After an afternoon of shopping and sight seeing in Solvang, we headed back to Highway 101 northbound. We had heard that there was beach camping at Grover Beach (just a few miles south of Pismo Beach). We arrived in the little city of Grover Beach about 6:30pm, tired and hungry, thinking of the steaks we had back in the camper's fridge. We planned to get settled and fire up the BBQ. We stopped at the very official toll house and the end of the city's main street and paid our $8 for one night of beach camping. The young man (in a California State Park uniform) told us to drive down on the beach going about 2 1/2 miles and we would "see the others." Now we have both driven, since we were in high school, on the beaches of Washington state. Bob knew what he was doing...but as we drove along the surface of the beach began to get so rough. It was literally like driving on an old fashioned washboard. He was having a hard time finding the right kind of sand to drive on..not too loose & dry and of course not out in the surf. We had slowly gone about two miles when up ahead we saw a river coming out into the ocean. A 4-wheel drive truck was heading our way and as it came thru the "river" we could see that the truck dropped down about 3 feet, went thru fairly deep water and then up the other bank about 3 feet. At that point Bob decided to abort this mission. There was no way we could get thru that area with the big camper on the truck and just having 2 wheel drive. So he turned around and we headed back. Both of us were already mad at this point that the park employee hadn't warned us of the rough conditions. We drove along for awhile and we met by another big truck with camper, and pulling a heavily loaded trailer behind them. Bob slowed down a little and motioned to them not to continue. At that point, we came to a halt in very soft dry sand. Buried in the back up to the camper steps. The other guy stopped and came over with a shovel and started trying to dig us out. Bob told the man he had AAA and that he would just call them and someone would come and tow us out.
(The time was about 7:15pm, it was starting to get dark and the tide was coming in.) Meanwhile the other guy got turned around and told us he was going back to the toll booth to report that we were stuck. Pretty soon Bob's cell phone rang and it was a very nice man letting us know that his towing company was not allowed on this particular beach. He said the state of California had an exclusive contract with a local towing company and we'd have to call them. About this time the good Samaritan came back and told us he'd gone to the toll booth and told the young man that we were stuck and the kid just shrugged his shoulders and said there was nothing he could do. So he'd come back to help us get out. As he turned around to try and pull us out.....he got stuck !
By this time I am freaking out !! It's getting darker, the water is getting closer...believe me I was sitting in the cab of the truck praying hard. Finally two 4-wheel drive trucks with "locals" in them came along and Bob & the other guy waved them down and they did get us out of the sand. Bob gave the guy that pulled us out $20 and the other man gave his "life savior" some cash. We were out and not any too soon. The waves were coming within 6-7 feet of the truck.
We did stop and Bob asked for his $8 back but the toll taker wanted him to fill out a bunch of forms and he was so mad, he wouldn't do it. I was afraid he'd strangle the young man at the toll booth but he restrained himself. The young man did tell us that the local towing company charges between $250 ~$300 to tow a vehicle off the beach. Hmmmm.. not a good incentive for tourists to come to their State Beach Campground.
After we got home I wrote a scathing letter to the city council of Grover Beach and advised them that they should have some sort of warning signs and not let anyone on that beach that doesn't have 4 wheel drive. It's just not safe. They did reply and said "they'd look into to it." We passed several big motor homes after we were freed and Iwonder what happened to them when they got further down the beach....did they float off to Japan ?
Needless to say we had no BBQ'd steaks that night...we had In-N-Out, just north of Pismo Beach. When we stopped there I opened the door to the camper and almost passed out. It looked like a bomb had gone off back there. There were broken dishes and items out of all the cupboards littering the floor. After we ate, we spent another 30 minutes cleaning up the mess. We were finally on the road again and soon found a nice, quiet rest area about 187 miles south of San Francisco where we settled in for the night.
Until next time....Linda