Chanel C.
Los Angeles, CA
Joined October 2017
LA girl living in the city, but making time to get out!
Ranger Review: Morsel Sporks XL at Pismo State Beach Oceano Campground

[ PROS]

  • Super close to the beach! There are a couple beach trails that lead you right to the ocean.

  • Love that you can walk to the dunes and spend the entire day there.People bring the craziest beach set ups and have bonfires and cookouts here. Souped up trucks with ATVs roll through and drive right along the beach. It’s quite the sight to see.

  • Very convenient location to ATV rentals, beach/convenient stores, and a few eateries.

  • Fantastic park rangers serveiling the campgrounds every hour. The ranger presence definitely keeps the rowdy crowd here in check.

  • There looked to be a very nice Visitor Center. For some unknown reason, they were closed both days that we were there.

  • Really big and clean showers and restroom facilities. They were very well maintained considering how packed and heavily used they were. Toilets ran out of toilet paper so make sure you come prepared.

  • We saw tons of cool birds around the campsite. My favorite of the weekend were the swallows that flew around dusk. They fly like bats! We also enjoyed seeing a couple ospreys by the beach. We even saw one catch a fish!

  • Campfire is sold here for$8/bundle at the camp host.

  • Each site comes with a picnic table, fire ring, and 2 parking spot. Our neighbors had 3 cars so we let them use one of our parking spots since it was a madhouse here.

**[ CONS]
**

  • Hard to find availability. This place is usually pretty booked up.

  • Very, very crowded campsite. Sites are extremely close together so there is very little privacy. It feels like a giant parking lot

  • Sites are small so setting up two tents feels very cramped already. Luckily we just stayed in our tent trailer on a parking spot so we felt like we had a little more space.

  • Loud campground! This place attracts a party crowd so be prepared to listen to people roll in with their loud souped up trucks and blast music on speakers throughout the day. Hope you like listening to hip hop from 10am-9pm!

  • It doesn’t seem like the 8 person max/site rule was regulated. People had upwards of 12 people at a single campsite so you can imagine how crowded the place was.

  • There was constantly a long line for the showers throughout the day.

Overall, this is not my favorite place to camp by far. It feels more like a giant tailgate party than it does camping. We were looking for a nice relaxing weekend by the beach so had an unexpected weekend. This is one of the few places left in California that allow cars, trucks, RVs, and ATVs to drive right on the beach. It’s pretty weird to see. They also allow people to have bonfires right on the sand so be careful where you walk. There’s ash and coal everywhere. And sadly, also lots of trash left behind from people.

Convenient location for boondocking

PROS:

+ FREE overnight parking for RVs, trailers, and camper vehicles.

+ Very safe and heavily traffic location. Lots of travelers here spending the evening! Signs say for Olive Pit Customers Only but we spent 2 nights here (along with a few other campers) and no one ever disturbed us.

+ Very flat, leveled, and long paved spots (great for up to 35-foot long fifth wheelers and even 50-foot rigs).

+ Huge lot with lots of available spots. Around 10 spots for larger trailers and RVs, and lots of small spots for campervans and car rooftop tent campers. We saw 4-5 other campers around us who mostly were very private and to themselves

+ Super convenient location near lots of fast food joints, a Starbucks, Rite Aid, and supermarket. The lot shares the same entrance as the Shell Station and Olive Pit Cafe & Store where you can conveniently pick up food/beer/supplies.

+ The Olive Pit has a great cafe and wine tasting room. They sell specialty items such as olives, balsamic vinegar, etc. And they have a great breakfast!

+ There is a giant dumpster for trash disposal behind the Olive Pit

+ There is also a pet area that has a small white fence around a dirted area for pets to relieve themselves.

+ Lots of palm trees in the backdrop giving the place a very California vibe.

CONS:

+ No tent camping, unless it's a car rooftop tent or a pop-up tent trailer

+ No fires/no showers/ no toilets (Although you can walk to the Shell Station to use their toilets which were super clean and well-maintained.)

+ Loud 24 hour carwash at the Shell station. Usually quiets down around 9 pm

+ Bright security lights in the parking lot. Just don't park directly under one. There are a few darker and less lit spots

Ranger Review: RovR RollR 60-quart cooler at Cerro Alto Campground

[ PROS ]

  • Plenty of walk-in sites available. Easy to reserve online! $25/night (this is cheap for the area!)
  • One of the few campsites near Morro Bay that ever have availability for last minute campers
  • Close to avocado groves! We went to Morro Creek Ranch (about 3.5 miles from campground) to pick up fresh avocados to make breakfast with
  • Easy drive to Morro Bay Rock where you can see otters, sea lions, and lots of marine life. Morro Bay is a bird sanctuary so you can always see Great Blue Herons, White Herons, Ospreys, Pelicans, Cormorants, Turkey Vultures, and more!
  • Beautiful primitive campground with lots of lush greenery all around and lots of wildlife. Most of the sites have plenty of shade from the canopies of trees. There are so many different birds here as well. We fell asleep to the sound of a resident Pygmy Owl hooting and woke up to Acorn Woodpeckers, Toweys, Robins, Steller Jays, and Warblers singing.
  • Cerro Alto Trail is located right inside the campground. Day Use parking is $10. The hike is really beautiful and on a clear day you can see the ocean at peak!
  • Campsites are spread pretty far apart, are fairly large, and have most have pretty good privacy. I think Campsite #18 is one of the best! It’s HUGE, tucked in the far corner, close to the hiking trail, fairly close to toilets, and has its own water spigot. If you have a large group, I would suggest booking Sites #18 & 19. They are side by side and would be perfect for accommodating a larger party.
  • Each site comes with a picnic table, fire ring, and 1 parking spot. Additional cars need to park in the day use area.
  • Very popular campground and it feels very safe. People are very respectful of quite hours and other campground rules. There is a camp host on site who is present and you can buy firewood from.

[ CONS ]

  • No showers and only pit (long drop) toilets. They provide toilet paper, but it is superrrrr thin. Bring your own.
  • The actual campground is pretty deep-in from the main road, but it’s a very narrow and winding one car lane that goes for about a mile. Drive slow!
  • Not close to any gas station or store so come prepared.
  • There is poison oak EVERYWHERE so do not go wandering off into the brush.
  • TICKS TICKS TICKS. Make sure you read the warnings and stay on the trails. We actually saw ticks during our hike
  • Lots of hikers come in and out of the campgrounds to access the Cerro Alto trailhead. Although it felt very safe, just make sure you pack away valuables when you leave your site. The hiking trail is very popular so there is a lot of activity and strangers walking around and exploring.
  • We heard a lot of people complaining about the smell of the toilets, but we didn’t experience that problem from our campsite. After a while, we started noticing a smell and realized it was the fragrance coming off the flowering Eucalyptus trees -- they have a funny smell that can smell like urine.

Note: No reception at campgrounds (0 bars with AT&T)

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. This weekend I had the opportunity to test out RovR RollR 60-quart cooler on a camping trip to Cerro Alto. I recently just purchased a Yeti Cooler which I am in love with so I was skeptical about the RovR. It has a lot of really cool features that I felt were just extraneous when I was shopping around, but now I’m a total believer. I can actually say that I prefer the RovR cooler over my Yeti cooler now!

