Day 15 - Blow out in Santa Barbara....

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September 21st 2012
Published: September 23rd 2012
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Day 15 - Avila/Pismo KOA to Carpinteria State Beach, Distance Travelled - 114 miles

Nice quiet day today as we wound down the RV leg of the tour. Lazy lay in once again meant that when we got up, most of the Avila KOA had already left so at least the showers were empty. From what we saw it was a nice little camp, ideal for a 1 or 2 day stopover if in transit elsewhere but I don't think I could stay there for more than that. So we hit the 101 and Highway 1 for a 100 mile stretch, through some lovely scenery again although now we were obviously getting into wine country and there were no hairpin bends.

It was a pretty uneventful trip with only one small smell of burning rubber which was quickly dismissed as coming from the roadside. As it was only a short trip we were going to be too early for our 2 pm check in at Carpinteria so we headed into the 'affluent beachside resort' of Santa Barbara. We did the usual two laps of the town looking for an RV parking space and finally found one in the Santa Barbara visitors centre car park just opposite the pier. Sharan jumped out to guide me into the space and was straight back in to let me know she had found the source of the burning rubber smell..we had a flat tyre.

Luckily on these things the back wheels are in pairs so we had been supported all the way on the one remaining good tyre but surprised no one had flagged us down. A quick call into Cruise America's emergency service centre number and the nice lady on the end of the phone put me on hold, spoke to a local tyre firm, booked me in then came back to give me directions to a place only a couple of hundred yards down the road. Whilst his boys jacked the van up on the most enormous trolley jack I've ever seen, the Russian immigrant owner chatted to us about his life, London, the Russian mafia and the American tax system, all subjects I was highly qualified to talk about! It was a hilarious half hour and turned out we had a broken valve and not a puncture, so the wheel was fixed, put back on and the nice man didn't charge us we gave his boys a big tip instead.

So back into Santa Barbara we headed for lunch onto the lovely old wooden pier that they have and ate at Moby Dicks seafood restaurant (not a huge choice of restaurants so far for a hater of seafood!) but luckily they all do steaks, pasta and chicken as well. The restaurant had a great outdoor patio overlooking the marina and we spent the afternoon sitting in the sun, watching the boats and the pelicans go by....but shock, horror...not a Californian Sealion in sight! Sufficiently stuffed it was time for...oh yes, souvenir shopping, followed by a walk back to the van and onto Carpenteria.

Carpenteria State Beach is a great state park right on the Californian coast, in fact our camping space was only about 50 foot from the sand and another 30 foot to the sea. For most of the afternoon and early evening we had a great view of the sea from our chairs by the side of the van and had the great sight of a school of dolphins swimming past slowly very close to the shore. We also got to watch lots of seals playing and bobbing around just in front of us. As the evening went on the park started to fill up, it's huge with three separate camping areas along the coast. The first line by the beach is for RVs and trailers with no hookups (elec,water etc) the second line has either full or partial hookups for RV's like ours and the 3rd and 4th lines are for tents and small vehicles. Obviously this is the place to go for the weekend and it seems half of LA has arrived to enjoy the stunning setting.

The other facilities in the park were very basic and probably the worst we have seen, akin to UK public car park facilities for loos and showers so lucky we had brought our own. There was also no wifi and very limited mobile signal. We both agreed that the benefits of the setting far outweighed the lack of facilities and we kept reminding ourselves, that this time tomorrow night we'd be in a 5 star hotel on Hollywood boulevard!

As it was our last full day in the RV, the rest of the evening was taken up with cleaning out all the crap we had accumulated over the past two weeks, and like others have done to us, handing out things we had left over to other surrounding campers like firewood, charcoal and lighter fluid but I held on to the beer! Then it was on to packing, very difficult for two to pack at the same time so I had a beer with the neighbours to give Shas some space.

With the local shops and restaurants more than a miles walk away we decided to use up all the leftover food for our final nights dinner. Not sure if eggs, bacon, baked beans and spaghetti sauce with Oreos and ice cream could be considered a balanced meal, but it seemed to work!

The tent areas behind us were packed with large family and friends groups all with kids, dogs, bikes, surfboards etc. And whilst it wasn't quiet by the 10pm curfew, by 11pm I was surprised to see all the fires out, lights off and silence reigned (apart from the large Amtrac trains running past at the back of the park)

Tomorrow it's early wake up call, head the last 80 miles in to L.A. where I will shock the Loews hotel staff by pulling up in an RV to dump off our bags (might ask them to valet park it!) then we take the beast back to Cruise America in South L.A. and pick up a Mustang convertible from LAX for the third leg of the trip around L.A. Might even see if we can get tickets for the Galaxy game to keep Shas happy!

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