Carey and Debbie above Yellowstone's Grand Prismatic Spring

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"Windsurfing and Cryptosporidiosis at Lake Lopez"

    Lake Lopez, CA

    September 9 through 11, 2004

Story by Debbie


Carey finished the work he needed to do in Los Angeles but needed to be in Salt Lake City in a few months so we decided to meander our way up the California coast.  It's the first time we didn't have a particular destination any time soon and we embraced a slow pace with a vengeance.  First up was some windsurfing at Lake Lopez, an easy 150 miles up the coast from Thousand Oaks and about 10 miles inland. 

Aerial view from the end of the lake showing Pacific Ocean beyond

We figured getting a campsite wouldn't be a problem because it was after Labor Day.  We figured wrong.  Between lingering general crowding and our needing a relatively large space, we were able to get a spot for only one night.  And it was a bit of a tight squeeze getting in, to boot.

Backing into an RV space is a very popular spectator sport.  Typically, it involves having one person of the duo (usually the female) standing behind the RV shouting a bunch of directions to the driver, with varying degrees of ire and profanity, sometimes in a call-and-response fashion if things get really ugly.  The more evolved participants use walkie talkies so as to reduce the volume but not necessarily the intensity of the exchange.  In commercial RV parks where you're escorted to your space, the guider (a man every time, so far) uses a complex series of hand signals.

We've used all of the techniques and it's worked out fine, but over time I've watched Carey doing some solo backing up and observed that he was engaging in serious thinking and triangulating, along with dynamic mirror usage and frequent checking of the rear view camera, which resulted in some really first rate backing up.  This made me realize that my input isn't really all that helpful.  So rather than take the usual position of standing behind the RV, I implemented a new policy of non-intervention and stood off to the side, checking out our new neighborhood.

So the diesel engine is doing its thing, which is to say it's rumbling and roaring and generally being a nuisance to nature lovers, and Carey's doing a good bit of back and forth to avoid trees, other people's RVs and general obstacles.  He gets somewhat into our space and is backing in as far as possible so as to position himself for the next maneuver, and C-R-A-C-K!  It sounded like a gunshot, and it was LOUD.

That sure brought people out to meet their new neighbors, including the campground host, who was parked right across from us. 

Oh lord, was I embarrassed.  Turns out Carey had backed into the vertical pole that many campgrounds wisely put up to keep people from hitting the electrical hookup stands.  That's it in the photo below, not looking too much the worse for wear.

Pretty site, though a bit tricky to find the satellite through the trees and over the hills

But that's only because it is pretty stout on its own, and embedded in what must be 5 feet of concrete.  The really good news is that the part of the RV it made contact with was the tow bar, so no harm no foul! 

And the REALLY good news is that Carey wasn't mad that I had implemented my new non-intervention policy without consulting him.  Turns out that the rear view camera is subject to shadows and the area behind the RV was actually obscured, so he never saw the pole.  Or that's his story, anyway, and now I am deployed in back of the RV to watch for just this sort of obstacle.

Just so you know, I really enjoy backing the RV up myself, but absolutely cannot and will not do it with people watching.  I did quite a bit of it in the Road Safety parking lot, just for practice, and I'm one of the most accomplished parallel parkers you'll ever encounter.  But I hate having an audience.

So we sheepishly met the campground host, got set up, and then slapped the windsurfing gear on the car for the short drive to the launch area.  We're not used to a designated launch area, and it sure makes it easy to figure out where to go.

Amazingly, this place has a beach officially designated for windsurfers only

The water was low, so it was a bit of a hike from the rigging area to the shore. 

Deluxe rigging area just a few steps down from the road

That's me below, carrying my board and sail all the way to win a bet.  Almost killed me because I'm out of shape, tired from sailing, and there's something wrong with my arm length and I have to keep my elbows bent the entire time and if I go uphill the leading parts of all my equipment dig into the ground .

Debbie hauls her board and sail together all the way up the long hill to win a $2 bet

Lake Lopez is one of the premier windsurfing locations in Central California, and I was surprised at how small it was--the reach is maybe 500 yards.  But it gets really good wind and the water is super super smooth.  And best of all, there was hardly anybody there so I didn't have to deal with a bunch of windsurfer traffic in this relatively small area.

Debbie has the reach all to herself, just the way she likes it

Carey, ever the optimist, merely said of the short reach, "It'll keep you busy."  Yeah, especially for somebody like me whose motto is, "Windsurfing is fun, and then you have to turn around."

But I will say that adversity makes us stronger.  In Corpus, I'll stay on a reach for three miles, and jibes aren't really necessary because the water is shallow and I can just drop and get started again with no problem.  At Lake Lopez, my jibes improved immensely in just one day just because I had to keep doing them, and the water was deep.  

We were prepared to dry camp the next night (i.e., park in a field with no hookups), but somebody cancelled a reservation and we were able to move into another site for our second night.

The campground was supposedly full for the weekend, but we asked on our way out if they'd had any cancellations, and lucked into this nice spot for Friday night

This was a roomier site, easier to get into, and would probably be highly prized by families visiting the Mustang Slides water park at Lake Lopez.  Only it was closed due to some issues with cryptosporidiosis.

And best of all, that cancellation gave us another day of windsurfing while enjoying the comforts of electricity, always appreciated. 



Now, we invite you to enjoy the slide show that goes along with this story.  Scroll down or click here to position the image below for easy viewing, then click the arrow icons to step back and forth through the slides.  Start or stop an automatic slide show using the icon with the red dots on the far right.  Press F11 to select full screen mode for best results.

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