  • As far as cooling, it does just as good a job as other equivalent coolers. It’s very sturdy and the walls of the cooler are thick and insulates like a boss.
  • Transporting this cooler is CAKE! The tires are amazing. We tested it on different terrains and were very impressed with how easy the cooler was to maneuver. Even when we rolled it on very loose dirt trails that sinks a little, it performed beyond our expectations. The wheels are large enough to roll over bumpy roads and rocks, they turn well, and are extremely sturdy.
  • The handle on the cooler is the perfect length and folds flush to the side of the cooler and out of the way. My husband typically find wagons, cooler, and luggage handles a little on the short side which make it awkward for him to pull, but he was very pleased with the height of the handle.
  • The dry bin is soooo clutch! It’s very deep and you can fit a wine bottle standing up. You can even uncork the bottle and stick it back in the dry box without worry about wine spilling. We used it to keep things dry and it worked like a charm. We had small tupperware in there that we never had to worry about water seeping into. It also makes organization really nice. I don’t know how I survived this long without this feature in a cooler!
  • I love the wagon bin!! The way it straps to the top of the cooler is extremely secure. That box is staying put and not going anywhere! It’s also very sturdy and thick. It’s so nice to have extra storage to store items when you’re towing the storage. It really frees up your hands and overall, it’s just a freakin’ nice bin to have when camping. We used it for stashing away our tent bags, blanket stuff sacks, and other miscellaneous items. It folds away really nice and attaches back to the top of the cooler which makes storing it really nice.
  • We purchased the prep board (table/cutting board) attachment and we are so happy we did. It works great as an extra table so you can still open and close your cooler. It has a really smooth surface that’s easy to clean after using as a cutting board. It attaches really easily and can be removed really easily.
  • We also purchased the bike kit to attach the cooler to our bike. We live close to the beach and bringing a cooler is always something we’ve been restricted on when we bike, but now our day trips to the beach just got A WHOLE LOT BETTER!
  • We also registered our cooler and got a free stash bag that attaches to the cooler. We’re so excited to use it on our next trip. It’s perfect for storing lighters, beer openers, multi-tools, headlamps, and other small gear items in.

There are SOOO many different attachments you can add to the cooler to make it more functional. You can’t do this with any other cooler on the market which really sets it apart from everyone else. My husband and I just placed an order for the Umbrella/Rod Holder which will come in handy for the beach and future camping trips. We cannot say enough good things about the Rovr cooler.

Hilltop camping on a farm

As a Ranger on The Dyrt, I sometimes receive compensation for reviews like this one. I was given the amazing opportunity to spend an evening camping on Bierbaum Pepper Farm this past weekend and I cannot say enough great things about the property and our camping experience.

  • Marcella is a SUPER HOST who has thought through every detail to make sure her guest has an amazing experience. Her property is so serene and peaceful and gave us a taste of what it's like living on a farm. She was so hospitable and welcoming, gave us a thorough walk-through of all the amenities, and communication was easy peasy!
  • Campsites are a good distance from the main house on the property so campers have a lot of privacy and open space. The main amenities are located right around the house -- BBQ grill plus patio, hot tub, outdoor shower, toilets/sink, dumpster for trash disposal, etc.
  • The outdoor shower is wonderful! It's spacious and bright, and has lots of privacy. The shelf/towel rack is super convenient and makes reaching for soap and shampoo easy. It's a solar shower so hot water lasts about 5 mins -- make it quick! (Tip: Bring sandals so your feet/shoes don't get muddy when you step off the wooden platform.)
  • There is a private compost toilet in a little shack that works great. Toilet paper and hand sanitizer were provided. The location is a bit of a walk from where the campsites are which can be a little inconvenient if you have an active bladder like myself, but I can't complain! It's still better than no toilet.
  • You can purchase farm fresh eggs ($2/half dozen, $4/full dozen), firewood ($8/bundle), ice ($5/10 lb bag) and water bottles ($1) from the host which makes it super convenient if you forget any of these items.
  • You can feed and pet goats! How amazing is that?! Marcella leaves goat feed right outside the gated area and campers can head over to feed the goats whenever they want. It was such an amazing and novel experience to have while camping. Such a fun treat.
  • Camping on the farm was so peaceful and relaxing. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset with amazing views of the Temecula Valley. We listened to birds and goats during the day and woke up to the sound of roosters in the morning. Pure magic! In the mornings around 7am you can see hot air balloons take off in the valley.
  • Campfires are allowed, just make sure you pick up a portable fire pit and a fire extinguisher from the host! We picked up 2 bundles which was way more than enough to keep a nice, hot fire in the evening.
  • The farm is great for small and large groups. There is plenty of space on the property to set up multiple tents. Just beware of ant holes! The ants are pretty harmless but you don't them crawling all over your gear. We brought our large tent with our most luxurious sleeping pads for a nice glamping experience. 
  • FREE WIFI!! It's only accessible if you're near the main house. You can sit by the outdoor patio and get some work done during the day and enjoy the views of the mountain ranges in the distance. Talk about an office with a view! This is perfect for digital nomads or anyone who telecommutes.
  • Cell service was good -- 4 bars (AT&T)
  • Farm was very easy to find with the directions provided. There was large signs from the main road, you cant miss it! The drive in was beautiful. We passed lots of ranches, wineries, farms, and orchards.
Camp under Oak trees near the Arroyo Seco River
  • A primitive campground that has about 8 campsites. Some campsites are pretty big and have privacy. Some are closer together than others. We stayed at site 8 and it was really nice. Tucked in the back with lots of privacy and space.
  • First-come, first-serve walk-in campground ($20/day) but I was able to make reservations online as well.
  • No running water, but there is are vault toilets (long drop) near the entrance of the campground
  • Lots of fantastic hiking nearby including Junipero Serro Peak. Trails are a little difficult to see because there are so many going in different directions, so a map can help. You can also see LOTS of animal scat so there are animals using hiking paths as game trail. Stay alert and be careful. Otherwise, it's so beautiful here and you can get AMAZING VIEWS!
  • This campground is in the valley of a few peaks so it was freezing at night (especially without a campfire)
  • Each campsite has a picnic table, firepit, and trashcans (with lids). The campground floors were covered with leaves but for the most part very flat and easy to find good spots for pitching a tent.
  • There was a fire ban during the time we stayed so no fires were allowed
  • Lots of wildlife and animal activity nearby. Loved camping underneath the canopies of Live Oak trees and listening to Acorn Woodpeckers in the morning. They are loud but still pleasant
  • The 18-mile drive getting here off the main highway was also beautiful and windy. We saw lots of deer and rabbits. This campground is far from shops or stores so make sure you come with plenty of supplies and water.
  • Very secluded and rustic campground. We only saw one other group in the evening, and they ended up leaving. During the day time there were more people coming for day hikes and parked at the visitor parking lot.
  • No cell reception AT ALL so you feel like you're off the grid (AT&T)
Right outside the gates of Grand Canyon National Park!
  • Great boondocking campground 5 miles from the entrance of Grand Canyon National Park! First come first serve.
  • Super convenient to the town of Tasayan for supplies and food.
  • A great alternative if you couldn't get reservations for campgrounds in the area. It's hard to believe this place is FREE!
  • North of the Tusayan Ranger District and under a mile from the South Entrance Ranger Station. Walking distance from lots of things
  • You can see the campgrounds from the main highway so it can get a little noisy and headlights can be a little distracting in the evenings
  • It's a dirt road getting in and can be super muddy during wetter seasons. A lot of people have gotten stuck in the mud. 4 wheel drive is highly recommended.
  • Because it was so muddy when we were here, it was a little difficult finding a flat/dry/level spot to pitch a tent. This place is ideal for RV/trailer camping
  • Warning: Lots of generators running throughout the evening. Bring earbuds
  • Fires are allowed and some sites have firepits. Lots of found wood lying around that can be used as well.
  • There are plenty of areas to camp (definitely can accommodate at least 20 different groups) and you'll even have space to spread your legs. 
  • There are lots of trees in the area so I'd imagine there'd be nice shade during hotter weather.
  • Not as secluded as other boondock sites we've been to, but you can't beat the close proximity to the Park.
  • No showers, toilets, running water.
  • Practice LNT and pack in pack out. This place had some trash lying around and you can definitely tell it's heavily used. Help pick up trash if you see any and leave the place better than you found it.
  • Great cell service with AT&T

