From Palm Canyon, our goal was to do the Pacific Coast Highway all the way up the coast to Oregon. We didn’t need to stop in San Diego, and didn’t want to back track out of the park, so we looked at the map and decided to take Montezuma Valley Road to meet up with Rt. 79 , which leads to Temecula, where you can take any number of roads to 101 and the coast. Montezuma Valley Road winds up to 1300 ft at its peak, and is wonderful practice for the PCH:


About 3/4 of the way up.

Notice the tight turn. And no guardrail or shoulder.

A few hours later, this route will take you past LA (worst roads ever?), and you reach the coast!

Carpinteria was our first stop, and also Lucy’s first time in the ocean:


Everyone’s tastes are different when it comes to state parks, and everyone has different needs. My needs revolve around a place being scenic, clean and uncrowded (I’ll add cheap to that list, but I know that’s asking a lot). Carpeteria, The State Park, didn’t exactly fit those needs, but overall it was an ok place to park next to the ocean.

You might be able to see the ocean ....

We didn’t make reservations anywhere in California because you have to make them at least 2 days in advance, and we couldn’t really think that far ahead on this trip, so we pulled up to the gate where the conversation went something like this:

Me: Hi, do you have any spots available with hook-ups?

Rollie Fingers-looking Guy: Yep, that’s $50. Cash only.

Me: Hmm, how about no hook ups?

RF: Do you want ocean side?

Me: Sure, that would be great.

RF: That’s $50. Cash only.

Me: How about not ocean side?

RF: $35. Cash only.

So we took a non-hook up, non-ocean-side parking spot and found a place where we could walk the dog along the beach. To get to that beach, you have to walk through the high-end spots with hooks up, it’s basically a mall parking lot.

I felt bad for this Bambi stuck between the huge 5th wheels!

What this little town has going for it, in my opinion, is just that: Carpinteria, The Town. We enjoyed the town much more than the park, or even the ocean.  Since we needed a break from cooking in the Airstream, we decided to walk to town for dinner. There were a bunch of places to choose from — sushi, upscale American, seafood, Mexican and a local diner. We decided on Nutbelly Pizza because there were people inside, they had Monday Night Football on and the pizza smelled great — which it was. On our way to Nutbelly, we passed a place called Esau’s which looked part diner – part seafood shack, but it was closed. We decided it would be our breakfast spot before we left.

Esau’s wins for best meal of the trip (so far).  Here’s why:

I don't know what's all in this, but I could eat it every day.

What else we liked about the town:

Nice sidewalks. Nice dogs.

At 7am the fire men were surfing.

It was cold and rainy the next day, so we decided to move on. Carpinteria was a good rest before we hit, what I would call, The Xanax Trail: PCH.

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