Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Day in Capistrano

There are a few things about this town that are completely different from L.A. Well, maybe more than a few things, but there are some differences that stand out. First of all, I've never seen any place where so many homes have their own private parking lots. I noticed this last summer when I started looking for a home to rent, preparing for our upcoming move. In some areas it seemed like every house had a huge driveway. I mean HUGE, as in large enough to park several cars and a bus.

Then, when I looked through real estate ads I noticed that "RV parking" was commonly listed along with the other selling points for many houses.

It struck me as a little odd, because in L.A. real estate the size of one of these driveways would be covered with a house. Although I'm sure there are many families in L.A. that own RVs, and maybe some who even have a parking space for one in their driveway, I can only remember ever seeing RVs (and as an oddity) parked on the street. I had an assumption that RVs are for retired couples who want to see America on a budget, or for families who rented them for weekend trips to the mountains, or to go visit relatives in Missouri. So, I thought it odd that RVs are so popular in Bakersfield.

Now, I think I know why.

It's hot here in the summer.

Today my husband and I drove south to Capistrano Beach to spend the day with friends who rent a beach house there every summer. We left Bakersfield about 9:00 AM and it was already in the 90s, with a forecast of 104. When we arrived in Capistrano three hours later it was a cool 80 degrees.There was a houseful of friends, relatives, and kids of all ages, along with plenty of food, sun, surf, sand and beach cruiser bikes. A wonderful sea breeze, negative ions, the rhythmic roar of surf, and Jane Austen's Emma lulled me into a state of sweet relaxation. I woke to my husband's touch, reminding me it was time for our bike ride.

We hopped onto borrowed cruiser bikes, mine pink, slightly rusty, and with a cute little wicker basket in front just the right size for my water bottle and sunscreen; his black and sans basket. We rode a mile or so up the narrow private road to the bike path, and then kept north. That's when I noticed the entire beach side of the bike path was blanketed with RVs, maybe a hundred of them, and dotted with camp tents. It was like a beach town, everyone out in the sun, on the beach, in the water, playing cards, and cooling off.

It makes complete sense. Pay a little parking fee (many were just parked in the parking lot, not in the campsite) or campsite fee, and there you are. Let the kids loose, set up your pop up gazebo, drinks in the cooler, stocked fridge and pantry, keep the sunscreen handy, and you are on vacation.

I'm just an ex L.A. girl who has always lived within 8 miles of the beach and never needed an RV to get there, but I'll betcha most folks with RVs here in Bakersfield use them for heading to the coast during the hot months. And it beats paying $300 a night (or more) for a hotel room.

I am not running out to get an RV, and doubt we will ever ever own or rent one. However, I am realizing my L.A. naivete. How hadn't I even known there is an entire culture of people who use their RVs all the time (in the summer at least). Totally cool.

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