It’s just a matter of perspective when you stay at : San Elijo State Beach
San Diego’s average temperature, year round, hardly varies from 70 degrees and this sounds good to me, really good. We are escaping the snow in search of the warm sun, a cool breeze, sand for our toes and palm trees to give us a little relief from the heat of the day. This all sounds good to me, really good to me. I realize, upon arrival to San Elijo State Beach Campground, that it is not what I am getting, and am in need of a little change in perspective.
Elijo State Beach is the 3rd stop of our 2018 spring break trip. I have packed my shorts, flip-flops, and swimsuit. I’m ready to continue working on my non-existent tan and frolic in the sand. We are arriving barely before sunset and are excited to stroll on the beach with a cocktail in hand and watch the sunset. Our site is #85 and we know it is 2 rows back from the primo ocean view sites. We accept this because it is hard to get a reservation at this park unless you book way in advance. We have to loop the campground to find our site, which is something I usually enjoy, but today I am a little let down that we are too close to the city and not on a remote stretch of isolated beach. Making the reservation was Charlie’s job this time, and we didn’t really talk about what to expect and he senses my disappointment. When we find #85, I try to stay optimistic and hop out to look around. I open the car door and the wind jerks it out of my hand, and as I step out of the car I am temporarily blinded by my hair beating me in the face and it is damp and cold. What-the-What? I don’t like this at all. I look around at the other campers who are securing things around their campsite and wearing coats with hoods. My heart sinks just a little as I realize I am not getting a sun drenched visit to the beach and there will be no stroll into the sunset with my honey and a cocktail. I am not a stranger to the Pacific Ocean or the California Coast, in fact I was here just 3 weeks ago. I just didn’t expect it to be this cold and windy.
I’m not very good at switching my perspective on the fly, so I need Charlie’s help to get me past my misplaced expectations. He is let down that I am let down so he works to sell me on the attributes of his choice by pointing out that it will be warmer tomorrow, and that it is windy everywhere in the west (this is true) and that he spent a lot of time finding the best place available that was close to San Diego attractions and in a pretty spot and he goes on to describe how much fun we are going to have. I accept this shift in perspective and we go to work to set up camp. As we look around to determine how we will place the camper, we discover we don’t have any hook ups of any kind, none, nada, nothing. Let me insert that I am not a princess and I know this because I took one of those Facebook quizzes called “how high maintenance are you?” and my score did not match a high maintenance chick (not very high anyway). Besides, I am skilled at dry camping, and I because love it, I do it often. But that is when our activity matches looking campy, and this week we are in the city and I need a longish shower and my blow dryer to get dressed in preparations for the expectations of the city. Okay, my attempted perspective shift is now completely stuck without hook ups and Charlie comes over to give me a hug of apology or comfort, or maybe both, because he thought we had full hook ups. Turns out, there are hook ups at some of the sites, just not all of the sites. As we embrace one another discussing how we will make it work and it will be an adventure, we are startled by a train blowing a series of short and then long whistles passing by our campsite at high-speed with a deafening metal-on-metal racket as it rattled down the track at high speed. It is so loud we are forced to raise our voices to hear one another. The tracks are directly across the street with the crossing perfectly in line with campsite #85. We both chuckle with resignation and an unspoken understanding that we will be staying here.
Let me just say, it actually was a pretty cool place despite my highly unusual cynicism. The location was convenient, and once inside the Airstream, with the windows closed, the sound of the train was muffled. As we descend the stairs from the campground to the beach (we did take that stroll after all), the world changes and we feel miles from the city. The sound of the ocean and the cliffs drown out the noise of the train and the traffic. We discovered very quickly that this community is highly desirable, I mean, look at this beach!
We were walking/biking distance to many restaurants and shops including Starbucks, VG Donuts and Seaside Market which is the place to buy Tri Tip or “Cardiff Crack” according to locals because of its addictive deliciousness and something I will be ordering.
San Elijo is a surfer’s beach and we watched surfers paddle out everyday to try the waves. According to the cute surfer I chatted with, there are no sharks off this shore and while I don’t believe him, I didn’t see any limbless surfers floating back to shore, so I let the boys swim. There is a surf school in the campground and while we didn’t go to school, Emily rented us a couple of wet suits for $15 for the day and these were a game changer for the boys to throughly enjoy their boogie boarding.
Despite our initial arctic welcome, the daytime temperature was perfect for enjoying the beach and we never needed our A/C (who needs hook ups?). If you don’t have hook ups, (did I mention we didn’t?) there are clean showers and I can purchase 2 tokens for $1, which gets me 2 minutes in the shower. I planned for 12 minutes (6 tokens for those who hate math) but got it done in 8 minutes. The pressure was excellent and the temperature control allowed for a nice hot shower. Walk around to the other side and I was able to use the bathroom for blow drying my hair.
When I go back, which I will, these are my three favorite sites:
#41: An ocean view and large enough to angle the camper such to maximize the view. It is one site away from the stairs to the beach, so there is not constant foot traffic passing by, giving some measure of privacy. There are no hook ups, but it is close enough to the bathrooms and showers to get there when you need to go fast.
#39: I like the proximity to the beach access as it is right next to the stairs, but it is separated by a fence and shrubbery to offer some privacy from the foot traffic heading to the beach. It also is large enough to angle a camper, and to add a tent.
#145 – The most private site in the park with an ocean view. It is located on the very end of the park with neighbors just on one side. Also, no hook ups.
As I write this, I am checking in with my husband who is amused that my favorite sites are the ones without hookups. He reminds me of what he said when he was hugging me, “Don’t be disappointed that the adventure you seek is not the adventure you got, that is what makes it an adventure”. He is right, again.
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