We absolutely LOVED camping here. We were able to enter Grand Canyon National Park super early before the crowds and enjoy the views uninterrrupted. This is such a great spot to camp for anyone on a budget who is just looking for a place to rest their head. We couldn't believe how close this was to the Park and that it was completely free. It's also quite beautiful if you can get past the mud and loud humming of generators. If you're in an RV, this place is the dream. We woke up the next morning to the entire campground covered in snow. It was absolutely stunning! HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

Nice clearing in the wilderness
  • Very primitive campground for backpackers to set up for the evening
  • Hike in campsite only
  • Beautiful wilderness area that is a very dense forest. Lots of nature, wildlife, and animal activity all around.
  • There are pretty reliable water sources around (streams, creeks, and waterfalls) but it's still safer to bring plenty of your own drinking water and/or water filter.
  • The hike in is pretty difficult -- narrow trails, fallen trees, steep cliffs. poison oak, mosquitos, and a couple shallow creek crossings. There were times when trees fallen and completely blocked trails so we were required to bushwack around. I got lots of scratches and snagged clothing.
  • No fires are allowed, including coal fires. Read the signs before entering, especially during high risk fire season/
  • The campsite is very easy to find along the trail -- it's a large open clearing that you can't miss surrounded by lots of beautiful oak trees! Especially because the rest of the wilderness is so dense
  • We came across coyote and mountain lion scat at the campgrounds so just becareful about storing food/snacks in a bear box a couple yards away from where you're sleeping
  • The campground is pretty large and can accommodate many backpackers. The ground is very flat compared to the rest of the wilderness so finding a place to pitch a tent is failry easy.
  • This campsite is in the valley of the canyons so it gets extremely cold and dark as soon as the sun sets. Be prepared for cold camping
  • Very secluded camping and we didn't come across any backpackers or hikers the entire trip. We found it very peaceful and quiet in the evenings. We barely heard anything!
  • Poor cell service so make sure you have a printed map or a trail map downloaded ahead of time.
Camp under the stars in a Joshua Tree forest
  • Free primitive campground great for boondocking! First come first serve.
  • Right across from the Teutonia Peak trailhead. Perfect for going on a day hike and explore the landscape surrounded by Joshua Trees
  • Shell gas station about 11 miles up Interstate 15 if you need to pick up water and supplies
  • Dirt roads with gravel with some small rocks when approaching campground.
  • Fires are allowed and some sites have firepits. You can always make your own with the rocks in the area.
  • The land is owned by Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and dedicated to the fallen soldiers of all wars
  • The best sites are the two right around the White Cross Memorial boulders. The one near the front of the cross (entrance) is great for group camping. It has two picnic tables and is right next to a large Juniper tree. The one in the rear of the White Cross is very spacious and has large rocks that protect from the wind.
  • Amazing star gazing in the dessert with very little light polution
  • Some spots may be difficult for vehicles without high clearance. Beware of scraping the underbelly your cars or trailers on rocks in the road.
  • Pretty secluded and remote camping. There were about 6 other campers near us -- mostly RVs and a few tent sites
  • No showers, toilets, running water. Practice LNT and pack in pack out.
  • Wifi is okay -- 2 out of 4 bars (AT&T)
Ranger Review: Mountain House Beef Stew at Pinnacles Campground

[ PROS ]

  • Camping in a National Park! This is the only campground in Pinnacles National Park so you’re options are limited, but this campground is centrally located.
  • Wonderful Camp Store with gear, supplies, and anything you might need for camping. They even have snacks, ice cream, and candy.
  • Visitor Center where you can get lots of helpful information about the park and souvenirs to take home.
  • Each sites comes with a picnic table, fire ring + grill, 2 parking spots, and bear box.
  • Clean restrooms but it is shared with a lot of campers. I wish they had a few more.
  • So close to wildlife! We saw 6-8 deers both days just grazing inside the campground. Site #20 is where they hung out the entire weekend. Also, lots of rabbits, owls, magpies, quail, and turkey vultures.
  • Great night sky with lots of stars!
  • Lot’s of hiking trails at Pinnacles National Park. We started on the East Entrance and took the Bear Gulch Cave Trail to Moses Spring Trail, to the High Peaks Trail. It was spectacular and pure magic! One of my favorite day hikes that I’ve done. The caves were so cool to see and the Bear Gulch Reservoir is gorgeous.
  • Really clean and well maintained park. I normally carry a bag to pick up trash on hikes, but this time I barely saw litter.

[ CONS ]

  • The only showers are by the Visitor Center which is a long walk or drive from the main camping area.
  • Sites are super close together and very small. Some sites barely looked like you could put 2 small tents. Be prepared to be close to neighbors.
  • Very touristy and crowded, it is a National Park afterall so that is to be expected.
  • No fires were allowed when I was there.

Note: Site #45 where we stayed was great! It had a water spigot right next to us which was really convenient, and it was a perfect distance from the restroom. Not directly next to it, but one site away.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. This weekend I had the opportunity to test out Beef Stew by Mountain House on a camping trip to Pinnacles Campground. As far as the product goes, I can eat this ALL DAY. It’s so good, filling, and hearty just as it is. This is as good as it gets for a quick, hot meal at the drop of a dime. It tastes just as good as a home cooked meal. Overall, just perfect comfort food -- chunky pieces of potato, peas, and carrots, the beef has great texture and generous portions, and the sauce is savory, flavorful and thick. I decided to elevate this meal and make Mountain House Campfire Beef Hand Pies! All you need is ready-to-bake biscuits and a Mountain House #10 Beef Stew Can and you have the best campfire hand pies ever! One package of Mountain House can make 16-20 hand pies. That’s 2.5 cans of ready-to-bake biscuits.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of ready-to-bake biscuits
  • 1 Mountain House #10 Beef Stew Can
  • Also needed: cast iron pan vegetable oil and paper towels

Instructions

  1. Follow instructions for making Mountain House #10 Beef Stew and set aside.
  2. Open the can of ready-to-bake biscuits and roll out each biscuit until they are about 4 inches in width. Make sure to work fast with the dough so that it still stays cool.
  3. Place 1 tbsp of Mountain House Beef Stew  into the center of each circle, fold them over (like a taco) and seal the edges by using the tines of a fork, press the edges together all the way around. Try to avoid getting any of the stew sauce around the edges or else it will be more difficult to seal.
  4. Place 1-2 inches of oil in a cast iron pan and place on the fire over coals (or camp stove), not direct flames. Test to see if the oil is ready by dropping a couple droplets of water into the pan. If it sizzles, it’s ready to go!
  5. Cook the pies until the first side is well browned then flip over and repeat.
  6. Let the pies set on paper towels for 1 minute to drain out any excess oil.

