Day 41 – Ocotillo, CA to Live Oak Springs, CA (31 mi, 4,288ft elevation gain)

Today we are climbing out of the desert into the coastal range. Carsten and Nalani’s ride today included 8 straight miles of ascent on the shoulder of I-8. I’m very content with being the car person today.

The options for where to stay tonight were fairly limited, but our map indicated that there was one campground in Live Oak Springs. Last night I looked the campground up online to make sure that it was reasonably priced and had decent reviews, both seemed fine, so Carsten, Nalani and I planned to meet there some time in the afternoon. I drove first thing to the campground, hoping it would have internet, so I could spend some time blogging and looking for jobs.

When I arrived, the campground host was working at the counter at the small camp store. He was very friendly and chatty. He asked me all about our trip as I paid for our spot with my card. Since I had looked up the price the night before I didn’t bother to reconfirm it with him, so I was shocked when he handed me a receipt to sign that was triple the price I was expecting. The price was more than any hotel room we had stayed at on our trip. I looked up in shock and asked him if that was right and cited the price I had seen online the night before. He clarified that that was a per person price and we were three people. I stood their unsure of what to do. On one hand he had already run my card and we didn’t have another place to stay, but on the other hand it was preposterous to pay this much for a campground. The host had no intention of refunding any of my money, but he clearly felt a little bit bad. He started to explain that he had just bought the place and that he was doing a lot of work to restore the oak trees, which apparently were struggling severely because of the drought. He than offered to give us free firewood and twenty dollars of store credit in the camp store. I finally said thank you and decided to stay. I didn’t have the energy to figure out alternative lodging for the night and the man was very kind and the campground was beautiful.

Carsten and Nalani arrived in the afternoon. They had ridden nearer to the border fence than on any other day. In one wash, they saw a series of crosses dressed in migrant clothing as a memorial to the struggles of those crossing the border. Carsten and Nalani briefly got off their bikes to look more closely at the wall, which is a fairly imposing structure in the middle of the desert.

Carsten enjoyed noticing what he termed the “road archeology.” They rode on some back roads which had dates directly inscribed into the road surface. There roads dated back to 1929 and 1931. The most astounding part was that in many places the original road was in much better shape than any more recently paved sections.

We all went swimming in the very chilly hot tub. The pool was so cold we couldn’t even set foot in it. After dinner we made a roaring fire and then went to bed early in order to be well rested for our last day of biking!

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