The middle of February finds me at Anza-Borrego State Park in southern California boondocking with several other Xscapers who are still in the area after the Annual Bash in Quartzsite last month.
Feb 14, Wednesday
It’s been far too long since my last good hike! In the afternoon, a group of us pile into vehicles and head east on S22 to what on Google Maps has labeled Calcite Mine Slot Canyon Trailhead.
There I park Bertha just off the road. You can start the hike right from there, but if you have a 4×4 vehicle, you can drive down the dirt road and get closer to the slot canyon. One of our number has such a vehicle. We overshoot the slot canyon and end up on top of a plateau overlooking the badlands first, whoops!
But the view from up here is pretty great. It’s a good day for hiking, not as hot as it has been and some clouds are moving in from the west which keeps the worst of the sun off us.
Eventually we find the right place to enter the canyon and climb down into it.
The first part of the canyon is more open with occasional shrubs. We all hike at different paces, I’m farther in the back with the other picture-takers. We’ve all been camping together for quite a while now and the conversation flows easily.
There’s actually two slot canyon sections on this trail. The first is smooth and has several little winding twists in it. There are a couple spots where it’s so narrow at the bottom you have to be very careful where you place your feet.
All in all, a fun outing!
Feb 20, Tuesday
Today, I drove through Los Angeles.
Doesn’t sound very fun, right? You’d be correct, it wasn’t.
From Anza-Borrego, Joni, Marshall, Kelly, Michael, and I take off in the morning and go up 86 to Indio. From there we get on I10 going west.
The drive is a blur. From maps it looks like we probably stayed on I10 all the way to Santa Monica, I was just doing what GPS was telling me to do while navigating big city traffic. There were accidents and thus slow downs. I lost some rubber when a car pulled in front of me then stopped suddenly. But, all five of us make it to our destination in one piece – kind of a miracle I reckon.
If you can avoid taking your RV through LA, do so. I’ve driven through several big cities with the trailer and I’d rate this the worst experience, not only was it busy but it was such a long stretch of busy. Look at a map and you’ll see the urban sprawl starts long before Los Angeles proper. If you do need to drive through a large city, Sunday is really the day to do it (I had a rather pleasant drive taking Cas through the heart of Atlanta on a Sunday once).
Our destination? The parking lot of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, within walking distance of the beach. There’s a ticket dispenser to get in, it costs $14 to park there overnight (the daily max), and that’s per spot, so for Bertha and Cas we’re talking $28 to stay in a parking lot.
But I mean, a parking lot where you can walk to Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park.
There are several other RVs already there when we arrive. Marshall had called the Civic Center ahead of time and confirmed that it was legal to park an RV there overnight. We settle in together at the back of the lot with the other RVs, I’m the last to arrive and the sun has already gone down. We’re all bundled up – a front has come through and it’s unusually cold for the area.
We walk downtown. It’s something of a culture shock after having been in the sparsely populated desert for so long. We pick Thai Dishes on Broadway to eat at. Everyone enjoys what they get. I get the Orange Chicken which isn’t Thai food, but it’s what I was in the mood for.
Then we walk to the Pier. Given that it’s late on a weekday night and cold to boot, there’s hardly anyone here. Most of Pacific Park is closed, but the iconic ferris wheel is open. The signs and display for the end of Route 66 are also pretty cool.
We’re all worn out from the drive and don’t stay out late. There’s some sort of sporting event going on next door and still plenty of cars driving around, but I have no problem falling asleep.
Feb 21, Wednesday
Joni and I sleep through the night. Michael, Kelly, and Marshall on the other hand get a knock on the door at 5 am from the police.
They claim it’s legal to park an RV here overnight, but not to occupy it from the hours of 2-6 am. Unlike other parts of the city that are covered in signage saying no parking from 2-6 am, there is absolutely nothing like that posted in our lot – and remember Marshall had called and confirmed it was okay.
The police don’t knock on everyone’s door, and they don’t kick anyone out. Were they just bored and decided to pester us for something to do? Do they have a legitimate claim? It’s hard to say. Just know that if you decide to overnight in this lot, you may get the knock. Kelly makes a joke that if we stay here again in the future we just need to go out partying from midnight to six and then sleep during the day.
Joni, Marshall and I have breakfast at nearby Nico’s Tacos (good), then go back to downtown Santa Monica for a bit to see it in daylight. We finally pull out around noon, the attendant at the gate takes my $28 without comment.
It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to Highway 1 from the parking lot. Also called the Pacific Coast Highway, a lot of RVers say good things about this drive. It’s scenic for sure, with the cliffs on one side and the ocean on the other. It’s also good for ogling fancy beach houses. But for the full-timer on a budget it is lacking one important thing: cheap camping. We won’t be here long, but the brief break from the desert is nice.
We drive almost 30 miles on hwy 1 to Point Mugu State Park, which is technically in Malibu. Sycamore Canyon Campground just across the road from the beach and day-use area costs $45 a night… that’s without hookups and during the off-season. We’re only staying one night.
The pads are concrete squares, max length for a motorhome or trailer is 31′. Since it’s a square, trailers are pretty much required to unhitch and park beside the trailer. We get around that by having those of us with trailers (Kelly, Marshall, and I) sprawled across three consecutive sites. There are pay showers, water spigots, and a dump station on site.
It is a pretty area. The campground is, as the name suggests, in a canyon among large trees that I’m guessing are Sycamores.
But the day use area on the ocean, that’s the real reason to be here!
- Xscapers/Escapees – The RV club we all belong to
- Camp Addict – Marshall and Kelly’s website for RV gear reviews
- The Galavan – Joni’s YouTube channel
- RV Trek – Michael’s blog
- Last year’s slot canyon hike in Anza-Borrego
- Did you know I visited LA with the RV once before? I rang in 2015 on the beach
EDIT 3/1: For those of you commenting about how LA is cracking down on vehicle dwelling, the official page explaining the code and where it is and isn’t okay to overnight on the streets: https://www.lacity.org/for-residents/popular-services/comprehensive-homeless-strategy-implementation/los-angeles-municipal
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