Monday was a nice day for travel, very little wind, lots of sunshine and traffic wasn’t bad most of the way. We did make one wrong turn when my plan disagreed with the GPS and I tried to go back to my plan – should have followed the GPS. Oh, well. You can’t always trust them. Frank was very patient following me off the freeway while I looked for a place to make a U-turn.
We stopped early in the day at Love’s for diesel ($4.39 was the lowest we could find – ouch!) and I called ahead to the Atascadero Elks Lodge to see if they had room for two RVs for a few days. The nice woman said plenty of room, we’re lonely here – bring your friends! She gave me the menu for dinner and they’d be happy to have us.
I marveled at the number of wineries that have sprung up in this area. I remember when there were so few you could count them on one hand. Now I don’t have enough fingers and toes! The California wine industry seems very healthy even though the state’s overall economy isn’t.
However, the state seems to be spending money on SR-46, widening it and eliminating out some of the valleys.
We arrived at the Atascadero Elks Lodge to find only one RV in the lot with 14 full-hookup sites. Frank and I went inside to check in. However, we were met with bad news – only Elks members could stay in the RV lot, no guests allowed. What happened to “bring your friends?” Oh, she apologized and said she should have said “your Elk member friends.” (Note: many Elks lodges do allow guests with members when space is available. That’s why I didn’t clarify what she meant in our phone conversation.) She gave me a form to fill out and told Frank she recommended an RV park about 10 minutes away. I told her if our friends couldn’t stay we weren’t staying.
Outside in the parking lot we discussed what Plan B would be. We decided to go about 70 miles south to Vandenberg AFB. After calling to be sure there was space, we hit the road again. We got side-by-side sites with full hookups for $20/night with plenty of grass for the two dogs named Shadow to romp in. (If you didn’t know, Frank & Gloria have a Bishon-Shitsu mix female named Shadow, and our Toy Poodle male is also named Shadow. Sometimes we call the female Shadowess.)
The Elks would have been $25, but other parks in the area are listed in the range of $45-70. We figure the Atascadero Elks turned away $150 in RV site income, plus $40 for dinner that night, plus drinks and other meals we might have eaten there. Too bad they won’t accept guests when there’s plenty of space. And we also drove about 45 miles farther than we would have if we’d planned to go to Vandenberg in the first place.
Today, we did a bit of shopping and touring the town of Lompoc, next to the base, as well as the base itself. Later we drove to a lookout point to watch the missile launch of a Delta IV Rocket. You can read more about it here. It was hard to get a good photo, but here’s one of the contrail.
We were among the first to arrive at this lookout point, and we brought chairs to watch the launch comfortably, as did this family.
But a crowd gathered quickly.
When the launch was over, we realized the crowd was even bigger than we thought – cars came out from several other areas all converging on the same narrow road.
Everyone was polite, however, so the traffic jam disappeared very quickly and we headed back to the campground for happy hour.
Tomorrow we plan to play tourist at some nearby places. Stay tuned.