We arrived in Santa Clarita well past 10 pm, so with no way to get more detailed information about the local national forest we spent the night at the Carl Boyd St SuperWalmart. I went to use the bathroom first thing in the morning and decided to wash my face and brush my hair to help wake up-perfectly normal things to do in the morning, or in the bathroom in general yes?- only to have quote “a customer complaint” as the manager asked me to leave. Let me clarify, we had been planning to do grocery shopping and pick up a handful of the misc supplies we inevitably forgot for the trip while we were parked there. Needless to say, we went elsewhere, specifically the Vallarta Mexican grocery. And frankly, a far better choice anyway. After piling pastries, produce, eggs, fish and handful of other things, it came out to thirty dollars, and we were shopping for fun, not really trying to be frugal. From this bounty Aaron prepared an epic dinner of tempura eggplant, Oaxaca cheese sticks, fried onion rings and tilapia, with plenty of wine of course! We drink mainly french and Spainish reds, Aaron has a good eye for them from his time in those countries. Of course we also made it to see some of our friends in the area, and went swimming at Ian’s apartment hot tub helping to relieve all the stress of travel.
Ironically, most of the last two days has been consumed with government phone calls. At least eight hours have been spent trying to find maps of national forest land and access roads, calling phone numbers on government sites that turn out to be disconnected and otherwise banging our heads against a wall trying to find out about camping laws in the area. As it turns out, in this part of the state, they have special passes called “Adventure passes” that they require for access to general camping that costs $40 just for camping in the local area. This is totally against federal standards which require vehicle camping to be within a hundred feet of the road and causing no new damage to the forest land and in fact is free for all (hooray for cell phone camera evidence! Take a picture so you can defend yourself- Aaron and I did not do that in Santa Fe, and though we had gone through extensive effort to not damage the area and in fact make it better, we got accused by a ranger of doing all damage in sight with a lovely $275 fine as our reward). So anyway, here they call what we do “dispersment camping” and so we have to be on the side of the road and away from the sight of any buildings or hiking trails. We found a likely spot a few hundred feet in from the entrance, and lo! This very morning a nice Ranger and his K-9 unit showed up when he saw Zoe smoking outside. Fortunately, he realized quickly we were just some hippies on a road trip. He looked at Zoe and Aaron’s ID’s, saw me washing dishes and told us not to start any fires, but yes, we could use our wood stove! (We had been using Zoe’s propane camp stove until we found out the legality of a wood fire since the area is in a drought, since the RV counts as a house we were fine).
We did in fact try to get more direct information than what we could find through calls and website over the last few days. Before driving out the RV, we took Zoe’s Honda up to the forest to scout sites and found a lovely picnic spot, where we left the car. A little walk up the road was a big sign that said Ranger Station and #9 Fire Station camp spot this way. Wanting to get more information, we walked up to it worrying about the no entrance signs and gate across the road, but as we were on foot we walked up to the door of the office area- there was no ranger station in the area, no one in the office and a bunch of what appeared to be houses and families in the valley down the road. After knocking a few times and only heard radio chatter we went on our way, wondering what on earth was the point of the whole place? There was even what we assumed was a helipad, which would make sense for emergency airlifts, if there happened to actually be any rangers. Deciding that we could end up in trouble if we were there any longer, we just went on with our day.