Camping at a lake?…more like a pond

We just got back from a camping trip at Lake Santa Margarita in San Luis Obispo.  We booked the trip several months ago thinking it would be refreshing to go somewhere up north – out of the hustle and bustle of OC and LA but not too far so that it would take forever to reach by car.

The pictures on the Web site of Lake Santa Margarita looked enticing – the campsite just a stone’s throw from the lush green foliage surrounding the sprawling lake.  It looked idyllic!

To put a little context around this anecdote, my camping record has not been stellar.  I’ve chosen sites with trains blowing through every hour on the hour 50 feet away from our tent at night, birds vigorously crapping 3x/day on our picnic table, I was stung by a bee on the tuchus 10 minutes after arriving at one site we apparently shared with a bee hive, my kid through up all over the sleeping bags at midnight another time.  Yeah, it’s been rough.  But we continue to camp. God help us.  It’s like we’re glutton for punishment.

Back to our latest adventure.  We leave on a Sunday and hit 4 hours of traffic.  Around Santa Barbara, it clears up.  We get there 2 hours later.  We’re hot, stir crazy, hungry, and doubting everything that ever made sense in our lives at this point.  The kids are pretty impatient too.  We pull around to the site.  It has zero shade.  No trees.  Yellow jackets are buzzing around trying to assault us.  The restroom that we saw online next to the site (a must due to my tiny, shrinking bladder) is a porta potty that smells like stank.  Oh, and the clincher – aside from some ground water on the bottom, the lake is dry and covered with brush and tumbleweed – it’s like we were in the middle of an episode of Bugs Bunny featuring the roadrunner.  We learn that it’s been receding every year since 2010 when the drought kicked in.  (Thanks for updating your Web site, County of  San Luis Obispo!).

Lake Santa Margarita
Margaret, Filumena, and Shana at Lake Santa Margarita

The minute Margaret sees the yellow jackets, she’s bucking for us to high tail it to a hotel.  Every time a yellow jacket flies within view, she’s screaming and flailing around like someone is stealing her purse.  It’s annoyingly comical.  And as much as I can understand her profound aversion to bees (she’s been stung numerous times since she was 13 months old), her histrionics are out of control in my opinion.  Still, I try to sympathize.

The saving grace happens the second day, when we meet a woman and her 5 kids (6 including a cousin) camping across the way.   (Pretty sure they were the only other family there.  Sucka!)  Margaret and her sister have a blast with the kids which is great.  Really it is.  Because Margaret stopped complaining about everything.  But the tradeoff was that we weren’t able to spend family time together.  So I told my husband that the last two days we were going to spend together.  Just the four of us.  Because we can always go camping with another family – this was supposed to be just us.

I think Margaret had a lot of fun despite the rough start.  And I have to hand it to Margaret – by the end of the trip, she wasn’t shrieking or flailing her arms when the bees flew near her – just cussing a little bit.  She’s made progress!



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