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  • Writer's pictureMike Mahoney

Go With The Flow

Updated: Sep 2, 2023

Easier said than done, going with the flow. I used to think I went with the flow of life and could adapt to what was happening, I now know it was just a cover. I was not happy, I just kept it hidden. It may have appeared I was fine, but inside I was struggling. We tend to struggle in the midst of an event we interpret as bad because it's not what we want or expected. I always judged everything in my life continuously without knowing it. In reality, an event is only good or bad when we say it is. We live in a world of 10,000 things as Lao Tsu said, events and environments are changing continuously. We are constantly making a judgment about those events and deciding if we like them or not. You learn not to react or overreact to anything that happens when living on the road. I have learned to acccept things as they are and do what I have to do without judging it. Change is all part of this life, as it is in all of our lives.

With that in mind, Portia and I departed Pismo and headed south to Lompoc and Jalama Beach. As I mentioned, we are staying within striking distance of San Luis Obispo until April 18 for the Elks Club initiation.

Tom and Janine love Jalama so I knew it would be a great place to camp for a while. Securing a reservation wasn't easy but I managed to get a couple of nights at a decent site. My thought was to get in there and then secure a first come first serve site for more nights up to the 14 consecutive Santa Barbara County Parks allows. There are some first-come first serve sites but it's a heck of a drive to make when all you have is hope. With it being off-season I have a better than good chance. This particular campground is at capacity much of the time for good reason. It's inexpensive, remote, the beach is secluded and serene. Also they are very dog friendly, Portia can run on the beach and heard birds all she wants. My saving grace though is the extremely cold and wet winter in California this winter which is keeping the regulars away.

Jalama Beach is located in the city of Lompoc, CA - pronounced lompoke, not lompok, between Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach. Not a lot people know about this beach except for locals and avid campers, however after being mentioned as a favorite beach in some travel survey, it has gained some notoriety. Lompoc is also the home of the Vandenberg Space Force Base where SpaceX launches Elon Musks Starlink satellites. I just read there are more than 4,000 Starlink satellites now in orbit. The land was a gift to the County of Santa Barbara from the Richfield Oil Company, back in 1943. There is only one way in and out of Jalama, Jalama Road, which is off Highway 1 just outside the city of Lompoc. It is about 14 miles of tight and twisty turns, not the good kind you'd love to take with your Porsche. It's a little rough in spots and not the easiest when pulling a trailer. The first time on the road, you do question why you're on it. But once you crest the last hill and make the turn over the train tracks, the beach appears and you can hear the heavenly trumpets playing. And now you know.

I originally booked 2 nights on the middle row site a couple rows back from the beach, and 2 nights on a beach site. The beach sites are on the beach with the sand, surf and Pacific Ocean as your front yard. It's spectacular! The next couple of days the broken record forecast was for more rain and high winds, which made me second-guess my decision to be on the beach. After scoping out the beach sites and talking with people already there, and inspecting the previous night's river of water through everyone's camps, I opted for higher ground. Needless to say, it was a good decision. That night the Airstream was rockin' and rollin'. We could have been on a boat at sea. Needless to say, my little border collie was on edge all night long.

The next morning, we got up had breakfast, and decided to have a look around at the aftermath. On the way down to the beach I ran into a fellow camper who said she heard we were about to be evacuated. What? I said. I need to find Nathan. I found Nathan the ranger and asked him the question. He confirmed the evacuation. Because Jalama Road's existing damage and the sinkhole that had already developed, the county decided the safest thing to do would be to close it so they could repair it properly. County road crews were already placing steel plates across the road in hopes of preventing more damage and to allow some of the larger rigs to pass. I asked Nathan if we had a choice to stay or leave? Because I didn't mind staying. I was set for a while. But Nathan said sorry sir out of my hands. Without the ability to get emergency vehicles into the campground nobody could stay. The forecasted weather would more than likely wash out the road and cause it to collapse.

So goodbye beautiful beach, until next time. I packed up the Airstream and Portia and I headed out on Jalama Road. As we begrudgingly exited the beach I could see that the sinkhole had grown significantly. There was no question that more rain would more than likely make it much worse. As far as I know, that road is still closed. As we headed out I contemplated our next destination. The first decision was to go north or south. I made the call to go south. I thought, Goleta, Refugio, Gaviota, Carpenteria, etc... as we made our way down the coast, I found almost every campground was closed due to flooding, except for Carpinteria. They had a couple of campgrounds still open. So that's where we camped for a couple of nights and then headed back to Pismo for the Elks initiation.

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