Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz / Monterey Bay KOA

January 31, 2021

Our next stop was the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA, located about halfway between the two cities from which the campground gets its name. Getting there from Napa wasn’t too far, but we opted to take the “scenic route” which made the journey substantially longer and more difficult as it took us right through the heart of San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge! This decision definitely made the drive more stressful and was probably a bad idea, however, at the end of the day stress is only temporary but pics last forever!

After navigating the narrow streets of the Bay Area with our big ass trailer for longer than we would have liked, we finally made it out of the urban sprawl and back onto highway 1 heading south towards the KOA. We thought that we had seen it all on this drive, but it turned out that we had one last memorable moment to experience before pulling into the campground. As we were driving through Santa Cruz, we came to a red light and spotted this gem on the side of the road. Nothing says California like a billboard congratulating the city for successfully housing the homeless located mere feet above a massive homeless encampment. Keep up the good work, comrades!

Upon finally arriving at the KOA, we were pretty much immediately disappointed by this extremely expensive RV park (roughly $100 a night, compared to our yearly average around $50 a night). Not only was there no ocean view, but the sites were extremely close together and when it came time to plug in our electrical hookups, we discovered that the pedestal only had a 50-amp outlet (we have a 30-amp rig). You’re already running more than enough power to the site, just include a friccin outlet! Of course, the campground store offered 50-to-30 converters, which we were forced to buy. Gotta wonder how much extra they bring in each year from people like us…

Once we got our power situation straightened out, we were confronted with yet another problem – this time regarding connectivity. Neither our normal AT&T router or our phones which run on Verizon were able to pick up a workable signal due to a large hill at the back of the property which obstructed our view of the nearby tower. Fortunately, the campground WIFI was just strong enough for Sam to get her work done from the trailer that week, although the campground strongly discouraged any web activity in excess of checking email/light browsing (shhh don’t tell on us). But sadly, these cell issues would become a reoccurring theme during our time out in California – yet another reason we rank it in the bottom tier of states that we have visited in the RV (down there with New Mexico, yuck).

Speaking of rankings, when factoring in the astronomical price that we paid to stay at this KOA, we have to put it in bottom tier as well. However, that isn’t to say that this campground didn’t have any redeeming qualities – it is a KOA after all. The grounds were consistently cleaned each day, management/employees were quite friendly, and the place was chock-full of amenities, although most catered towards families and children (bounce castles, jungle gyms, kiddie pools, the works).

Honestly, we didn’t do much exploring while we were in the area, but we did find time to go check out the nearby Manresa State Beach one evening just before sunset. We were dismayed to discover that, despite being a “state beach,” the area still had an entry fee if you wanted to park there (if the People’s Republic of California can’t even make their public beaches free, how do they expect to offer healthcare for free?) Thankfully, we ended up finding a parking spot just outside the gates and were able to simply bypass the toll booth entirely on foot.

But I digress. Once we eventually made it down to the sand, the scenery was pretty stinking beautiful. Despite all my California bashing, I must say, there aren’t many places in America where you can spend an evening like this in the middle of winter!

Sunset heart hands!

Our only other activity of note during our time in the area was a quick little day trip down highway 1 to the lovely ocean town of Monterey, located on the southern tip of the bay which shares its name. Upon hitting the Monterey city limits, it became obvious why this is one of the wealthiest towns in America – it was downright beautiful!

Unfortunately, we were unable to find a public restroom anywhere around this picturesque town (and all the other restrooms closed due to COVID), so we were forced to say goodbye to Monterey prematurely to avoid peeing our pants. Apparently, the wealthy weren’t the only ones to discover the beauty and year-round pleasant weather of Monterey. And as everyone knows, nothing says “progress” like removing public restrooms in order to keep the homeless from congregating!

Ok, now that I’ve effectively alienated most (if not all) of our California friends, it’s time for me to wrap this post up. But, on a slightly positive note, if any of you good folks out west have stuck around this long, I promise that the next installment of Putz’n Around will be much more charitable towards the Golden State. I know this may be a bit of a surprise, but we actually found this little coastal town called Malibu (you may have heard of it) to be quite pleasant and enjoyable!