Circling San Diego

These days our life has become consistent in it’s inconsistency. Our days are mostly spent circling San Diego. We have been here for 12 days. We have spent nights in 7 different locations. Our nomadic lives have taken on an even greater transiency .

At this point we hope the T-rex just eats us already!

At this point we hope the T-rex just eats us already!

We had been dreading our time spent here, knowing being not just back in the United States, but back in Southern California, would wreck havoc on our budget. Between our deductible on the camper repair, outrageous campground fees, and expensive attractions and food, we gritted our teeth and plunged in.

Our time began at Sweetwater Campground, one of the San Diego County Regional parks, and discovered by ioverlander. Upon first inspection we were sold. Centrally located to where we needed to be, in the hills, and a reasonable price, Sweetwater also offered up Wi-Fi great hiking trails and decent facilities.


What we didn’t count on was that, as a county park, there is also a large number of “passers through”. On night one someone stole our firewood while we slept, a first in all of our years of camping all around the world. The next Jim woke up at 3am to find a small group of men seemingly just wandering around the campground. Both nights multiple cars circled the camping loop multiple times. For the first time ever, including months of camping in the likes of Australia, Africa, and Baja, we felt those nervous hairs raise on the back of our neck.


We were paid until Monday so rather reluctantly decided to stay on one more night. The campground was quieter on Sunday night, with only a few unsavory characters about, but then to add to our discontent, just as we prepared to head out, we discovered an ant invasion. Yet another reason to move on! We drove to El Cajon to Rick’s RV, our mechanic of choice for the camper fix, checking out other campgrounds along the way, feeling a need for any change of scene. Several disappointing options later, we hightailed it to the beach, knowing the salt air would clear our heads. On the way south we had camped at Mission Beach RV and Chula Vista KOA, both pricey but fine. This time we landed at Chula Vista RV.


Now, Chula Vista RV is NOT inexpensive. In fact, we find it ridiculously expensive. However, it has a little beach Aspen was allowed on, a laundry on property, super fast WiFi, a pool, hot tub, store, and great facilities while being very scenically located on the marina. We got some work done, got laundry cleaned, and got a beach fix before we heeded our budget and headed back to Sweetwater, this time in the far loop hoping a change of location in the campground would make the experience more palatable.


In between the campground hopping we continued to circle the city, attempting to take care of as many errands as possible; a work estimate on the truck, meeting the insurance adjuster, returning our faulty camp chairs to REI, multiple trips to Walmart for new camp chairs and various other goods, getting taxes done, searching out fido friendly opportunities. The blue breadcrumb lines on our GPS are evidence of the seemingly endless hours spent on San Diego freeways.


As for Sweetwater, paying an extra $6/night did cause for a better campground experience there, but with four days until we dropped the camper and a rainy forecast in sunny California we were itching to leave town. Baja called but Ensenada also had a wet forecast and San Felipe just felt too far to drive. We settled on the hills outside of Temecula’s wine country, only to be faced with more rain ahead. Suddenly I remembered Joshua Tree National Park, a park we had not yet visited and a mere three+ hour drive away.


Of course, our plans often don’t go quite as planed. Although we arrived early Thursday afternoon, all of the campgrounds in Joshua Tree were full. There were several alternate campgrounds outside of the park but we had left San Diego partially to avoid the pricey campgrounds, not to pay just as much elsewhere. That left BLM land, i.e a dry lake bed, on the north side of the park. Rain, mud and unwanted neighbors commenced but we survived intact and headed into the park, hoping the rain would prompt other campers to bail on their weekend plans. We were rewarded for our early arrival with a campsite by 9am at Belle Campground for the start of an amazing weekend, that story to come soon.


Refreshed, we had one night back in San Diego ahead of us before we dropped the camper. Covered in dirt after three days of wet, back country camping, we reluctantly headed back to Chula Vista RV. We grimaced at the price, but embraced the laundry and our huge, paved campsite which allowed us to fully unload and clean up. Monday found us back in our norm pattern by this point, crossing town Eastearly to El Cajon for a successful camper lift before, yep, back Westward for our next location.


Now, for the first time in 106 days, we are sleeping somewhere other than our tiny house. Our apartment rental is a small, updated studio near Balboa Park, the waterfront, and Gaslamp district. Although only around 400 square feet, we feel as though we are drowning in SPACE. We have a bathroom that we can use WITHOUT PUTTING ON SHOES and going outside! We have a microwave and oven. We have cable tv and a small patio. We also have a location that puts us directly under the descent path of every plane landing at San Diego International and features a not so comfortable pull out sleeper sofa.


All in all things are going well. Yes, we have spent far too much money in our time here. Yes, we will be going back, once again, to Sweetwater campground Saturday night after we reclaim our tiny home. But the insurance and mechanic have rushed through our camper fix. Taxes are done and a refund is on the way. We traded out our REI campchairs that were nearly ripped through and have comfortable new camp seats awaiting us. And best of all, our dear friends Dave and Anne are flying in Thursday night to hang out with us for a couple of days and we couldn’t be more excited!


We had feared a longer stay here, but now it looks like we can plot our escape in only 16 days. The camper will finally be fixed, over three months after the border incident. We can’t wait to get back into the camper and back on the road. If nothing else, this pit stop has assured in our minds that we are on the right road. In spite of our current excitement about being able to pad naked to the bathroom, we already miss the camper. We miss spending most of each day outside. We miss being on the road actually going somewhere rather than merely circumventing San Diego. We miss the friendliness of the Mexican people, quite appalled at the total crap customer service we have experienced nearly everywhere we go here in San Diego area. We miss being awakened by roosters and dogs instead of jet planes and freeway noise.


Once again, we are counting down. Counting down to tomorrow night when we see great friends after four months away. Counting down to Sunday when our pack once again will head for points south.


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4 thoughts on “Circling San Diego

  1. Funny how America can seemingly be more dangerous than many of these so-called hazardous third world countries … I would be totally creeped out if that stuff happened where I was camping…!

    • yea it was actually sort of intimidating. And, when we ended back at Sweetwater for our last night in San Diego, we were setting up when the screaming couple across the way literally got into a punching match! I’ve never seen anything like it!

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