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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dos Picos

Dos Picos Campground is located just to the west of Ramona.

Dos Picos campground is truly one of the loveliest facilities I've encountered in San Diego County.

Friday, March 4, 2011: Having packed all my gear I left for work as I normally do on Friday.  I traveled from National City to Kearny Mesa, a distance of some 15 miles.  

I caught up the books at the shop so I wouldn't be too swamped on Monday.  At about 11:00 am I was off to go camping.  My route was Kearny Villa Rd. to Miramar Rd., which becomes Pomerado.  I followed Pomerado to Scripps Poway Pkwy and proceeded east.

At about 12:00 noon while riding on Scripps Poway Pkwy I was hungry for some lunch so I stopped at a Costco lunch court.  I got two of their large slices of cheese pizza, one of which I ate and the other I saved for supper.  I also got a "Very Berry Smoothie" because I felt I needed the uber-calories to continue the ride.  I also drank loads of water.

I was right about needing the calories.  I'd never ridden Scripps Poway Pkwy before; the day before I had figured, "How hard can it be?"  

Ahead of me I saw a broad section of empty road curving up a steep grade.  I thought to myself, "I wonder what poor s.o.b. has to ride up that?"  As I came around a bend I discovered that the poor s.o.b. was in fact me.  So I shifted to my easiest gear and I pedaled... and pedaled... and I eventually made it.

Almost to the summit... puff puff... of Scripps Poway... pant... Parkway

Looking back from where I came... this is the view west down Scripps Poway Pkwy.  Great god what a slog when you're carting a load of camping gear!

While fighting my way up that hill I watched an enormous bird ride fly overhead.  It was so large at first I thought it was a condor.  Like a condor the feathers were black but it didn't have that vulture's head.  It definitely wasn't a red-tailed hawk.  I suspect it was an eagle.  Damn it was big!!  Good thing with all my gear I looked like too much trouble to eat.

After reaching the summit of Scripps Poway Pkwy, if I thought my uphill battle was over I soon learned otherwise.  I proceeded north on the 67 which, in addition to hills, provided a nice brisk headwind to defeat ol' Slo.  Gotta admit, boys and girls, I was not loving life at this point.

Eventually I climbed the final hill and was greeted by the "Welcome to Ramona" sign... recognizing of course that the actual town of Ramona was still a few miles to the east.  Thankfully from this point I coasted downhill and eventually to Mossey Grade Rd., which I then followed to Dos Picos County Park.

Like most camping parks in San Diego County, Dos Picos caters primarily to RV'ers and folks pulling trailers.  Tent campers - in MY experience - are the exception rather than the rule.
I had reserved a "tent only" spot and I appreciated that the tent area was partially sand, making it very easy to pound in your tent stakes.  Also I was right next to a burbling creek and its pleasant music helped me to sleep soundly that night.

Probably in my impatience to reach the campground I managed to pull a muscle in my back.  It wasn't much of a problem on Friday, but the following day the first few miles of riding were pure agony... not to mention breaking down camp and having to change the tube to my front tire (a pinch flat, probably, because when you ride long distances you do tend to inadvertently whack your tires on irregularities in the pavement).

Overall, my assessment of Dos Picos is camping doesn't get much better than at this gorgeous little park.  Like most San Diego Country campgrounds it caters to RVs and trailers.  But there are lots of people creating a nice sense of camaraderie; everyone I met was very nice.   People are there to relax and enjoy themselves.

The park rangers were also very nice and very helpful.  The restrooms were passably clean.  My only complaint is the showers gave you a choice of hot or really hot.  It wasn't possible to mix the cold and hot to achieve a comfortable temperature.  But that's a nit.  I paid $24.00 for my night at Dos Picos: $19.00 for a tent spot plus a $5.00 reservation fee.  I felt I got my money's worth.

(c) 2011  This map details my ride from work to the campground, a distance of 26 miles.  Combine that with the 15 miles from home to work for a total of 41 miles that day... most of it uphill.  For experienced touring bicyclists not such a big deal.  For Slo... yeah, a big deal.  I was pooped.

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