Camping at Lopez Lake

Lopez Lake logo

Back to nature. Sort of.

Follow-ups: Jon (27-May)

"The Gang" has gone on camping trips together nearly every summer for the past fifteen years. Over time, the constituency of the gang has changed as people have drifted in and out, but the truly hardcore has never faltered. The first (?) of this summer's outings was to Lake Lopez on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo.

campground sign squirrel

Our reservations were for the eponymously named Squirrel Campground where a squadron of the aforementioned squirrels patrolled continuously, darting about, sniffing the ground, and occasionally digging furiously.

Street fair. My friends, Bob and Carolyn, and I arrived on Thursday, ahead of the others, and went into San Luis Obispo for the Thursday night street fair and farmers' market. Like heat-seeking missiles, we headed straight for McClintock's barbecue stand.

McClintocks staff McClintocks sampler

The staff amuse themselves and patrons with lots of cheeky chatter and raucous chanting. The barbecue was not expensive, but the bully butcher put a price of $50 on his picture!

Bob and Carolyn eating

Having stuffed our faces unashamedly, we proceeded to the cookie stand and then Coldstone Creamery for dessert.

Our campground neighbors were a colorful lot (names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent). At the end of the row of campsites was Safari Sam, who had enough gear to support a trek to Kenya. Sam was the self-appointed nature guide for all who would listen. Between programs, he would entertain himself and others by throwing peanuts—"unsalted, of course"—into the air for the woodpeckers to catch in mid-air while swooping down from the trees.

Later in the weekend, Safari Sam was replaced by the Dancing Duo from Bakersfield, who found the moonlight irresistible.

Next was Mr Peacock, named after his truck: Peacock Painting "Bringing color to the Central Coast." Mr Peacock did a lot of striding purposefully about, tending to his German shepherd and polishing his boat.

Next was Short Pants Crouching Truck, whose vehicle didn't just kneel on command — with a loud whoosh it could flatten itself completely onto the ground, which trick was often demonstrated as the truck made numerous trips up and down the road.

Finally, next to us, were the Ménage à Trois, who awoke long before dawn even thought of cracking to get an early start on the lake. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just that the truck engine does not need to be warmed up for 10 minutes before leaving; it was cool, but not the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, for crying out loud!

Wildlife. In addition to the squirrels, the campsite was a haven for wildlife. We saw wild turkeys, deer, woodpeckers, ubiquitous bluejays, crows. I believe the small grey bird is a titmouse, and it looks like an intern from the Dilbert School of Management.

Fishing. Bob and Jim both came prepared to fish. Each of them came back to camp with a fish.

Eating well. As is our custom, we ate and drank very well. In addition to the fish, of course, there were gut-busting quantities of grilled beef.

Point of it all. But the real point of it all is to get away and share a warm fire, a few laughs, and some tall tales.