You know that feeling you get when it’s time to go home from a vacation? The weather is usually the nicest it’s been and you wish you could stay just a little longer. Especially when you start to think about all the tasks or chores that are awaiting you at home. You know that feeling, right?

Our campsite at Lopez Lake – beautiful day to leave.

Well, as Tom and I pulled out from our campsite for the last five nights, I didn’t have that feeling. Nope. No chores waiting. No home to go home to. Just an everlasting vacation. And we were heading out to the next leg of our adventure.

But just in case any of you that are still stuck in sticks and bricks think I’m gloating. . . it’s not all fun all the time. Sometimes the half-baked plan you come up with for your next destination just doesn’t pan out, leaving you with no place to park for the night. And that’s what happened today.

As I type this, the sun has set and we’re heading back to Harris Ranch parking lot for the night. Time to re-group. Our problem? Easter weekend. Every campground (in the whole state I believe)  is full for Friday and Saturday nights. Leaving us adrift. (And longing to get out of Central California onto trusted BLM sites.)

Alas, we have to hang around for another week due to medical & family commitments. We would have stayed longer at the coast or perhaps headed to the hills – there are so many options around where we lived, but nothing nice is available last minute on Easter weekend. So we had to pull out of our campground at Lopez Lake on Friday.

Tom thought he had it figured out. Taking Highway 58 inland from Santa Margarita and going to a remote campsite by Soda Lake in the Carrizo Plain National Monument. It’s a place we’ve never been, but are familiar with the outlying area and figured it wouldn’t be a popular destination for Easter Egg Hunts (And we assumed the “lake” was a dry lake bed). So off we head on a road not advised for trucks with trailers.

It wasn’t too bad a road. Windy, curvy and narrow but manageable (says the person who was NOT behind the wheel!) Oh, what a beautiful drive. All of California has been drenched with rain and the hills are as green as the Emerald Isle. Plus this spring is really a wildflower display delight. Super bloom they call it.  Tom commented that he was surprised at the number of cars on what we thought would be a seldom traveled road. Especially when we took the turn off to the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

“Is that water?” I asked excitedly when we crested a hill. Nope. Just a sea of solar panels at the California Valley Solar Ranch reflecting like a mirage.

Then we saw the white of what we thought was Soda Lake bottom. Then we started seeing cars parked on the side of the road. People climbing up a hill to “Soda Lake Lookout Point”. “Why?” Tom asked, surprised at the volume of people on the desolate road.

Then we saw the yellow hills behind the Lake. “That would make a nice picture,” Tom said.

soda lake super bloom
Soda Lake as seen from the top of the dirt road. I guess we just missed the purple blooms.

Then we saw the water. Lots of it. Turns out Soda Lake isn’t just a dry lake when we’ve had a wet spring.

soda lake super bloom
soda lake super bloom
soda lake super bloom
Can anyone name these flowers for me?

Then we saw the plains. Yellow oceans of blooms. I don’t know my wildflower names, but these yellow flowers were EVERYWHERE, and there were carloads of people out taking pictures in them. While the hills were beautiful, we were still surprised to see so many people take a drive so far out to see it. But I guess not every year has such a super bloom – caused by so much rain after so much drought.

soda lake super bloom
The carpet effect is marred by the many trails of people walking out into the fields.

We kept driving until we found the sign that said “Selby Campground 5 miles” and a turn off to a dirt road heading up a hill.

We decided to ditch the motorhome on the side of the road at the turnoff, and take the Jeep to check it out. No way did Tom want to take the motorhome down five miles of dirt and gravel without knowing what was waiting at the end.

Well there was a campground – only about a mile in. But it was full with tents and small travel trailers that were taking up the only large spots we could have fit into. I guess remote and beautiful (and free) are every camper’s goals.

soda lake super bloom
One of the spectacular views from the top of the gravel road.

We continued on up the steep narrow dirt road another 4 miles and the flowers and the heightened view of the lake were stunning. But definitely no place for us to park the rig. So we went back and turned around the RV (the road ahead turned to dirt road) and backtracked to Highway 58. At least we found some room to pull over and walk down to the edge of the lake – all the cars there before had continued on to the flower fields.

Then on to plan B – which I was busy researching as soon as I could pick up cell service after we got out of the hills. But again – Easter weekend.

So we found space at an RV park in Tulare – my home town and about 30 minutes away from our old home. We got a special weekly rate since we need to stay in the area for now. So our beautiful “vacation” was cut short. But at least we got some great campground time in.

Happy Travels!

Peace & Love, Joy