June 18th, 2001: California Coastline and Getting Lost in Oxnard

Once again, thanks to my unorthodox camping arrangements, I was up bright and early the next morning before the local police were tapping on my windows. "Get to a real campground at a decent hour!" I told myself once again. Lots of beaches in the area, but most of them didn't open until 8am. Not too useful at six in the morning. Fortunately, most of them didn't seem to obey their own rules and left their gates open day and night. Noticed a few others had camped out in their cars and vans in the beach parking lots. A little too visible for my liking. I stopped off at a nice beach park that had public showers (cold, but free) and brought myself back to life. Also got to wade into the water and check out some epic battles between seagulls and pelicans!

After a few annoying sections of freeway, Highway 1 finally turned into what I hoped, a long and winding road down the western coastline. The car was acting fine despite the hot temperatures. Perhaps it was because the twisty road forced me to stay around 80 km/hr. Stopped for a late breakfast at the Whale Watcher Cafe in Gorda Springs. Lots of beautiful ocean views along the way. Unfortunately, since I was on a pretty tight schedule (had to make it to LA by the late afternoon) I didn't get to stop much. Instead, I set up the camcorder on a tripod in the passenger seat, strapped it in, and let it film the drive.

The car problems began once again as I hit the freeway. The temperature managed to creep up into the red while I wasn't watching. After sitting by the roadside for ten minutes waiting for it to cool down, I went in to a town called Los Alamos (not THE Los Alamos) and had a local mechanic check it out. He drained and refilled the radiator, checked a few things, but really couldn't see any problems. "Might be a thermostat problem", he said, but he didn't sound so sure. I thanked him for the help and continued onwards, taking things a little slower once more. Majorly behind schedule once again. The scenic route along the coast took an hour or two longer than expected and now this. I wouldn't make it to LA until late evening. Not wanting a repeat of last night's adventures in San Francisco, I figured I could either skip LA completely or take an extra day and try to make it up on the way back. So I crossed Yellowstone Park off my list of places to see and figured I could make up the day returning by a more direct route. So, camp half an hour outside LA tonight, explore the city on Tuesday, and start off towards Las Vegas Tuesday evening.
Knowing I wouldn't make LA that night, I stopped off at a nearly deserted beach along the highway and went for my first real swim in the Pacific. Beautiful flocks of pelicans flying (seemingly in slow motion against the wind) overhead, big waves crashing on the beach, and dolphin fins off in the distance. Quite a wonderful spot. Unfortunately, I didn't get anything on the camcorder so you just have to take my word for it. The rest of the evening was spent trying to find the campground. I knew just where it was on the map but couldn't figure out how to get there. Numerous wrong turns, missed exits, highways that seemed to randomly switch their names. I was sorely missing someone in the passenger seat who could read the maps while I drove. Finally tracked down the McGrath State Beach park and camped there for the night. Once again, I didn't get in until after dark. "Tomorrow night I'll show up early, I promise!" I said to myself.

on to Day Five...

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