12 ft tent as for an 45 ft RV. When we say we will not use electricity, sewer or gray water dump, the answer is “you get the same space and the same facilitites, so you pay the same”. Next day we quickly head off towards Lake Elsinore.
Following small roads and seeing our first live coyotes. During the GDMBR we have heard them a lot, during the last days we have seen several as roadkill and now for the first time we see them on a construction site. The past days we have biked through rolling hills covered in satin fur, as the colour of the coyotes we see. We are still amazed about the house numbers in the USA, as we have seen in most of the States we have crossed.
Our second hitch hiking experience
Once Bundy Canyon Road becomes windy and rolling, traffic seems to increase (going to church as it is Sunday?) and the shoulder disappears. When we can pull-off we double-check if there is a possibility to bike further, which there is not and then decide to hitchhike the next 6 km. Seems it was a very wise decision! After 10 minutes we get a lift from Larry. While driving 60+ mph on a road (where 45 is the limit), he shares with us that on this stretch almost every week there is an accident because people drive too fast and you can’t really see what upcoming traffic is doing. Uhm, we are very happy he has saved us from biking this short stretch of terrible road.After he has dropped us off, we have a very early burger lunch as we need to recover from all the noise and traffic. Strange how biking with all this traffice and noise can completely wear you out after only 20 miles. Biking at the west side of Lake Elsinore we are lucky with our second campsite check, to find a spot on the beach and decide to stay two nights.
I still need to finish the baby blanket for Violet, the new baby of Filip and Alvine. Frank has already been very supportive during the past days by cooking when I was crocheting. I wanted to make something personal as Filip and his family are living South of LA and have access to much nicer toys and stuff than what we have seen the past days.
Weekend Paradise Park
This campsite is totally different from the posh RV sites such as 1000 Trails. Btw, did you know that there are RV parks that charge $60-300 per night? Well, if you can pay $500,000 – $1,000,000 for your RV, such daily rate is probably no issue. Here 80% are permanent (resident) campers and the rest comes in summer to launch their speed boats. When we say speedboats we talk about boats with up to 1200 hp and that can do 100-150 miles per hour.
Happy we are here during the week and we only see one of those race boats for 1 hour. Still it must be fun to be here for one day during competition! Sitting on the veranda of the clubhouse (need to charge a few items) we chat with quite a few of the people around here and they all have their challenging stories. One has Lupur and needs to relax, Kent is a retired physics professor and has lived in the Bahamas but lives in a trailer now. He is suffering from Parkinson and one of the neighbours says he has other problems to.
Michelle is 22, Mexican and had to leave her 4-year-old son with her grandmother as she needs to find work. Terry & his new wife were truckers in the past, but they now enjoy staying at the campsite. She loves to knit/crochet and he loves to race his speedboat. She gives me a fun pair of crochet slippers which keep my feet warm at night. All of them want to hear our story and where we are going now. Most of them discourage to take the Ortega Highway over the mountain as being very windy, narrow, no shoulder and a road for people living in this valley commuting to LA. Kent suggests to bike via Corona and follow the Santa Anna River Trail.
Don’t forget how to fix a flat
Off to Corona. Again Frank has a flat with 10 holes. At the first bike shop we change the tube and they are so sweet to even suggest some other places to check out mountain bike wear, as I am looking for bike shorts. It is getting hotter every minute and I really struggle with the heat, even being covered up and drinking a lot of water is not really helping. Frank is so smart to wet the head cover (Buff) we normal use for cold weather and suggests to wear this under my helmet instead of my cap. It does help and I can start to enjoy entering a different world, it seems as if turning the corner after the last hill, also meant entering a region with more green, beautiful old trees and flowers, more traffic & urbanisation.
Smells are overpowering. We entered Corona which is founded in 1889 at the citrus boom and stay at a motel as Frank wants to sleep in a real bed to see if his shoulders would recover from sleeping on the air mattress.
Santa Anna River Trail
After a good night’s sleep we are ready for the last stretch to Costa Mesa. The first part of the Santa Anna Trail is awesome, only dedicated for bikers and hikers, perfect asphalt, 1-2% downhill, tail wind, next to a river and in sunny weather.
What more do you want? Getting closer to cities we suddenly bike through a ghetto of tents, with borderline people. I feel like being in one of the scenes of Water World. These people collect all sort of things and it does not feel safe here We would definitively not camp here. Where do they get their water, as there is almost no water in the river and on some stretches the riverbed is just a concrete basin. Where do they go to the toilet as it seems that in September there was an outbreak of hepatitis A due to bad sanitary conditions. What do they do with their waste? I don’t dare to stop and take photos when biking through the ghetto, only when we are crossing a bridge I do take one. We see police cars and even an area being cleared, with trucks removing tents and other goods people have collected here. We understand later that this area is a mix between addicted people and people working in LA. Yes, working people, but who cannot affort to rent a house in this area as it is too expensive. The city is cleaning out the area as this was dedicated for recreational use.
We meet a recumbent biker who is 81 and will participate with his reclining bike at the senior Olympics. Hope we will still be as fit and positive at that age!
We meet him and his friend again later that day and they have a great idea of contacting the Mormon missions in Mexico to have local people looking after and out for us when travelling through the country.
Costa Mesa is a beautiful area and gives easy access to Filip and his lovely family in Corona Del Mar. I finished the baby blanket for baby Violet just in time and a berret and a beanie for Vallerie and Connor. Hope they will like them. On Thanksgiving we see them for the first time in 10 years.
How warm and sweet it was to cuddle Valerie and Connor, the 7,5 year olds whom we had never seen before. To hold Violet, who just turned 6 months and to chat with Alvine and Filip after all this time was so good. It was great to get an insight in how it is to live, work and raise kids here. Thanks for the lovely Thanksgiving BBQ, taking us back to our motel and picking us up for breakfast and some more chatting next morning.
It was fun and really super to see what a lovely family they are and how well they have settled in! We totally understand they love the life they have built here!
Further down the coast
Leaving late but hoping to be able to cover the distance to the next campground during a warm day. What a beautiful, green area with ancient trees, holiday cities and crashing waves.
First campground is full. As it will be dark before we reach the next campground so we accept Rick’s offer to bring us to the next campground with his truck. He lives in the neighbourhood and was road-biking back home when he saw us. We bike to the Mission and he takes us to 3 different campgrounds before we finally find a spot.
What a saviour. As this one is very far from grocery shopping and we now only carry food for one day, we will have to look for an other solution for the next period.
Yes this is a bike path! only accessible for bikers and hikers!
Also we realise we moved faster than planned and still have some time to spare before flying home. Lets first find a spot to plan Belgium/Netherlands & Mexico but also ensure to see the high lights of San Diego. Biking to Ocean Side we first come to a military area, accessible for all, or so it seems?Last part we are denied access as we are not Americans and were not screened. We need to take the Interstate # 5! We encounter sea fog and terrible noise from traffic racing by!
Ocean Side is a cute little coastal village with the longest wooden pier in the West Coast, where we find a motel so we can plan a bit for the next days.
More in the next blog!