Optional: Enjoy with salsa, sour cream, and cilantros

Considerations: If you want to prevent leaks in your hand pie, take an additional step when sealing your pies by flipping the pie over to the other side, and sealing it again with your fork. It’s a little more work, but the payoff is worth it!

Beautiful, remote grassland

Carrizo Plains National Monument is the largest single native grassland remaining in California in SE San Luis Obispo, and my husband and I have been wanting to visit. We found Kern Cattle & Land Ranch which has now been turned into a campground for people to enjoy.

[ PROS ]

  • FREE camping is the best camping! It’s first come first serve, but there was only one other camper there the weekend we visited.
  • There are about 12 dispersed sites and all of them are under or near eucalyptus trees that offer really lovely shade from the harsh sun.
  • Each sites comes with a picnic table, fire ring + grill, 1 parking spot, and gear pole with hook (for hanging lanterns/trash bags/food/etc.)
  • There are 2 gender neutral vault toilets that are clean. The restroom is stocked with toilet paper and there is hand sanitizer available. No sink.
  • So much nature to see around! We saw kangaroo rats, bats, hawks, rabbits, ground squirrels (that are going extinct), and lots of fun insects. In the evening we heard lots of coyotes in the distance.
  • The evenings here are spectacular -- very little light pollution so you get a clear view of the night sky and all of the stars. The Milky Way was so vivid and we saw shooting stars the entire evening.
  • I’ve been wanting to see an owl in nature for so long, and I was able to see one in broad daylight. It was so insane and magical. We heard the owls all night (they are very loud) but I love falling asleep to the sound of nature. The owl sighting was the highlight of my trip!
  • There are tons of trails and places to explore. We even got to explore the last standing structure of the original ranch. You can visit the San Andreas Fault Line, Soda Lake, and Painted Rock which are all driving distance.

[ CONS ]

  • The drive to and from KCL campground is a little rough. At some point you get on a dirt road that is quite bumpy and has potholes.
  • It’s super hot in this part of California during the summer so make sure you pack LOTS of water. There is no water available on the campgrounds or for miles.
  • No showers, obviously since there isn’t any water available.
  • TONS. OF. FLIES. EVERYWHERE. It’s a little unbearable during the day having to spend the majority of your energy swatting flies. It is so arid out there that flies are constantly landing on every part of your body to lick the sweat off of you. The toilets are clean, but TONS OF FLIES. Not little house flies, but super juicy big fat flies. Luckily they go away when the sun sets.
  • No fires allowed! They have fire pits, but you’re not allowed to burn wood. I believe you can use the fire pit with coals since there is a grill provided.
  • No gas stations, stores, shops around for miles. Make sure you come prepared with everything you need unless you’re prepared for a long drive on the dirt roads.

Note: Pack in. Pack out. Please folks, remember to take your trash with you and leave the place better than you found it. It was sad seeing beer bottles and bullet shells littering the area. We did our  best to pick up what we could and take it with us, but LNT!!

Ranger Review: Escape Campervan at TV Tower Road

My husband and I decided to do a road trip along the PCH up the coast (with Big Sur as the final destination). Along the way, we made multiple stops and camped at TV Tower Road since we heard so many phenomenal things about the view.

[ PROS ]

  • VIEWS VIEWS VIEWS!! The view is spectacular up this mountain. You can see Morro Bay, Los Osos, and San Luis Obispo. And to top it all off, you also get an ocean view in the distance. You can even see the infamous Morro Bay Rock and the 3 smokestacks in the horizon.
  • It’s FREE! When you’re doing a road trip along HWY 1 during the summer, you’ll notice that almost all campsites are full if you haven’t made a reservation months in advance. This place is perfect for last minute campers who need a place to park for the evening.
  • Stargazing is out of this world. We had the clearest night sky with very little light pollution, and we were able to see the Milky Way so vividly. We also saw multiple shooting stars.
  • This campsite is off the beaten road, so it’s very remote. We saw two other campers nearby but other than that, we had the entire place to ourselves.
  • Great hiking spot! It’s only a 1.5 mile hike up to the campsite, but it’s steep. You can find the entrance to TV Tower Road at the West Cuesta RIdge Trailhead. Lots of cyclist and morning hikers come through at dawn.

[ CONS ]

  • Really terrifying drive up the mountain with a few sharp turns and a narrow one-car dirt road. We were able to take our Escape Camervan up the mountain with no problem, but this road is for confident drivers. There are some parts of the road where two cars can fit, but just make sure you drive slow and check weather conditions.
  • No toilets, no showers, no water, no hook ups, no amenities. Make sure you bring your own food/water/supplies, practice LNT, and be safe.
  • There is practically no shade on this mountain ridge so it can get hot during the day with the sun beaming down on you. Just prepare for that.

Pro Tip: Drive up TV Tower Road before sunset. 1) Sunsets are magical here 2) Better visibility of the road while the sun is still out. There are no road or street lights to guide you.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - this weekend I was incredibly BLESSED with the opportunity to test out the Maverick Camper by Escape Campervans. This opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time since my cat recently just passed away, and I do not take a second of this for granted. So where did we decide to go? First on the list, Morro Bay! My (now) husband and I fell in love in Morro Bay 6 years ago, and then he proposed to me at the Morro Bay Rock 2 years later. We figured we would bring our cat’s ashes to “The Rock” as a final resting place so we can make an effort to return as often as possible. After our day in Morro Bay, we continued on along the majestic Pacific Coast Highway until we reached Big Sur on Hwy 1.

I’ve done this road trip many times since childhood, but it felt like an entirely new experience doing the trip in a campervan. I am, now, totally convinced that the #vanlife is for me. Here are my thoughts on the Maverick #JetsonVan.

  • TRAVELING IN STYLE - I just LOVE LOVE LOVED the custom painted design on our campervan. Just seeing the beautiful colors and design put a smile on my face and made me happy. It brought out my inner-child and a reignited a new sense of adventure and curiosity that I haven’t felt since I was in grade-school. We need more of this in our everyday lives. Thank you Escape Campervans for reminding me of this.
  • ROAD TRIP READY - I’ve done road trips, but never like THIS! The Maverick has everything you need to have the most relaxing, easy, and hassle-free experience ever. The campervan is so well-designed and packed with handy and useful features that really make your trip a breeze. I was able to spend less time packing and setting up, and more time to play. Escape Campervans also came with everything you can think of -- chairs, bedding, pots/pans, bowls/cups/utensils, you name it! There was very little that we needed to pack from home. Below are a few of our favorite features
  • Rooftop sleeper - This is a MUST! It was so fun sleeping on the roof of the van. It’s a little tricky at first to get up and down, but we were able to get the hang of it in no time.
  • Solar powered refrigerator - I don’t know how I lived without this. It was so nice having our food and drinks chilled without having to worry about a cooler of melting ice sloshing around.
  • Storage - there is so much storage for all your gear so it’s so easy to stay organized.
  • Trunk Kitchen - The kitchen is so convenient and it facilitates spur-of-the-moment cooking with very little set up or clean up required. The counter space was really nice for prepping and easy to clean.
  • THE ROAD TO FREEDOM - Our Maverick became our home away from home, and the best part? We were able to bring it with us everywhere. It’s super easy and smooth to drive, and we had the freedom of the open road ahead of us. I loved being able to just pull over during lunch time and enjoy a meal wherever we decided to park. While we did our day trip to Big Sur, we picked a quiet, shady spot to park with an EPIC VIEW of the Pacific Ocean. And if you’ve ever driven along the PCH past Hearst Castle to Big Sur, you’ll know there are so many lookout points to stop for sightseeing.

