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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Camp Kumeyaay

  1. Note: this is from a post I made to Aug. 14, 2010.

    Last week I booked a reservation at Camp Kumeyaay, at the end of Mission Trails bordering Santee.

    I like being prepared, so I loaded the bike Thursday evening with my camping gear (I admit I probably brought too much stuff). Yesterday morning I pedaled to work (from National City to Kearny Mesa). Even though I was loaded down, I clicked down one gear from where I'd normally be and I didn't have any problems, even when slogging up Ulric St. I'm not very strong, so if I can do it we ALL can do it. Here's the workhorse:

    Loaded 'n ready to rock 'n roll!!!

    There wasn't much to do at work (I do the books for a small shop, part time, and pretty much dictate my own hours). By 2:30 pm I was off to go camping.

    Clairemont Mesa Blvd to Santos St in Tierrasanta. Santos St to the 52. For those who haven't ridden the 52, you're only permitted on the north side. From there you can go either east or west. Now, I'd never ridden this stretch before and in my mind I envisioned a short, sharp downhill ride. Wheeee! and we're there!!

    Now for the reality: once you enter the 52 and head east, you climb for about a mile and a half. The Mission Gorge summit is only around 600 ft, but you'll know it as you slog in the hot sun. At the summit, though, you then get to coast downhill to Santee. It was great!! I felt so relaxed, even though I was zipping along at 34 mph, I sat back with only one hand lightly resting on the handlebars, enjoying the wind in my face. What an exhilerating feeling. In no time I was at Mast St.

    Mast St to W Hills Pky. Right on Mission Gorge Rd, continue until the sign indicates the turnoff for Camp Kumeyaay. The campground was a lot nicer than I'd anticipated. I found my spot and set up camp:

    Simple camp for a simple dude.

    By the time I'd set up my tent, stowed my gear, took a quick shower, it was nearly 4:30. Off for some dinner and beer. I headed east on Mission Gorge Rd on my now unloaded, much lighter bike. It was fun until you get past the connection to the 52/125... then I have to say, Santee is one of the most bicycle-unfriendly towns I've ever encountered. Mission Gorge Rd is 3 lanes each way and you're really taking your life in your hands trying to ride the shoulder. In no time I was riding the sidewalk... there was no choice. And when I reached the shopping center I'd been looking for I had to use the pedestrian lights to cross the street. It was ridiculous.

    Even in the shopping center (the Trolley Station (?)) cars were zipping around like they were on the street. Anyways, I hit Oggies 'n Beer. I ordered a pitcher of Torrey Pines Ale because a couple of buddies promised they'd meet me... for whatever reason they didn't show (I still have to call them and get the story) but I wound up drinking the beer and eating the beer-battered onion rings appetizer I ordered for all of us. By that time I felt a little sick to my stomach... I no longer enjoy drinking the way I did as a young guy.

  2. So back on the bike and back to the campground. Riding the north side of Mission Gorge Rd in Santee is even worse than the south side because in several areas the sidewalk ends and you're riding on rocks and dirt. Fortunately I'd put on tire liners so I wasn't too worried about a puncture, but it's something to think about.

    Back at the campground I took a twilight tour of Lake Kumeyaay, which is larger and nicer than I'd anticipated. There were people fishing and ducks swimming around. Bullfrogs croaking and even a few bats up above. It was positively idyllic.

    Back in the tent, I listened to some jazz radio (through earphones so I didn't disturb any neighboring campers) and eventually went to sleep, upset tummy and all. Sometime during the night I was awakened by a scritch-scritch... I thought I saw a family of raccoons slinking through my campsite but it was dark. For all I know they were skunks. But I drifted to sleep thinking they were raccoons and I was nervous they'd use their little humanoid fingers to disassemble my bike. Stupid, I know... but I wasn't thinking properly.

    This morning I slept in until 7:30 (blame it on my stomach). Finally I got up, broke down my camp and reloaded everything onto the bike. By 8:30 I was pedaling through Mission Trails. At that time in the morning it's beautiful: the mist sits on the hill tops, the greens are dark and verdant, the browns are subdued. People were enjoying walking and jogging and I passed a few other bicyclists... none of whom looked as if they'd been camping, though.

    Mission Gorge to Camino Del Rio North to Hotel Circle. Quick breakfast at 7 Seas (boy, that place has changed!) Down to the bike path, up on Pacific Hwy, through Old Town and down to Kettner, through downtown to Harbor, then a quick ride home to the Big Nasty.

    I had a lot of fun and I encourage everyone to go bike camping. It's cheap, it's fun, it's exciting, it's a great little adventure in the middle of your week!!

    Did anything go wrong? you may ask. Oh yeah, I only just now realized I left my camp towel (those real thin ones) at the campsite. I hung it from a tree branch to dry and this morning I pedaled off and left it. Damn! If anyone see's it, it's bright green and it belongs to Slo. Thanks.

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