Valencia and Pismo Beach, California

At the end of last week’s post, I said Pismo, California, was next up and our last stop. That was not entirely true. I forgot about having to stay in Valencia for the three-day President’s weekend. There had been no problem procuring sites since we left on January 24, 2020, and the holiday weekend slipped my mind. At the last minute, the only spot I could find was at Valencia Travel Village RV Resort, and they required payment for three nights.

To make the best of the situation, we drove to Fort Tejon State Historic Park. I guess my slippery mind was still fully engaged because I left my camera behind. That’s okay, I used the best camera I had, the one in my pocket.

On our many trips up and down Interstate 5 through the Grapevine, I would see the signs to Fort Tejon and wonder what was there. We took this opportunity to find out.

Fort Tejon State Historic Park

Fort Tejon became a state park in 1947, designated as a California Historical Landmark in 1954, and added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1971. We stopped in at the visitor center where informational panels tell the historical story of the park and displays contain artifacts and recreations.

Displays at visitor center

Edward Fitzgerald Beale, Superintendent of Indian Affairs in California, was instrumental in the establishment of the fort in August 1854. It’s mission being to “protect and control the Sebastian Indian Reservation,” and to protect white settlers from raids by other Indian groups. Ten years later, it was abandoned.

Edward Fitzgerald Beale

Then we took the self-guided tour around the grounds where foundations outline the footprints of buildings. Some of the buildings have been restored, and apparently, there are plans to restore others.

Picnic area
Rocks, cut tree trunks, and a split-rail fence outline the footprint of the kitchen
Kitchen inside the commander’s house

The website lists the Frontier Army Days event scheduled for May 2, 2020. It would be wonderful if the State of California was back in business at that time. More than likely the event will need to be canceled due to the dreaded virus.

Chicken coop path
“Got food?”
400-year-old Valley Oak Trees dot the landscape

Not ready to head back to the trailer, we drove up to Mt. Pinos in the Los Padres Forest and found a place to park and eat our lunch.

Campground closed

Then we stopped at Pyramid Lake, which is part of the West Branch California Aqueduct of the California State Water Project. The lake is fed with water from the San Joaquin Valley, which is pumped through the Tehachapi Mountains. The water then flows downstream to Castaic Lake. Both lakes supply water for the Castaic Power Plant, a 1,405-megawatt pumped-storage hydroelectric plant.

Pyramid Lake

There are 90 tent and RV camping sites at the Los Alamos Campground. Tucked far away from the freeway in lower Hungry Valley, it’s quiet and rustic. It includes drinking water, toilets, a dump station, and a camp store. This is a place we might consider staying overnight in the future if we need to.

On Monday, February 17, 2020, we left Valencia Travel Village for Pismo Coast Village RV Resort in Pismo Beach. We liked the wide spaces, access to the dunes, and other amenities. The grassy area and large shade trees were a bonus. It was a perfect place to spend the last three nights of our trip.

Plenty of room, grassy areas, and shade trees

Monarch Grove Park was a short walk from the resort on the other side of Pismo State Beach North Beach Campground. We encountered a few butterflies while there and a few that had wandered over into the resort, but most of the population had already flown to the next stop on their migration.

End of the monarch season

In a list of things to do, I found Price Historical Park and Anniversary House. We like touring old homes, so off we went. Too bad the house was all closed up, and we could only walk around the property.

Price Anniversary House

A need for lunch led us to Avila Beach and the Custom House for plates of fish and chips. My mouth waters as I remember biting into the crispy crust to reach the tender moist cod inside. It had to be the best I ever tasted.

Custom House Restaurant serves the best fish and chips

Pismo Preserve is a popular place for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Owned by The Land Conservancy, the 880-acre preserve is a private, not-for-profit organization that recently opened for recreation. There are 11 miles of trails and roads on the property that traverse through coastal-hill terrain ranging from grasslands to a wooded oak canyon and streambed.

Wild mustard in bloom
View of the parking lot, picnic area, water, restrooms, and the ocean from a hill
Amenities at Pismo Preserve
Along the trail
Oaks dripping with lichen

When near the beach, tide pools are fun to explore and Margo Dodd Park seemed to be the best place for the activity. I checked the tide chart, but somehow got the time wrong, so we arrived when the tide was already coming back in. No worries, though, we scrambled over rocks, then watched the sun sink into the horizon.

A peek through the rocks
Snails in tidepool
Pebbles and Rock
Searching for an occupied pool
Arching bridge
Eroding shoreline
Goodnight sun

For our last meal in Pismo Beach, we stopped in at Ada’s Fish House for a dynamite shrimp dish in a wine and butter sauce served with au gratin potatoes and asparagus. Jon ordered the fish and chips again and said it was as good as what we had at the Custom House. My mouth is watering just thinking of our meal at Ada’s and wish we could drive there for another visit.

Patiently waiting for food
For the best seat in the house, arrive early at Ada’s Fish House

That concludes our Winter 2020 adventure. We are patiently waiting at home until the dreaded virus releases the world from its grip, allowing all of us to travel once again. May you all be well during this crisis and keep busy with planning your next trip.

Stay safe

Sparks Nevada

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We began our forty-four-night journey on July 6, 2016. Yellowstone National Park was our primary objective, and we would try to include the southwest corner of South Dakota if time permitted. Our first stop was Sparks, Nevada, to spend a few days visiting with friends and exploring the area. The Sparks Marina and RV Park served as our home base. We had found this spot during our last stay in Sparks. The paved roads, cement pads, artificial turf, and wide spots all within walking distance to the marina and lake impressed us. Our visit, this time, did not disappoint. We enjoyed walking along the two-mile marina and lake trail, greeting pet owners and their dogs, and watching the ducks floating in the water before fresh baked pastries and brewed coffee enticed us to stop at Lighthouse Coffee for breakfast.

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Paddleboards on Sparks Lake

 

Their patio had a great view of the paddleboards and kayaks (available to rent) skimming across the calm waters. Volleyball courts and playgrounds for children, along with the water sports, make this park a favorite place for everyone.

 

The next day we visited Pyramid Lake and Museum making a loop northeast out of Sparks on Route 445, then back down Routes 446 and 447 to connect with Interstate 80. The lake is within the 475,000 acres of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s Reservation and home to five different species of fish including the Cui-ui and Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.

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Used through Creative Commons License 3.0, #81876: Sunlight on Pyramid Rock, copyright 2015 Tanya Wheeler, http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/photos/81876

This is an excellent place to get away from the city for a day of fishing or to stay awhile and camp. Pyramid Lake Marina and RV Park offers twenty-five sites with full hookups or beach camping with no hookups. It was refreshing to see that development of hotels and casinos had not spoiled the natural beauty of the shoreline. The tribe focuses on preserving the recreational and cultural resources of the reservation, which includes the lake and related fisheries.

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Front of Pyramid Lake Museum

The  Pyramid Lake Museum and Visitors Center in Nixon has informative displays and exhibits about the tribe.

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Rear of Pyramid Lake Museum

 

 

 

 

 

While driving the roads to the lake and back, we commented on the bumpy ride and questioned what the department of transportation did to make the roads like washboards. Were they like this because of the snow?  When we hit the freeway, we knew what was wrong. We had experienced the same bumpy ride twice on our trip to Texas earlier in the year. This time, both rear truck tires had bulges that looked ready to burst, evidence the tires had separated.

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At least, we could get them both replaced at the same time. Goodyear sent us to Discount Tire for the warranty adjustments, which took most of the next day. So much for sightseeing around Reno and Sparks.

Next stop? Elko, Nevada.