Tips for maximizing your campervan experience!

  1. Make it your own! Bring some stuff from your house to really make your campervan feel cozy and homey. Be careful not to overpack, but a couple throw pillows, blankets, and even a houseplant can make all the difference. You don’t normally get this opportunity in a regular car, so take advantage of the space.
  2. Bring a partner in crime or 2! Road Trips are more fun with people who you know are going to be flexible, spontaneous, and up for the unknown. Every trip can have unexpected obstacles and can be exhausting so bring a playmate who will be up for the challenge and up for an adventure.
  3. A little planning goes a long way. While my favorite part about road trips are the random little stops along the way, but it makes a huge difference when you do a little research on the route, conditions, and place to stay for the evening ahead of time.
  4. Split the load! Whether it’s taking turns driving, or alternating who cleans the dishes, make sure everyone throws in a helping hand.
  5. Make a playlist. Having music ready for those long drives can be super helpful when your car stereo loses goes out of range. While I prefer having conversations on road trips over music, sometimes some tunes really help break up the drive.
  6. TREAT YO’SELF. Don’t forget to allow yourself to splurge a litttllleee even if you’re on a tight budget. It’s nice to be able to cook your own food on the road, but it’s also totally okay to eat out a few meals or unwind with a nice bottle of wine after hours of driving or after a stressful day of navigating the road. Just make sure you’re parked for the evening when you uncork!
Ranger Review: Ethnotek at Harris Beach State Park

[ PROS ]

  • Each site comes with a fire pit w/ grill and picnic table
  • Campsites have good privacy. Lots of lush greenery and bushes to separate them. Also, good shade to shield from the sun.
  • Great campsite for kids and family. There is a fantastic playground and the Rangers hold Junior Ranger activities twice a day.
  • Firewood is only $5 a bundle! The hours for purchase is limited but just make sure you pick them up from the camp host before 8pm
  • Harris Beach is so beautiful! There are a couple great trails to the beach and during low tide, you can explore the tide pools. We saw hundreds of hermit crabs, anemone, starfish, sculpin, and more. Sunsets are also phenomenal.
  • There are lots of cool rock formations, including the Arch Rock and Goat Island, that is really cool to check out. You can also hike up to the butte along the trail back to the campgrounds and there is a magical lookout.
  • The restroom and shower facilities are probably the best I’ve ever seen. Super new, well maintained, clean, and spacious. The Rangers do such a good job of cleaning them daily.
  • Only 2 miles from Downtown Brookings where it’s really convenient to pick up supplies or dine out. There is a large Fred Meyers nearby that is convenient. There is also a Saturday Market by the port and a Saturday Farmer’s Market in Harbor. Both are fun to check out.
  • Near the California and Oregon state lines. You can visit the state border and be in two states at once! Also, near Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park where you can see Redwoods (tallest trees on the planet). It doesn’t get any cooler than that.

[ CONS ]

  • Most campsites are rather small and can barely fit 2 tents
  • Careful of wild blackberry bushes everywhere! Lots of children and adults were scraped up by thorns when exploring the terrain.
  • Like most beach campgrounds, TONS of RVs. There are 65 full hookup sites + 29 sites with electrical compared to the 54 tent sites available. Be prepared to listen to generators and have large RVs block your view of nature.
  • There is a large lumber processing mill nearby so you hear loud noises (mechanical beeping and lumber falling) all hours of the night and day, 6 days a week (off Sundays). They start at 5am and end around midnight.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - this weekend I tested out products from Ethnotek. Before I get into the specific products, I just have to say that I am a huge fan of the company’s values and mission. I love that the brand celebrates diversity and is supporting art and culture from around the world. The beautiful prints are inspired from different regions and honor the origins. They source the fabric and labor from villages in Ghana, India. Guatemala, Vietnam, and Indonesia, and each product comes a tag that tells you who made it. My bag was made by Vankar Shamji and his family in India! So happy to be part of the tribe!

Cross Body Bag - I chose the India inspired print  and I love the design. The fabric is beautiful and well made. It’s a good size for traveling and holding the essentials, but don’t expect to fit too much in. It’s perfect for passports, wallets, sunglasses, headphones, and other small items. I found it particularly useful at the airport. I love all the little compartments which makes it really easy to organize when you’re on the go. Even though it’s a small sling, the main roll up compartment surprisingly can be adjusted to hold a little more. I love the small document compartment that is great for holding brochures and travel guides that you don’t want bent. My favorite part are the two hidden zipper pockets! One has a small storage pocket, and the other one allows you to reach into the main compartment without having to unroll the top -- really clever and convenient design! Another great feature is the padded air mesh panel in the back of the sling. It helps ventilate and provide some airflow so you don’t get too hot when the sling is on your back. The padded mesh panel is also another compartment where you can stow away valuable items such as wallet, keys, etc. My one gripe about the bag is the nylon seatbelt strap because it loosens and slides. I have to constantly adjust the straps so it hangs at the right height that I want. After about 20 minutes of walking, it slowly slides out of place and I have to readjust the straps. Not a huge issue, just a little annoying.

Padu Zipper Pouch - I got this pouch in the same print and it fits perfectly inside the cross body bag and provides a little more organization. The zipper is high quality and works with easy. The inside of the has a good lining that makes it easy to see the contents of the pouch and clean. It’s surprisingly spacious and I was able to fit all my makeup inside. The pouch is really just a great additional accessory to the cross body sling and I love it!

Ranger Review: Snap Buds at Saddleback Butte State Park

[ PROS ]

  • Each site comes with a shade shelter, BBQ grill, and fire pit (max 8 to a site)
  • Great for solitude! It’s pretty quiet and empty, and there was only two other groups at the campsite so finding a place to set up was not a problem.
  • Sites have a good amount of distance from other sites. Not much privacy in terms of bushes/trees (it’s a desert!) but they are well spaced and the campgrounds is relatively empty so you can pick and choose where to pitch your tent.
  • First come first serve, cash only. Sites are by self-registration so it’s the honor system. You fill out the form and place $20 fee into an envelope and deposit into the drop box. Don’t forget to take your stub to show proof of payment in case someone comes around to verify.
  • You can hike the Dowen Nature Trail or the Little Butte Trail. Both are easy walks with flat/wide trails. Great for kids and elderly (wheelchair accessible)! Just make sure you wear sunscreen, good shoes, and drink lots of water.
  • Lots of flora and fauna to see! From rabbits and rattlesnakes, to Joshua Trees and wildflowers. You can also see one of the oldest living plants on earth, the creosote bush, and they can live over 10,000 years! It’s pretty awesome!
  • You can see granite buttes all around, which is one of the natural characteristics of Antelope Valley. If you want to hike up the buttes it’s a little steep so be prepared.
  • Evenings here are SPECTACULAR. The sky lights up with endless stars and you can see the milky way very clearly. Also, you can watch shooting stars ALL NIGHT. Absolutely magical.
  • Updated restroom facilities with nice flush toilets and sinks. They are relatively clean and well kept.

