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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

San Elijo Campground

Well, there's nothing like camping at or near the beach.  The morning I pedaled away from Dixon Lake (Feb. 5, 2011) I thought about riding to San Elijo with the goal of camping there that night.

There were, though, a couple of things I wanted to accomplish on the way.  I wanted to check out Guajome Park as a potential future camping trip and I wanted to ride the San Luis Rey River Trail into Oceanside.

After breakfast and side trip to the bank in Escondido I was on my way.  I followed Mission Ave. into San Marcos where it eventually became S. Santa Fe.  I followed that right on through San Marcos into Vista and continued into Oceanside.  Eventually I reached Guajome Park.  Very nice.  Great camping spots although the emphasis does seem to be on RV campers.

After some exploring I found the dirt trail leading under the 76 and to beginning of the San Luis Rey River Trail:

Dirt trail that goes under the 76... not a nice place when wet

The SLR River Trail, a pedestrian/bicycle path, is cement, lined for "traffic lanes" and very well maintained.  And well used.  And I imagine much beloved by the local folks.  But, to my taste, a little too nice and boring.  Still, it was a pleasant ride to Oceanside, particularly just south of undeveloped Pendleton property.  At this time of year the bare hills are naturally verdant.  This is how California looked to the original missionaries in the late 18th/early 19th centuries.  A beautiful place.

At one point I pulled to the side of the trail and munched on a donut while enjoying the view:
The SLR River Trail pedestrian/bicycle path; the view is toward the southwest (i.e., the bike is pointed southwest)
By now my ass was pretty sore.  A future topic will be equipment and whether my particular setup suits bicycle camping (I'm going to suggest: not entirely).  Anyway, I started riding again and by following the SLR loop to Pacific St., I eventually made it to the beach at Oceanside. 

I followed Pacific St. quite a way but eventually got onto the Coast Highway and rode south through Carlsbad and into Encinitas.  By a little before 4:00 pm I made it to San Elijo Campground and asked at the gate about the bike-n-hike rates.

The rangers told me San Elijo no longer offers bike-n-hike... rather, it was "taken away" from them... because it was being abused by the local winos.  Thus is the reality about bike-n-hike, it's too good to last for long.  So I thought.

But they checked out my gear and, apparently satisfied that I was for real, they allowed me into the park for $6.00!!!  Hot damn!!  That's great.  I set up camp:

San Elijo campsite

Then I made a quick beer run across the street.  I also got a Subway sandwich (a turkey sub for breakfast, if you can handle that) and returned to camp to enjoy the mellow vibe.

I watched the sun go down while cooking some pork 'n beans (normally I don't eat pork or red meat but I make an exception for camping: anything that comes in a can and is cheap!) and sucking down some beers.  A few too many.  I'm sorry to say I got a little shit-faced.  Oh, I didn't make a problem; I was very quiet but I sat there like a statue at the picnic table enjoying the stars and listening to the ocean and recounting the past two days' ride, things I should have done differently, things I plan to try... you know the drill.

Finally, after a trip to the head I found myself shivering - it must have been close to midnight - and I crawled into my tent and bundled up.  And slept very well.  I surprised myself.  At some point I woke up and initially thought I was at home.  I was very warm and comfortable... but a little groggy from the beer.  Still, the constant soothing sound of the ocean has a way of lulling you to sleep.

Incidentally, arriving at San Elijo my mileage was about 105 miles meaning I had traveled some 60 miles from Escondido to Cardiff.  Meaning that particular leg of my trip was some 15 miles longer than from National City to Dixon Lake.  I hadn't expected that... but that also might explain the aforementioned ass-soreness.

The following morning (Sunday Feb. 6, 2011) I got a cup of coffee at the Bull Taco cafe (located in the park), ate half the turkey sub, and had my remaining donut.  All in all not a bad breakfast.  Then I packed and prepared for the ride home.

And then my sister-in-law called.  She has a house about 1 1/2 miles from the campground.  She thought she smelled gas.  Could I come over and switch off the main gas valve to the house?  I stammered something about calling SDG&E but apparently she had done that and they couldn't be there until the following day.

Later my wife called: she wanted us to check the gas leak.  An hour later I met her on the Coast Highway; I loaded the bike and gear into the Jeep and we drove to her sister's house.

Thus concluded my killer 3-day weekend.  We watched a little pre-game TV for the Super Bowl... nothin' interesting there.  So we drove home.  Not the way I expected to conclude my ride but, still, Friday and Saturday were great!!

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