[ CONS ]

  • No fires allowed! Which is weird because each campsite comes with a fire ring.
  • Lack of ranger presence, which is a pro or con depending on how you look at it. In some ways it’s nice feeling off the grid and removed, but the lack of ranger presence means that neighbors don’t always follow the campground rules and it feels a little sketch. Camp Host here is awesome though!
  • Really dusty and windy with constant 20mph winds. Our stuff was flying away constantly so we had to take the time to have everything tucked, staked, and held down securely. The inside of our tent was constantly covered in a fine layer of dust, even with the rainfly on. It was hard to sleep at night because our tent was rattling and flapping all night and dust was flying in.
  • SCORCHING HOT during the day and frigid cold at night. Just like you’d imagine a desert to be. If you come prepared, you’ll be fine :)
  • No showers here but there are water faucets if you need to splash some water on your face to cool down.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - this weekend I tested Snapbuds. Snapbuds is an earbud detangling system which keeps your earbuds from ever getting getting jumbled up into one of those hair-pulling knots. I love that they found such a simple solution to a problem that is VERY REAL. If you’ve ever spent time untangling earbuds than you understand the frustration.

When I received the product it seemed simple enough, but I was a little overwhelmed with how much instructions came with the product. There are 2 ways - original and bolo - that you can set up your snapbuds, and I went with the original. Just be careful when setting up because they are permanently affixed. I screwed that up the first time opening the package because I got excited to snap them together without reading directions and ended up having one less snap.

Once you have your snapbuds in place, it’s really simple and easy to use. They look a little funny on the ear buds at first, but they are pretty small and light so they don’t affect the function or design. I crumbled my earbuds and shoved them into my pocket to try to tangle it naturally a couple times and they never tangled! The magnet placements really make them hassle free. Snapbuds are one of those products that you never realized you needed until you own it! It’s great for travel and people on-the-go, which makes it great for camping/backpacking. It’s nice to be able to pack your headphones away into a stuff sack or pocket, and easily pull them pull them out without having to deal with the nightmare of untangling them.

Ranger Review: Humangear at San Mateo Campground

[ PROS ]

  • Each site comes with a picnic table & fire pit with grill.
  • Sites are seperated with some trees and bushes, albeit still close together
  • It’s near San Clemente Beach! There isn’t an easy access to beach but you can drive. Pssst….parking for the beach is included with your campsite fee!!!
  • Showers and restroom facilities are clean! Not the best I’ve seen, but nothing to complain about. You know the drill with CA State Parks -- bring cash for shower tokens
  • Firewood is sold at the campsite for $7 a bundle. Cash only so leave your plastic at home.
  • 1.5 mile hiking/biking trail to the beach. It’s a little hilly so be warned if you’re going with children or elderly.
  • You get the most wonderful sea breeze during the daytime that helps you stay cool (since there isn’t much shade or tree canopies). The evening are perfect during the spring and summertime.

[ CONS ]

  • Campsites are close together
  • No beach view :( The pictures online are a little misleading because it makes it seem like the beach is A LOT closer. It’s not suuupperrr far, but it’s definitely not a quick walk.
  • Our neighbors warned us that they and 2 other sites were robbed the night before and the rangers were pretty much unhelpful with the matter. Luckily we didn’t have anything stolen from our campgrounds, but from what our neighbor told us, the rangers said “it happens all the time and campers need to be careful with leaving property out.” Campsites are close together so it’s very easy for someone to take something unnoticed, especially when the campsites are pretty empty during the day when everyone drives down to spend the day at the beach.
  • Not much wilderness hiking trails around besides down to the beach. There is wildlife and nature around, but most of the activities (surfing, bodyboarding, etc.) are down by the beach.
  • Beware of LOTS of ants and bees, more so than I’ve seen at other campsites.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - this weekend I tested multiple items from HUMAN GEAR. I’ve never used Human Gear products before so I was really excited to test them out. All their products have a lifetime guarantee which is amazing, so you know their products are going to be legit. Right off the bat, I loved all the color selections that their products have. I lose and misplace gear when I’m camping very easily, so I like when my gear is brightly colored. After testing these products, I’M A FAN.

GoTubb (Small) - I like these but I feel that this size is much to small for what I normally need. This isn’t the most practical size for me, personally. I tend to lose small items like this but I found it pretty useful for holding my spices. I LOVE that it can be opened with one hand (GENIUS), which really came in handy when I was cooking -- I had one hand on the pot and the other hand opening go-tubbs to get to my seasonings. I also used one of the GoTubbs for holding my CA State Park shower tokens -- handy for that!

GoToob+ (various sizes) - I’ve tried many travel soft tubes before, and these are definitely SO MUCH MORE SUPERIOR than anything else out there. There are lots of little features about this simple tube that makes such a HUGE impact. I’m actually really excited to talk about these tubes and share my experience.

  • The flat tube base for easy filling is a GAME CHANGER. Usually when I fill my travel tubes it’s either 1) a two person job or 2) me awkwardly trying not to spill liquids with one hand pouring and the other hand holding the tube in place.
  • The wide opening mouth for easy filling/cleaning also makes this tube such a great design. This is especially true when you’re trying to pour lotions or something with a thicker consistency into the tube. Trying to fill small opening tubes with lotion is like trying to thread a needle -- it’s a pain in the a**.
  • The valve on the tubes also dispenses really nice and efficiently without wasting product. Some other tubes out there that I’ve tried has been awful because product would continue to leak after you stop squeezing, or it’s difficult to control how much product comes out when you squeeze the tubes.
  • Lastly, THE LOOP LOCK!! Such a simple and clever design that really makes you never want to pick up another travel tube again. I love that it helps prevent leaking so you can rest easy. Added bonus, I love that you can attach it to a carabiner.

GoCup - I have a couple telescoping cups already and these stand up to other products out there, but what sets these apart is the lid. It has these air vent holes that keeps the lid suctioned on so that it doesn’t leak during transport or pop off. The built-in pill case is a cool feature, but I don’t see myself using it very often. I’ll mostly use this cup for measuring things since it has volume markings on the interior. It’s only half a cup so it’s rather small.

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FlexiBowl - These are so much fun! I love the shape, and I love how flexible it really is. They really can be bent, squeezed, squished…YOU NAME IT…and yet it’s not flimsy and still holds its shape. These are great for backpacking because it’s so packable. They also clean super easily -- run some water and a quick wipe is all it takes since it has that super smooth interior. These bowls are also a lot bigger than they look and can hold a lot of content.

GoBites (uno, duo, trio) - I love all the different models and they all come in handy for different purposes. I find the Trio better for packing a lunch for work. Some highlights of the Trio is that it comes with a reusable toothpick, and the knife doubles as a bottle opener. The storage container is handy!

But for camping, I find the Uno and Dup much more practical. My personal favorite is the Duo! When attached together, it’s pretty long so it’s great for cooking with since it has a far reach. I like that the edges of the fork have a sharper edge so you can also use it as a dull knife. These work great.

VEGAN CHILI RECIPE (6 servings) - SPICY

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 3 Heaping Tablespoons of Cumin Powder
  • 1 Tube of Soyrizo
  • 1 Can of Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 White onion (diced) - Set aside ¼ of diced onion for serving
  • 1 FlexiBowl of mushrooms (diced)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Chilli Pepper Flakes (optional)
  • 1 Teaspoon of Basil
  • 1 Teaspoon of Oregano
  • ½ Teaspoon of Rosemary
  • ½ Can of Corn
  • ½ Can of Black Beans
  • ½ Cup of Jalapenos (diced) (optional)
  • ¼ Cup of Chopped Cilantro
  • Chopped Green Onions for serving (optional)
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

Note: Remove Chilli Pepper Flakes & Jalepenos from recipe for non-spicy chili.

Cooking Directions:

  1. Combine diced tomatoes, onions, chilli pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and rosemary in a medium stock pot (at least 2.8 L) . Cook and stir on medium heat until onions are translucent.
  2. Stir in soyrizo, tomato paste, cumin, jalapenos, mushrooms, and cilantro to the pot. Fill the pot with water until it covers all the ingredients.
  3. Bring pot to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cover until mushrooms are tender. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Stir in beans and corn, and add salt/pepper to taste. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes; stir occasionally.

Serving (optional)

  • Serve with green onions and diced onion
  • Enjoy with corn tortilla chips
Beautiful beach, no fires allowed

[ PROS ]

  • Crystal Cove State Park and Laguna Coast Wilderness Park are adjacent to each other, and a small pedestrian gate separates them.
  • The best trail here stretches across the two parks -- No Name Ridge!! Amazing for EPIC SUNSETS!
  • Some sites have MILLION DOLLAR BEACH VIEWS of the ocean.
  • There are about 60 camp spots and a lot of them are RVs, but it’s nice because each row of 10 spots is elevated from the previous row (tiered campsites) so everyone gets a semi view
  • Part of CA State Parks so showers are token operated. Clean and well maintained
  • Walking distance to Crystal Cove Historic District, which has a couple places to eat right on the beach
  • Crystal Cove Historic District also has some "preserved" beach cottages from the 20s, 30s, and 40s on the beach that are largely in ruins. It’s fun to explore and check out.
  • Lots of fun things along the beach to look at like tide pools and rock formations beach
  • Great Visitor's Center that is worth checking out. The Rangers are amazing and provided us with a super helpful information about the park, its trails, and the cottages.
  • Each site comes with a picnic table, a water faucet/drain.
  • The beach has less crowds/tourists/homeless compared to other beaches. It’s really quite and peaceful.

[ CONS ]

  • No coal or wood fires :( Kind of a bummer since your evening ends early. You can bring propane pits yourself for fires though. Also, it can get extremely cold at night in the canyons, even if it’s in the high 80s during the day. Be prepared.
  • They do not allow any alcohol at the park. No exceptions. Rangers patrol constantly and will approach you for random things if they see you breaking any campground rules.
  • The hiking trails essentially have zero shade so it gets really hot. Bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen so you don’t roast. Also stay hydrated!
  • The campgrounds is a little further from the beach than I expected from looking at photos online. There is no direct beach access so you’ll have to go to the day use area and pay for parking ($15 parking)
  • You can get to the beach if you’re down to wade through 2-3 feet of still water that puddles under the highway underpass. It’s a little inconvenient if you’re with children or carrying a lot of beach equipment.
  • Campsites are VERY close together so be prepared to meet your neighbors. It’s also very quiet as soon as the sun sets (since there is no campfires keeping people up) so everyone ends up going to bed around 8pm as to not disturb your VERY close neighbors.
  • Be careful of rattlesnakes
  • Near Trump National Golf Course. YUCK.
Ranger Review: Mountain House Homestyle Turkey Casserole at Caspers Wilderness County Park

[ PROS ]

  • Part of OC Parks so getting a campsite is relatively easy compared to other online booking systems like ReserveAmerica. We’re usually able to book a site 2 weeks before we decide to  go.
  • Rangers are so friendly and helpful. Honestly, really wonderful staff who love what they do.
  • Because of invasive pests found in their park recently, outside firewood is permitted. But they sell them on site for $5 a bundle. That’s really good compared to other campground that cost upward of $7+ a bundle.
  • FREE SHOWERS and clean restrooms. No tokens needed here. This is such a great amenity. Only downside is that they are a little far to get to. Caspers Wilderness Park has multiple campgrounds within the park, and each campground only has 1 shower facility (at least from what we could see).
  • Fun fact: This park used to be covered by the Pacific Ocean so there are remnants of marine fossils along the riverbanks.
  • LOTS OF HIKING TRAILS! If you love hiking, they have so many trails to choose from, from easy to strenuous. There is a trail for everyone. Also great for cyclists.
  • Lots of wilderness sighting in the park -- snakes, deer,

[ CONS ]

  • No fur friends allowed so leave your pets at home. Unless you own a horse! Lots of horse trails which also means you have to watch out for horse poop on the trail.
  • They do not allow any alcohol at the park. No exceptions. It’s a family environment so no boozing here.
  • The campsites are a little close together and noise travel.
  • Lots of snakes (including rattle snakes) so be careful where you step.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - this weekend I tested Mountain House’s Homestyle Turkey Casserole. I’ve been a long time fan of Mountain House and their products, so I was really excited to try the casserole. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, so you bet I was stoked to bring a little bit of that holiday comfort food with me while camping. As always with all Mountain House products, this was so easy to make -- literally as easy as boiling water. Directions were simple as to be expected and the ingredients inside looked like real food. Once I add the water, the smell was phenomenal. Everything rehydrated perfectly and evenly. There were very nice large pieces of turkey, lots of harvest vegetables, and a heaping amount of stuffing. For two people, the serving size was generous and this was a very satisfying/filling dish. While my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this,  it’s not one of my favorite Mountain House meals.

Ranger Review: Renogy Multi-Functional Solar Backpack at Doheny SB

[ LOCATION -5 Stars ]

  • Walking distance to Dana Point Harbor and Baby Beach. Lots of fun things to do there including whale watching, boat/kayak rentals, SUP boarding rentals, and restaurants/bars. Also walking distance to Wheel Fun Rentals where you can rent 4 seater surrey bikes to cruise along Doheny Beach for $35/hr.
  • The campgrounds are SO close to the beach. Just a couple feet over the dunes! Campsites 45-73 are the best IMO. They book up fast, but they are GOLD if you can get one. Campsites near the road are loud from the freeway and street.
  • Convenient to lots of liquor stores and restaurants along Del Prado Avenue. The Double Tree is also SUPER close to the campsite entrance. They have a nice rooftop bar, and a small lobby shop if you need to buy toiletries, snacks, drinks.
  • Close to the San Clemente Metrolink which is less than 4 miles from the campground.

[ AMENITIES -3 Stars ]

  • The day use areas are so nice for picnics! If you walk along the beach there are rows of day use areas with picnic tables and bbq grills.
  • The restroom and shower facilities are cleaned daily in the mornings, but they are very dirty. There aren’t many restrooms for the amount of campsites/campers so they flood, run out of toilet paper, and become disgusting. Showers take CA State Park coins.
  • There are lots of homeless people who linger in the park, and they use the showers as well. We saw two go in to a shower and didn’t come out until 45 minutes later.
  • You can purchase firewood at the check-in area for $7 a bundle. Not every camp host site had firewood so we had to walk further to find some.
  • Sites are really small and close together. The best sites are along the ocean, but they are also the furthest from the restrooms. You give up convenience for a good view. The place is always booked and packed. A LOT of people so it doesn’t feel quite as relaxing.
  • Sites come with 2 parking spots, a fire ring, and picnic table. Water spigots are near the restrooms.

[ CLEANLINESS -2 Stars]

  • The restrooms are a NIGHTMARE. It’s obviously better than pit toilets, but a lot of them overflow and there is urine and feces all over the toilets and floor.
  • There are lots of crows, seagulls, and birds at the campsite. They poop everywhere. All over our tents and picnic tables. Lesson learned: Don’t pitch your tent under any trees.
  • Lots of ground squirrels around. They are very aggressive and brave. They will jump onto you table and take food.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - this weekend I tested Renogy’s Multi-Functional Solar Backpack. I have another solar product (bluetooth speaker) from Renogy that I love, but this solar backpack blew me way. The panels are much larger so it charges so much more quickly and efficiently. I was able to charge my phone to 100% in an hour and a half of being plugged in, and also it kept my husband’s laptop charged while he was doing some programming at our campground. As a charger, it totally met my needs and exceeded my expectations.

There are also so many features to this backpack that really impressed me. I love that the solar panel part can be unzipped off from the rest of the pack which makes it really convenient. I was able to remove the solar panel from the backpack and lean it on the ground to charge while keeping the rest of the backpack safely inside my tent. The solar panel part of the pack can also be flipped and reversed so you can have the panel facing out when you want it charging or faced inside when you want to protect it from exposure to rain. The backpack is also very safely padded for a laptop so that it is protected. I love the convenience of all the little pockets and compartments for organizing, the sunglass loop, and also a side pocket to hold a water bottle.

This backpack was so well constructed and designed with the user in mind. I highly recommend this rucksack to anyone looking for a solar backpack.

Ranger Review: Boost Oxygen + Renogy E.TUNES Solar Bluetooth Speaker + TredAgain Hawthorne at San Clemente SB

Campground Review

[ LOCATION -5 Stars ]

  • Less than 2 miles from Amtrak Station & Metrolink at the San Clemente Pier. We took the train from LA Union Station and walked along the beach to San Clemente SB.
  • Private beach access and really nice Day Use Area accessible from the campgrounds. Swing by the visitor center & gift shop on the way!
  • Great if you love surfing! San Clemente is a total surf town and the campgrounds is an easy walk to where all the surfers go to catch waves
  • Convenient to lots of liquor stores and restaurants along El Camino Real. There is easy access near the Butterfly Trail to get to the main road.

[ AMENITIES -5 Stars ]

  • Hot showers that accept CA State Park tokens. 2 tokens for $1. Each token buys you 2 minutes time.
  • You can purchase firewood at the check-in area for $7 a bundle
  • Sites are HUGE! You can visibly see your neighbors but there is plenty of space separating sites. Some people had 7-8 tents on their site with up to 14 people. You’re technically not supposed to, but the Park Rangers seemed to be really chill about it.
  • Sites come with 2 parking spots, a charcoal grill, fire ring, picnic table and shade canopy (no bear box). Also, this place is super hammock friendly. Everyone straps their hammocks to the legs of the shade canopy.

[ CLEANLINESS -4 Stars]

  • Restrooms are stocked with toilet paper, but they get completely depleted by the morning. Rangers come around daily to replenish, but it doesn’t hurt to bring some extra with you.
  • There aren’t too many bugs or ants here, but there isn’t too much wildlife either besides birds. You don’t have to worry too much about squirrels or raccoons.
  • Campers are mixed between families and the party crowd. The party crowd aren’t great at cleaning up after themselves so some sites are a little littered.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - this weekend I tested the new and improved Boost Oxygen Cans, Renogy’s E.TUNES Solar Bluetooth Speaker, and TredAgain Hawthorne Sneaker Boots.

[Boost Oxygen Cans]

I went camping for New Years weekend and wanted to see how these work for hangovers. The cans say “Hangover Reliever” so I thought I would give it a shot after partying into 2018. First off, I really like their new and improved cans. I’ve used their older canister design in the past, and the mouthpiece on the new cans delivers oxygen to the mouth much more efficiently and comfortably. Also, the cans are ridiculously light so they barely add any weight to your pack which is great when backpacking. I tried the Natural flavor this time, but I think I still prefer the Peppermint and Pink Grapefruit. The natural flavor was missing that sensation of inhaling anything, but I guess that means Boost has achieved the “natural” effect! The medium can is perfect for 1 person, and the large can was great for sharing. As for my hangover, it definitely improved my recovery! I used an ENTIRE medium can to myself the next morning after drinking, and I felt less nauseous, and dizzy. I wouldn’t claim my hangover disappeared completely, but there is no doubt that it alleviated some of the side effects.

[Renogy E.Tunes Solar Bluetooth Speaker]

I am so in love with this speaker! The sound on it amplifies loud, clear, and crisp. Even at the loudest volume, the sound is great. The battery on it lasts surprisingly long. We kept it going at medium volume for about 5 hours with battery to spare for the next day. The solar panel is on the small side so it doesn’t recharge that fast, but it does just fine if you’re only using it to play music. If you want to charge other devices (such as a phone) don’t expect too much. The speaker also comes with a strap which I attached to my backpack. This thing is durable! It was swinging around my pack, getting dropped to the ground, getting bumped against things as I hiked, and it can take a beating. I love that it’s waterproof as well. The flashlight on it is also super bright. It came in handy when I was looking for items inside my tent at night.

It's a fantastic speaker if you're on the search for it. I also love the red cover that I selected for the speaker. It adds some extra flair, AND also makes it super easy to spot out when I'm fumbling around for gear. This little guy comes with me on all my adventures!

[TredAgain Hawthorne Boots]

I love the way the Hawthorne boots look. It’s a good mix between urban and outdoorsy. The leather is made with super soft and high quality suede, and the rubber soles are sturdy. We took them camping and they got really dusty, but a little warm water and a rag was able to clean them surprisingly very easily. My husband wears a size 13 and he says these ran a little on the small side. He suggested that sizing up a full size would’ve been more comfortable, especially with wool socks. They are great for going around town, but aren’t for anything technical. He wore them on a 4 mile hike and they were on the heavy side. He got some blisters on the back of his ankles, so they do require some breaking in (like most shoes). We love the style and the quality, but they definitely aren’t meant for performance shoes. He’ll be wearing them for more casual outings around town though!

Redwood heaven

Camping by redwoods is probably my favorite EVER. Even during the summer, you're able to stay cool under the canopies of the trees. I love that every corner is so picturesque! Mossy covered paradise! The scenery itself exceeds 5 stars.

The sites are relatively private and spacious. There are trees and brush that separate you from your neighbors. You'll want to pick a site that is close to the river, and far from the highway as possible because of the highway noise (although not terrible) isn't ideal when you're trying to enjoy nature. Any sites 40-60 were pretty good. #58 is the way to go! Riverfront real estate. The restrooms are a little sparse, so be prepared to wait a bit. I wish there was more available, but it looks as though there were only 4 for every 40 campsites? if you have to shower definitely use the facilities that are across from the Visitor Center, they are big and luxurious! Cost is 25 cents/minute.

It's also so convenient to Crescent City if you need to restock on supplies or beer. You can pick up coins and firewood by the entrance which is very convenient.

Hot during the summer!

I came here during the summer and it was extremely HOT. Typically during the summer season, I like to find campgrounds that have a lot of lush trees so we can be under the canopies and stay cool, but Malibu Creek State Park is so convenient to LA. There isn't much shade on the actual campgrounds, but a few sites do have partial shade. There are some decent hiking trails nearby if you can bear the heat, but all the creeks are dried up so you can't really take a dip. It's much nicer and greener during the Spring or Fall. 

The campsites are pretty standard, but they are spacious and have some privacy from neighboring sites. They come with a picnic table and there are coin-operated showers nearby. This isn't my favorite campground, but I love that it is local to me.